Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Arts Marketing Insights

Book: Arts Marketing Insights: The Dynamics of Building and Retaining Performing Arts Audiences by Joanne Scheff Bernstein.

In this book, the author sets out to describe the shifts in audience behaviors over the past decade, and how it affects the marketing strategies employed by arts marketing professionals. The author does a good job of describing the shifts which have occurred in audience behavior throughout the past decade, but if you are looking for the same level of insight and brilliance which she has demonstrated in earlier works (mostly her collaborative work with Philip Kotler), you will be disappointed. This book gives you the basics—understanding your customer, the use of marketing research, and yes, even the beloved four P’s: product, price, place and promotion. Bernstein even outlines some of the most feared problems in the industry such as declining subscription rates and the aging of our audiences, and suggests using the same techniques which marketers have used over the past ten years to combat those problems. And this is where the book stops. Forgive me, with all the stuff out there now on marketing in the arts, I expected someone with Bernstein’s reputation to add much to the current critical debate over the future of arts marketing. What she does is provide a nice recap of what most of us already know.

I found her chapter entitled “Leveraging the Internet and E-Mail Marketing” the most disappointing. For a book published in 2007, I found it odd that there was very little, if any, discussion on how the use of technologies, other than websites and e-mails, could be used to communicate with potential audiences. What about Podcasting? RSS feeds? Social networking websites? Blogging?

To wrap up, if you would like a basic snap shot of the current problems facing arts marketers today, as well as a nice review of marketing basics, this book is for you. If you are looking for anything else, I am afraid you will be disappointed.

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