Audience Diversification – Strategy 5: Messaging
Recent research from WolfBrown, in partnership with the League, indicates the importance to Black, Latinx, women, and younger audience members of effective communication about the orchestra’s work in equity, diversity, and inclusion. And yet most current audience members report being unaware of their orchestra’s work to build an inclusive experience for all audience members. Demonstrating EDI work in action, and communicating effectively about it, could significantly help to build audience (and donor) engagement.
Careful messaging can also help to address specific misperceptions about pricing, dress codes, transportation, and access. “Research showed that people of color thought our prices were higher than they were,” says David Snead, President and CEO of Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society, “so weaddress that perception in mailers.”
In terms of how the message is conveyed, “we leverage today’s technology to create a data-driven approach to marketing,” saysTori Fusinaz, VP and Chief Marketing Officer of the Jacksonville Symphony. The symphony’s marketing strategy, focused on audience diversification, is showing results through target-digital and CTV (streaming device) campaigns that seek to reach patrons beyond the symphony’s current audience. “Last season we had as much as 15% of the house filled with first-time ticket buyers,” says Fusinaz. “That means we’re doing something right, but that’s just the beginning.”
Like many others, Fusinaz also advocates cultivating social media influencers within target communities. “Influencers on social media platforms bring younger audiences,” she says, which tend to be more diverse. Katie Bonner Russo of New Haven Symphony Orchestra concurs: “a network of others recommending you is more effective” than tooting your own horn. Identifying influencers, and someone who can make an introduction, takes some work. Donna Walker-Kuhne recommends that marketing teams network strategically in order to identify influencers and then “court them like your highest-level donors, with swag and meet-and-greets.”