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Reflecting on our experience of #ADA at The Fitzwilliam Museum

As their time as Fellows of the Audience Diversity Academy draws to an end, ADA Fellows Kate Carreno and Miranda Stearn at Fitzwilliam Museum pause for a few thoughts.


As we approach the official end of the ADA Fellowship, we’ve been thinking about what the impact of our involvement has been, for our organisation and for our visitors. We came into the process with a relatively clear understanding of our goals: to use the initiative to think creatively about approaches to attracting a wider range of families to our museum, to test those approaches, and to benefit from the support of mentors and peers in that process. We were interested in the agile approach and how it might work in our context.


To varying degrees, we have made progress in all these areas. We have benefited from our action learning sets, particularly because they have offered opportunities to talk to people who are looking at similar challenges often focussing on the same audience segments – several others were also thinking about Facebook Families – but from the point of view of other art forms, which might have different approaches to engagement. It has been inspiring to have input from our mentor, Monica Montgomery from Museum Hue, who has been able to provide a perspective from outside the bubble of the UK sector.


There have also been less expected outcomes, particularly through access to the AMA’s wider training programme. I was brought up, so to speak, in museum and gallery education, and I will always enjoy putting the world to rights with my professional ‘tribe’. But throughout my career, I’ve found some of the most productive conversations happen when I am outside this comfort zone addressing challenges with those who have similar goals but different starting points, be they curators or marketing specialists. This has been the case in this process. For example, I have enjoyed being part of discussions around intersectionality framed from a marketing perspective which have simultaneously equipped me to articulate why I want to see more visible diversity in our marketing imagery, while helping me to influence our audience development approach as a whole.


I’ve found it really helpful to get to grips with, and experiment with, an agile approach to testing ideas. I hoped it would be a helpful way of thinking that we could bring into the museum, but I also knew that ‘agile’ was not necessarily a word people would associate with our organisation and, ironically but realistically, getting the organisation feeling comfortable with an agile approach would take time. As a result, we have carried out some experiments, but most are still in the pipeline. I am OK with this because I think the experiments are likely to be most authentic and most effective if they fit logically into our on-going strategic engagement work.


Beyond these outcomes, the ADA has delivered something that might sound superficial but is really important, and that is helping us make a commitment to set aside time, with sector peers, but also within our organisation, to address in a structured way what we could do differently to make a change in relation to audience diversity. Working together as Joint Fellows has been inspiring (I’ve learnt a lot – almost a form of stealth mentoring) and also empowering, thinking about how the experiments and approaches we adopt can work across departmental silos. Having senior management involvement has also reinforced the importance placed on this work by the organisation as a whole. We may struggle with being fast moving in a truly agile approach, but involvement in the ADA has set us up well for the future in a variety of ways, and I am looking forward to testing out the next phase of our experiments.


Creating progression opportunities at The Fitzwilliam Museum #ADA

ADA Fellows Miranda Stearn and Kate Carreno share how they are are working towards audience diversity at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. 


Being selected to participate in the Arts Marketing Association’s Audience Diversity Fellowship programme has been a timely and thought-provoking opportunity for us at The Fitzwilliam Museum. The Fitzwilliam is the lead partner of the University of Cambridge Museums consortium (UCM), part of Arts Council England’s (ACE) Major Partner Museum portfolio, and we are committed to making Cambridge’s exceptional collections accessible to the widest possible range of audiences.  But we also recognise that realising this vision can be easier said than done.


We follow ACE’s definition of diversity to include both protected characteristics and lower socio-economic groups. This is particularly pertinent in Cambridge, which ranked 5th worst in the country in the 2016 Social Mobility Index. Across UCM, we also work with the Audience Agency to understand our visitor profile through segmentation. When we look at which segments are most under-represented among our current visitors, Dormitory Dependables, Trips & Treats, Home & Heritage and Facebook Families are the least represented, accounting for 62% of the East population but only 40% of UCM visits. This means two out of four key under-represented segments (Trips & Treats and Facebook Families) are family audiences.


With this in mind, our aspiration for the Audience Diversity Academy was to test approaches to supporting progression from our targeted programmes to our universal provision, with the aim of diversifying the range of families who would feel confident engaging with our free family learning offer or visiting the museum independently.


This is important to the museum for a number of reasons. We are active members of our Local Cultural Education Partnership, My Cambridge, and subscribe to its aspiration that ‘every young person is able to confidently construct their own cultural life, drawing on and connected to the whole of their environment’ as part of our response to ACE’s Cultural Education Challenge. We believe engaging with culture is a young person’s right, and can make a significant difference to their lives in many ways from raising aspirations to developing empathy. But we know that for ALL children and young people to engage with our museums in this way, we need to be proactive. We have strategic partnerships with schools in areas of relative deprivation and low participation; we also have delivery partnerships with organisations working with young people with disabilities. These programmes are successful in supporting young people to build connections with the Fitzwilliam and our UCM partners.


Our Audience Diversity Academy experiments aim to extend our engagement with these children and young people, and crucially their families and wider communities, beyond the lifespan of particular projects. We are planning a variety of experiments, including:

  • Making opportunities to celebrate young people’s creative achievements at the museum, and inviting their families to attend;
  • Making the most of these occasions to offer a proactive welcome and invite further engagement, including signing up families to be part of future focus groups;
  • Putting young people in control to plan events at the museum for their peers and families;
  • Developing targeted marketing approaches with strategic partner schools so that information about our family learning offer is embedded in school communication with parents;
  • Piloting facilitated visits for families from partner schools during holidays;
  • Displaying young people’s creative work to encourage family visits;
  • Experimenting with incentives and feedback mechanisms that would both encourage and help track independent visits from families from target schools.


Currently, across UCM, we have been revising and refining our audience development plan, and it has been great to be able to feed our ideas form the audience diversity fellowship into this work. We look forward to carrying out our experiments and sharing them with our peers across the sector, as well as learning from the to shape our own future practice.


Company Chameleon See, Think, Do, Care #DMA

Nicola Mullen at Company Chameleon shares her learning as a Digital Marketing Academy (DMA) Fellow.

My initial primary objective for taking part in the DMA was to increase the number of people who go and see Company Chameleon, through stronger digital marketing. Very quickly, after my first mentor session, I realised this objective was far too broad. So one month into my DMA journey, I changed my objective to be more focused and to simply state:  make better use of Facebook.

The experiments I undertook focused on extending Company Chameleon’s ‘largest addressable qualified audience’ and engaging with customers who are in SEE mode (in the SEE, THINK, DO, CARE model) and the first phase of the customer journey. My experiments tested what is the most cost effective way to get quality likes on Facebook. With a small investment of £200, I tested different image and text combinations to find out which adverts were most effective. I also tested film and text combinations. The experiments involved using power editor for the first time and setting up my first-ever Facebook ‘like’ campaign.

In the experiment that tested the different image and text combinations, the experiment results revealed a clear winner. One advert accounted for 74% of the total reach and 65% of the overall number of likes. I had presumed the advert with The Guardian testimonial would cut-through most successfully. However, the results showed that strong copy can work just as well as media and audience testimonials. Third party verification isn’t necessarily always required. This has since encouraged me to push myself when writing advert copy and to think more carefully about how key selling points can help create stand out and engage audiences in communications.

In relation to the film and text combinations, after setting up the adverts and making them live, it was clear the adverts were not performing as well as the image and text combinations. The return on investment was in fact poor. I learnt this was because audiences were responding to the more intuitive call to action – to watch the film – as opposed to taking action to like Company Chameleon’s page.

Taking part in the DMA has hugely strengthened my understanding and confidence in using Facebook as a marketing tool, and this learning outcome has positively impacted my work in the context of me leading the marketing for a touring company.

With a better understanding of Facebook’s targeting abilities in place, I can now target multiple geographical touring locations (both national and international) at the same time and I’m able to target marketing in relation to age, gender and interest. Capturing audience data for a touring company is a challenge, and I’ve learnt that the Facebook pixel code can help overcome this challenge. Once embedded on your website, the pixel code, enables you to target website visitors on Facebook. This is one way, as a touring company, we can reach out to audiences who visit our website after seeing or hearing about us on tour. Facebook also gives you the means to carry out dip-stick research with your audiences quickly and cost-effectively. Whether it’s a front cover image for a new season brochure, the title of a new production or a campaign key message, Facebook gives you the ability to make decisions based on data not hunches.

Taking part in the Digital Marketing Academy has also transformed my thinking and whole approach to creating and using content. The framework See, Think, Do, Care, introduced to me by my mentor, has encouraged me to think from an audience perspective about where audiences stand in relation to content. With this knowledge and understanding in place, I can set more effective marketing goals.

For example, I’ve learnt that Facebook is brilliant for building awareness and engaging audiences who are in SEE mode, at the top of the sales funnel, where engagement is at its rawest. The fact is there is very little commercial intent on Facebook. This learning has changed the way I use Facebook as an engagement tool for Company Chameleon. Instead of the call to action focusing on ticket sales for our touring shows, the focus is now on capturing audience email addresses so a relationship can be activated. Thereby enabling audiences to be targeted at the next stage of the customer journey through email marketing, when commercial intent does exist and they are more likely to buy a ticket.

Header image : Courtesy of People United © Janetka Platun — ‘Belonging’

Find out more about the Digital Marketing Academy and apply for DMA 4.0.

Be the Change #FutureProofMuseums

Strategic Audience Development Manager at Culture Coventry, Thanh Sinden, tells the AMA what she’s gained since embarking on the  Future Proof Museums Fellowship. 

Thanh Sinden, Culture Coventry

My decision to apply to be a fellow of the Future Proof Museums programme was the best action I could make for my own personal development to be a future leader in the sector. What motivated me to this cause was knowing that I needed to be the change I wanted to see.

I see a sector that needs great leaders to navigate museums through transformational times. Leaders that will change, develop and redefine what a museum is and means. Underpinning this drive for change is the need to remain relevant in a changing world of cultural consumption. When we matter more to more people we will become more relevant to the population at large rather than just existing in the city.

The 3 day residential was an experience I’ve never had before. The intensive training programme gave me so many valuable insights. It expanded my thinking. Provided inspiration to develop my own approach and framework using the skills and tools I had gained to carry out organisational change, where the whole organisation culture adapts to a dynamic, agile and value-driven business way of thinking.

The expertise, care and generosity all the programme trainers and the AMA gave to me as an individual and as a cohort during the residential training was outstanding. The business tools and knowledge I gained will transform the way I do things. From business modelling to optimising team and individual performance, to assessing where we are as an organisation in relation to the Audience Engagement Spectrum. It has equipped me in the best way to act on my purpose and vision for change in my organisation and in the sector as a whole.


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