Marketing

William Norris

Communications Director, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

When asked what a typical day in your job is, it's something of a cliché to say that no two days are the same. But to be honest, in my case, it really is true. Just thinking about the week so far, I've been proofreading programmes, setting up interviews for the BBC, attended meetings with other orchestras, blogged and tweeted, finalised a research programme and of course, attended a concert.

One of the best things about marketing an orchestra, besides the day to day variety, is the fact that you get involved with every part of the organisation. Most marketers main responsibility is to maximise ticket sales (though that is changing), but you by no means work in a bubble - the job involves working with colleagues across all departments, concerts, education and fundraising (usually called development).

I've been working in orchestral marketing now for around 9 years, though during that time I've only worked for two organisations. After finishing an MA in European Cultural policy and Administration at the University of Warwick and a spot of time working and volunteering at the Voices Foundation I landed a job as Marketing and Friends Officer at the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This turned out to be a brilliant place to ‘learn the ropes', working with one of the world's top orchestras, and I was fortunate to be working with a very forward thinking boss who wasn't afraid to do things differently. I progressed through various roles at the LPO, and was particularly proud to develop their student scheme NOISE. After three and a half years I moved to the OAE, starting off as Marketing and Press Manager. I've been here for getting on for six years now where my role has developed enormously - probably the one thing I've been most excited and pleased with is The Night Shift, our series of late night concerts which I've helped to develop.

As I mentioned above, the traditional role of a marketer in an orchestra is to sell tickets to concerts. But these days its about a lot more than that. Of course it's still important, and developing imagery and concepts for brochures and posters is one of the most interesting bits of the job, but there are a whole host of other things a marketer must think about now. For starters, a marketer is the custodian of an orchestras brand - how the organisation projects itself to the outside world. It's often up to you to project, even create an identity. Linked to this, many marketing roles also have a responsibility for press and public relations. Then there's audience development - that can either mean getting new audiences, like students, to come to events, or deepening the engagement (and enjoyment) of existing audiences. For me, this last area has meant I've had a hand in developing a whole new brand of concerts, targeted at a specific new audience.

What does this all mean on a day to day basis? Well, as a marketer you're likely to be working with designers and photographers, co-ordinating and planning direct mail campaigns, booking advertisements, putting together concert programmes, writing copy, looking after the organisations' website and perhaps Facebook and Twitter profiles, and you'll often be needed to be the face of the organisation on concert nights - so expect quite a few late evenings. Every role is different however, and no two organisations are the same, so be sure to read job descriptions carefully and ask lots of questions at interview!

So what qualities do you need to be a good marketer? You'll pick up most of the practicalities that are needed from a job description but I think it really boils down to two things that job descriptions wont mention. One, you need to be able to put yourself in other peoples shoes. Chances are you really love classical music and go to a lot of concerts. However lots of your audience will only be coming once a year, perhaps less. And then there's the potential audience. They maybe like classical, but haven't yet tried it live. As a marketer you need to be able to think from their perspective, and understand why they come, and why they don't. Secondly you need to be inventive and think outside the box (sorry, horrible cliché!). Of course, you could probably get by and do things in the same old tried and tested ways, but I think to be a successful orchestral marketer you need to be bold, try new things, not be afraid to create a stir and even sometimes fail. An active imagination is a real asset to this job!

Looking back, if I could start again, I'd do exactly the same thing. I love music, I enjoy understanding people and getting creative, and there's a huge satisfaction in walking into a packed out auditorium full of expectant faces and knowing that you played a big role in getting them all there. Enjoy!