Marketing is undeniably human. It’s based on ideas, creativity and lateral thinking, on understanding people’s needs and wants, and how they think and behave.
For this reason, marketing teams are an irreplaceable asset to any business in the museum, arts and cultural heritage sectors. Effective marketing helps identify visitor demographics and audience trends, improve engagement and affinity with your online community and content, and ultimately, make your business money.
However, when businesses hit upon hard times — as museums and heritage sites have under the pressure of Covid-19 — they streamline to stay afloat. Marketing budgets are often one of the first to be cut: UK companies reduced their marketing spend by 6.1% overall in March of this year in light of the pandemic.
So how can we prove our worth and the indispensability of our work to keep clients on board and marketing a priority? These two approaches can make all the difference.
The value of asking ‘why’
We’ve talked about the importance of knowing your values before, and aligning with brands and businesses that share these core values. We also think the easiest way to understand a company’s core values is by asking them why they are marketing their brand and what they wish to achieve in the long term.
By asking museum and heritage professionals why they’re seeking our services, whythey’re pursuing (or not pursuing) a certain marketing goal, and why engaging with their visitors is important, you begin to show marketing’s worth. By digging deeper and uncovering the ultimate goal, you demonstrate how marketing is intricately linked to growing their community and driving ticket purchases, new memberships, donations, and other revenue streams.
This end goal, a culmination of increased profitability and uplifting core values, is what we describe as the ‘ultimate result’.
When asking the big why questions and trying to uncover the ultimate result, it helps to remember what your client might want to achieve. In the arts and cultural heritage world, for instance, they might be seeking:
- Authority and thought leadership in their market
- Deeper connections with their community
- Fostering a greater passion and interest in art/history/heritage
- More footfall through exhibition doors
- Digital innovation leadership
By asking ‘why’, you not only gain the knowledge of what the museum or heritage organisation is looking for, but you help them understand it too. This not only demonstrates your worth by helping them reach their ultimate result, but it also allows you to do your job better by factoring this end goal into every step of the marketing process.
Marketers often help businesses understand intangible things: how their audience sees the world, what they think of the brand, and how to engage with visitors and community members in a more meaningful way. Which inevitably leads to two main problems when proving the value of marketing:
#1 The results aren’t always instantaneous
#2 They often aren’t measured in the same way as other aspects of the business
Where is the link back to earnings, to the idea that what we’re doing adds value in the same way as other projects and initiatives?
That’s why proving our worth involves effectively measuring the results of our work. Marketing is a loop of test, learn, overcome and adapt to challenges — so in order to show what you’re doing is working, a method of tracking the ultimate result needs to be determined.
The good news is that measuring the ultimate result doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as tracking metrics and trends in Google Analytics and built-in social media analytics platforms, such as:
- Engagement rate
- Bounce rate
- Time spent on site
- Likes, retweets and replies
- Session duration
- Source of traffic
- Newsletter open rate
- Click-through rate
Measuring the impact of your content marketing in line with the museum’s or heritage site’s ultimate result shows the tangible value of your work. It allows you to put the needs, wants and behaviours of their audience in context while demonstrating the effectiveness of your marketing efforts in a clear, quantitative format.
Showing the value of marketing
The key to showing the value of marketing is to create that light bulb moment for your team director or client: help them make the connection between the company’s ultimate result and how specific marketing tactics (research, content, analysis) get them closer to that goal.
Where should you begin? By having open conversations at the planning stage of the marketing campaign about what they hope to achieve. That way, you’ll be able to test, learn and overcome challenges more effectively, and get the business closer to their ultimate result in every stage of the process.
Once you’ve measured the outcome of a blog, newsletter, or social media campaign, the data that backs up your success (or points you in the direction of improvement) will show your team or client how you’ve got them closer to their ultimate result and helped grow the business through marketing.