When I worked at the Art Institute of Chicago I surveyed visitors about how they heard about the exhibition. Across exhibitions the number one answer was “I heard about the exhibition from family and/or friends.” I got the same response when I surveyed visitors about permanent and temporary exhibitions at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westcott House and across the ocean at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany.
Rarely marketing research yields such clear results. So how do you act on it?
Ask your visitors "How likely is it that you would recommend this exhibition/museum to a friend or colleague?" As a result the Net Promoter Scores is usually very high in the arts world. Our customers believe that as arts organizations we act on our promises made in the mission statement. They believe we contribute to make the world a better place. And we work really hard for that so let your visitors be your ambassadors and help you tell the story.
We have the most captive audience while they are at the exhibition site. The more time passes after their visit, the wider the distance physically and mentally, the harder it gets to have them act on the recommendation. We all try to prompt private conversation in that direction through social media or send incentives after the visit.
Here is one genius example of how to make most out of it and act fast. In the final room of the exhibition this museum installed a room for reflection with press clippings, a lounge area to browse the exhibition catalogue, artwork from students who created artwork inspired by the themes of the exhibition and a stand where you can send a picture postcard from the exhibition. Yes, snail mail. The postage is sponsored by a private post company with no ZIP code limitations. Attached to the postcard is a coupon which the recipient can exchange for a small gift at the ticket counter when visiting the exhibition. What a great way to make visitors help spread the word.
A minus from my gen x point of view was that throughout the exhibition there was no call to share your thoughts or pictures via social media. I would have loved to check in with my mobile device and get a surprise reward. But I guess with the core audience being German seniors, snail mail works just fine.
The exhibition is still running but I will ask if they share any numbers, postcards sent, return rates and ROI after the exhibition closed. To be continued...