Association of British Orchestras


Emma Mottram

Senior Marketing Manager, English National Opera

What does a marketing department do?

At its core, our marketing department’s main job is to grow and maintain its audience (e.g. through ticket sales) but this isn’t as simple as it sounds!

The marketing team is one of the key links between the artistic team and the audience. Our job is to effectively communicate the artistic vision of the company to the right audience in the right way. And similarly, we’re also one of the voices of the audience within the company. Through analysing our booker data and carrying out audience research, we have a wealth of information about our customers that we use to ensure they have a consistently brilliant experience with ENO.

As each new season is programmed (about three years in advance), the marketing team works closely with the artistic team to look at the balance of repertoire and performance number to meet audience demand and grow the UK’s opera audience. We’ll also work with the box office and finance teams to use research and sales analysis to decide on ticket prices and set income targets for each show. Within the marketing team, we’ll identify our key target audiences based on insight gained in-house as well as through Arts Council England.

Our artistic director and the show’s director will then brief us on the key themes of their staging, so that we can work with our designers to create a suitable marketing image for the production. As the image will be used across multiple advertising channels it’s important that the image reflects the production and appeals to our target audiences. At this point we also start working on the marketing blurb (referred to as ‘copy’) that will accompany the images.

Once we have the images and the copy, our job is to promote the shows to our target audiences, selecting the most appropriate mix of media channels to do so. The marketing team is responsible for our website, producing brochures and posters, email marketing, partnerships and promotions, and all paid for advertising across radio, TV, Cinema and digital.

The marketing team also act as ‘brand guardians’ making sure that everything that goes out externally to promote ENO, is on brand. A company’s brand is about who they are and what they stand for – so we make sure that everything visually upholds our brand guidelines (is our logo correct, does it use the ENO font etc) and talks about us in the right way following our tone of voice guidelines.

What skills do you need to work in marketing?

  • Audience-focused – marketing doesn’t exist without identifying, understanding, reaching and engaging audiences. Keeping close to trends in audience behaviour and demand will ensure your marketing efforts are relevant and effective.
  • Writing – you’ll spend a lot of time writing copy you read in advertising or on websites, so you’ll need to be a confident writer with the ability to use language to persuade someone to buy a ticket for your show and stay on brand.
  • Communication and people skills – marketers work with people all across the company who have all sorts of different specialisms, so you’ll need to be able to work collaboratively with lots of different personalities.
  • Attention to detail – proof reading is a key skill as you’ll be checking every piece of marketing communication to ensure accuracy and make sure there are no mistakes. No-one appreciates an incorrect performance date or spelling mistake.
  • Creativity is important to be a successful marketer. While you’ll be working with designers when creating images or trailers, you’ll need to be able to take the brief you’ve received from the artistic team and turn this into a design brief expressing what you want to communicate to your audience and why.
  • Maths and analytical skills – sales targets and ticket pricing are an important day-to-day part of marketing. You won’t need to a maths genius but being relatively comfortable with numbers (and Excel formulas) will certainly help.

How I got in to marketing…

Many people I work with have a similar story to me – I was studying for a music degree at Leeds College of Music when I realised that I didn’t want to be an instrumentalist or teacher when I graduated, but I was keen to stay within the arts sector. I came across the ABO, who helped me to understand the variety of career options that existed.

At an ABO careers day, my interest in marketing was born but I still wasn’t quite sure it was the job for me, so I tried to get as much as experience as possible while I was still studying. This included making sure I got used to working in an office by signing up to recruitment agencies and taking temping jobs, doing some work experience placements in local theatres during the holidays, and getting involved with Opera North as a student ambassador.

After graduating, I applied for a three month marketing internship at Warwick Arts Centre. It was incredibly helpful to be to talk in the interview about the relevant experience from my time as a student ambassador. The internship was hugely enjoyable – not only I was able to learn new skills (including how to properly complete job applications), it also confirmed that I really enjoyed marketing and seemed to be quite good at it!

Alongside my internship, I worked front of house and in the box office at Town Hall Symphony Hall in Birmingham, both of which supplemented my skills and my job applications. After my internship, I applied for every entry-level marketing job I could find, being sure to ask for feedback after every interview.

I’d recommend doing your research through ABO and the Arts Marketing Association who have lots of helpful training guides and information on their websites.

Why work in marketing?

For me, one of the main reasons I love working in arts marketing is that I get to share my passion for opera with loads of other people by encouraging them to come to ENO. It’s always a brilliant feeling when I’m watching a show to know that I played a part in attracting the audience sitting around me.

Day to day, working in marketing offers a lot of variety. Some days, I’ll need to be really creative and might be working on imagery with our designer, or creating a video trailer. Other days will require me to be more focused such as analysing what elements of my campaigns have worked the best or proof reading a brochure. I just love it.

Related information

Watch Emma's interview here

Annual Conference

The next ABO conference will take place in Glasgow from 9 – 11 February 2022.