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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A marketer and a researcher walk into a bar...

Me and Scott. The awesome level in this
room was off the charts.
This past week I've been able to meet two of my new favorite authors/speakers locally: Richard Evans, of EmcArts, and Scott Stratten, of Unmarketing. I have been reading their information for around a year now and was ecstatic at the opportunity to meet them both on my home turf.

While they would likely find they have a lot in common if they sat down and talked it out, at first glance it doesn't appear that way: one is a researcher in the arts field, the other a marketer. However, both of them share key insights that apply to the new work of engaging customers.

1. Active Participation
Richard talked about how marketing for innovative arts organizations is about engaging active participants with both the process and product of art. Scott makes the point that businesses don't define their brands, customers do. In both instances, it's about the value the customer places on our organizations that matter. What we need to do is help their estimation go up by being partners, not lecturers.

2. Hire the Right People
Innovative arts organizations are shifting their hiring processes away from specialized training to art-centered workers who thrive in teams. Scott posits: "I'd rather hire people who are passionate about service and train them how to do their job." (May I throw in one of the _Good to Great_ maxims here? Get the Right People on the Bus. I <3 Jim Collins. He's on my "meet one day" list, too.) We can't teach passion. We can't teach people skills. Sure, we can refine them, we can build on them, but you either care about the general public or you don't. If you have a position that engages customers, make sure you have the right person in that job.

3. Adapting in Real Time
Are we nimble, flexible, able to take advantage of opportunities, be they negative or positive? Richard shares much on these topics in seemingly disparate areas such as governance (champions of change), finances (risk capital), and especially adaptive capacity (the ability to initiate change in response to environment). In discussing social media, Scott says, "We don't have lead time any more. Everything happens in real time." Customers don't stop and wait for us to catch up. Our patrons either find what they want or they go elsewhere. We have to be tuned in enough to be able to immediately respond in a way that will make them say "Awesome!"

Take good ideas where you find them. And run. Who's on your "Have to Meet" list?

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