Pointers for Investing in Emerging Technologies
The Pokémon GO craze has faded into the wave of political media frenzy. Snapchat has changed to Snap, Inc. and launched a product: spectacles. The tech world and opportunities for connecting with arts audiences change at a breakneck pace. In addition to social media and games, arts marketers can use RFID, Beacons, Augmented Reality, or Virtual Reality to further engage the public.
How can an arts marketer keep on top of the emerging tech while staying strategic, mission-centric and goal-oriented?
Stay on top of emerging tech and analyze its actual audience versus your audience targets by reading diverse sources of info. Register with research platforms and sign up for the updates. You’ll gain information about digital patterns, emerging tech for connecting with consumers, use of digital streams in the U.S., and the latest in research and technology trends.
- McKinsey and Company has several streams of knowledge you can follow, from Digital to Marketing.
- Pew Charitable Trust maintains a constant connection with behaviors and consumption patterns of the U.S. across generations in addition to many other thorough data analysis arenas. If you go to their focus on Communities, you will find detailed information on demographic changes. They also cover arts and culture trends and uses of the internet and technology.
- MediaPost provides the most thorough analysis of marketing central behaviors across sectors. This is critical—as arts marketers, we know that our audiences aren’t just deciding between art and art, but art and many other options for how they spend their money to engage in experiences. Media Post has various tracks you can follow from social media consumption, digital spend, or deep research in the data of consumer behavior.
Don't ignore trends (like Pokémon or augmented reality), but approach your organization's involvement through a strategic lens of brand and program marketing as well as the opportunity cost of jumping into the new tech. What are your goals and how much of your time and money do you have available for R&D into new technologies? Try those items that seem most aligned with where you want to go and give yourself financial and human resource contribution limits tied to goals to determine when to make a full commitment. I call it the “beta-test” for a new idea. That being said, new means change, so allow for mistakes and learning along the way. Don’t dump a technology because “it just didn’t work” the first time.
- After the beta test, when you decide to add a new technology into your marketing plan, adopt with strength and conviction and a specific goal in mind. Review how you are distributing all your assets and consider what might need to be reduced in order to add the new tech into your work. An additive-only approach usually results in dying limbs of tech or social due to a lack of time or strategy to maintain with a robust focus on engagement, not just another means to shout out what show you are doing.
- Let your data be your guide to the quality of the investment. If your core and target markets are over 30, be reasonable. For example, with tech like Snapchat, whose audience is mostly under 25, leverage this tool for your brand awareness campaign using geo-filters. Then invest the majority of time and money in the tech where your target audience lives.
- Surveys, national data sources, and Google and social analytics should all be used in consort to figure out the best approach to first investing then using your technology.
Dr. Brett Ashley Crawford is a member of Americans for the Arts.