This study of audience development aims to present the trends in working with audiences and to outline the possibilities that are applicable in contemporary conditions.
The study therefore seeks answers to the questions:
- THE STATE OF AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
- WORKING WITH AUDIENCES
- NEW TRENDS IN WORKING WITH AUDIENCES
The development of new approaches and work with audiences has been largely stimulated by society-wide changes in the behaviour of the population, which is increasingly influenced by the development of new technologies. From a general point of view, it is also necessary to take into account demographic factors that influence the composition of the population, and consequently the composition of audiences, and as a result have a major impact on them. In 1999, the number of people over the age of 60 in the Czech Republic exceeded the number of children under the age of 15. This trend is on the rise and currently seniors represent more than 20% of the Czech population. At the same time, the level of education of the population is growing and the possibility of access to information is expanding, which also helps to form a new profile of the viewer, the visitor.
When creating marketing segments, it is necessary to observe five basic criteria that help to determine specific segment groups more easily. Segments should have common needs, be distinguished from each other by clearly identifiable differences, be reachable using the organisation’s communication channels, be able to respond in the desired way, be able to respond differently to different marketing mixes. From a quantitative point of view, the segments must be clearly measurable and at the same time large enough to make the investment and resources put into them worthwhile for the organisation. Target audience groups need to be identified and named.The target audience analysis also serves as a signpost for deciding which audience development approach to use.
AUDIENCE AS PARTNER AND CO-CREATOR
Organisations that have been successful in audience development use methods of audience engagement already during the creative process. This establishes a strong relationship between the audience and the artwork and puts the success of the resulting collaborative activity at the heart of the audience itself.
SOCIAL NETWORKS AND NEW MEDIA
One of the easiest ways to involve the audience in the creative process is through social networking and new media. Using social media also allows us to engage with both kinds of audiences – the audience we already have forms into a community and builds belonging to our organisation, and the potential audience is then easy to reach and influence thanks to the connections we already have on the networks. Social networks are an ideal tool for getting quick feedback and audience opinion.
By being able to easily reach a large number of people through the internet, it is possible to get suggestions, comments and ideas for the organisation and its activities without much financial cost, which would otherwise have to be developed by experts for money. This concept is therefore a win-win situation, as it provides a service to the organisation almost free of charge and also has a positive effect on the audience, who feel part of the organisation’s planning and decision-making.
Even when using new media and social networks, where the fan base often grows spontaneously, it is necessary to know the target groups we want to reach.
CREATING A COMMUNITY
Informal activities that go beyond the organisation’s regular programme are most often chosen for community building. The most common forms are meetings and discussions with artists or tours of places where the public does not normally go, such as studios, depositories, archives and backstage. This model of working with audiences aims to erase the barriers that are naturally erected between organisations and audiences.
A more open concept is then brought about by workshops and special programmes where people from the audience become directly part of the implementation team. Based on the long-term collaboration within the workshop, the artist can then select a group of people to participate in a professional work.
THE WORK OF VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers play a very positive and essential role in community building, as their interest can be used to informally engage with the audience. This connects the organisation, the artist and the visitor through the work of the volunteer, who conveys information to the visitor on a face-to-face basis that the organisation would not be able to provide on its own. In this case, the volunteer’s presence also serves another function – that of giving the impression that the organisation is open and accessible to the public.The function of artistic ambassadors can also be seen as a kind of volunteering. They have the task of reaching out to potential audiences in an informal and mostly personal way. The ambassador must be chosen according to the target group to be reached.
Ideally, the ambassador is a member of the target group himself – and therefore shares the same attitudes and interests – and is also a person whom the members of the group already know and can trust in his recommendations. The ambassador provides networking within the target community and promotes the activities of the organisation for which he or she works. This way of working together is very useful for getting feedback and opinion from specific people. However, when selecting an ambassador, it is important to ensure that he/she is very loyal to the organisation and that the message he/she passes on to his/her group is positive.
At the same time, the organisation should provide the ambassador with a sufficiently interesting offer to create a sense of uniqueness within the target community. The ambassador needs to have something that gives the group the impression that its members are the most important to the organisation being presented. Apart from a more favourable entrance fee, this could be various tours of non-public areas or the possibility of using the organisation’s facilities for their own activities.
WORKING WITH NEW AUDIENCES
Even more important for activities to attract new audiences is a clearly planned strategy based on initial research. The target audience to be reached must be clearly defined to avoid wasting time, money and energy.
WHO IS OUR AUDIENCE?
One of the tools of audience development is audience categorisation. In strategic planning, the categorisation follows on from the segmentation mentioned above; however, the categorisation of the audience is already the result of an analysis of the target groups for whose research we have identified the different segments. Based on the mapping of the audience segments, the organisation then defines the categories to which it adapts its audience development activities. In this case, we can again talk about audiences that already visit the organisation, as well as new audiences defined on the basis of the target groups identified within the organisation’s strategic objectives.
The categories are most often determined by demographic characteristics, but in the concept of audience development we are more interested in the needs of individual groups, their behaviour and how they use our services, as well as their social status.
It is a good idea to focus on the behaviour and needs of visitors more than their age, gender and education. The two main categories we choose are marketing to visitors who want to be alone and enjoy the exhibited works in peace, for example, and to visitors who, on the other hand, see a visit to a cultural event as a social affair. This implies a different form of outreach (online activities or social events within the event).
From a geographical point of view, it has been shown that audience behaviour can vary very significantly even within a single city or neighbourhood. These detailed maps show the need for very specific targeting, especially when looking for new audiences.
WORKING WITH SPACE – MOVING ACTIVITIES OUT OF BUILDINGS
A very popular concept in working with audiences is moving activities outside buildings. It is no longer sufficient for cultural organisations to focus only on activities in their own environment. In the concept of audience development, the model of bringing the audience to the venue of an artistic production is fundamentally changing into moving the art beyond the audience. Artists take to the streets and try to integrate their activities into the everyday life of the population, thus creating new audiences spontaneously. Ideally, this is a regular and long-term artistic activity that becomes part of the everyday life of people in a certain area, a given community.
Again, these activities have an impact not only on existing audiences, where they help to create communities, but also on new audiences, who have the opportunity to discover something unfamiliar.
PRICE AS A TOOL
One of the basic principles of working with audiences that we find in most institutions is pricing and creating loyalty or discount programmes. However, it has been shown that such activities are more effective when combined with other types of audience work, especially when set on the basis of rigorous prior marketing research.
We often work with discounts for students, seniors, or the disabled. This trend is also socially responsible and seeks to build a welcoming environment around the institution as well as accessibility for all without distinction.