Back to

We’ve got a Plan

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

I’ve always been interested in why advertisers do what they do. How do ideas get generated and why are they executed in the ways that they are? Where did the Energizer Bunny come from? And what exactly is Fahrvergnugen

Sometimes marketing campaigns are absolutely genius and other times they are absolutely ridiculous. If you’ve ever watched the show Mad Men, you’ll know that there’s a lot of thought and planning that goes into every message. A strong, clear, and creative marketing plan is the foundation for everything you see on tv, hear on the radio or read in a magazine; it not only articulates the messages (what), but it also outlines the audience (who), the objectives (why), the media channels (where), AND provides the reasoning for it all.

We’re just now finishing up the final points of our 2010 Marketing Plan. It’s been exciting to work on and also exhausting. In order to give you a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes work of museum marketing, I thought I’d share with you some of the basics of how we put together our plan.

Step 1: We broke the IMA apart into 10 different marketing categories.

  1. Brand
  2. Exhibitions
  3. 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park
  4. Public Programs
  5. Membership and Individual Giving
  6. Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens
  7. Events and Facility Rentals
  8. Nourish Café and Catering
  9. Retail – IMA Store, IMA Gallery Shop, Design Center, Madeline F. Elder Greenhouse Shop, Lilly Shop and the IMA online store.
  10. New Media and Web

Step 2: We did a modified S.trenghs W.eaknesses O.pportunities T.hreats (SWOT) analysis for each. Full Disclosure: Because this is the part of the process that I like the least, the IMA’s plan only lists each category’s Strengths and Challenges (We’ve listed about 10-15 for each).

Examples of Strengths and Challenges:

Strength: New brand identity is fresh and dynamic
Challenge: New brand identity has yet to permeate public awareness

Membership and Individual Giving
Strength: New member-specific programming such as Member Night.
Challenge: Decrease in total IMA membership.

Step 3: We listed 10-20 marketing objectives for each of the categories.

Examples of Objectives:
Public Programs: Raise awareness of the Toby as a unique venue for movies.
Events and Facility Rental: Increase revenue from weekday facility rental. Emphasize the IMA’s meeting spaces.

Step 4:
We identified the target audiences for each category. By determining the intended recipient of the message, it’s much easier for us to craft messages and identify media channels.

Examples of Target Audiences:
Nourish Cafe: Butler University and Marian College students
100 Acres: Nature and Wildlife Enthusiasts

Step 5: We crafted the Messages for each of the categories. (This is my favorite part of the process!) The Messages are the audience’s key take-aways from our marketing efforts. They communicate the value or benefit of the category (Retail, Exhibitions, etc.) and help to distill down our communications to  essential sound bites.

Step 6: We identified available media and created strategies for implementing and integrating Messages across the channels. By integrating core messages across traditional channels (print, tv, radio) and non-traditional (web, social media, grassroots), we hope that our campaigns will  have a broader reach and a greater impact.

Step 7 (Current stage): It’s now time to take the marketing plan to our colleagues in other departments and get their feedback. If all goes well, we will finish up our media buying, start on in print, tv, and radio production, and debut the new marketing plan in early 2010.

Stay tuned for updates on the unrolling of the marketing plan, the implementation of a new social media strategy, and the in-house production of a very exciting brand campaign!

Filed under: Marketing

5 Responses to “We’ve got a Plan”

  • avatar

    I’ll make a suggestion on the Toby. From what I’ve seen (and I might be out of date on this), the film there is branded under a variety of different series names. Also, there was no way to get a simple calendar listing or other item.

    You might consider a separate brand for films, a separate web site, a separate monthly newsletter or something. It doesn’t have to be totally separate from the IMA. Called it “Something @ the Toby”. But a way to market film to the film lover separately.

    BTW: Clearly the Toby is the premier film venue in town. Great job on that.

  • avatar
    Meg Says:


    Thanks for your recommendation. I think you’ve got a great idea and it works well with our new marketing strategy for those programs. Stay tuned. I think you’ll like what we’re going to do.

  • avatar
    Emily Pelaez Says:

    Thanks for this little insight into the IMA’s marketing plan. I’ve loved the IMA since my first visit back in the early 90s. Back then I was a rural teenager coming into contact with the Big City and fine art for the first time. Ten years ago I moved to Nap from Portland, OR, and have been amazed by the IMA’s transformation. I love the place, but I don’t visit very frequently. I love Aaron’s idea of a separate brand for films. Film is a great way to reach the masses. A unique website, advertising in the movie section of other local websites/publications, etc. might help spread the word. I would love to get a short monthly email with the film calendar only, for example. The art exhibits I attend are usually the ones that send me a tantalizing email a week or so before the opening. Keep up the great work, Meg! You’re an inspiration.

  • avatar
    omega Says:

    This looks awesome! Thank you for your information!

  • avatar
    melissa Says:

    Is your new 2010 plan published? Would love to see it!

  • Trackbacks