Karyn E.

Chief Member Officer, Tessitura Network

Seven things I learned at Digital Marketing Boot Camp


6 min

I was lucky to attend Capacity Interactive’s Digital Marketing Boot Camp for the Arts in person this year.

I am not a marketer by trade, so this was an incredible opportunity to learn about the field and better understand the needs of Tessitura members. Arts and culture organizations are under pressure to keep up with the changes in privacy, technology, and their own teams.

We were all in the room to learn and help each other together. The energy was palpable. The stories were honest. And I gained an even deeper respect for the work of our marketing colleagues across the industry.

Here are the top seven things I learned from attending Boot Camp.

7. Subscriptions aren’t dead, but flexibility is key.

Arts marketers from UMS, Steppenwolf and the Phoenix Symphony all agree on one thing – subscriptions are still an important part of their businesses. At the same time, we need to challenge our assumptions of what a subscription means to our audience members. Organizations are experimenting with flexible packages and membership programs and are using data to challenge long-held assumptions about what their customers want. Sara Villagio, Chief Marketing Officer at Carnegie Hall, offered a challenge: “Our audiences give so much to us. It’s time to ask yourself, What is it that we can do for them?

“Our audiences give so much to us. It’s time to ask yourself, What is it that we can do for them?”

Speakers seated on stage in front of a screen with the text ' The Future of Subscriptions and Membership Models'

6. You don’t have to be an expert.

Partners are your friends. Arts organizations have a lot to keep up with: rebuilding their teams, trying to achieve pre-Covid KPIs, and coping with changing privacy regulations. You don’t have to be an expert in digital marketing. Partners like Capacity Interactive are there to help maximize your Google Grant spend, fine-tune digital marketing campaigns, and even create flexible digital content with your source material.

Take this example of “Arthur & Friends Make a Musical” at First Stage. They had the initial creative content. CI was able to transform it into various responsive display ads and maximize the ROI based on the early results from Google.

Speakers on stage at Digital Marketing Boot Camp

5. Marketing is a crucial stakeholder in artistic planning.

Theresa Ruth Howard, Founder and Curator at Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet (MoBBallet), hosted a conversation about shifting towards greater inclusivity and accountability. She talked with Melanie George, Associate Curator at Jacobs Pillow, and Jane Raleigh, Director of Dance Programming at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Inclusivity is not about creating ‘diversity programming.’ It’s about taking a long hard look at your venue and your community and asking yourself who isn’t there and why. Digital marketing offers a powerful toolkit that you can leverage to genuinely engage new audiences.

“Sometimes the door is not locked, it’s just closed. Try the handle.”

In the season planning process, it’s common to complain about being left out and shows being hard to sell. Why not invite yourself to the table? “Sometimes the door is not locked, it’s just closed. Try the handle,” Theresa said.

Three panelists on stage at Digital Marketing Bootcamp

4. What you’re doing matters.

Art is powerful. “Art is the one thing that can make loneliness a shared experience,” said Priya Iyer, President of Capacity Interactive. Art can provide collective healing for our communities. What you are doing matters. Don’t give up.

“See glimpses of something bigger than us,” says choreographer Crystal Pite in this video from the National Ballet of Canada.

3. Have fun.

Marketing can be a complex, technical job. But it’s also creative work. Don’t forget to explore what you love and what makes you laugh. Invite your colleagues to join in the fun. That’s where creativity is born — like in this video, “Ballet moves to try out at the club,”  from the Royal Opera House.

2. Be yourself.

Authenticity is in. People don’t necessarily want perfection. An attendee asked: “How polished do vertical videos need to be?” Kris Wilton, Director of Creative Content and Digital Engagement at ICA Boston, replied simply: “Not very. Audiences respond to content that is relatable.”

ICA Boston jumped on a TikTok trend with this this vertical video.

1. Don’t forget to breathe.

When everything is coming at you a mile a minute, don’t forget to breathe. It can be as simple as stopping to pause, take in three deep breaths, and center yourself. “Let go of what isn’t serving you,” Priya Iyer told the crowd. “Dream big. Iterate small.”

“Let go of what isn’t serving you. Dream big. Iterate small.”

•     •     •     

To Priya Iyer, Samantha Kindler and Erik Gensler, thank you for making me feel welcome in this special place. Tessitura is proud to be your partner.


Arts & Culture

Karyn E.

Karyn Elliott

Chief Member Officer
Tessitura Network

Karyn Elliott, Chief Member Officer, has been with the Tessitura Network since 2011.

Overseeing support, learning, and the overall member experience, Karyn is responsible for ensuring that all members of the community get the most out of Tessitura. Prior to this role, Karyn helped deliver Tessitura’s e-commerce platform (TN Express Web) to over 400 organizations worldwide and subsequently created the Member Services team.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in theater arts with an emphasis in arts administration, and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Helen Bader Institute. Previously, Karyn was the General Manager at First Stage Children’s Theater in Milwaukee, WI.

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