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National Arts Marketing Project

NAMP is a program of Americans for the Arts dedicated to helping arts organizations better understand the marketplace in which they operate and recognize the benefits of an aggressive, outward-looking audience development effort. NAMP provides training and resources to help arts organizations acquire and implement sophisticated marketing, technology and entrepreneurial skills that will in turn help increase earned income through greater audience engagement.

NAMP has developed a successful system of sharing information online and in person. Its suite of programs share information via multiple channels and allows you to engage with the services by means that best suit your style of learning, location and budget.

There are two primary hubs to the NAMP suite of programs.  Its online portal, www.artsmarketing.org (AMO), features articles, webinars, podcasts, e-books, and practical lessons in arts marketing and audience engagement.  Stretching out from AMO, the NAMP online community shares ideas and tools through social media channels including Facebook, Twitter (#nampc), LinkedIn, and ARTSblog. These interconnected resources can be accessed 365 days per year at no cost to you.

In person, the annual NAMP Conference provides real time access to new marketing research, audience engagement strategies, and live networking opportunities. The Conference attracts more than 500 attendees each year, and its expert speakers are a mix of marketing professionals from technology, media, hospitality, and consumer engagement as well as leading arts professionals who are sharing lessons with their peers. The Conference comprises keynote speakers, educational workshops, peer-to-peer roundtables, and two full-day intensive preconferences.

Flowing between these two hubs are regional workshops that can be customized to suit the needs of your specific arts community and scheduled at any time throughout the year. They fulfill the need of in-person education in a location that may not be the host city of the NAMP Conference. Choose from a variety of workshop topics taught by world-class instructors, or customize a training program to meet your unique needs.

At its core, NAMP is a business-to-business service that enables its audience of discipline-based arts organizations to be better business-to-consumer companies. NAMP is uniquely positioned with a broad view of the marketplace where we can aggregate theory and data from multiple brand categories and provide access to this information across all arts disciplines and geographic areas. We understand the needs and constraints faced by arts organizations, and we provide practical information and solutions to help you focus your efforts and achieve your goals. Our vetted information enables arts organizations to provide customer-centric engagement utilizing new tools and systems of change.

Arts Marketing

Glad you asked! Many people think “marketing” is an activity—mailing a flyer, printing a poster, placing an advertisement. Marketing is actually the decision-making process you use to determine the best way to persuade your customers. Marketing explores the relationship between your customers and your product, taking into account your competition and other factors (such as the economy) that affect how your audience makes purchasing choices. Marketing tells you what your customers like and dislike, want and need. Then you decide how to adjust your product, price, place, and promotional message (the “4 Ps of Marketing”), as well as public service initiatives and positioning, or branding, to better draw your customers.

You wouldn’t take a road trip without a map, would you? You need a marketing plan to help you decide where you want to go and how you plan to get there. The decisions you make while you’re developing your marketing plan help determine your organization’s goals, priorities, and available resources. Who are you trying to reach with your promotional efforts? How much money and time can you devote to each activity? How will you measure success? Developing a marketing plan forces your organization to answer those questions, and gives you a step-by-step plan to achieve results. For help on developing your marketing plan visit pratical lessons.

Start with the big picture—defining your organization’s brand. What are your core values? What is unique about your organization that attracts customers and keeps them coming back? What does that tell you about who you should be marketing to and what you should be saying? Many organizations start by surveying their customers to determine what they like and dislike about the organization—what they think makes your organization unique. Understanding how customers view your organization will help you determine whether you need to change your product or your customer’s perceptions in order to attract bigger audiences.

Start today. Remember, marketing is a process—the sooner you start, the more successful you’ll be. Think of your organization as a stool with three legs: artistic excellence, sound management, and customer input. You can create amazing art and manage everything to a tee—but if your customers don’t connect to what you’re doing, they won’t come. A marketing plan forces your organization to focus on its customers in every decision it makes.

Wouldn’t that be great? You simply download a marketing plan template, insert your organization’s name and run with it. Sorry, but it just isn’t that easy. Every arts organization is unique, and that means you need to develop your own marketing plan. You’ll use many of the same strategies and tactics other organizations use, but they have to be customized to your product and your customer base.

To attract media attention, you have to determine what the media wants (and what their audience wants), so you can offer stories that will meet their needs. Chicago-area consultant Deborah Popely says the Seven Secrets of Highly Successful Publicists involve creating and implementing:

  • Smart media strategies
  • Creative story angles
  • Well-written presentations
  • Strong visuals
  • Fearless, persistent pitching
  • Researched, flexible target lists
  • Service orientation toward the media.


There are two schools of thought on budgeting:

  1. Zero-based budgeting requires pricing out all the tactics in your marketing plan to produce a total budget requirement.
  2. Goal-based budgeting uses past budgets and results to determine future budgets. For example, if you want to double your audience, goal-based budgeting would suggest doubling your marketing budget.

Organizations should use both schools of budgeting to narrow the area of budget focus and come up with realistic, workable numbers that align with marketing goals.

Here are some additional budgeting tips:

  • If your goal is to grow your audiences, dedicate 15–25 percent of your total organization budget to marketing.
  • Newer organizations should allocate even more money to marketing. Over time, the percentage can be reduced.
  • Remember the 6:1 rule—it takes six times as many dollars to bring in a new customer as it takes to retain a current customer. Allocate your budget accordingly.

Public relations (PR) is a key part of marketing, but marketing involves much more than just “getting the word out.” Organizations that substitute PR for a comprehensive marketing plan rarely succeed. A strong marketing strategy considers all the elements that affect the customer relationship—product, price, place, promotion, public service, and positioning.

Try these:

  • “How do you define marketing?” A strong candidate will talk about more than just tactics (such as posters, ads, or PR). Hire the candidate that understands the importance of gaining customer input, monitoring the competition and allocating resources effectively to achieve all your marketing goals.
  • “Where do you feel marketing fits in a mission-driven organization—compared to a for-profit company?” A good candidate will appreciate the importance of marketing for both types of organizations.
  • “How would you define our organization’s mission?” The answer will tell you if the candidate has done his or her homework.
  • “As a member of the marketing team, how do you see your role in relation to artistic management, development, box office and other operations?” You want a team player who can work effectively with everyone in your organization.
  • “Tell me about your experience with market research.” A good candidate will understand the process of acquiring, interpreting, and presenting customer data in a meaningful way. Ask how the candidate would segment your audience and how marketing should address subscribers versus new customers.
  • “What marketing skills do you bring to the organization?” You need people with hard skills and experience producing direct mail campaigns, managing databases, handling press relations, and performing other key functions.

Market Research

Survey often enough to ensure that you collect a representative sample of results. If you survey audience members at just one event, the responses may be skewed by the type of customer that attends that type of event. Spread out surveys over time and various types of events to gather a wide sampling of opinions.

At least 100 and preferably 200. If you plan to segment the surveys to compare how different categories of customers responded (men versus women, for example, or different age groups), you’ll need 100 in each category. For any category that represents less than 20 percent of your entire customer population, you need 500 responses to ensure validity.

If your total market is less 300, you can rely on fewer than 100 responses if they are truly random and representative. More is still better.

Consider hiring a part-time researcher on an hourly basis. Paying a local temp agency $50–$100/hour could get you a seasoned professional who will help construct your survey, administer it, and tabulate the results. If you can’t afford even a part-time staffer, contact the marketing department at a local university business school. A graduate student may offer similar skills at a much lower rate. You can also contact the Research Department at Americans for the Arts and discuss their research and survey opportunities—chances are, they might have what you’re looking for. Contact Americans for the Arts Research Department for more suggestions and to hear about consulting services they have available to help you with online surveys.