Does Your Arts Organization Really Know Its Patrons?

A recent Story of Telling post asks, “When did you last spend time watching what your customers do?” Its point is that people’s actions can speak louder than words.

The post explains: “We tend to think of our customers as intentional, rational human beings — which is why we spend a lot of our time marketing to their heads. We make and market better products and services by working harder to get a glimpse of their hearts.”

Jim expresses a similar message in Know Your Customers, or Just Think You Do? He noticed that the commercials during the 2010 Super Bowl seemed to be insulting their target market. He writes:

“Of course, I’m on record as saying that even effectively designed advertising is decreasingly effective because people can so easily tune it out, but the Super Bowl may actually be the exception. This is a time when people have somehow been convinced to watch the commercials. It’s like every night in the ’50s through ’70s all over again!

And perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe guys do want to think of themselves as useless morons, or maybe the real target audience is women, and it’s women who want to think of men as useless morons. I don’t see that being true either way. It may very well be that these companies see their customers as useless morons, and if that’s the case, then the low return on investment that Super Bowl ads typically have is well deserved.

What I’m saying is simply this: Are you communicating to your audience or to some preconceived idea of your audience?”

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