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Date posted: January 6, 2015

A recent column in The Guardian featured some advice from arts marketing professionals on tactics to take for communicating a cultural offering. It seems to me that these are applicable beyond the arts sector, and that they are good ideas to consider for anyone involved in the discipline of marketing, be they responsible for selling paintings or selling software and services. Here are six to hang on your mental wall:

  1. Experiment, challenge and ask questions (from Catriona McQuiggan, audiences initiatives manager, Royal Scottish National Orchestra). Never stop gathering and evaluating your data, and never stop trying new things – especially if they scare you. Equally, never stop an idea in its tracks because someone utters the dreaded phrase: “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” Instead, assess why it didn’t work last time, revise your plans accordingly and get going. 
  2. Refine your skills (from Suzanne Bull, head of brand, Falmouth University). It’s important to keep your marketing skills and knowledge up to date. Keeping an eye on current trends, good practice and the successes and failures of other organizations is a good start, but only if enhanced by genuine new thinking and applications. Don’t simply think like others; allow your teams to feel they can voice all their ideas. This will enable you to come up with truly engaging campaigns that bring and show the unexpected, surprising and exciting to your audiences in new ways. 
  3. Be realistic, but not defeatist (from Flavia Cerrone, press and comms manager, Royal Academy of Dance). Go with your heart and use your head to make it work. We often have to work within the boundaries of our limited resources. Be realistic about what you want to achieve and figure out what’s possible with the resources at your disposal. That said, don’t use lack of resources as an excuse: be creative and experiment. Follow your instincts and see how you can make the plan work with the tools to which you have access. It’s not uplifting to set yourself unrealistic targets and feel like you failed. Be realistic, but don’t let reality dampen your spirits. 
  4. Set aside time to read inspiring content (from Marge Ainsley, freelancer). I think it’s important to keep an eye on what other sectors are up to. We might not always have the same budgets, but the core principles of marketing remain the same. I use Pocket as a quick way to save links I find on social media by marketing, comms, PR, copywriting, customer experience, design and digital change-makers. Every Monday I spend an hour catching up on everything I’ve saved the week before—it kick-starts the day and sparks ideas to adapt and use in my work. 
  5. Know your tone (from Andrew Raffan, new media marketing officer, Aberdeen Performing Arts). Whether you’re a robot telling the world about your new home on a distant comet, or an organization raising local awareness, the right online identity can be the difference between your audience seeing you as a person or just a badge. People ignore or overlook impersonal brand messages. Instead, engage with a real voice (while matching your desired persona) to help build trust with your audience. 
  6. Don’t reinvent the wheel (from Lucy-Jane Attrill, communications manager, Artswork).
    I often find myself repeating to my team and colleagues: you don’t need to know everything, but you need to know how you can find out anything. Another useful piece of advice: there’s often no need to reinvent the wheel; just look at your existing channels in new ways.