grab bag blog

This is where I talk about my work, my discoveries, my creative process, and the ins and outs of marketing in the arts.

Goldilocks Solutions

December 14, 2016

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This isn’t much of a secret, but I love movies. I love the experience of movies: the big screen, being immersed in a storytelling experience.

So when I moved into a new condo this summer, it seemed a great opportunity to upgrade my TV to something big and immersive. I’d had the same 32″ TV for the past ten years (and it is still going strong, props to Samsung), so I was ready for a big change. I did my homework. I researched new TVs to understand UHD, 4K displays, screen sizes and viewing distances, refresh rates — all of it. Everyone online said nobody ever regrets going too big, only too small. So I grabbed a deal on a 55″ screen and had it promptly delivered and set up.

I returned it several days later.

Don’t get me wrong– it was a beautiful cinematic experience. It was fantastic for watching Mad Max Fury Road or The Dark Knight. But trying to watch a local news broadcast or any DVD was awful. It did that one thing superbly well, but a home TV has to perform many tasks, from watching regular TV to playing video games to just blending in with the room as a whole. And that is where it failed. You see, I don’t have a huge living room, so that massive TV dominated the space. It was the only thing you paid attention to. It just didn’t fit the experience of the room.

This myopic urge I had to go really big is something you find in many arts organizations at one point or another. Perhaps the marketing team finds a sale that lets them blanket the city with giant billboard ads, or the board of directors wants to sink a ton of money into a giant spectacle to draw audiences. This rarely works out well because it’s too much too fast.

Maybe your organization serves a niche audience. Will casting a giant net with a city-wide ad campaign get more audiences, or will a highly targeted campaign to the people who share your interests be more effective? Throwing a ton of money into your shows and exhibits is great, but would your patrons perhaps have a better experience if you had better restrooms or more customer service personnel? Could you hire a single freelance designer or consultant for a season rather than contract an entire marketing firm for one show?

You don’t need money to work smarter, you just need time and resources. Use your money smarter and you won’t need as much of it. And that might mean not chasing some brand new marketing fad or opportunity. There is always a solution that fits your organization’s size. Just like there is a TV that is the right size for my living room.

Bigger is not always better.


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