|Project:||STAR Shared Marketing Database|
|Organization:||Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council|
In mid-2006 the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC) began pursuit of a collaborative arts project that would create a patron base large enough to significantly increase the depth and reach of local audience development efforts. The ambition was to bring together nonprofit cultural organizations with common marketing goals and potentially overlapping constituencies to capitalize on both innovation and economy of scale. Today, that idea has become the STAR Shared Marketing Database project. In collaboration with Elliott Marketing Group, the current project provides marketing research and learning as well as joint marketing initiatives sponsored by GPAC.
The work of direct marketing pioneer John Elliott was already put to good use for organizations in Pittsburgh’s Cultural District, ProArtsTickets (the consortium ticketing program of GPAC), and a number of collaboratives across the country.
Simply stated, the STAR (Strategic Targeting for the Arts) project is a shared data collection and analysis research project that not only gives organizations better understanding of current consumers and their behavior, but also accesses households outside of each organization that are most likely to respond to direct mail appeals for classes, performances, exhibitions, and special events. This is a proven, powerful tool that is ordinarily beyond the reach of any single one of these organizations.
In Year 1 (2009), the shared database was constructed, and data mining and reporting of customer analysis results were presented to each of nine participating organizations. Here organizations gained in-depth understanding of their patron buying behavior, including how those patrons interact with every other organization in the database. Findings revealed and supported a basic principle most of us know: that for the vast majority of arts and culture patrons, interaction with one or multiple organizations is likely to increase their interactions with others. With this knowledge in hand, and the database becoming fully operational in Year 2 (2010), organizations have now had the ability to pull “best cross-sell prospect” lists from the database for their marketing campaigns and to receive detailed response analysis on those campaigns. Similarly, and thanks to the funding from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, GPAC has been able to sponsor two collaborative campaigns, featuring nine organizations whose overlapping patron data and programming allowed for a useful test of these theories on a larger scale.
The benefit to each individual organization varies depending on how heavily each relies on direct mail marketing, the sophistication of existing efforts, and budgetary or staff constraints. However, it is certain that each organization has gained a deeper understanding of their relationship with current consumers, and has more power to make effective use of marketing budgets. Each organization has the potential to build audience by reaching new community members who are most likely to participate in the arts in general, but have limited awareness of that organization and to discover cross-promotional opportunities with collaborative partners. Also, preliminary results from the first collaborative campaign (conducted in the fall of 2010) produced some interesting findings:
- 17.5 percent of the total revenue for all programming in the campaign can be attributed this promotion.
- Overall ROI was positive, but actual sales for each organization varied widely.
- Follow up e-mails (three) to random test sample did not increase response.
GPAC looks forward to continuing to provide this intensive, collaborative shared marketing support and research to its members and is exploring ways to provide wider access to the program. Not surprisingly, one of the most challenging aspects is reducing expense, for both participating organizations and for GPAC as a sponsor. The ultimate goal will be to create a communitywide shared database that serves arts organizations in Pittsburgh as well as providing better service and more arts experiences to its patrons.
|Project Contact:||Maggie Johnson|