Sunday, May 1, 2011

"CRM Wall-Breakers"

I've just been reading a new book by Eugene Carr and Michelle Paul called Breaking the Fifth Wall: Rethinking Arts Marketing for the 21st Century. (Alright, so I first read it cover to cover at 5am with a particularly bad bout of jetlag, but I'm looking forward to going back and working my way through in more detail!)

The book encourages us in arts marketing to stop thinking that our job is done once we've mailed the same printed brochure to everyone on our contact list, and followed up with a generic email the day before the show. Instead we should work out how to break the Fifth Wall, which Carr and Paul define as "the act of reconnecting with your patrons in a meaningful way after they have left your venue by creatively and regularly reminding them of everything your organization has to offer." With sections on Email, Online Ticketing, Social Media and CRM, the authors provide a wealth of creative advice about the range of new tools available to arts organizations of all sizes, and how to use these tools effectively to serve current and potential audiences.

The chapters on CRM have the most relevance to the work I'm currently doing, and I'm thinking of giving a copy of the book to all of my current clients! But first I owe Gene Carr a shout out for providing me with a jolt of inspiration when I was struggling a few weeks ago with a complex project. I'm going to talk a bit more about outcomes versus to-do lists in a future post, but it was his chapter: "Five CRM Wall-Breakers" that helped me past a roadblock. His first three points are:

  • focus on building patron loyalty (get first time attendees back to another performance),
  • treat every donor as a potential major giver, and
  • use segmentation in marketing and fundraising.

My developer colleague - the amazing Veronica Waters Beck at 907 Pine Consulting - and I had got bogged down in the minutiae of data importing - how were we mapping this account field? - and we were beginning to lose track of the end-result. Reading Gene's summary in this book reminded me to get back to visualizing the questions that my clients wanted to answer about their audience, and making sure that the appropriate data was available for their reports. The Marketing and Annual Fund Managers want to identify:
  • who are their most valuable patrons (ticket buyers or donors, or both)?
  • how far do they travel to attend performances?
  • which types of show do they prefer? (and so on)

After a busy Easter weekend of database restructuring, I'm pleased to say that we delivered a set of new reports that offer our clients the insight into their audience that they'd been hoping for.

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