They don’t expect results

What’s in this post:

  • A Boston Symphony concert poster, just as ineffective as most classical music press releases
  • A theory: that these materials are ineffective because no one really expects them to do very much.
  • And then, at the end, this thought:

If you put out ineffective stuff because, in your heart, you don’t think these materials can be effective, then haven’t you made a self-fulfilling prophency?

And wouldn’t it be better — even crucial, since we need a new audience — to find out what really sells?

I was in Boston, walking past Symphony Hall, where the Boston Symphony plays. Big poster out front, advertising concerts that weekend.

blank blogOn the poster, closeup of an amiable woman, sitting in the midst of the orchestra, holding a flute. Most likely the principal flute. Seems like a nice person, but nothing in the photo would make me (or anyone else) rush to buy tickets.

She was wearing a wedding ring. Because I’m high on marriage and family, my mind wandered. What’s her family like? How many kids? Where does she live? In town, in the suburbs?

Further down…

…the meat of the poster. Listing of the program. In smallish type, hard to see. Much bigger, grabbed my attention: logos of several funders.

Ineffective poster. Nothing in it made me want to hear the concert. And the one thing that — lacking anything else striking — might have made me interested, the program listing, was hard to find.

So it’s not just publicists who (for the most part) don’t know how to get our attention. Neither did one of the top orchestras in the US. (And it’s not alone.)

Why this is

Here’s my theory. Press releases and big-orchestra concert posters are ineffective because no one expects them to have much result.

No one thinks that when a poster goes up, passersby will stop in their tracks to read it, then rush to the box office. No one thinks that when a press release goes out, there’ll be a surge of response.

It’s not like it was when, two years ago, Kate Bush announced her first major live performances since 1979, and they all sold out within minutes. If classical music announcements got even one percent — one-tenth of one percent — of that response, then of course we’d be actively working to find out what kind of publicity worked best.

But we hardly get any response. The San Francisco Symphony press release I linked to in my last post — how many people was it, realistically, aimed at? How many would wade through the clutter of words to find out what it said? Probably no more than we could count on our fingers.

And their response — a story in a newspaper not so many people read — wouldn’t create much excitement.

But the funders!

One last thought. Why did the Boston Symphony poster tout the funders so strongly?

The reasons for that, I think, are very clear. No one at the orchestra expects the poster to sell many tickets. So not much is done to ensure that it sells.

But if a funder gets angry! Oh, they know what that’s like. They know what happens when funders aren’t pleased.

So that they take care of. Making the funders’ logos nice and big, so they get no complaints.

That’s my theory. If I’m right, the weak posters and press releases — weak from a sales point of view — are understandable. And the heightened attention to funders (which won’t sell tickets) also makes sense.

Now think about this…

If you put out ineffective stuff because, in your heart, you don’t think these materials can be effective, then haven’t you made a self-fulfilling prophency?

And wouldn’t it be better — even crucial, since we need a new audience — to find out what really sells?

I know, by the way, that some people in classical music do really do this. But too many don’t.

Original Source: They don’t expect results

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