Not Enough Money? Not Enough Staff?


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Speaker: Patsy Cane, Visitor Services Manager, Museum of East Anglian Life

This session is for anyone who needs to achieve great marketing delivery on a
shoestring budget. Hear how the Museum of East Anglian Life has increased its visitor
numbers and successfully engaged with new audiences – and all on the tiniest
of budgets.

Published in: Business, Technology, Design
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  • Hi I’m Patsy Cane, Office and Visitor Services Manager from the Museum of East Anglian Life, we often shorten it to MEAL because it’s less of a mouthful!! Today, I’m going describe how the museum’s manages Marketing on a shoestring with not enough staff or money!!
  • So, firstly, a bit of background - The Museum of East Anglian Life is an independent museum a charity and a social enterprise. The Museum itself comprises of at least 15 historic buildings including a working water mill and blacksmiths forge. These are enhanced by over 40,000 objects, ranging from steam engines to bone apple peelers, needlework samplers to Ransomes ploughs. We have an annual events programme of which our Beer festival is one, this year will be the 15 th year its been running with last years beer list reaching 100 different beers!! Some popular ones include Traditional Music Day and Bonfire Night. Our site is also used as an arts venue; our 14 th century tithe barn hosts musical and theatre events. We have rare breed animals such as Soay sheep, Red Poll cattle and East Anglian Large Black pigs . All of this is set in nearly 80 acres of Suffolk countryside which includes 4 county wildlife sites and a Nature Trail.
  • And there IS more. We have built a reputation as a centre for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and abilities to come and gain work experience, qualifications, training and social skills at MEAL. This includes employability skills such as literacy numeracy and IT as well as life skills through work based training. The museum is a family attraction with an extensive formal and informal learning programme and has built very good links with schools. We have children’s trails and activities which take place during school visits and schools holidays. We are also members of the Kids in Museums and have signed up to their manifesto. We have Leisure and Traditional Crafts courses take place on site. As well as demonstration of some traditional crafts such as bodging and hurdle making though out the season for visitors to see as well as part of work based learning sessions. We have horticultural retailing and have an on site Cafe and Gift Shop.
  • Ok, now just a few statistics about MEAL. 400,000 pa turnover. And for a relatively small organisation we have been awarded £2.3m HLF funding for the restoration of Abbots Hall, a fine Queen Anne country house which will be creating a series of new museum and exhibition spaces. We have 12 staff, 7 seasonal Museum Assistants and now have 5 more recent interns through the Skills for the Future Programme. We have Over 30,000 visitors, nearer 36-37000, nearer to 150 volunteers on the books if not more. And 80 acres to look after.
  • We obviously don’t get the spend the big museums do I’m afraid (Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of London)  
  • In fact it’s a drop in the ocean – at under £10,000
  • What are we Marketing???? Well, we are marketing a Museum as well as a family and Visitor Attraction, We market our regular annual events Events of which we have 15 plus smaller events throughout the year. We have work based learning and skills for the future training programmes which we market as well as our leisure and traditional craft courses i.e .basket making, stained glass workshops, jewellery making etc. We ALSO market the Social Enterprise’s production of flowers and hanging baskets for example. AND MEAL also offers supported volunteering opportunities and therapeutic placements which we promote and publicise … .. importantly we promote our ethos and philosophy MEAL has a very strong sense of purpose. Last year we received 35000 volunteer hours which equates to ½ a day work free from all Stowmarket residents!
  • We’ve recently carried out some organisational development work and revisited our cause and principles so that they reflect our evolution as a museum. Our new principles, developed by the management team and staff, are Stewardship, Participation, Social Enterprise and Mindfulness – reflecting not only what we do, but what we value in ourselves as an organisation. Our cause is very important to all of us at MEAL (read cause).
  • Our Target Markets are very VERY broad. We aim to reach visitors repeat and new but within those are potential volunteers for all areas of the museum including events, estate and more. Also we endeavour to target service users like offending youth teams, therapeutic placements, work based training programmes, and or anyone who might access our training programmes. This could include ex offenders, long term unemployed to name but a few. Some service users deal directly with the organisation and some are funded through grants and schemes. We also seek potential funders, donors and more. We do aspire to keep a high profile so we can be considered and bid for future projects and developments.  
  • CHANNELS What we use…. Website – our ‘shop window’ Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Director’s blog Destination Marketing Organisations Affinity Relationships – i.e. Tourism Officers at district level Press, radio and PR/Advocacy Print – leaflets, posters etc Tourist Information Centres Tourism websites - links Outdoor – promotional boards Promotions & offers And yes we opportunistic and look at chances which come our way and are free!!  
  • With our budget we obviously don’t use: Directories TV Direct mail Agencies Or anything expensive
  • The Web – MEAL’s Shop Window   MEAL uses Wordpress and has done for nearly 3 years now. It enables us to manage our website in house and at very low cost. It does rely on All staff members to provide content which does prove challenging at times! Our current website does try to cover all the bases & all audiences therefore has become wordy and confusing therefore we decided to review it in-house using google analytics.  
  • There are many stats but What most people visiting our website want to know is !! what’s happening at the museum Our big events And how to get here   Obviously there is a lot more information we have obtained from the analytics and we have been working on some changes.
  • This is what it might look like. This has been designed by a student placement from the University of East Anglia during Museum Studies Course.
  • Social Media is a channel we try and use frequently. We use Twitter, Flicker, Facebook and our Director Tony Butler has a blog, all of which have a link on our Home page.
  • Press and Media We have built very strong relationships with our local press. Many of our members of staff are often heard on the Local BBC radio speaking about a multitude of subjects ranging from our events, projects or happenings. We have a schedule of press releases which are sent on a very regular basis about our events but we do also inform them of any project or occurrence which may be of press’ interest. The little and often approach is very much used and of course if there is any arrival of baby animals of any kind the press photographers are over like a shot!!. We are working closely with one of the presenters of Radio Suffolk on our Blues Festival for example and as it so happens one of our local reporters is the son of one of our ex trustees! We endeavour to remain on good terms and Its good to be on first name basis with them as they provide invaluable free publicity and keeps us prominent in peoples minds.
  • PRINTING Aside from MEAL’s leaflet which is designed by a professional, we do use certain printed materials to promote ourselves all of which have a certain branded look. We have templated this so staff can produce their posters for smaller events and activities as they need to. For some educational activities we produce leaflets for school bags and our Town Council will display our posters in their areas around town. This tends to keep costs to a minimum and gets us wide local coverage. We have also recently printed a Museum Guide which is now for sale in the Gift Shop.
  • We do have several promotions which seem to work well. We have an open day at the start of the season which allows us to showcase the museum and in turn we offer 25% off season tickets. We have discounted group rates ands child free half term events which all prove very popular and help us get people through the doors.  
  • As a result of all I have mentioned we have had very good measurable results.   Visitor numbers have grown 35% in 4 years Season ticket numbers up 40% in 4 years Web traffic has increased significantly  
  • We have won several awards during the last few years . We won the Winstan Bond Trophy for the Entrepreneurial Museum of the Year’ the ‘ Project was’ : The Museum as Social Enterprise a new Business model for museums. We were (joint) winners for  demonstrating social benefit from enterprise for the work we do with training programmes for disadvantaged people etc.  Also showing a commitment to sustainability in terms of a business but also in terms of community..   We obtained Vaqas quality badge and the Social Enterprise mark, several tourism awards all of which we are very proud of.  
  •   And to the Future…….. A Web redesign and continued refinement – consider search optimisation to drive traffic More effective use of social media Email marketing – collecting web addresses from visitor surveys etc Joining up with other local attractions/travel companies/hotels/pubs to ‘package up’ as East Anglian experience Marketing opportunities from the opening of Abbots Hall in 2012 ...............Weddings but maybe even much more.  
  • Not Enough Money? Not Enough Staff?

    1. 1. Not Enough Money?  Not Enough Staff?  Marketing on a ...... or Patsy Cane
    2. 2. First, some background......... <ul><li>Independent museum, run as a charitable trust and a Social Enterprise </li></ul><ul><li>Open air rural museum and visitor attraction </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrating East Anglia’s rural past and traditions </li></ul><ul><li>15 historic buildings and over 40k artefacts, including working Steam Traction Engines </li></ul><ul><li>Events programme including May Day Celebrations, Beer Festival, Traditional Music Day, and Bonfire Night Celebrations </li></ul><ul><li>Venue for cultural events </li></ul><ul><li>Small animals, rare breed livestock and heavy horses, small scale working farm </li></ul><ul><li>Nature trail and conservation areas </li></ul>
    3. 3. And there’s more............. <ul><li>Extensive programme of work based training and supported volunteering for people from disadvantaged backgrounds </li></ul><ul><li>Educational programme </li></ul><ul><li>Leisure Learning courses </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional skills and crafts demonstration programmes </li></ul><ul><li>Horticulture retailing </li></ul><ul><li>Thriving on-site Café and gift shop </li></ul>
    4. 4. And a few stats.......... <ul><li>c£400k pa turnover </li></ul><ul><li>£2.3m HLF capital funding for the restoration of Abbot’s Hall </li></ul><ul><li>12 permanent + 7 seasonal staff </li></ul><ul><li>c30k visitors pa </li></ul><ul><li>100+ volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>80 acre site </li></ul>
    5. 5. We don’t get anywhere near the spend of the ‘big’ museums........
    6. 6. <£10k pa A drop in the ocean
    7. 7. What are we marketing? <ul><li>A visitor attraction </li></ul><ul><li>Events </li></ul><ul><li>Our Cafe </li></ul><ul><li>Our training and leisure courses </li></ul><ul><li>Our retail activities </li></ul><ul><li>Our social enterprise activities </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteering </li></ul>....Our ethos and philosophy
    8. 8. Our Cause <ul><li>“ The Museum of East Anglian Life is a social enterprise sharing the compelling story of East Anglian lives through historic buildings, collections and landscape. We aim to enrich people’s lives, encouraging enjoyment, learning and participation through our public programmes, training and volunteering schemes. </li></ul><ul><li>The museum is a space for people to be active, learn new things, look at the world differently, make friends and give something back.” </li></ul>
    9. 9. <ul><li>Very broad..... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New and repeat visitors – local and from further afield </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential volunteers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential and existing funders, donors and business partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Potential service users </li></ul></ul>And our target market?
    10. 10. Our Channels............... <ul><li>Website – our ‘shop window’ </li></ul><ul><li>Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Director’s blog </li></ul><ul><li>Destination Marketing Organisations </li></ul><ul><li>Affinity Relationships – i.e. Tourism Officers at district level </li></ul><ul><li>Press, radio and PR/Advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Print – leaflets, posters etc </li></ul><ul><li>Tourist Information Centres </li></ul><ul><li>Tourism websites - links </li></ul><ul><li>Outdoor – promotional boards </li></ul><ul><li>Promotions & offers </li></ul><ul><li>..........and anything that’s free! </li></ul>
    11. 11. What we don’t use......... <ul><li>Directories </li></ul><ul><li>TV </li></ul><ul><li>Direct mail </li></ul><ul><li>Agencies </li></ul>..........and anything that’s expensive!
    12. 12. Web <ul><li>Moving away from print to on-line </li></ul><ul><li>Website managed in house using WordPress </li></ul><ul><li>Very low cost </li></ul><ul><li>Staff encouraged to provide content – but a challenge to keep up to date </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous news posts – rolling banner with images </li></ul><ul><li>All departments/functions have their own pages </li></ul><ul><li>Tries to cover all the bases & all audiences – has become confusing </li></ul><ul><li>So recent Web review carried out....... </li></ul>
    13. 13. Web Review............. <ul><li>Carried out in-house using Google Analytics </li></ul><ul><li>Findings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>44% bounce rate – indicates website is not encouraging users to stay on and explore </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Navigation bar – users click on main item but do not use drop-downs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some pages have 0.n% hits – does not justify them being on the navigation bar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visits mainly from London (46%) and Ipswich (6%) with remaining (48%) spread evenly throughout SE England </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Events cause spike of visits of 100 to 130% </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This and most visited pages indicates: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>People want to know what’s happening at the museum </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interested in big events </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>They want to know how to get here </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Changes being made: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Graphic redesign – to make it more attractive to visitors especially young people – but still attractive to parents & grandparents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change layout to a 3 column design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change way navigation works </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Improved top of page navigation with just the most visited pages and no drop-downs – Home, What’s On?, Visit., Social Enterprise, Learn, Contact Us </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Secondary navigation for more specialist information – Projects, Partners, Donations, Volunteering </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More use of ‘call to action’ type words – ‘Visit’, ‘Learn’, ‘Discover’, ‘Volunteer’ </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Web - What it might look like...
    15. 15. Social Media
    16. 16. Press, Radio and PR <ul><li>Key element </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Free’ publicity </li></ul><ul><li>Used to market </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Initiatives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Programmes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>............and build advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Have built strong relationships with local press and radio </li></ul><ul><li>Presenting at conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Stands at County Show </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Little and often’ approach to remain front of mind </li></ul>
    17. 17. Print <ul><li>Museum Guide </li></ul><ul><li>Local Tourist Guides </li></ul><ul><li>One-off posters </li></ul><ul><li>Leaflets in school book bags </li></ul><ul><li>Staff encouraged to design and produce their own – MS Publisher </li></ul><ul><li>But brand guidelines give standard ‘look and feel’ </li></ul><ul><li>Print costs kept to a minimum – tend to use local authority print service or a local companies/social enterprises </li></ul>
    18. 18. Promotions <ul><li>Stowmarket free day </li></ul><ul><li>Season Ticket discounts </li></ul><ul><li>Group & school bookings </li></ul><ul><li>Children free days </li></ul><ul><li>Half term offers </li></ul><ul><li>Coach Parties </li></ul>
    19. 19. Results............ <ul><li>Visitor numbers have grown 35% in 4 years </li></ul><ul><li>Season ticket numbers up 40% in 4 years </li></ul><ul><li>Web traffic has increased significantly </li></ul>...............and Awards!
    20. 20. Awards and Accreditations <ul><li> name but a few! </li></ul>Winstan Bond Trophy for the Entrepreneurial Museum of the Year (Sponsored by the Association for Independent Museums)
    21. 21. And to the future.............. <ul><li>Web redesign and continued refinement – consider search optimisation to drive traffic </li></ul><ul><li>More effective use of social media </li></ul><ul><li>Email marketing – collecting web addresses from visitor surveys etc </li></ul><ul><li>Joining up with other local attractions/travel companies/hotels/pubs to ‘package up’ as East Anglian experience </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing opportunities from the opening of Abbots Hall in 2012 ...............Weddings? </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe this could be us one day! </li></ul>
    22. 22. <ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>+44 (01449) 612229 </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>MuseumEALife </li></ul><ul><li>Blog </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>