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Breaking the Fifth Wall (Excerpt) April 12, 2011

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A new book out, called Breaking the Fifth Wall, has emerged on the market.  Although we haven’t read the book here at Social Market Now, the excerpt below is quite good.

If you want to take a chance on the book itself, it is available from Amazon.com


Breaking the Fifth Wall (Excerpt)

April 2011
Eugene Carr & Michelle Paul

As any actor will tell you, the “fourth wall” refers to the imaginary separation in a theatre between the action on stage and the audience sitting in the dark watching the play. When an actor “breaks the fourth wall,” he turns and speaks directly to the audience, breaking the illusion of the autonomy of the action. The effect is often startling—even a bit jarring—as the imaginary world of the stage is momentarily interrupted.

And when the play or concert is over, the audience passes through another wall: the “Fifth Wall” that separates the cultural experience (and the organization that produced it) from the ongoing life of the audience member. This effect can be equally jarring, as the lights come up and the world of the arts experience fades before the real world of parking lots, bad weather, and the late-night news.

The Fifth Wall separates your patrons both physically and mentally from your organization. Breaking the Fifth Wall is the act of reconnecting with those patrons in a meaningful way after they have left your venue, by creatively and regularly reminding them of the value of the arts experience your organization offers, coaxing them to return, and perhaps ultimately convincing them to donate. In the past, you might have simply called this “marketing,” but today, what’s required is more accurately described as “patron relationship building.”

The world has changed, and so too has the audience. The way arts marketers have gone about building relationships with audiences over the last fifty years is no longer relevant, and no longer works.

Subscription brochures, newspaper ads, and telemarketing calls are not enough anymore to connect to your audience and keep them coming back. The old “butts in seats” paradigm is simply too crude to be an effective goal in this more complex world. Of course, you want to fill your seats. But to address what’s truly ailing arts marketing, you must refocus on a set of new and different goals, and transform your organization’s audience-development efforts.

The arts-going experience is ultimately about a connection between the artist and the audience. Now, because of advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior, the arts experience—and arts marketing as well—is evolving into an interactive relationship that reaches far beyond a physical venue. It’s time to discard the “what we’ve always done” thinking that permeates the industry, and take a new approach that will lead to deeper and more meaningful patron relationships. This approach is what we call breaking the Fifth Wall.

How the World Has Changed

The way arts patrons access information about events and make the decision to attend them has evolved more in the past decade than it had since the invention of the radio or television. These changes are not superficial—they alter the landscape that arts managers must operate in.

• Arts audiences are now living online. As the Internet has become ubiquitous, it’s no longer a question of whether your audience can be reached online. The question is, how, when, and where is it most effective to do so?

• Old media—particularly print newspapers and magazines—are in steep decline, and their audiences are rapidly migrating to the Internet. What we used to call “new media” are no longer new anymore.

• A substantial portion of arts patrons prefer e-mail over direct- mail communications from their favorite arts organizations. Wired for Culture: How E-mail is Revolutionizing Arts Marketing, first published in 2003, suggested that if your patrons signed up for your e-mail list, and if you sent them regular, relevant, compelling, engaging, and useful information, they would respond in dramatic numbers. In 2010, we know this to be true. E-mail marketing works. Response rates for e-mail campaigns are much higher than for direct mail, and the cost to send e-mail is dramatically lower.

• As ticket sales move to the Internet, arts websites have become the most important public face of an organization. In many cases, they have become the point of sale for more than a third of all tickets arts organizations sell each year, superseding the box office and the telephone. Some organizations sell almost 70 percent of their tickets online!1 A poorly designed website, or one that is nothing more than an online version of the season brochure, can cause great damage to the image of the organization.

• The subscription, once the central and most reliable relationship an arts organization had with its core audience, an idea codified thirty years ago in the seminal volume Subscribe Now, by Danny Newman, is under siege. The fixed annual series is being replaced by the make-your-own series, flexible subscription packages, and more last-minute single-ticket sales than ever before. This transformation has led to a dramatic reduction in up-front cash and an unrelenting need to market empty seats until the very last minute.

• Social media has arrived, and it is not going away. What seemed like a fad only a few years ago has evolved into a worldwide phenomenon, with Facebook and Twitter leading the way. Today, if arts managers ignore social media, they do so at their own peril.


Optimizing Your Mailing Lists March 10, 2011

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All lists need a little upkeep to stay healthy and keep communications relevant

PamelaAdams, Regional Development Director, Georgia

by Pamela Adams1,  Constant Contact Regional Development Director, Georgia
How is a permission-based email list like a Philodendron plant2? You want both to grow in size and expand their reach. And, like a Philodendron, a growing email list3 needs some care and maintenance along the way to ensure healthy growth continues. Giving a little TLC to your list also helps reinforce that you’re continuing to send relevant information to each of your subscribers.
Here are three surefire ways for maintaining a healthy email list:
1. Segment your list
When you have a larger list and send everything to everyone, you’re basically doing what my friend calls “spraying and praying.” You’re playing the numbers game and hoping that more people will open your messages. In reality creating smaller, targeted lists gets your better results. Letting subscribers choose which list they want to be on allows them to tell you what they want to hear, and it means you can send more relevant emails to those who want to receive them. A few examples of how business or organizations could segment their lists:
  • Nonprofits could have separate lists targeting members, donors, volunteers, and board of directors.
  • A clothing retailer could offer mailings targeting those interested in men’s, women’s, or children’s apparel.
  • Restaurants that offer live music on the weekend could segment their lists by those interested in only dinner specials and those interested in the musical acts.
  • A travel agent could offer an email on tropical vacations, ski packages, or vacations with kids.
You can choose which lists are available for subscribers on your Join My Mailing List and email preference page (e.g., a nonprofit wouldn’t want to have the board of directors list open to the public). Other options include segmenting your list by anniversary or birthday month, or by how often subscribers want to hear from you (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly).
If you’ve already got a big list (good for you!) that you want to segment, you can let subscribers know about the new options in upcoming campaigns and ask them to click the Update Profile/Email Address link at the bottom of your message to see and select which available lists they’d like to be added to. You can also put a copy of the Update Profile link in the body of your email4 to make it a more obvious call to action.
2. Prune the bounces
Every time you mail a message, there are going to be a few that get bounced back because the email address is no longer valid, has a typo in it, the recipient’s inbox could be full, or the person has an out-of-office responder activated. Take a look at your bounce report5 to see why the message is being returned. For the vacationers, you can ignore the report. But for hard bounces such as a non-existent addresses, you should:
  • Verify the address is correct. If it is and you think the report is a false positive6, you can always follow-up with the subscriber individually to see if she is actually receiving your message.
  • For those that are truly non-existent, move them to your Do Not Mail list. Doing so will eliminate the subscriber from future mailings, help lower your bounce rate, and improve your open rate. You may also save a few dollars since you won’t be paying for a contact that isn’t getting your emails in the first place.
3. Trim those who don’t engage
There are two schools of thought on trimming your list. Some say if a subscriber hasn’t opened your email in over a year, delete them from your list7 and watch as your open rates rise.
However, I am a believer that if people don’t ask to be taken off your list, you leave them where they are as you never know when someone is going to re-engage and potentially become a customer or donor. You can also conduct a specific re-engagement campaign8 to encourage those quiet subscribers to become active again. The decision to trim or not to trim is yours.
The goals of pruning, segmenting, and trimming are to keep your list clean and to enable you to keep sending relevant content to those subscribers who are interested in specific categories or types of information. No matter which routes you take, delivering winning content to your subscribers will keep them on your list and engaged with your messages longer.

Social Media Marketing for Bead Stores and Lampwork Artists February 25, 2011

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Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I’d like to introduce Social Market Now to our beading and beadmaking community.

Recently, a bead store owner and I were discussing the importance of using social media sites for bead stores in this competitive market and economy.  She had noticed a difference in the social media marketing for a few bead stores in the US, and as it turned out they were all clients of ours, located in Ohio and Illinois.  She and I talked a little about the difference our campaigns have made for their businesses in this age of “Web 2.0.”  Again and again I hear the same things: “I would like a quick redesign for my website, but just don’t have the time” or “I know I need to use the social marketing sites, but don’t know how and can’t set aside the hours in the day to even finish what I’ve already got!”

I am very involved in the national and worldwide beading community – I have taught beadweaving and lampworking for many years as well as selling on my own website, on Artfire, Etsy and Ebay.  I also taught website design on college level and generally a good and functional redesign costs no more than $150.  We have recently completed overhauls for sites in Missouri, New Mexico and in Oregon.  Both my contacts and experience have helped me greatly in providing successful social media marketing campaigns for my clients, conveying the points of interest from the client to the client’s customer community.

Look around our website.  At the bottom of the packages page is our Flexi-package.  Our bead store clients find this particular set-up to be beneficial and convenient to their individual budgets.  It’s basically a pick your own price bundle; together we decide what would benefit your business the most on a consistent basis so your store or website stays in view of a growing online customer community.  I’d love to talk to you about a few ideas regarding a social marketing campaign for your Bead Company that will save you time to run other aspects of your business.

We know your time is valuable and a bead store owner already has too much on their plate to keep up with social media trends.  We’d love to help and I look forward to talking with you.



Hannah Rosner  & David Louis



Our “Pick Your Own Price” Flexi-Package February 22, 2011

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It’s that easy! 

Pick the price you want to pay and we will work with you to develop the marketing campaign that fits your needs.

Let’s face it, some weeks are busier than others.  Pick the price that fits you budget and let’s talk about what kind of social marketing campaign sounds right for your business.

We will review your options and plan your campaign with you around a customized template that will provide consistent and timely marketing for your business and brand so that existing customers stay informed of your business’ new and exciting product and service updates, as well as concentrating on growing a larger customer community for your brand.

Ready for more traffic to your site, a larger community of loyal customers, and increased sales?

We are your business allies and social media experts working personally (B2B) with you to get your business where eyes will see it, taking your business to the customers. 

Your customers are waiting to discover you.  Are you ready for more business for your business?

Every minute counts.  Social Market Now!



The Bare Essentials of Social Marketing February 15, 2011

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If you are not using these forums together to market your business, do yourself a favor and put them to work for you as soon as possible.  The popularity of Facebook along with the more user efficient business page, attracting viewers to your FB page with Twitter, linking with other like-minded industry contemporaries and interested buyers through LinkedIn, and either Stubleupon for customer search ease and/or Youtube for video content so the customer can “test drive” your brand(directing viewers to your Youtube commercial through Twitter and FB), and tantalizing photo content with Flickr is the best most basic social media marketing campaign any business owner can start with right away.  It may be a little time consuming, but it literally pays off with more traffic to your site, larger customer community for your business, and continuing SALES.  Throw in a professional and fun Blog with exciting content updated over the workweek and you are in business to win it.  Get started with these marketing tools as soon as you can and watch your business grow.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by your marketing campaign, remember, Social Market Now wants to be your business allies.  Your success is our success!

Helpful Approaches to Successful Marketing February 11, 2011

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Just because your competitor is doing something on the social web doesn’t mean that you need to do the same.

By blindly following your competitor’s path, you’re marketing scared and without purpose. Plus, it’s probable that your competitor’s initiatives won’t help you meet your goals at all.

While it’s essential that you monitor your competitor’s social media marketing activities, you should analyze them against your own goals before implementing any of them yourself.