Pay to Play

As a museum person, I seem to have a natural aversion to these words. But as a marketing professional, I know that they are a necessary and true tenet of the profession. In today’s world of declining newspaper dailies and magazines, museum marketers must often reconfigure how they advertise, promote and communicate. Often this can be accomplished through partnerships, packaging and earned media coverage—relatively low cost tactics—but more and more museums have to pay to play just like everyone else.

Most museums have limited, even shrinking, budgets, making the success and return of our paid promotional tactics more important than ever.  Several sessions this year have offered concrete ways to ensure that museums are not wasting their time, or their money. Here are just a few of the juiciest tidbits:

•    The four key drivers necessary to generating a positive ROI:
Comprehension: Did they get it?
Connection: Do they care?
Credibility: Do they believe you?
Contagiousness: Does it stick?
(courtesy of James Chung, Reach Advisors)

•    Make your customers RAVE:
Research: understand your audience
Alliance: collaborate, leverage strengths
Value-added products and promotions: create added value to everything you do
Earned media promotion: reach out in new ways, experiment!
(courtesy of Emily Dibella, Mt. Vernon)

Anna M. Bentson, director of public relations and marketing, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest


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