Ulead.com's free trial of their video software. I use Video Studio 10. Then you run it through a 3GP encodersuch as the one from from IMTOO.comto convert your video sample to a cellphone-compatible 3GP file, and then move the file onto your website to push to subscribers’ cell phones. So it’s easydefinitely something that chamber music presenters can experiment with, and not decimate their modest budgets.
DSM: Both of us are, I know, season ticket-holders. But each of us travels a lot, so we each also attend a lot of individual concerts. And in our home cities, there are conservatory or other performances that get added on—things that we attend when we can, but we don’t subscribe to. And when we attend chamber music events in our home cities, I know we routinely see many new people who take the initiative to come to a particular event. Is there a contest between Subscriberly Commitment vs Single-Experience Choice?
CMT: Not a ‘contest’ as such—just a continuing evolution of existing audience segments, and the emergence of new ones. I do think about this and ask myself “What makes me choose the single-event things that I go to?” Often, it’s the “unusualness” of the program that attracts me, or my good luck at being able to experience a particular artist or ensemble I haven’t heard before. It’s the “purple cow” effect that marketing theorists have written about in the past few years.
DSM: Chris Anderson’s phrase ‘long-tail’ is about durable under-served niches and hyper-specialized market segments. What we’re talking about is instead about transient niches, things that appeal because they address particular unmet needs I have right now, but that I may not have later on. Or I may still have the needs later on, but I won’t necessarily be able or inclined to act on fulfilling them later on.
CMT: Subscribers are obviously essential to performing arts organizations’ operating budgets. And that’s why those organizations’ staff members work so hard to cater to the needs of that committed, more permanent segment of their constituencies. But a lot has changed over the last 10 years, and arts consumers’ habits have changed as well. People’s schedules are more complicated; their competing commitments are more numerous and less predictable with regard to day of week—these factors are behind the growing single-ticket, long-tailed, on-demand crowd.
DSM: That’s true. But I also think an opportunity's being missed to further expand the season-ticket marketa season ticket is a planned program of activity for yourself. Reserving a part of your busy calendar that would otherwise be pre-empted by myriad other things. It might help chamber music presenters to market their series or season-ticket offerings in somewhat the way that spas and healthclubs market their services. It’s planning ahead, investing in your overall well-being. And, maybe if you did it this way, the “membership” would be structured so that the payments for the season subscription would be in monthly installments like a healthclub. You’d still get significant discount compared to à la carte single-ticket event purchases—but not as big a discount as the normal subscriber who pays for the whole season up-front. A monthly installment plan like this would probably work better for younger people and families with kids, too.
CMT: We’re always interested in how we can better deliver the chamber music experience. I think a lot could be translated from Starbucks’ specialty coffee-experience marketing to chamber music marketing.
DSM: And ‘viral’ marketing. How to get your audiences to do your marketing for you. Word-of-mouth marketing.
CMT: Some chamber music presenters are beginning to use text-messaging SMS, I know. “Thanks to the wonders of cell phone text-messaging technology, we're able to send you event reminders right on your phone. Just enter your full phone number and select your service provider from the drop-down list, and we'll beam a message to your phone at the appropriate time.” This is they way the blurbs read on the websites of the chamber groups that are doing this.
DSM: You have to make sure your cell phone provider offers text messaging (aka "SMS") and that this service is enabled for your account/phone. Most cell phones these days come with it. And most telecomm firms offer it as a free service, but some cell phone providers do charge for incoming messages. Then again, others don't. So if you're not sure, you need to contact your provider. (If they do charge, it's likely inexpensive — like, 2 cents per message in the U.S.)
CMT: Be aware that the reliability and timeliness of these messages depends on the phone company. The chamber music presenters may hold up their end of the deal and send out the reminders on time — but your phone service provider, who forwards the message to the subscriber, might introduce a delay—which could be hours. This totally depends on your service provider. So there’s a chance that some who experience delays could be disappointed. Doesn’t happen too often, but, just the same, there is that opportunity for hitches. If people start relying on an automated service, then the reliability of that service does assume a greater importance. That’s something the chamber music presenters will have to monitor.
DSM: In 2004 the Auckland Theatre Company and Chamber Music New Zealand launched a text messaging project called Txt2U to enhance the loyalty of its existing audience and encourage new attendees - particularly young audiences - through the targeted use of this new technology to encouraging younger audiences to attend chamber music concerts. It’s specifically designed to reaching 18 to 25-year-olds. I think the jury’s still out on how effective that program’s been. Finland has, I think, had a similar youth audience development program.
CMT: Developing younger audiences is a priority, you’re right. Through the online communication, the SMS subscribers receive information that helps them to be aware of world-class chamber music performances that would interest them. And for those whose social circles have a definite affinity for classical ensembles, it provides inspiration for their own music-making and gives them a wider appreciation of the artform. A certain number of technology-avid older audience members reportedly appreciate the SMS messaging option, too.
DSM: Keep in mind too that the interactive/bidirectional capabilities of SMS haven’t yet been exploited for reaching these chamber music market segments. All that’s out there right now is basically the unidirectional ‘reminder’ text messaging. But you could just as well set up the application to accept replies of various types from the recipients, for those who wish to send SMS replies. Or you could V-cast MP3 audio samples and/or 3GP video samples of what a particular chamber program will have in it, straight to the person's cell phone. Much more likely to put concert attendees in seats! Those options could be a very dynamic and informative medium for chamber music market research and audience development. There’s no reason why it has to be the passive, unidirectional thing. That was just the simplest way to begin. All the current mobile video services suffer from limited quality and awkward navigation beyond the first push. But it's a start!
CMT: Today’s audience segments who are using web-based and SMS and other media are sensitized to the program offerings’ tags that organize the flow of information. Things you can do that can help increase chamber music organizations’ eTailing promotions’ effectiveness:
- Optimize tags, meta description and meta-keywords
- Include these keywords in the copy on the page, whether it’s a webpage or an SMS message
- Create copy on category/subcategory pages and alt tags where applicable
- Create alternative categories when appropriate
- Utilize internal linking (for example, provide convenient embedded link-out from cellphone SMS text message to chamber group’s website if the use wishes)
- Provide hyperlinks from main category to subcategories
- Examine singular vs. plural word forms to see which one gets searched more
- Make sure the program names and series names reflect the keywords.
- Toronto Life. Talisker Players Chamber Music 01-NOV-2006 Text-Messaging Reminder Service.
- Aberdeen Music Hall Text-Messaging Reminder Service.
- Voice of San Diego. 30-SEP-2006. Text-Messaging Hazards in Chamber Music -- Audience Members Who Won't Shut Off their Phones.
- Text-Messaging Rampant During Spoleto 2006.
And here are some hard-copy things you’ll like:
- Gerber M. The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It. Collins, 1995.
- Godin S. Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. Portfolio, 2003.
- Godin S. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. Simon & Schuster, 1999.
- Hughes M. Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff. Portfolio, 2005.
- Kirby J, Marsden, P, eds. Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz, and Word-of-Mouth Revolution. Butterworth, 2005.
- Michelli J. The Starbucks Experience: Five Principles for Turning Ordinary into Extraordinary. McGraw-Hill, 2006.
- Rosen E. Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing. Currency, 2002.
- Schultz H. Pour Your Heart Into It. Hyperion, 1999.
- Silverman G. Secrets of Word-of-Mouth Marketing. AMACOM, 2001.
- Simmons J. My Siser's a Barista: How They Made Starbucks a Home Away from Home. Cyan, 2005.