On Sunday, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) opens its convention in Baltimore. More than 4,000 museum professionals are expected to visit our city over the following three days. While you may not be able to attend the formal sessions, you and your neighbors can be part of the celebration. If you have a window on Monday morning at 11am, Rachel Cylus and I will be offering a special tour of the Lloyd Street Synagogue (“Everything Old is New Again”) about the evolving interpretation of this historic site. This tour is open to the general public. Wednesday is our two-for-one admission day at JMM in recognition of Baltimore’s first museum week … a great day to bring a friend! And just below you will see that we have held over one of the AAM speakers, Dr. Philip Katz, to reprise a portion of his convention report on trends in museums for our annual meeting on June 9. We are delighted to be able to offer this window on the wider museum world.
The theme of this year’s conference is “innovation”. This week’s article covers an important area of innovation for JMM in the coming year: marketing. We are providing excerpts from a new marketing plan recently presented to the Board’s marketing committee.
Make sure to mark your calendars for Sunday June 9th at 4pm for our Annual Meeting! This year’s feature speaker will be Dr. Philip M. Katz from the American Alliance of Museums. Dr. Katz is the Assistant Director of Research and will be speaking about the future of Museums. We will also elect a new President of the Board. This event is free and open to all; we hope to see you there!
Marketing and the JMM Mission and Vision
In the 2012 Futures Committee Report the rationale for the JMM mission is described in part as:
Strengthening Jewish identity by connecting visitors and members to the shared memories of our people, giving them a framework in which to better understand and expand their own connections to Jewish life.
Enhancing connections between the Jewish community and members of the general community by telling the story of Jewish life in Baltimore and Maryland in an accessible and compelling way, with special emphasis on the Jewish dimensions of, and involvement with, broader issues of the day and events of the past.
This rationale forms the basis of the first plank of our marketing plan:
1. It is our goal to attract both the Jewish community and the non-Jewish community to the exhibits, programs and events of the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Our target is to increase our market share in three critical populations: school visits, Baltimore tourism, and repeat visits from local audiences.
The report later defines four key elements of our future vision for the museum. The first among these elements is a commitment to make our downtown campus a public destination. This leads to the second plank of our marketing plan.
2. It is our goal to increase attendance at the Herbert Bearman Campus and through increased attendance, grow our membership. Our target is to double attendance in three years and produce 50% growth in membership in that same span.
The report also speaks to the need for greater “visibility”, not only because of its impact on attendance but due as well to its positive effect on fundraising. Media presence provides direct benefits to donors in terms of recognition and indirect benefits in terms of association with a high profile institution. This leads to the third plank of our plan.
3. It is our goal to make JMM more visible – in our neighborhood, in traditional media and in social media. Our target is to enter the “awareness set” of segments of the population that have not heard of the Museum and to increase our presence in sectors of the media important to our supporters.
These three planks are the basis for choices we need to make about marketing priorities. Those priorities are further shaped by demographic changes and financial constraints.
Initial Marketing Strategies
We are promoting two core products under the common brand of the Jewish Museum of Maryland:
- a daytime experience that is family-friendly, discovery-centered, and easily identified as appealing to a diverse audience;
- an evening experience that is oriented towards millennials and boomers, is positioned as hip, cool and thoroughly Baltimore.
We will maximize the use of free media in promoting both products. We will concentrate limited program resources on innovative events (e.g. Gefiltefest, Clark Kent’s Bar Mitvah Party) that are likely to generate press.
For the daytime experience – our promotion to the tourist audience will put greater emphasis on our iconic synagogues and the “only in Baltimore” aspect of what we offer; the message directed at the local market will put greater emphasis on the current temporary exhibit and the “see it now” aspect of our offerings.
We will increase the frequency of our online communication, shorter messages – more often. We will add links to our blog posts and newsletters to try to get higher return on the materials we already prepare.
We will focus on models of school partnership and relationship building. Continue to seek financial support for busses. Long-term relationships involving multiple classes in the same school are the most effective over time.
We will continue the effort to make JMM physically visible through the use of street signs and banners – continue to reach out to Little Italy, the neighboring delis and the Lewis Museum to generate more street traffic among our sites.
We are confident that our new efforts will sustain and accelerate our recent success in growing participation in JMM. We will keep you posted on our progress.