The Economic Downturn: How Museums Can Respond. A presentation to the Canadian Museums Association, March 2009 by Gail Dexter Lord President, Lord Cultural Resources. Museums Have Been Adversely Affected by the Current Economic Downturn. Lower attendance levels
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A presentation to the Canadian Museums Association, March 2009by Gail Dexter LordPresident, Lord Cultural Resources
Lower attendance levels
Reduced admissions, retail, membership, and other visitor-generated income
Fewer functions have meant lower rentals income
Endowments tied to investments have lost value
Corporate and other donations have been cut back
Governments may not be able to keep grants in line with museum needs
Lower revenues have resulted in reductions of services, hours, events and major exhibitions.
…Greater Focus on the Museum Visitor
… Strengthening the institution
Are the better way
In tough economic times people are more cautious about taking expensive vacations…
…Museums may therefore benefit from the phenomenon of substitution as people seek out things to do, including attending museums, closer to home.
Increase Resident Market Attendance Downturn
Add value to the admission price.
Create incentives for repeat visitation, e.g. ”keep ticket stub for half-price (or free) second visit within 60 days.”
Exposes visitors to retail opportunities and other revenue centers and adds value internally to admission charges without lowering them.
Challenge to communicate these opportunities during tough economic times when marketing budgets are limited. One answer to seek news coverage by actually writing and submitting news stories to media outlets which themselves are facing tough economic times and have fewer writers.
Don’t worry if ticket shared with someone else. What is important is getting people in the door!
Seek to Boost Repeat Visitation by Residents
Members are primarily residents and are repeat visitors. Find ways to add value to membership.
People are making decisions about whether or not to maintain their memberships.
It is tougher and more costly to have a membership restored after it has lapsed than to strategize ways and means to maintain memberships during tough economic times.
One way to do so is to offer two-year memberships that have a substantial discount on the second year.
Another is to increase the benefits of membership such as more exclusive members- only periods.
Membership as a Way to Increase Repeat Visitation
Art galleries and museums are seeking to attract more family visitors not just on family Sundays but on a daily basis.
Military, transportation and other museums with difficulty attracting women are seeking to focus on social history and emphasize the important role and accomplishments of women.
All museums are seeking to increase appeal to diversity -- by being relevant
Co-produce programs your community needs – Anything goes from Yoga to Choir practice
Using Public Programming to Increase Appeal to Less Traditional Market Segments
One art museum has publicized its permanent collection by a campaign of reproductions in a subway station.
Another invited visitors to select from photos posted on Flickr which were used in an advertising campaign.
Some museums are rotating their permanent collection three or four times per year – with dynamic themes that “feel like” special exhibitions
Marketing Strategies in Tough Times
Marketing permanent exhibitions:
But many museums have had to substantially reduce advertising budgets so have sought other ways to get the message out. For example:
Younger people are less likely to turn to newspapers and other traditional forms of communication some museums have their own pages on social networking sites
The best and also least expensive form of marketing is word of mouth. This means finding ways and means to get people into the museum so they can tell their friends and relatives about it.
Bad News: campaign of reproductions in a subway station.
We are likely in the worst economic downturn since the 1930’s.
Museums have survived recessions before
New museums were built in the Great Depression
The museums that will emerge in the best shape will not be those that have cut the most staff, exhibitions, programs and other public services.
It will be those museums that maintained existing audiences and grew new ones
Museums are candidates for Government recovery money and infrastructure money – get your capital projects “shovel ready” starting tomorrow.BAD News / GOOD News
Someone must lead campaign of reproductions in a subway station.
The leader must have a plan
You cannot save your way to health
Focus on today and tomorrow not yesterday
Marketing is not brochures
There is only one spokesman and the message must be positive
The Board must allow itself to be restructured
-- from “The Art of the Turnaround” by Michael M. Kaiser (Brandeis University Press, 2008)
Prepare for the Future -- Institutionally
Discussion campaign of reproductions in a subway station.