Stop thinking outside the box

Yep, you heard me right.

We hear all the time about how arts orgs need to do more “outside-the-box thinking” and I don’t disagree. Yes, we need to think differently about how we communicate with our current and prospective audiences to be more relevant and, to put it simply, get people through the door.

However, we need to make sure that we are doing what is “inside the box” really well before we can afford to start thinking outside the box.

If all of your marketing campaigns are tailored to older, highly engaged patrons, “thinking outside the box” and creating a smartphone app isn’t going to magically reach a younger audience demographic.

If your website makes it difficult to buy tickets online, “thinking outside the box” and hiring an ad agency to create a new, fun social media ad campaign isn’t going to magically result in more online sales.

If you’re sending all your emails out to your entire list and getting only a 20% open rate, “thinking outside the box” and implementing email automation isn’t going to magically improve results.

If you’re not calculating cost-per-acquisition when you create your fundraising plan, “thinking outside the box” and radically changing your annual appeal strategy isn’t going to magically give you a better ROI.

See where I’m going here?

Make sure that you have the fundamentals down pat before you try and branch out. If your foundation is not sound, nothing you build on it will be stable.