Marketing: Planning

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Sarah Tinsley: Press and marketing are crucial to the whole concept of an exhibition, and we will have early discussions with the marketing team about, in a sense, the look and feel of the exhibition and therefore the look and feel of how we’re going to promote it.
Denise Ellitson: We work closely with the exhibitions team we work closely with our learning department who put together the programme of events for the exhibition, so we work with most departments. We have an in-house design team who’ll sometimes design our marketing materials for us, so we’ll work very closely with them. Externally we also have lots of partners, so we have a media buying agency, we have design people we work with, we have distribution companies and printers, so a whole network of people will work on an exhibition campaign.
Sabina Rahman: We’re not necessarily always working directly with each other. We’re all involved in a particular steering group meetings about exhibitions, they’re called exhibition project management meetings here and all those people working on the particular parts of the campaign and talk about what they’re doing and where they are with it for an overall idea of how the progress of the campaign is going.
Denise Ellitson: With something like the literary figures exhibition you’ve obviously got you core art gallery-type audience who are probably the audience that you know the best, and are easiest to get to and who are your regular visitors, the people who are probably on your mailing list or your emailing list or following you on Twitter, you know those people. For something like this exhibition there’s the photography element, so you’d probably try to reach people interested in photography who’ve been to other photography exhibitions in other galleries, and of course, here’s there’s the literary perspective. In the past we’ve produced bookmarks as promotional material, so there’s all kinds of things, so you’d look at the different authors who are featured and see what’s kind of around. We did an exhibition around Shakespeare a few years ago so we did a lot of work with the RSC and a lot of other Shakespeare-related organisations, so I think there’s a lot you could do with that exhibition, there’s a wealth of things you can do.
Sabina Rahman: We have to start thinking about what kind of marketing tools we use so one will be e-flyers, the second will be an actual exhibition leaflet that we can actually use as a communication tool to allow people understand just a little bit about what the exhibition is about with some really beautiful images. It always helps when you have an exhibition with really very good images.
Denise Elltison: You have to think about picking a lead image which can be really difficult. We have a lot of discussion about that, that it’s not just us that decide, there are a lot of different people that are involved, the curator, the exhibitions team, our director. It is really, really important because it is that key image that will sell the exhibition. So you’re looking for something that represents the exhibition, represents the rest of the content you’re looking for something that’s visually striking.
Ian Gardner: They have an image meeting where they pick the lead image, what we think is going to work well from an marketing point of view. Obviously the creators want to get involved with what they think is the most important image in the exhibition. Sometimes they’re not always the best looking things, so there’s a bit of argy-bargy with who gets their way. Usually it’s the marketing department because they’re the most important. But basically it’s to look at what we think will work as a lead image on a poster or if we’ve got to blow it up for a big banner, we look at colours and typography, we hook up with marketing first.
Sabina Rahman: You see all those posters on the Underground, we call them four-sheet posters, there’s larger posters, 16-sheets, and there’s ones in between which are the 12-sheet posters. And you’re probably aware of them when you’re going through the Underground, but actually the process behind even buying one of those sites is quite an expensive process. We have to be very aware of our budgets and what we can achieve within that.
Denise Elltison: With Underground posters, on average the ones along the corridors people look at for about three seconds, so you’ve got three seconds to get people’s attention. We’re very lucky because we’re a portrait gallery, that it’s always a portrait, and actually that eye contact that the picture has with the person works really well. So you’re looking for something that’s striking and really, in three seconds, can tell people a story of the exhibition.
Eleanor Macnair: So you know what’s going to be their main image in a marketing campaign, what you’re going to see on the Tube, what you’re going to see at the front of the gallery, and we will try to feed that one in so it’s a popular one in our press coverage as well, so people get a visual idea and visual identity for the exhibition.
Jude Simmons: We usually design a logo or wordmark that will then be carried through the exhibition, through the marketing, through print, through catalogues, anything associated with it, so if the public see Gerhard Richter (for example), they know it’s to do with the National Portrait Gallery exhibition and it’s all uniform and consistent. And once that’s established, there’s the colour, so that only appears in grey or that only appears in red, and we all try to consistently use that colour through what we do. Close transcript

The marketing department has to work closely with all departments – curators, learning, design. This means we have to plan everything carefully in advance to get the right input at the right time. Effective communication is key.

Ian Gardner, Designer

When it comes to implementing a marketing strategy, you will need to call upon your project management skills. Ensure everyone involved knows what they need to do, and by when, will be key to the success of your campaign.

What are you trying to achieve?

  • What is the campaign for?
  • What is the key message?
  • What story are you wanting to tell?
  • What are you aims and objectives?

Who are you trying to reach?

  • Who is the target audience for the campaign?
  • Describe ‘a target user’ (someone who you are trying to reach with your campaign) – think about their likes and dislikes, the media they use, where they hang out, their attitude and influences.
  • How will you engage your target user with your campaign?
  • What might prevent you from engaging your target user?
  • If you don’t know enough about the target audience, how can you find the answers to these questions?

What are the different ways you can get your message across?

  • Think about your target user and where and when they are likely to connect with your campaign.
  • What media do they use?
  • What design ‘look and feel’ will engage them with your message?
  • Does your campaign need a logo or visual identity that carries across all media?
  • Can you test your ideas with the target audience?

How will you make sure you can complete the campaign on time and to budget?

  • What are the stages you need to plan for to make sure your marketing materials are ready on time?
  • Do you need materials to be ready before launch?
  • How will you know your schedule is realistic?
  • Can you track back from your deadline and plan stages of delivery?
  • How do you get the maximum amount of coverage with the least spend?
  • How will you launch the campaign?
  • How will you sustain the campaign for the duration of the project?

Who is involved?

  • How will you define roles and responsibilities within a team?
  • How will you reach creative decisions that you can all agree on?
  • How will you maintain good communication, particularly when working together to meet a deadline?
  • Who outside of your team can help you get your message out?

How will you know the campaign has been successful?

  • What does ‘success’ look like?
  • How will you know that your campaign is on track?
  • How can you make best use of the evidence you collect for evaluation?
  • Is there room in your plan to make changes if necessary?
  • How will you know that you have met your objectives?