The Fat Lady Singing

I connected with Kate at The Audience Business on LinkedIn today. That isn’t her singing by the way.

“Hi, Kate,

Many thanks for connecting on LinkedIn.

I’m a former freelance orchestral percussionist and classical concert promoter, now immersed in digital marketing, some of it for Arts organizations. I have one foot on the stage and another in the marketing department.

I’ve attended and spoken at AMA conferences and events in the past and I retain a passion for understanding the influences and influencers that affect arts event attendance.

I once shared a platform with Owen Pringle (formerly of the South Bank Centre and now at Amnesty). He told me that the average age of concert-goers at the Royal Festival Hall hasn’t changed since 1953. (it’s 49 apparently). Sadly, this suggests that all attempts since, to change this, have failed.

I also attended an ABO conference at which Joseph Kluger (Former Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra) said that he had given up on trying to attract new people between the ages of 20 and 35. He said that the return on marketing investment was just not viable compared to attracting other age groups. There were too many more attractive leisure alternatives and limited leisure time (young children, long working hours etc) “We’ll get them later” he said … presumably when they are 49!

It highlighted to me the broad and untapped range of 49 year old culturally-aware non-attenders. (There are apparently only 30,000 regular concert goers in the whole of London). Sadly this untapped audience often comes up against inaccessible, daunting modern art that may well be ‘challenging’ to the cognoscenti but which is a foreign language from a faraway land for most. The Eroica Symphony will be ‘challenging’ to a 50 year old Londoner who has never before set foot in a concert hall. So it’s a programming issue as well as an awareness and engagement one.

Today, digital communications, the heady possibilities of social media and social influence marketing make reaching and engaging this hidden audience much easier. You just need to identify your super peers and get them to do your marketing for you.

It worked for AquaFresh. They learned that their super peers were women aged between 16 and 25. They trust and share more than most apparently. So they created a website that attracted those women and contacted those they already had details for. They then sent them bucket loads of sample product, invited those women to share the product with friends and then ask those friends to provide feedback on a dedicated website. 1.4 million did just that, spending an average of 6 minutes on the site doing so. 95% also asked to be involved in future trials directly.

I’m currently capitalizing on my unusual stance between the Arts and the social media phenomenon to help organizations who need new audiences and who are understandably failing to attract the least interested down the line of most resistance.

I did a talk on this recently which you can find here:
https://markwalmsley.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/my-social-media-talk-at-ecmod/

If this is a subject or area that has relevance for you at The Audience Business I’d be happy to chat futher.

Kind regards,

Mark”

I’m looking forward to both her reply and to your comments here

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