Audience Development and Marketing

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Understanding audiences and how to reach those audiences, is paramount to achieving any public facing organisation’s goals.

Here are our top tips:

  1. Understand your audience. And understand who isn’t! Using simple techniques like visitor questionnaires and online survey tools can help you gain a massive amount of understanding about who your audience is, what they like, and what they’d like more of. It also helps to understand why people don’t visit and how you could adapt your organisation’s provision to encourage new and different audiences.
  2. Make sure your offer matches your target (and potential target) audiences. Basically, you need to be sure that if you’re aiming to deliver a programme which encourages older people to access your museum, that it’s appealing to that audience. For example, conduct trial sessions or create a small group of interested individuals from the target market to help you to develop the programme.
  3. Understand how to access your target market. Again, it’s no good having a brilliant programme aimed at schools unless you advertise and market that programme to the decision makers in schools themselves.
  4. Draw up a simple audience development and marketing strategy. Make sure your whole organisation understands what you’re trying to achieve and how. This helps to embed the audience at the heart of all activity.
  5. Use as much free marketing as possible! And nowadays, there’s lots of it. Although much of the following are free, some of them need a considerable amount of time invested: Social Media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Linked In offer you the chance to create your own profiles and groups and draw together interested people. You can share information which is of interest to your target market and join other groups where your target market is, to share with them directly; E-Signatures are a great way to share information about what you’re doing and how; Creating blogs, or, probably more importantly, writing blogs on sites relevant to your target audiences are a great way of letting people know more about your organisation and why it’s relevant to them.
  6. Establish a strong and clear brand for your organisation. Or in the case of marketing campaigns, a campaign which also adapts your brands ethos. This may mean investing in design but in the long run this will help establish who you are as an organisation and help to build your profile.
  7. If you already have a website, conduct an audit to check it’s fit for purpose and adapt if not. If you don’t have a website, consider investing in one. It’s possible to create a website for free if necessary and you don’t have access to any funding. Some of the free website platforms available are increasingly sophisticated and professional looking, for example WordPress. However, if you are able to invest in a website, between £5,000 and £10,000 will help you to draw in some design time, support to set the website up, ensure it’s as future proof as possible, and get you up and running. You then need to market the website through as many opportunities as possible and think about why people will want to visit.
  8. Develop relationships with partners, press, and other key people who can help your message reach the right people. And be sure what that message is!

The following links provide information about how to understand more about your current audience, how to establish which new audiences you’d like to work with or attract to your venue, and how to make sure that you’re reaching your audiences through the right marketing activities.

Audience Development

The Audience Agency

The Audience Agency has a brilliant website which helps support organisations working within the heritage sector. There are a range of tools available for free access which support understanding your audiences and putting into place strategies to reach your target audiences.

Audience Finder

Created by The Audience Agency, Audience Finder allows cultural organisations to analyse their current audiences, compare them with other cultural institutions, and develop an insight into how to develop their audience engagement. And it’s all for free!

Writing an audience development plan

Writing an audience development plan is both time-consuming and essential! It’s the best way to ensure that you are clear in what you want to achieve for audiences, which audiences, and how you want to achieve it. The guidance produced by HLF is a good starting point, but there are many other examples of audience development plans being used by museums and heritage venues which may also be of use.


NCVO Marketing guides

The NCVO website has lots of resources to support organisations working in the third sector. Everything from definitions of marketing to segmenting audiences can be found by following this link.

Museums Association

The MA have a broad selection of support for marketing which covers everything from advocacy to audience research.

International tourism and marketing

The National Museums of Wales aimed to draw in new overseas audiences through tourism – follow this link to learn more about the marketing campaign that succeed to achieve their aims.

Social Media Marketing

There is lots of information available on the web to support your development with social media. The link above provides basic information and tips about how to capitalize on social media development to reach and grow your target audiences.

Museums and the Web

This group supports museums and other related heritage organisations understand how to navigate the web to support their organisations development.

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