Tag: Arts & Culture Census

The Switching Costs of Live Art

Life is busy. I get it. I was recently discussing with a friend about how small things like making a dental appointment for my kids seems like such a hassle. But I do it. I do it because I love my kids and I understand the value of good dental health. The cost of NOT taking care of your teeth is much greater than taking ten minutes to make a phone call, pulling your kids out of school and watching crappy t.v. in the waiting room (it’s always between crappy t.v. & crappy magazines). Dental cleanings have a clear value associated with them.

I started thinking about the barriers to experiencing live art. It seems that the forces that stop people from experiencing live art are much, much greater than direct competitors. And it isn’t as simple as just understanding indirect competition. What often stops us, really, are the substitutes to live art, and more specifically: switching costs.

What are switching costs? I like this definition:

The negative costs that a consumer incurs as a result of changing suppliers, brands or products. Although

Photo of three switches
Control panel with swithces in old electricity distribution center.

most prevalent switching costs are monetary in nature, there are also psychological, effort- and time-based switching costs. Read more

So what does this have to do with experiencing art in person? Let’s pretend!

Say I want to take my husband out on a date. Our normal Saturday night routine is hanging out with a glass of wine (or more…don’t judge) at home. We try not to give in too often to the sugar cravings of our kids (remember the dentist) but, hey, it’s a special Saturday. We are also going to rent a video on-demand through our Roku box.

  • Wine – $8 with our Kroger Plus Card (again, don’t judge…Frontera makes a decent Cab-Merlot mix)
  • Candy – $10 for 4 people
  • Movie – $4 for 24 hours through Amazon On Demand

Date Night on a Saturday evening:

  • Theatre tickets for 2 – $70 bucks (and yes, I work for a nonprofit so I know that this price doesn’t even come close to break-even on the total cost to produce)
  • Dinner – $50 (being conservative here) while optional and not directly related to experiencing live art, it still fits within our definition as a psychological factor and actual expense incurred during the switch from movie-at-home to night out with live art.

I don’t even have to add babysitting because I have older kids, but if I did that would make the switching cost even higher.

A photo of a couple watching tv looking very board
Experiencing something new is a good reason to leave the house!

Now, this is not to illustrate how expensive experiencing art can be. In my opinion well worth the expense assuming I pick a good show to see. What I really want to demonstrate is how incredibly important it is to overcome this barrier in the market place. How do we do it? Is your arts businesses even discussing this force?

Tactic 1 – demonstrate value. This will not happen if our only message to the greater community is that art is good for the local economy. It will not happen if art organizations do not get to know the wants, needs and desires of their patrons. It will not happen if you don’t develop relationships with your patrons. How do you do that? Answer: shameless C4 Atlanta plug for one of our services, The Arts & Culture Census. The other method is to purchase a ticketing/CRM system that helps you achieve above goals. Surveys are also useful instruments for pushing and receiving information. Make sure you get a large enough respondent sample to work with (as was the advice of one of our board members when C4 Atlanta sent out a marketing survey).

Tactic 2 – Really great messaging. This goes back to tactic one. You can’t message to the world. Target your message and make it appeal to the part of the human brain that drives behavior–start with the “why.” Before you can do that, you must understand what behavior it is you wish to change: purchasing, signing up for your email list, volunteering, donating. Each behavior may require a different message.

Tactic 3 – Control what you can control. Make seeing your art easy. Whether you are distributing online or in person, offer clean paths to get to your art. I “bail” on websites with too much clutter. There is a lot of noise out there in the world. Cut through it for your patron.

In another blog, we will tackle price, product & promotion. Teaser: lowering or discounting your creative offering isn’t the only tactic for driving sales. In fact, it may work against you…and the rest of the arts economy!

…now I need to make that dental appointment!


The Next Round of Add-in Dates – Arts & Culture Census

Is your organization doing everything it can to understand its audience? Do you do what other types of arts activities your audience members are participating in?

From a recent study published by the Wallace Foundation about arts marketing:

Arts organizations that want to build their audiences need to understand their audiences. That requires market research, and a number of conference participants talked about how gathering data – through focus groups, surveys or other methods – had been crucial to their work.

New Organizations may join the Arts & Culture Census group this May. The deadline to submit data is May 4, 2012. To join your peers from over 20 area arts organizations, email Jessyca@c4atlanta.org.

What does the Arts & Culture Census offer your organization?A picture of a man next to a blackboard. Above his head are the words "target your patrons." An arrown is drawn on the blackboard. The arrow looks like it is going through his head.

The purpose of the Arts & Culture Census is to:

  • Simplify mailing list exchanges
  • Share list hygiene expenses
  • Identify a targeted, qualified and focused group of arts consumers
  • Examine consumer behavior through comparative market analysis

Lists can be traded with just a few clicks. The list exchange is permission-based and completely secure. Read the A&C Census FAQ online at C4Atlanta.org.

22 Participating Organizations

Academy Theatre • Artworks! Gwinnett • Atlanta Ballet • Atlanta Jewish Music Festival • Atlanta Lyric Theatre • Atlanta Opera • Atlanta Shakespeare Company • Brooks & Company Dance • CORE • C4 Atlanta • Essential Theatre • Full Radius Dance • Georgia Ballet • Georgia State School of Music • Kennesaw State University College of the Arts • MINT Gallery • North Fulton Drama Club • Rialto Center for the Arts • Schwartz Center for Performing Arts • Serenbe Playhouse • Synchronicity Theatre • WonderRoot

Additional Information

In 2012, we will expand this program to include:

  • Training workshops
  • Relevant panel discussions
  • User Group Meetings
  • Blog site for the Arts & Culture Census users – articles, best practices, & more!
  • Hosting TRG Arts in Atlanta for a special training session with members

Join your peers today. Email jessyca@c4atlanta.org today!

It’s 8 PM. Do you know where your patrons are?

The Atlanta Arts & Culture Census can help you find them!

Arts patrons look board watching T.V.
Your Arts Patrons

Join your peers in the Atlanta Arts & Culture Census this March. The Arts & Culture Census is brought to our community through a partnership with TRG Arts, one of America’s most respected marketing consulting companies. Nearly 400,000 unique arts patron households currently represented!

We will be adding more companies to the Arts & Culture Census March 2, 2012. The deadline to express interest in being a part of the Arts & Culture Census is Friday, February 17, 2012.

What can the Arts & Culture Census do for my organization?

  • Get to know your patrons
  • Discover how to find new patrons
  • Secure list trading with your peers in just a few clicks of the mouse
  • Identify areas of growth and collaboration within the Atlanta region
  • Pull instant demographic reports for board meetings, grant proposals & more

How do I join the Arts & Culture Census?
Fill out this short interest form!

What do your peers think?

Atlanta Ballet has been both a consultant and database client of TRG since 2005.  TRG’s knowledge of performing arts marketing and specific focus on database marketing have been invaluable.  Their eMerge product has allowed Atlanta Ballet to create an aggressive direct communications marketing plan using mail, email and phone as methods to stay in touch with our existing and future patrons.   The launch of a community arts database in Atlanta will allow us to continue to grow strong arts patrons by reaching out to non-ballet patrons, and allowing other organizations to connect with Atlanta Ballet patrons., creating stronger arts patrons who crossover multiple Atlanta arts organizations. -Tricia Ekhom, The Atlanta Ballet

Although we had a broad understanding of our Schwartz Center arts patrons, we didn’t have much real data to support our media buys and who we were targeting. Once our info was loaded in TRG, I could easily print out demographic reports–showing zip codes and demographics like age, income and buying habits. Some of the research data was surprising to us; particularly the average age being a bit younger than we thought. The Arts & Culture Census has also made requesting mail lists from other arts organizations a breeze. – Jessica Cook, Emory Arts, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts

Organizations currently participating in the Atlanta Arts & Culture Census (as of 01/16/2012)

  • Academy Theatre
  • ArtWorks! Gwinnett
  • Atlanta Ballet
  • Atlanta Jewish Music Festival
  • Atlanta Lyric Theatre
  • Atlanta Opera
  • Brooks & Company Dance
  • CORE Performance Company
  • Essential Theatre
  • Full Radius Dance
  • Georgia State University School of Music
  • Kennesaw State University College of the Arts
  • MINT Gallery
  • North Fulton Drama Club
  • Rialto Center for the Arts
  • Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts
  • Synchronicity Performance Group
  • The Georgia Ballet
  • The New American Shakespeare Tavern
  • WonderRoot

Know your patrons?

Do you know what your patrons look like? Do they donate to your company? Do they have kids? What do they like to buy?

Do you have a picture in your head? Good. Imagine that people who don’t see your shows, visit your art openings or attend your lectures are out there aimlessly wandering around waiting to learn about your organization. Imagine that those friendly wanderers look an awful lot like your current patrons. How do you reach them?

We can agree that knowing your patrons is a good idea, right? You need to know everything about your patrons because chances are you haven’t exhausted all avenues to reach and retain them.

What excites us about the Arts & Culture Census: it helps the Atlanta region’s arts community connect more meaningfully to patrons. The more avenues your organization has to reaching audiences that look, act, and behave like current patrons, the less money, time and frustration your staff will spend on marketing initiatives. Even if you know your patrons, making assumptions (without data) about all of the region’s arts consumers provides an anecdotal approach to marketing at best.

What the Arts & Culture Census is NOT: A replacement for your current ticketing system.

The data co-op is designed to augment marketing strategies for maximum impact. We get a lot of questions about Tessitura. TRG’s system is not designed to compete or replace Tessitura, or any ticketing system. It is designed to help create an efficient means to cultivate, grow and retain patrons. It is designed to foster community collaboration. You should have in place a system (whether it be software or a comprehensive marketing plan) to help you track and understand your patrons. The Arts & Culture Census allows you to not only look at your patrons, but you can get to know the habits of patrons in other disciplines, companies, regions, etc. You can also track where your patrons are spending arts bucks elsewhere. Maybe this leads to some creative marketing between two companies? Maybe it tells you that your assumptions are correct? Maybe you will be surprised!

When It Comes to Marketing, Your Gut Is Still Not Smarter Than Your Head

A more audacious goal…

C4 Atlanta is an arts service organization. We have goals for the ENTIRE arts community. It is our hope that this service will encourage a standard of marketing accessible to all budget sizes, disciplines and audiences. The more we share information, support each other and raise awareness as a community, the more we are visible within the entire Atlanta ecosystem. The more we are all elevated to success, the stronger we all become.

Join us

Not only will your membership allow you access to the Arts & Culture Census, but you will also be supporting community-wide social innovation initiatives. It has been a tough couple of years for many of us in the arts community. When I was laid off, my world was turned upside down. So I understand that paying membership isn’t necessarily on the top of your to-do list. But I am asking you to invest in the long term. To look ahead at the possibility of greatness. I believe that a strong recovery comes with the right long-term investment. I believe in an Atlanta community where the arts are at the forefront of innovation. Join C4 Atlanta.

Interested, but you need more info? Email Jessyca@c4atlanta.org

— Jessyca Holland, Executive Director

P.S. – Direct mail is still relevant.

Young Adults Prefer Offline Marketing Offers

Direct Mail vs. Social Media Marketing & Email


What is Psychographic Data & Why Should I Care About it?

How is this different from demographic information? How do I use this information?

I want to take a small moment of your time to define, “psychographic” data. I found a pretty simple description via “How Stuff Works.”  Why am I talking about pshchographic information? Because the Arts & Culture Census makes psychographic information available to participating arts organizations. Here is the type of information to expect. Get to know your audiences better!


Even though you may have determined your demographic group, people within that group still have very different perceptions about the benefits or value of your product and will be motivated for different reasons. These differences are known as psychographics. To further target your efforts, you’ve got to determine not only who buys (or will buy) your product, but what makes them want to buy it. Include as much psychographic information as you can dig up, such as what their spending patterns are, whether they are brand conscious when it comes to your product type, what influences their buying behavior, what promotional efforts they respond to most often, etc. You also want to know how they go about buying it and what you can do to encourage them to buy more. You need this information so you can, in effect, clone your best customers. It is important to really pick apart what motivates them to buy.

The information you glean from a journey into your target audience’s brain is often key to your marketing efforts, particularly the positioning of your product. It includes the audience’s activities, interests, and opinions. You have to work through behavioral factors, economic factors, and even interpersonal factors to get to the root of purchasing behavior. Answer these questions in your overview:

  • What do they like about your product?
  • What do they like about your competitor’s product?
  • What made them decide to buy your product?
  • Did they know which brand they were buying before they purchased it?
  • What advertising messages had they seen prior to buying?
  • How much disposable or discretionary income is available for this type of purchase?
  • What are their hobbies?
  • What emotional aspects impact their purchase?
  • What is their social class or status?
  • Who is the actual decision-maker for this type of purchase?
  • What values and attitudes play a part in this type of purchase?
  • Who do they look to when making purchasing decisions?

Now that you know your target market and market segments, define your market using concrete numbers and percentages. In other words, how many users do you currently have and how many potential users exist for your product or service? If you are offering a regional service and have found that there are 80,000 potential customers in your geographic area, then this is where you put that information.

Explain the growth and other changes you see in the market and how the competition is failing, flailing or flourishing as a result. Include some market history if it applies to your product and market. Refer to the statistics and data you’ve discovered through your market research and be sure to quote the source and date.