Marketing is at the core of the business and management strategy. Marketing strategy is not a secondary step covering promotional, branding and communication; but rather the foundation of the overall strategy of a heritage site or museum.
Small cultural organisations and employees regard marketing strategy and tactics as a complementary tool to their service, though, understanding the market and audience needs is essential to provide quality services. This misconception is largely due to the background of cultural workers being humanities, history, archaeology etc. rather than business and management. Cultural sites and places offer services, visit a site, view an exhibition and/or participate in an educational activity and implement marketing strategies for their gift shops and brochures. This practice is not ideal as the plan of a visit and presentation requires knowing the visitors’ needs to offer an optimal experience and ensure their return.
This article intends to offer a brief outline of the basic marketing principles applicable to heritage management and tourism.
Marketing involves knowing your place in the market, acting on visitors needs, anticipating and responding to competitors actions. In other words, market orientation.
Take time to answer the following for your organisation:
- Where are we now?
- Why are we here?
- Where do we want to be in the future?
Analyse your situation, what are your internal and external environments, your industry, description and outlook? Two valuable tools to get you there are SWOT Analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) and Gap Analysis. Here is a free SWOT Analysis template.
Once you learn where your organisation is, you want to research further into your market. In the cultural heritage market Market Segmentation is determined by socioeconomic, demographic, cultural and psychographic factors. You can generate this information by gathering data from your existing visitors. Moreover, as the Webinar outcomes: Using Technology To Solve Art World Problems pointed out analytics and data from your social media and website activity can greatly define the characteristics of your visitors and potential market to expand on. Your segments ought to be:
- Measurable- their profiles can be measured.
- Accessible -can be reached and offer services to them.
- Substantial- are large enough to generate profit.
- Actionable- you can design programs to serve the specific segment.
Knowing the Desire, Ability and Eligibility of your visitors to participate in a service and what they want is key to offer the best possible experience. Therefore, your marketing strategy and services are informed and complemented by:
- Heritage values.
- Visitors’ values, needs and wants from this visit/activity.
- Offer programs of superior value.
- Relationship with the visitor.
- Value-added from the visitor to the site/activity.
A good start is a Demographic segmentation, dividing your visitors based on their characteristics. The cultural tourism industry has the following segments:
Age: 25+, 50+, schools and educational institutions.
Occupation: middle to the upper class.
Position in the family life-cycle. (Generation Gap)
Education: university graduates
Income: average and above
Culture, Race, Religion, Gender
Cater your services according to their characteristics and wants. For example, redesigning the plan for the visit of an archaeological site from the parking lot to the site. What would be the things important to your specific segment?
In brief, branding helps associate your values and services to the visitor and distinguish you from the competition.
Your identity is derived from your organisation’s values and reflected in :
Be consistent in your Visual Identity, including typography (fonts), colours and shapes.
Promotion and Communication
All of the above factor in the course for the promotion and communication strategy your organisation will take and follow the same philosophy. Learn more about communication with our article Communication Plan.
The Marketing Mix (From 4 to 7 p’s)
The Marketing Mix are areas you should focus to create an effective marketing plan. Namely, these are:
- Physical evidence
The charge for cultural heritage services is a very long chapter worth of a separate article. Whether there should be a charge for visiting cultural sites is strongly debated with many different strategies are implemented worldwide. In marketing, the variables for pricing generally are:
Values of an organisation
Differentiation(name, style, size,brand,).
The idea of giving in the non-for-profit sector follows specific psychology and many cultural organisations fundraise instead of charging for services, read more at Fundraising, how-to guide.
Marketing Strategy Table of Contents
If you plan on creating a marketing strategy, make sure to research and include the following:
Marketing is essential for heritage management, understanding the cultural asset and the interest of the visitor will directly impact the future of the heritage; as it can help raise awareness, funding and education that in return will help tangible conservation and historic continuity. Whether you have a cultural organisation or plan to start a project related to a heritage asset; one of your first steps ought to be a marketing plan.
I want to learn more:
Marketing Research for Cultural Heritage Conservation and Sustainability: Lessons from the Field by Mara Cerquetti and Concetta Ferrara
Marketing cultural and heritage tourism: the Marshall Islands by Daniel Spears and Fredrick Collison
Territorial marketing based on cultural heritage by Alexandra Zbuchea