Different with common interests
In the spring of 2003 I was engaged by Paddy McLeod to conduct a review of the Vancouver Cantata Singers communication activities with a view to identifying opportunities and ideas to improve their ability to create relationships with current audiences, potential audiences, and financial supporters. The following was my concluding observation on building a larger audience.
“To build our audience we are best advised to find ways to collaborate with others who already have relationships with people who fall in our target audience, or who have an interest in the same target audience and are interested in attracting a new and larger audience for a similar experience.
We have talked briefly about some of the initiatives we might embark upon in this regard, one of which is to collaborate with other choral music groups to prepare and distribute annually a publication that talks about and explores choral music as an art form and an experience, gives readers a greater sense of what the choral music experience offers, and describes the range of different experiences and opportunities that are available to people with an interest in the Vancouver area.
The publication would be developed as something that people would like to retain or give to friends, and, although distributed free to known target audiences, might also be offered for sale in retail outlets that serve other audiences and customer groups. It might be designed to attract and benefit other partners.
There are other imaginative ways to collaborate with others around mutual interests and mutual audiences and these can be explored further as we get a little clearer on our story and our communication agenda.”
On April 5, 2004, I sat down with leaders in the Vancouver choral community to explore possibilities. I began the conversation with these observations, ideas, and questions.
Ideas and questions for conversation
Our interests as individual choral music societies are to
- increase the size of our audience at our choral music events
- reduce our expenditures on marketing and communications
- enhance our experience as performers by creating and enhancing the experience of our audience
- contribute to the interests of our audience, the community of people who enjoy choral music experiences, with information about our performances
- excite our community to explore and engage in the choral music experiences we offer and increase their level of participation
- attract others who are not in the community of people who are actively interested to explore and engage in our live choral music experience
- increase the number of friends we have and the level of active support they provide
- become an active subject of conversation among our friends
Our common interests are to
- increase the size of our audience for choral music events
- reduce our cost of marketing and communications
- enhance the experience of live choral music for our audience
- serve the interests of the community of people who enjoy choral music experiences with information about performances that could interest them
- excite them to explore and engage in the choral music experiences we offer as a community and increase their level of interest and participation
- attract others who are not part of the community of people who are actively interested to explore and engage in the experience of live choral music
- increase the number of friends and active supporters we have for creating more and better live choral music experiences and for making Vancouver more widely known as a unique place to experience and enjoy choral music
- become an active subject of conversation for our friends
Are these our interests? Do we care to collaborate around our common interests? Do we care to collaborate around the common interests of our audience in their interests?
I think the worst thing that could happen is that our collective revenue goes down, our marketing costs go up, and we reduce our total audience of people interested in choral music or reduce their level of participation.
Observations and Questions
The most important consideration is that we maintain our integrity with our audience. To do this we need to ensure we communicate how we honestly feel about the experience we offer and that we present the experience fairly in the interests of the audience and in our own interest to ensure that the expectations we create are met and exceeded. Beyond that, we would like to delight our audiences with their experience.
Our interest is to give audiences more than notice of an event, at least until that is all that is needed to pack the house. In their interest, we want to provide information and perspectives that help them engage more fully in and enhance their experience, and to improve their ability to articulate their experience with others.
Our best media vehicle for reaching new audiences is our current audience. They are listened to, they are trusted and they care about the people they are communicating with. We would like them to engage in conversations about us.
We like to tell others about our experiences, for the pleasure of the telling, for the pleasure of introducing them to the experience, and possibly, for the pleasure of sharing the experience with them at some time in the future. The popularity of book clubs is that they give people a social experience around the shared experience of a story and a writer.
Our individual friends, our fans and our supporters will identify themselves if they feel like it, if they like us enough, and if we give them an opportunity. Many secret friends and admirers feel shy or out of place expressing their interest and admiration. We can give them opportunities to express themselves comfortably and easily. When they do we can welcome and acknowledge their interest and embrace them as friends.
My experience in marketing and communications is that the people who are our best customers, who are interested in what we offer and enjoy their experience with us, will increase their level of activity when their interest is recognized and appreciated, when they are treated as part of a community, when they are given more information as a member of a community, and when they are given more opportunities to engage in and enjoy their interests.
Our audience is going to choose what they do based on what they are attracted to and how well they are attracted. They will choose to do more if they have the capacity to do more and if there is more to be attracted to. They will choose to do more if they are invited, if they are interested, and if they are excited to explore more.
If we earn more revenue through ticket sales and reduce our marketing costs, we are able to invest more in creating experiences for ourselves and for our audiences. Our capacity to create a range of experiences and to create extraordinary experiences is unlimited.
Our interest in creating an experience for our audience in performance is to break the fourth wall. Our interest in communicating the experiences we offer is to break the fourth wall. Connecting with our audiences, exciting their consciousness of the experience, and engaging them in the experience we are creating is our art. Our audiences return for more when this happens.
People imagine what they are going to experience with their heart. Our communications should help them imagine. We want to break the fourth wall in communicating our experience, to give them a taste of our experience, to communicate our excitement about the experience we are offering. If we are not excited about our art and the experience we offer, it will be difficult to connect with and communicate our excitement with our audience.
Our interest is to create that experience in performance. Everyone has their individual experience. We can enhance their experience by telling them what we experience and how we experience what we are performing and why we have chosen to explore and create this experience for our audiences.
We have their interests in mind. We want to demonstrate we have their interests in mind. We want them to know we have their interests in mind. We want to demonstrate that we care about our audiences and their experience.
With the exception of our direct communications to our own databases, we are all using all the same communication vehicles now already. We just aren’t managing them or engaging someone to manage them in our common interests. Instead we are lost among a lot of other communications and the communications we are apparently not making.
Are we competing with one another when we advertise in the Georgia Strait, at the ticket office, in the racks where we distribute our brochures? Are we trying to reach our own audience or someone else’s? Are we trying to reach the same audience? Are we trying to reach new audience? Do we think we will be successful this way? Do we think this will create new audience? Do we think this is the best way to reach people who we consider to be our audience, our friends and supporters?
How effective are our attention getters in getting attention. How often do we advertise? How do we advertise? What works? What do we think works? What do we think works best?
What is the impact and affect of our communications activity on our audience? Do they feel well served? Is it changing how they see things? Is it changing how they feel about things? Is it changing what they choose to do? Does it engage them? Does it prompt them to engage? Does it prompt them to engage differently?
Do we compete by creating the same kind of experience? Do we create the same experience? If I buy one experience of this kind, will I buy more? Will I always buy the same experience? Do we enhance and show our different experiences when we are part of a mix of opportunities? Are we doing that well now?
Do people have capacity for more than one experience? Will people create capacity if their interest, and their appreciation and enjoyment in pursuing and engaging in their interest, grows? What will prompt people to increase their capacity, to create more capacity?
Do we buy an Audi when we can only afford a Honda? Do we buy both an Audi and a Honda if we have the capacity and interest? Do we only buy the Audi because that is the only car we like? Do we only buy the Honda because that is the only car we drive? Can I buy or would I like to buy exactly the same car or the same make of car after it is finished? Does it make sense to locate my dealership in the Richmond Mall? Are people who are interested in buying a car and exploring all of the opportunities available likely to go there?
Do I want to be in the brochure if I am playing in the International Jazz Festival? Are we a festival of Choral Music that takes place every year, every season, with a range of offerings? Does that work better for us? Does that work better for our audience who might be interesting in exploring and engaging in a range of choral music experiences? Familiar choral works. New choral works. New experiences. Different experiences. Different performers. Different performance experiences.
Will massing our offerings attract more attention, create more interest, and excite more enthusiasm about the art, engage people more and engage more people? Is it likely to increase the possibility of trial purchase? Will it make repeat purchase or multiple purchase activity easier and more likely?
When we have an unsatisfying or less than satisfying experience in our area of interest it is unlikely to dampen our enthusiasm. It gives us, instead, the ability to appreciate a finer experience.
Do we explore more of the experiences available when we are aware of all of the experiences available?
A Choral Music in Vancouver publication is going to reach and connect with and serve everyone who currently has an interest in choral music. It is not going to reduce their level of engagement in the choral music experience. It is likely to excite and engage them more. We are not going to lose our customers to each other, we are going to increase the number of purchases our customers make from each other for each other and create more conversation among them from their increased level of engagement and experience.
Our cost of communicating, not advertising or marketing, in a special interests publication that has no waste is significantly less, will create a higher return, a greater level of participation from current enthusiasts and a greater chance of attracting new audience.
It will also establish Vancouver more clearly in the mind of our audiences and in our Community as a Centre for experiencing Choral Music, for exploring and enjoying the experience of choral music.
Our interest in the publication is to connect with our audiences around their interests, to connect with how they feel about their experience, to capture their experience, to help them articulate their interest and their experience, to enhance their experience, to excite them to exploring and experiencing more, and to excite them and give them the ability to share their experience with others.
Would we advertise in a publication that was focused on Choral Music, its experience, and targeted to an audience who are known to be choral music enthusiasts, and that is made available to anyone who expresses an interest?
Would we prefer to advertise in the Sun, in amongst other advertising? Would we prefer feature articles about the music we are performing and how we as artists experience and are engaging in the music?
We are already marketing together, using the same vehicles to reach the same audiences. We are just not doing it collaboratively, effectively, efficiently, or well, and we are not able to measure the results of our efforts and expenditure of resources, or if we are getting any results at all. We are not taking charge of our interests.
We are not marketing the art form. We are trying to sell tickets and we are hoping to do this largely with notification alone in media vehicles that may or may not be reaching our audiences, our known audiences. We are not likely creating any new audiences with what we are doing. They are likely being created through word of mouth from our existing audiences when they have a particularly enjoyable experience that they share. We are not taking charge of our interests.
Except for close friends and supporters, people with a personal attachment to our company, most decisions are made based on other considerations. Is it interesting enough to invest an evening? Is it convenient? How does it compare to spending time around other interests and activities? Is it at a time that is convenient, that works for me? Is it timely? Am I currently engaged in other things? My favorite nights to go out are Mondays and Thursdays.
People share more of what they do and how they feel when they feel it is more popular and acceptable.
The arts attract people with an interest in creating joy, connectedness, and consciousness and people interested in experiencing connectedness, consciousness and joy.
When we are conscious of our experience, and of our engagement in the experience, in exploring the experience, we enjoy our experience more fully.
Our interest is in reaching and connecting with people who share our interests. Our interest is to engage them more and get them more excited about our common interests, to have conversations with them. Our interest is to attract others to our art and our interest and the experience we offer.
Connect with them around their interests and what they do.
Vancouver Choral Community
Chor Leoni is a Canadian men’s choir of the highest professional standards engaged in exploring, expanding and enriching the male choral repertoire, introducing audiences to the power and beauty of this music, and stimulating the development of male choral singing throughout the world. Through live and recorded performances, national and international tours, participation in festivals and workshops, and by commissioning new works for male choirs, especially by Canadian composers, Chor Leoni creates an inclusive environment in which men committed to these interests can come together to make music.
Vancouver Cantata Singers
The Vancouver Cantata Singers are committed to providing music education to young people and to working collaboratively with other community partners to strengthen Vancouver’s artistic landscape.
Vancouver Cantata Singers Outreach
Vancouver Chamber Choir
The Vancouver Chamber Choir is one of Canada’s national treasures, an outstanding professional vocal ensemble noted for its diverse repertoire and performing excellence. The Choir’s award-winning educational programs include the National Conductors’ Symposium for advanced choral conductors, Interplay interactive workshops for choral composers, Focus! professional development program for student singers, OnSite visitations for school choirs, the biennial Young Composers’ Competition, and many on-tour workshops and residencies. International excursions have taken the Vancouver Chamber Choir to the USA, Mexico, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Finland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine.
Vancouver Chamber Choir
Vancouver Bach Choir
The Vancouver Bach Choir provides high quality training and performances of traditional and new choral works for all communities of all ages. With eight choral ensembles, the Vancouver Bach family of Choirs is one of the largest choral groups in Metro Vancouver and the only organization that provides choral singing and education to nearly 500 voices from kindergarten to adulthood. The Choir’s mission and tradition to share the vibrant and culturally diverse beauty of choral music with local, national and international communities.
Vancouver Bach Choir
Centre for Community Enterprise
Creating Connections with Music
Creating Community with Music
Music in Our Schools
Music and Ideas
Centre for Canadian Music
Canadian Music Community
Music Community Network
Creative Music Community