Arizona Friends of Chamber Music
Eye-catching in innovative way without massive budget
When Arizona Friends of Chamber Music came to us, the 55 year-old non-profit had suffered a steady ten-year decline in ticket sales and donor contributions, with no end in sight. Making their challenge more daunting, all research indicated they were but another data point in a global trend of fading classical music organizations. If the decline continued, they would have no choice but to close their doors. Our mandate was not only to halt the decline, but to find a way to turn it around—to attract a new audience so the organization might thrive again, but on a non-profit’s limited budget.
We began with a complete marketing strategy based on a months’ long analysis of global best practices, the Tucson market for music performance, and the organization’s unique attributes, among other things. The written document is used by the all-volunteer board and Openform to guide implementation.
The over-arching goal is to take an art form that is 300 years old and make it relevant and fresh for a contemporary audience. Because chamber music doesn’t have the scale of organizations such as the symphony and the opera, we must reach our target audience on a relatively tiny budget, making our spending decisions strategically, upending the “but we’ve always done it this way” attitude, and engaging in inexpensive A/B testing.
We achieve this with:
Color and design, through the juxtaposition of the old (antique composer illustrations) and the new (graphic use of modernist text).
A unique voice that we developed. We write copy that is serious yet approachable, and tinged with brainy content (which is how the chamber music audience member leans). We avoid the hyperbolic (and ultimately trite and unsupportable) messaging frequently used by competing organizations, focusing on the tangible differences chamber music offers.
Crossovers, for example, partnering with the UA Poetry Center to expand the audience’s understanding of the scope of chamber music.
A consistent branding that is lyrical and exploratory, but systematic, following a style guide we established for not only the work we do, but for the volunteers who post on social media and engage in outreach at conferences.
Together, these strategies pull together adjacent ideas and efforts to create a coherent face for the organization. Its success is demonstrated by the solid turnaround in sales and donations, the consistently high net promoter scores, unaided positive recall, and for the first time in years, sold out concerts.
If you would like further explication for any of what we show here, we would be happy to elaborate.