Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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On ‘farewellers’ and exit marketing

August 18th, 2012 by Seb Chan

So ridiculously busy right now that there is little time to blog. But stay tuned for some cool stuff over at the Labs shortly.

But here’s a the first of a few quick thoughts on some topics bouncing around the blogosphere.

This week Nina Simon wrote about her ideas of having a staff of ‘goodbyers’ instead of ‘greeters’ in order to better build continuing engagement with visitors. She writes –

We realized from this discussion that we have a huge missed opportunity when people are leaving the museum. On their way in, they are excited, curious, ready to engage. They are not ready to hear about membership or take a newsletter about what’s coming up next time. They bolt right past those tables to the “good stuff.” But at the end, they’ve had a great time, and they want a takeaway from the experience. They WANT to join the email list. If we’re smart, we should be developing a takeaway that both memorializes the visit and leads them to another. In other words, we should be giving them a string for their new pearl.

This reminded me a lot of the efforts we’d go to back in the early 90s putting on all night parties. Before this was a task given to ‘street teams’ (no one had commercialised enough to hire people to do the least exciting tasks), you’d take a stack of flyers to parties at the very end of the night just as the dawn anthems were blasting through the bassbins and start giving them out as people exited. Others would go and plaster the windscreens of parked cars to similar effect. No one would ever give out flyers early on in the party – they’d get forgotten, sweaty, destroyed, or just ‘repurposed’. It was all about ‘exit marketing’ – and it was an important part of building bonds within the subculture. Flyers for the next month’s worth of warehouse parties made for a strong encouragement to ‘stay involved’ – especially as most people would be returning to their ‘ordinary lives’ during the week, saving their living for the weekends. It gave newcomers a sense that this wasn’t just a fleeting ‘temporary autonomous zone‘ but something they could regularly return to, and for the hardcore flyers and their effective distribution became core ‘subcultural media’. I’d argue that they were more effective than the more scattergun street press advertising, and definitely more successful than ‘record shop drops’.

Now museums rarely ignite the sort of passion that subcultures do. Perhaps they should, but that’s unlikely to happen given the age demographics. But there’s plenty to be had in Nina’s idea – the farewelling experience is likely to be the only opportunity to remind visitors that museum visits need not be a ‘one-off occurrence’ or a ‘once a year’ activity, but an essential part of their cultural calendars.

And of course, ‘farewelling’ behaviours are exactly the sort of things that you’d be hoping the staff in your ‘well placed gift shop‘ are doing as just good business.

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