Is Arts Marketing an Art?

September 14, 2015 mogoarts

“Advertising is fundamentally persuasion and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.” -Bill Bernbach

What an interesting sentiment for arts marketers. Not only does Bernbach claim that marketing is an art, but the arts are also – well, art! So, should you treat arts marketing like marketing, or like art?

The answer is both.

The famous David Ogilvy and Bill Bernbach have been at the center of this debate for quite some time. While Ogilvy was much more keen on “following the rules,” Bill Bernbach had other ideas:

“I warn you against believing that advertising is a science. Artistry is what counts. The business is filled with great technicians, and unfortunately they talk the best game … but there’s one little problem. Advertising happens to be an art, not a science.”

-Bill Bernbach

Modern arts marketers know we can’t live in a world (or have a successful marketing program) that doesn’t rely heavily on data and analysis. Advanced digital marketers will always look at data  However, as Bernbach believes, there’s a limiting factor to following the rules at all times with your marketing creative.

Unfortunately, arts marketers do have to get hung up on the details. We do care if that button is red, or if the subject line was tested, or if the patron will understand our messaging. As a result, we can forget to test the “less travelled” options – something new and exciting. However, there’s a fine line to being almost archaic that you should avoid – don’t ignore facts and figures because you like that picture better than another one, or your tried and true methods are boring to you.

While the sentiments of Ogilvy and Bernbach have been around since the 40s and 50s, the marketing and advertising industry has come a long way since then. The technologies available to arts marketers today are not only helpful, they are necessary to move a digital marketing strategy forward.

Think Outside the Box, but Test!

Testing in general, has taken the marketing world by storm, and not just in one way. You can test everything – AdWords campaigns, Doubleclick campaigns, headlines, imagery, landing pages. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, try  testing a more creative approach (Bernbach would approve) and try something just a little “outside the box.”

At the end of the day, arts marketing is art, but it’s also a science that can be optimized and supported with real, quantitative data. It’s all about finding that balance.