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What is the benefit of having a marketing person in a museum – #museumhour

There were so many unfinished conversations and questions at my first ever #museumhour session on twitter, I felt the need to summarise and perhaps ponder further. The subject was ‘Museums and Marketing’. I thought it might be good to discuss them further here.

First let’s start with this question I posed.

Who does Marketing in your Museum? A specific person or everyone?

Answers ranged from: ‘ Me’, a curator or an education officer to ‘We have got a team of 9 Marketing specialists’ (@ericanew)

I find this interesting, in some ways as it shows how important marketing is to a museum.For a lot of museums it seems that having a person dedicated to Marketing is a luxury. Mind you, having any person dedicated to any one specific thing is a luxury in itself for some. I know a few people who are covering education, marketing & curating at the same time.

About My Marketing Team

It consists of a Marketing Manager (me), a Web and Digital Officer, a Press and Print Media Officer and a Marketing Assistant.

We manage the marketing communications for 2 museums, an art centre, 7 libraries and several community centres. Although we do have a Campaign and Evaluation Officer for the Museum Maker project, the role is a temporary one. So effectively we do not have a specific person to manage the marketing for our two museums.

Naturally any types of system always come with their challenges and their benefits.

FOCUS

Like those who does not have a specific person to manage their marketing, our challenge is being able to focus. Whilst a curator doing marketing might not be able to entirely focus on marketing, our challenge is we have to juggle a lot of different art forms, audiences and people that we work with. We are still focused on marketing, but not on a specific subject.

RESILIENCE

The mixture of art forms, does, however, provide my team with a breadth of knowledge of audiences. It gives us the ability so see across what we can cross sell between the venues. We can interlink with each of the different events, and save costs in marketing materials if they have similar audiences. We are more like a very intelligent  ‘if you enjoyed this, you might enjoy these…’ Amazon type of service.

We are also much more aware of the cross section development in the arts, museum and libraries. Often some methods /techniques are more used in the arts for example than the museums and vice versa.

Because ultimately the team works for the benefit of Luton Culture as a whole, this means we are thinking of everything strategically in a wider context. This was really crucial in PR crisis management, but this point is probably for another post…

I think all this makes the team and the work more dynamic and resilient to the ever changing marketing landscape.

CONTENT

The benefit of having someone that has the in-depth understanding of the subject like a curator or an education officer is, of course, having greater access to content. An independent marketing team on the other hand relies on the knowledge and input of colleagues for content.

The challenge with content for curators or educators or anyone that does the delivery, is ensuring that they are interesting and relevant to the audience. Quite often because we see it day in day out, know the subject matter inside out, we assume that everyone knows about it or should know about it. Sometimes you can know too much too write effective content – for example by using jargon and terms that others might not understand.

Marketers tend to be trained or experienced to see and notice what sells, or in our case what is interesting about the content. When it is online content they should also be thinking about SEO, how best to present it, how to measure the success, how to link it with current goings on, and plenty of other things that add value to your content.

AUDIENCE

Marketers should always be thinking strategicly about the entire brand and about a different range of audiences. Therefore we tend to be outward thinking, and place importance on the audience – “constantly thinking about the user” in digital language. What makes a better visitor/user experience on the website or what makes the printed material easily accessible or digestible by audiences? What would most people want to read? Which is the best medium for a specific audience?

WHO?

Having said all this, although having a marketing professional is important, it is really important that the responsibility is not solely put on them.

@ericanew said ‘in an ideal world, all staff would be switched on to Marketing’

I would say not only your staff, but your volunteers and the public too. In publicising your museum and events it is really important for everyone to be involved. As all of us know, word of mouth is the best method of publicity. Even more so now, with twitter and other social media, the power is exponential. It could also reach beyond the other person in your gym or book club.

Marketing can create awareness and impetus, but people create the buzz and interest.


What do You Think?

What is it like for your museum?

Do you think that a concentration in marketing is needed?


#museumhour is every Monday at 8pm-9pm UK time @museumhour

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