Marketing tips for museums and visitor attractions

Marketing tips for museums and visitor attractions – hello I am Richard Linington and have been working in the tourism and visitor attraction sectors for Planning Solutions for over 17 years – over that time we have worked on a number of museum, heritage and visitor centre projects. Alongside this I have been carrying out the marketing activities for CONKERS an environmental discovery centre, in the Midlands for over seven years. I thought it would be useful to share some marketing tips for museums and visitor attractions.

Visitor data – understanding who your customers are is essential to developing a targeted and effective marketing strategy. Your front of house staff can ask visitors to your museum or visitor attraction to complete a short questionnaire and setting up a survey on Survey Monkey can help to engage with your visitors online and people who may not have visited you yet. Incentivising people by entering them into a ‘prize draw’ for a family day ticket can help to generate a higher response rate. As well as helping to identify your core audience and how they heard about the attraction, visitor surveys can also be used to help shape your investment strategy in the development of the visitor experience in the future.

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Use social media and blogs – don’t be scared of social media or developing your own blog. It’s a very cost effective way to engage with visitors – Twitter and Facebook are free to use. You can also run Facebook competitions to increase the number of likes. Have a look at The Egypt Gallery at Manchester Museum which has an excellent blog which is frequently updated. See http://egyptmanchester.wordpress.com.

The power of review sites – however much we love (or hate) review sites they are here to stay for the time being. Where possible always respond to a negative comment in a positive and courteous way (I know sometimes you may not feel like being courteous). To increase the number of positive reviews when they are leaving your museum or visitor attraction ask visitors to write a review if it looks like visitors have had a great time.

Website audit – to ensure that your online experience (desktop / mobile / tablet) meets the needs of your visitors it is essential to carry out an annual audit of your website. This is something which can be quite simple to complete. Sit down with existing visitors (with a desktop, tablet and mobile) and ask them to complete tasks on your website e.g. find the latest event, download directors, book an online ticket and see how easy (or difficult) people found it to complete the task.

Invest in design – in the past we have opted to produce newsletters in-house. In our experience it is worth working with an external designer to produce your newsletters and other marketing material. Don’t forget to give the designer a good brief to guide them.

Consider the use of voucher sites – if you don’t have a large marketing budget (or even if you do) the use of voucher and discount sites can be an effective way to raise awareness of your visitor experience. You can target audiences who may live outside of your core catchment, you can set the terms and conditions so that visitors with discount vouchers are driven to fill certain days when you may not be so busy outside of the main season.

Data capture – don’t forget to capture visitor data, ask visitors to leave their name and email address. Don’t forget about the Data Protection Act! You can then use this data to send people an online newsletter via a service such as Mail Chimp.

Email signatures – it doesn’t cost anything to include links to the next three upcoming events in your email signatures.

Photo library – you may be contacted at short notice by your local media, a tourist publication or destination management organisation for a photograph of your visitor experience. It’s good practice to have a digital library of high quality photographs available.

Joint promotions – explore opportunities to develop joint promotional packages with a local accommodation provider or other attractions, where you can cross sell to new audiences.

Support for developing marketing plans
To find out more about developing and implementing a market plan please contact:
Richard Linington
Planning Solutions Consulting
9 Leigh Road
Havant
Hampshire PO9 2ES
richard@pslplan.co.uk
www.pslplan.co.uk
Tel: 023 9248 1999