First off--apologies for not writing much lately. As you know, I am in the middle of transitioning jobs which put me in a place where I was working two jobs at the same time for a period of three weeks. Needless to say, that didn't give me much free time (or sleep). Now that I am settling in to my new position at Arena Stage, I am happy to say that I would like to concentrate a little more on writing.
Today's topic: the Marketing Silo. I find it interesting the more I work with large organizations, mostly from a consultant stand point, the more I find marketing departments which are functioning almost as a separate entity from the rest of the organization. For some organizations, the marketing department is somewhat of a mystery for people who don't have an external relations function in their job.
For most arts organizations, marketing is a critical function. Due to tight cash flow situations, marketing departments are expected to consistently hit their goals while reducing expenditures. To accomplish this, marketing must be looked upon as a central decision-maker for almost all operational decisions, not just the ones that obviously affect external affairs. For example, a shift in valet parking companies might cause longer waiting times resulting in unhappy customers and subscriber attrition. Although valet parking might not be viewed as a marketing function, it definitely affects the customer. I would encourage marketing directors to become involved in all decisions that affect or touch the customer.
With that said, marketing directors need to become ambassadors, especially at large organizations. Go out of your way to meet everyone, and encourage everyone to give you feedback on the activities of the marketing department. Yes I know, you might get that person who is incredibly nit picky and will visit you every week trying to convince you that if you increase the point size of the text in your ads one point that you will bring in exponentially more income. However, I have been incredibly lucky to work with brilliant people who came up with amazing ideas whose job function has nothing to do with marketing.
Marketing departments are being taxed with becoming more creative as budgets are cut and sales goals increase. If you work at an arts organization, you have a wealth of creative people just outside your door--reach out to them. Share your marketing plans. Invite feedback. Give thanks and recognize all contributions.
In just my very short time at Arena Stage, I have been visited by our Producing Artistic Associate, Master Sound Engineer, Director of Audience Development, and several others who have floated some absolutely fantastic marketing ideas my way. So if you by chance are working in an environment where marketing is consider an island to itself, break down those walls and eliminate the silos, and I guarantee you will be happy with the results.