Commentary: Marketing and Development should "play nice" with patron data

Aaron Heinsman of the Maryland Humanities Council on Patron Technology's blog, 3/14/13

There's an old saw in the arts and culture world: Marketing and development departments don't often see eye to eye...and that's putting it mildly. While this is, sadly, often the case, I've been fortunate enough to work at several non-profit arts organizations where our better, smarter instincts (eventually) prevailed. A useful tactic...simple to grasp but challenging to implement: "playing nice" with your data. First, establish formatting and usage standards for it. Then, and this is vital, actually observe them across all departments. This can be tricky, but if you can persuade everyone who comes into contact with your data to do it -- especially if your organization has an integrated CRM/ticketing/fundraising system, but still important even if you don't -- it's going to make everyone's life much easier.

1. It's Good Great Customer Service: In our "Manage Your Preferences" world, we've come to expect a highly customized environment almost everywhere. If you've got standardized data on your customers' full interactions at your organization, you're able to offer them highly personalized, knowledgeable service. You know that good customer service means repeat business, be it another ticket sold or another donation made.

2. It's Straight-up More Efficient: What's the point of collecting data if you cannot use it effectively for what you need to do?

3. It Breeds a Collaborative Environment: If marketing and development folks haven't been playing nice with data, let alone one another, you know it's probably gotten in the way of just getting things done. You can change this potentially toxic environment.

4. It's Good for Everybody's Morale (Seriously): When you think of the highly successful people you know, you can bet that the chronic complainers aren't among them. So if you want to get happy and get ahead, proactively reach out to your colleagues and collaborate on the solution to your database problems.

5. It's Not More Work; It's an Opportunity for Success: A customer mentions the tickets he's buying are an anniversary gift. Your box office rep realizes this isn't a first-time customer (his wife has made all the purchases before). So she [tells] your marketing and development directors about the purchase. When the couple comes to the performance, [they get] a special mention during the curtain speech and champagne at intermission. You can pretty much guarantee every single person the couple encounters in the next few days is going to hear about the amazing experience they had. This is never going to happen if you have two (or more!) different accounts for the same person.

Now get inspired, get creative, and get out there and play nice!


Chicago theater's mktg & devo depts find joint success with Cultivation Pyramid
Lara Goetsch & Lydia P. Swift of TimeLine Theatre on Patron Technology's blog, 1/10/13

TimeLine's advocates (primarily board and company members) seemed to think of marketing and development as completely separate efforts. But we knew that they are not so disconnected. We have a shared goal -- to earn more money for our organization. If one of us falls short, the other has to pick up the slack. We thought of each other as partners, and needed to show advocates that, really, we're all in this together. Our idea was [a] Cultivation Pyramid process. We know we're not inventing the wheel with this. But the system we created helps our advocates leverage their networks and develop increasing support by taking a process that can be overwhelming and intangible and breaking it down into manageable steps. The process is scalable and adaptable -- applicable no matter your organization's size or type. At its core, it should focus shared marketing/development efforts by managing the process in a more "mass-produced" way, while empowering more "personalized" cultivation with and by your advocates. What do you need?

A commitment to cultivate

Advocates willing to actively take part in the process

A customer-relationship-management database

A central Action Plan document

Overall, we've received very positive feedback from advocates about the Cultivation Pyramid process, and experienced myriad success stories. Our organization is having exponentially more conversations about cultivation, which leads to exponentially more action. Advocates are better educated about marketing and development strategy and regularly share success stories that inspire their peers. We've greatly increased the number of advocates hosting cultivation events, secured financial gifts we never would have considered soliciting, and discovered connections at foundations that helped us secure significant support. We continue to fine-tune as we gain momentum.   TimeLine's Cultivation Pyramid process has brought our entire organization into alignment. Our advocates are armed with a deeper understanding of how every level of the pyramid feeds the next one, and how every level is valuable to the organization. Those with the most connection to our organization now have a tool that helps them make a true difference in building support, one person at a time.


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Commentary: Community engagement -- can Devo handle the workload alone?

Trevor O'Donnell, Marketing The Arts To Death blog, 3/26/13

Like many arts professionals, I'm watching the funding community's pro-engagement push with great interest. I agree that community engagement is where we're heading and that funders should be stimulating more engagement-oriented activity on the part of arts organizations, but I'm having trouble seeing how all those development departments will handle the added workload.

At first glance, it makes perfect sense that engagement will fall under the development umbrella. [It] is an extension of the work that development departments already do. And since engagement doesn't generate earned revenue, it makes sense that the people who will be seeking funding for engagement activities are the ones who execute those activities. The closer the relationship between the engagers and the funders who pay for their work, the more efficient their endeavors will be. But at the same time, engagement takes a lot of work, time and resources. Will they be able to do it without adding more staff or having to raise a lot more money? I've heard no discussions about how these new engagement endeavors will impact development departments, and frankly I'm surprised that more development directors haven't spoken up about the increased burden (maybe they're worried about offending their foundation contacts?). Development executives are under a lot of pressure these days and adding an entirely new layer of administrative responsibility seems like a lot to ask. It would be a shame if these new expectations pushed already stressed development pros to the limit and caused them to seek private sector gigs with more realistic job descriptions. The cultural sector can ill-afford to alienate professionals who are responsible for bringing so much revenue into their organizations. My perspective is that of a marketer and, while I can't speak for all marketers, I'm confident that development professionals will have the support of their marketing colleagues. Our plates may be full with earned revenue-oriented work, but we're happy to support you in your new engagement responsibilities whenever we can.

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