Broadening your horizons

There is a new trend that has been taking off recently in the Australian performing arts industry – Listening to your audience! This audience-centred idea has been a missing piece in the mix for a long time and, alongside the current focus on future sustainability of these entertainment mediums, the audience is coming back to the front. But there is still one issue . . .


I love this renewed shift towards the audience. They are the ones who will ensure your future sustainability if your product reflects their needs. So I should be over the moon with all the surveys that I am getting asking their databases to evaluate their products. I should be ecstatic at all the community forums they are facilitating to get into their audience’s heads. But there is still one important component missing.

These evaluation efforts could ultimately reap the incorrect suggestions.

There is one sure-fire way to ensure the future sustainability of any business. From an accountancy firm or a national supermarket chain to opera and musicals, it is always the same. Grow your audience by creating a product that appeals to a wider variety of people.

This may be the aim of these surveys and discussions, but unfortunately there is a high chance that this aim will be missed because of the people who will be reached.

Whenever running a survey there are generally two kind of respondents. The ones who are really passionate about the product or company and will fill out a survey with a glowing review (Supporters). Or there are the people who had such a horrible experience with your product that they need to tell you about it (Detractors).

These surveys generally limit themselves to only reaching the Supporters because they are communicated through social media pages, e-news databases and brochures hidden amongst the organisation’s other collateral. They are only using the channels of people who already like their service enough to engage on a regular basis.

If the aim is to broaden your audience, what good is it to talk to your current audience? To an extent it is necessary to understand why they keep coming back but it needs to be paired with the opinions of another group. The peripheral.

These people sit just outside your regular audience. They may have attended one or two performances but never been enticed to return regularly. They may have only heard of your company but never paid the money for a ticket. Or they may be big fans of another similar entertainment.

These are the people you need to talk to. How do you get these people through your doors without compromising the product for your existing fans?

Answer that question and you will never go out of style!