What is marketing? Definitions abound, but the one we will use here is this: Marketing is the process by which we come to understand the relationship between our product (in this case, our concert performances) and our customer (our audience, our donors and supporters).
In other words: how do we sell tickets to our concert?
Your singing members will always be your best advocates and sales people. In addition to traditional marketing techniques like direct mail, advertising, email and presence with a website, the realm of social media has opened up new and exciting ways to reach your audience and promote your concerts.
An effective multi-year marketing plan should answer these key questions:
- Where are we today? - What is our mission? Our current audience? Our competition? What is the "state of the chorus?"
- Where do we want to go? – What is the measurable objective of this marketing plan? What do we want to do? And how do we measure it so we know we are successful? If the marketing plan covers more than one year, what are the objectives for each season?
- How Do We Reach success? – What are the marketing tactics that we will use to reach our goal? How do these apply to the traditional "P’s" of Marketing (product, price, place, promotion, people, positioning and politics)?
- How will it get done? – Who is going to do it? What resources do we have? The fewer dollars we have to spend on marketing, the more man power we will need – and vice versa.
- How much? – What is the marketing budget? And have we accounted for all resources: staff time, volunteer time, marketing dollars?
- How do we measure our results? – Do we have what we need to measure audience growth, ticket sales? Do we have what we need to measure whether or not our marketing plan objectives are successful?
- Did we succeed? What did we learn? – Do we have what we need to identify if we succeeded or not? And whether we succeed or not – are we planning to document what we learned (i.e., our recent email campaign did not drive ticket sales like we hoped – can we figure out why? Do we have a theory we can test with our next email campaign?)
Sample SWOT Analysis
A great planning tool for putting together a marketing plan is a SWOT Analysis. Take some time to analyze your organization’s internal Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as external Opportunities and Threats.
Sample GALA Chorus Situation Summary
A great planning tool for putting together a marketing plan is a Situation Analysis. Spend some time to access your current "situation" or "state of the state" by looking through the following lenses: environment (outside factors most affecting your growth), competition (advantages and disadvantages you have), three issues coming out of your SWOT Analysis, what is your audience profile and what relevant audience trends are you seeing in your hometown.
GALA Sample 2 Year Marketing Plan
A sample two year marketing plan that you can use for your Chorus.
Here are some samples of artwork and graphics used by GALA Choruses to promote their concerts and other events. If you are interested in submitting your chorus’s work for inclusion, please email a link to where your artwork resides on the internet to email@example.com.
Chorus Artwork Sample
Document description: Sample artwork used to promote a chorus
Sample Season Brochure
Sample graphic design for page 2 of a 2-page season brochure
Market and audience segmentation analysis helps you identify who you are going to target with what marketing resources you have available. Your marketing becomes more than just trying to fill a performance venue. You are now trying to find the right audience who will respond to your chorus.
Sources of Audience Data
You can find information to help you with your audience analysis at these locations:
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Local Economic Development Agencies
- Local Media Outlets
- National Endowment for the Arts
- The National Arts Marketing Project
- Local Arts Organizations
- Conduct Your Own Audience Survey
- Paper survey handed out with a concert program
- Services such as Survey Monkey
- Invite Audience Members for a Focus Group Discussion
- Observational Research: Have one or more volunteers observe your audience as they come in for a performance. Are there similar groups? Who is attending your concerts?
Audience Survey Sample Short
A sample audience survey designed to gauge audience response to a specific concert.
Audience Survey Sample Long
A sample audience survey designed to gauge response to a specific concert, and collect demographic information to help with marketing
BAPA Audience Research Report
An extensive report on the methodology and results of audience research undertaken by the Big Apple Performing Arts.
Sample Customer Segmentation
Here is an extensive customer segment analysis created by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus. They have given their customer segments unique names and have written detailed biographies about who they believe these customers to be. In reality, the Chorus has many different kinds of customers, but these four segments are used to help visualize who is in the audience. Chorus staff and Board of Directors are trained to understand who these customer segments are, creating a common language for discussing marketing objectives.
Sample Customer Segmentation Spreadsheet
Here is a summary version of the sample segmentation detail in spreadsheet form, so you can compare and contrast the difference between the four audience / customer segments that this GALA chorus identified in their marketing plan.
eMarketing is the process of marketing your Chorus using the internet. For our purposes, information in this section will include more traditional forms of eMarketing and not social media tactics. Please refer to the Social Media section for information about marketing using tools such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
eMarketing includes using tools such as mass emails to your audience and donor lists (from the "e-blasts" to everyone on your list to more targeted delivery, to e-newsletters, a chorus website, etc.)
Email: An easy way to market your Chorus is through the use of email. Many Choruses use an email service provider to manage their email lists and email campaigns. Popular email service providers include MailChimp, ConstantContact, ExactTarget and PatronMail. You can search the internet for many other service providers; here is a link to an article on what to look for when searching for a service to manage your email marketing efforts.
Examples of types of emails you might use to promote your chorus:
- Eblasts: emails that go out to everyone on your lists of audience members and donors that promote your concert, talk about an upcoming event, etc.
- E-newsletters: A digital version of a paper newsletter. Some choruses have stopped printing a paper version of a periodic newsletter for audience and donors and have gone to an email version.
Website: Many GALA Choruses have their own unique website for promoting their Chorus, selling concerts, merchandise sales and online donations. Some organizations will get their start with a Chorus page on Facebook as opposed to investing the time and effort to creating a website (see the section on "Social Media.")
To have a website on the internet, you need the ability to create content that is displayed on the internet, and find a hosting service that will "host" your website for display on the internet. A great way to start is to visit chorus websites to get ideas about how your website could look. Most websites will also include somewhere on the homepage a footnote credit for the individual or company who created the website. This credit, when you click on it with your mouse, will take you to the developer’s website.
Look for websites for smaller organizations and companies in your hometown, and use this approach to find out who developed their websites. Often these developers are local and may provide an affordable service to creating and managing your website.
You will also find that other GALA choruses are more than willing to offer advice on how their websites were created – including what worked and what you should avoid.
There are many web based services that let you create and host your own website. GoDaddy.com and SquareSpace.com are two popular options; we encourage you to do your own research and not assume these two choices are the correct ones for your chorus.
Join the GALA Chorus Social Media Managers group on Facebook. Members of the group will share the latest ideas and trends in social media, what works for their choruses, and more. This link will take you to the Facebook group page. Log in to your Facebook account and join the group.
Developing an Online Voice Presentation
Jeff Heine, Executive Director of TCGMC presented at a recent Symposium on Audience Engagement about TCGMC’s work in building an online persona for their social media work. The accompanying YouTube video of this presentation can be found here.
Make note of local LGBTQ publications, local newspapers and magazines that feature stories and information about the local arts scene, etc. Check their websites or latest issues for contact information of individuals responsible for advertising.
If you are going to pay for advertising, consider negotiating an agreement for your entire season. Often negotiating a commitment for an entire season can get you lower ad rates.
Do you put together a concert program? Consider selling advertising space to help pay for the cost of your concert program. You can also use your concert program to negotiate an “ad trade” with a local publication: they can advertise in your program in exchange for you advertising in their publication.
Get to know other local arts organizations that put out programs for their events. Negotiate “ad trades” with these organizations so you can advertise in each other’s programs for little or no cost. An ad trade can include free ad space and tickets to your concert. Take the time to investigate how your state and local government taxes ad revenue. In some states, you can be taxed for ad revenue above and beyond the cost of your concert program.
Need a Sample Marketing Plan?
An effective marketing plan will define three key things: 1] where are we as a Chorus today, 2] where do we want to be as a Chorus in the future and 3] what do we need to do to get there.
Download a sample GALA Chorus marketing plan to get you started!