Occasionally, it’s good to take a step back from all the insiders’ discussions about the future of museum and their role in society and look at what ordinary people have to say about that. I feel at times there’s a disconnect between the museum discourse and my everyday experience with ordinary people about what they want from museums.
Take for instance the ordinary people who write the great series ‘Authors on museums’ in my favourite magazine Intelligent Life. Almost every one of these authors reflects in their essay on the intrinsic value of the collection of the museum. Plus, most of them see the museum they describe as a place to escape to (Sanctum in the City). It is a place that defines them as individuals and a place full of memories of family and friendship, love and life (Palais of the Dolls). It is a place for private memories (The Odessaphiles).
Through the eyes of the authors, museums are a dream world. A museum is not reality. A museum is a place that appeals to the imagination with (self)discovery, beautiful collections, peace and quite…
The aspirational 14%
Given, these authors aren’t as ordinary people as John Doe is ordinary people. Nevertheless, they represent and write for an audience that is very much a museum audience. Intelligent Life is written for a group of society I’ve recently read being referred to as ‘the aspirational 14%’. In context, the 14% of people aspiring to one day own a Patek Philippe (as opposed to the 1% that actually will). These are the people that look up, hope, dream. In the words of Oscar Wilde, those in the gutter looking at the stars. Read the rest of this entry »
An anecdote: In a recent conversation with a marketing manager at a larger cultural institution in the Netherlands I asked after the organisation’s primary target groups. “That’s not the way we think about marketing here,” was his stern reply.
Another meeting, another story: When discussing how to get people to enjoy a new cultural product a cultural communication professional quickly pointed out that the best way was probably carpet bombing the city with posters and flyers. That’s how they always did it, even though they had no clue about the ROI.
Marketing is all about bringing the right product to the right people. It’s about market research, product development, distribution, sales, public relations and yes: also partly about promotion and advertising. There is no marketing without a market, without an understanding of the market and without a specific focus on a market.
Promotion alone won’t help you get your product to the market. Buying ads doesn’t automatically help you reach the right people. Even if all curators start writing Facebook updates, this doesn’t necessarily get more people through the door. Read the rest of this entry »
Whenever I feel like there is an occasion for a party, I always quickly reject the idea. I’m terrible at throwing parties. It’s not that I’m not a good cook, don’t know about wine or have trouble keeping a conversation going. It’s not even that I know my musical taste is a bit unusual or have too few friends. My problem with throwing parties is that I know I will never quite invite anybody, or ever publicly announce the event.
This, unfortunately, is a problem lots of people are having when it comes to their digital strategy. We’re great (or at least getting better) at designing engaging online content, yet terrible at reaching people with it.
Earlier this year a theatre company in the Netherlands made a production about making news. For months they researched how to manipulate the news and how to get topics trending. The accompanying website was nicely made, with bonus materials and even an interactive YouTube video. The only problem: nobody knew about the production. They had studied making news, but forgotten to be news themselves, as the people involved had to admit reluctantly in an interview.
There’s a subtle but important different between providing good engaging online content and actually reaching people with it. I call this difference the difference between engagement and outreach and it’s a tough difference if I consider many of the projects I’ve been advising about in the past months. Read the rest of this entry »
Almost overnight my RSS timeline changed from “Facebook blah Facebook blahblah” to “Pinterest blah Pinterest blahblah”. There’s so much buzz around this new social network that I’m not even going to explain what it is and why it is the future. Others have done so and have done so better, especially Neil Patel’s marketing guide to Pinterest. A must read, which lists SFMOMA as a brand doing well on the platform. Chapeau.
Pinterest is the perfect platform for culture, if you ask me. It’s the platform most suited to give meaning to our mission statements and values. Among the many, many things you can do on Pinterest (thanks Jenni), here are five I find especially valuable:
Make your blog more compelling, and easier to fill
Regardless of your topic, an image and strong tagline almost always tell a more convincing story online than an image and a 2,000-word essay. I’m sure a good board can replace many a regular culture blog, reach a wider audience and be more engaging. Plus, it’s easier to get a 5-word quote about a painting from a curator than have her write a 500-word blogpost.
Create a mindblowing gallery of influencers and influenced
So the Guernica inspired hundreds of artists (and rightfully so)? Make a board that shows a “timeline” of all the art influenced by this piece, and where Picasso took his inspiration from. This makes a great exposition, and – thus – a great board on Pinterest. You could also crowdsource such a project by opening up the board to contributions by your followers. Read the rest of this entry »
I just finished reading Resonateby Nancy Duarte. The book’s promise is bold. According to Dan Post in the introduction, when “applied with passion and purpose, the concepts in this book will accelerate your career trajectory or propel your social cause.” And the book delivers, thankfully.
Resonate is about composing engaging presentations that transform audiences. It provides hands-on advice and compelling case studies to change the 45-minute PowerPoint-dominated ordeals you repeatedly have to sit through into life-altering experiences.
Apart from the inevitable Jobs and Reagan examples, quite some of the case studies are about cultural icons, such as the 2008 TED talk by conductor Benjamin Zander. Watch it if you haven’t already, its message is becoming ever more relevant.