Does Your Culture Foster Marketing Innovation?

Capacity Interactive AUTHOR: Capacity Interactive
Jan 20, 2015
4 Min Read

Regardless of the form we choose to support, I think it’s safe to say we all share a belief that art deserves a place of prominence in our culture. When we choose to market the arts, we take on the challenge to act as matchmakers between what we produce in our halls and on our stages, and a populace that is never sitting still – not to mention one that is constantly creating and disposing of its modes of connection and communication.

But you already knew that. You read this blog.

So how do we ensure that we are adapting? I don’t mean this at the macro field level, but rather at the company and individual level. When discussing this with some of our most successful peers, it becomes clear that the rate at which we adopt the most effective and innovative marketing tactics is in direct correlation with how empowered and agile our teams are built to be.

We hear constantly that organizations are struggling to keep pace with the latest standards and, naturally, digital innovation often suffers as a result. This dilemma appears rooted in the idea that we are to always be adding, without halting the efforts that no longer prove effective. Why else, in an era when 71% of the adult population is on Facebook (from a recent study by the Pew Research Center), would social advertising continue to get the scraps of our ad spending?

Several of you are exceptions to this, of course, and likely because you have embraced the reality that there is no such thing as a timeless strategy. There are merely sustainable teams and businesses that are built to pursue new ideas, shed outdated ones, and keep moving. Now, how do we create cultures where even more are able to do so?

Rather than put you through a drawn-out opinion (or perhaps continue doing so), let me illustrate the crux of my point with this short and horribly cheeky multiple-choice questionnaire. Don’t worry. You won’t be asked to share your answers:

  1. Which of these best describes the way your organization regards its marketing division?
A) Data-driven communication strategists
B) Brochure makers
  1. Which statement best reflects your current marketing approach?
A) “We set our priorities and aim for excellence in those areas.”
B) “We try to cover everything and do well enough.”
  1. Does your organization’s marketing decision-maker know what customer segmentation is?

A) Yes
B) No

  1. Do you encourage and pursue ideas from junior staff?

A) Yes
B) No

  1. When was the last time you deployed an A/B test in any medium?
A) In the last three months
B) Please stop judging me
  1. Within your company, who is invited to generate content ideas for social channels
A) Everyone
B) One overwhelmed assistant
  1. How many staff members outside your department approve your campaign decisions/strategies (not referring to ad creative)?

A) 1-2
B) Our janitor still isn’t sold on Instagram, but we’ll keep trying

You get the idea. (And yes, I had too much fun writing those last few.)

Organizations that embrace the “A”s have caught onto the idea that innovation is only possible when marketers can spend their time crafting strategies, testing mercilessly, and researching latest trends. Empowerment and accountability can go a long way. However, if the “B”s hit a bit too close to home for you, it’s easy to see how innovation can hit a roadblock at every turn.

Marketing is both an art and a science, and whether you’re talking about the targets or the talent that gets you there, it’s all about people. The space we provide for experimentation, the investments we make in professional development, and the trust we place in those we employ will far transcend bottom-line ROI. But, rest assured – you’ll see that, too.


Tom O’Connor is a New York City-based arts marketing consultant, formerly Director of Marketing & Audience Development for Roundabout Theatre Company.