The Times They Are A Changin

Print-Media-Table-SpreadAltered-PerspectivesShifted-DimensionsWeek 7 of our ILMP has focused on understanding Birmingham Museum Trust’s diverse audiences. Exploring engagement methods that trigger public visits and the importance of nurturing visitor loyalty whilst being inclusive to all. Which is no mean feat in a city as wonderfully diverse as Birmingham (1.1 million citizens) in many ways a microcosm of the world. During our Monday session Janine Eason, BMT Director of Engagement provided us with a thorough overview of current demographic visitor data, encouraging statistical debate and highlighting positive trends, shortfalls in target audience reach such as C2DE families, BAME and 16-24s participation. Growing and Diversifying Audiences is part of BMTs five strategic aims. Every visitor counts with bench mark data regularly collected and analysed throughout the year to ensure that improvements in visitor diversity within the defined target groups are being met. Generally the goal is for a 50/50 split of visitors from inside/outside of the city boundary. Peoples individual needs, reasons for visiting Birmingham museums are diverse; from the family audience wanting a quality day out, school trips, international culture vultures, on the flyers to cultural enthusiasts (60-70% visitor share). Interestingly Birmingham is the fastest growing Tourist city in the UK, with 36 million tourists per year, a lucrative market which BMT actively markets too and can capitalise upon still further with its world class collection. It’s essential not to stereotype the visitor profile, but understanding audience segments is useful in growing visitor appeal within poorly represented groups. I was surprised to learn that Trip Advisor reviews only influences 2% of BMT visitors, for other less established city based attractions, I am sure it’s much higher. BMTs digital engagement reach is significant with over 145,000 followers across BMTs varied social media channels. The key focus of BMT social media is relationship building, individual teams are allowed to passionately share what they are working on, unrestricted by the desire for a uniform corporate voice; which would inhibit perceived authenticity and the special online connection with the public.
During Thursdays practical session led by Amanda & Cherelle (BMTs marketing officers) we started with an open discussion about key audiences and why and how they are drawn to Birmingham Museums. An array of targeted BMT print Ads and marketing material had been sprayed across the meeting room table for us to analyse and comment upon. Commissioned Ads need to be mindfully designed with their target audience in mind, with careful consideration given to wording, font type, visual composition to project just the right call to action. BMT Ads feature in mainstream and niche publications. In order to imagine the visitor experience from another person’s perspective we were each handed strips of paper with a unique visitor profile and then engaged in an ‘Audience Walk’ around BMAG stopping in 6 key spaces. As a group this simple collaborative audience empathy tool exercise generated some interesting new shared insights which could be used in the future to optimise the BMAG visitor experience for specific audiences and potentially increase trust revenue streams. Much like a shopping centre, individual BMAG galleries/spaces offering will inevitably appeal more to certain individuals sensibilities, akin to shops, especially based on the way they present their wares. Within the museum field and especially at BMT imaginatively catering for a diverse audience is a must, there can never be a one model fits all approach. Hence the particular focus on co-production within BMAG gallery spaces, especially the innovative new ‘Story Lab’ gallery funded by ACE that we all explored, with open invites for visitors to air their views through scribble walls, online conversation on twitter…

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