Marketing officers regularly refer to the “patron journey” that takes a prospect and moves them from initial sale to subscription. The journey may look different for new audience segments and may aim for engagement over ticket revenue or contributions.

Once a first ticket has been purchased, Tori Fusinaz’s team at the Jacksonville Symphony activates an automated journey that helps introduce the new patron to the symphony without bombarding them with marketing offers. “We try to get to know them and give them reasons to come back. We show them that they are important to us.” As Donna Walker-Kuhne notes, you don’t start a friendship by selling something: if the focus is on building a relationship, it’s going to be a long-term investment. The revenue will come later.

“We’re looking for a connective experience, versus the passivity of an audience receiving an experience,” explains Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Karisa Antonio. For her and others, such experiences are rooted in patient, long-term relationship building with communities and the organizations that work in them. At partner venues, community leaders emcee or welcome audiences, and partner organizations share information about their work from the stage and in the lobby. Performances feature local artists and members of the community. The DSO’s staff personally greets attendees on arrival and departure, answering questions and passing out surveys. There are even children’s surveys complete with crayons, reflection ideas, and smiley faces to circle to reflect how they feel, as well as response boards with sticky notes asking questions about people’s personal musical experiences, both in general and at the concert, using prompts like “music makes me feel…”


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