Let’s talk about “younger audiences”


By Laura Rothwell

Founder of arts and culture marketing agency CRYSTLSD and Interim Director of Marketing at Tyneside Cinema

Over the next six months CRYSTLSD will be leading an innovative City of Dreams pilot programme, testing new approaches to engaging young people in cultural, creative and heritage offers.    

This blog – the first in a series by CRYSTSD founder, Laura Rothwell – recaps the bold assertions underpinning this programme, initially presented at the City of Dreams launch event in September 2018. Laura challenges the received wisdom of marketing approaches often employed by cultural and heritage organisations. She calls for a more intelligent segmentation of ‘younger audiences’, and outlines how the CRYSTLSD pilot programme with City of Dreams will test a relationship-based engagement model that can reshape the way our marketing teams work and transform how our sectors communicate with young people.

Read full blog post

Younger audiences? We need more intelligent segmentation.

In this blog I will recap the types of assertions we are looking to test with the work we at CRYSTLSD, short for Crystallised, are delivering for City of Dreams.

The primary aim of this is to demonstrate new ways of engaging younger audiences.

Firstly, let’s talk about ‘younger audiences’. You’ll know, if you were at the City of Dreams launch, that this is a terminology I’m not particularly enamoured with. One of the things we need to start doing as a sector is segmenting our ‘young audiences’ more intellectually, looking at more robust ways of describing them which accounts for the huge differences between 8, 13, and 19. So, over the period of the project we’ll be offering and suggesting new ways of segmenting ‘younger audiences’.

Time for a new approach – let’s build relationships.

Secondly, it’s important to foreground that this is a test. Yes, a test based on our experience as an agency (five years in arts and culture) and my experience as a marketing professional (16 years in in developing audiences aged 15-30 years old) but a test nevertheless. Essentially, what we are doing is testing an assumption. An idea that we have evidence to suggest has legs, but which requires testing, measuring, tweaking, re-testing, then measuring and tweaking again. Such that we can present a ‘product’ – in this case an idea or way of working – to the sector, that will allow better communication and relationship building with ‘younger audiences’.

Growing engagement and footfall – 4 assertions.

We will be working over the next six months on a campaign which is designed to prove that by altering how we approach marketing to children and young people we can nurture relationships, improve engagement and grow footfall to cultural and heritage venues.

The concept for our approach is based around the following assertions:

One:  Marketing and Outreach and Programming have to work much more closely together to develop meaningful relationships with younger audiences. You have to mean it.

Two: attracting younger audiences is essential for the survival of the arts and culture sector, but we have to do things differently.

Three: developing younger audiences will take time. Years of consistency and an authentic investment of time into those relationships.

Four: social media is not The Answer

The City of Dreams pilot programme.

Outreach initially, followed by more typical Marketing tactics. 

  • We will reach out to our target audience (13-19 year-olds, for the purpose of the pilot only) via networks and relationships we have been developing as an agency and as part of this project

  • Create an intro-event designed specifically for them

  • Incentivise attendance and recruit attendees to develop their own micro-audiences through peer-to-peer influence

  • Incentivise attendance at a specific NGCV event

The approach: outreach – programme – marketing.

You’ll note the use of incentivising audiences; I’d like to reframe this simply as a different way of spending your marketing budget based on the intelligence you can gather about your audience.

A very crude example being, you might print a What’s On Guide for your 50+ audiences, you might do social media advertising for your 30+ audiences, and you should consider incentivising your 13-19 year old audiences.

Incentivising can take many forms. There is the obvious financial reward (monetary or vouchers), you could opt for in-kind rewards (tickets or merchandise), or you could reward your audience by appealing to their ego.

Young people have a lot invested in their self-image. In many respected they’ve had no choice by to become savvy about their own ‘personal branding’, empowering and emboldening them by appealing to their self-image can be highly effective. However, as with everything, YOU HAVE TO MEAN IT.

Authenticity is key. You will be found out and called out if you’re found wanting.

This approach does need to be in addition to your marketing budget. We are suggesting you rethink the idea of what a ‘marketing budget’ is, dependent on your audience and your objectives.

What our pilot will achieve.

The method, if proven, will require arts and culture marketing teams to rethink:

  • what constitutes ‘marketing’

  • the way a marketing budget is spent

  • the way audiences are targeted (i.e. be more niche and more considered)

  • the part of the process at which you engage with audiences, they should be first in the chain not last in the chain

  • how we develop more sophisticated discussions about our younger audiences that go beyond segmentation by age

Find out more about Laura’s work and CRYSTLSD @laura_crystlsd  or @crystlsdteam  

Keep up to date on Tyneside Cinema’s film programmes and marketing developments on the web or follow them on Twitter @tynesidecinema

Sign up for the City of Dreams mailing list, and keep up to date on all our developments and activities. 




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: