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.
I guess my point is that in the debate about contents versus marketing in culture, if we take a stand for the marketing-driven approach we must make sure we understand what marketing means. It means making sure our great content reaches the right people and preferably as much as possible of them. We don’t get there with posters or ads or even social media campaigns if we don’t focus on the market, our target audiences.
I guess my point is that it’s all about our target audience and our content and the link between them. This link is called marketing, but doing ‘marketing’ like the people in my anecdotes won’t make it happen.
I guess my point is that being marketing driven doesn’t make you market driven per se.
Photo by Dan Zen on Flickr.