Collaborative Marketing: Skyrocket Your Cultural Organization’s Audience

It’s the 17th century, Charles I of England just bought “Europe’s most talented artists, such as Rubens and Van Dyck, to paint in Britain”.

Arts and culture have always relied on funding from wealthier individuals and organizations to survive.

However, it seems that many organizations lost the connection with their roots and forgot how important collaborative projects are.

That’s why so many suffer from a lack of resources to properly market and organize their projects.

Your organization doesn’t necessarily have to collaborate with wealthy patrons to succeed.

There are other ways to increase your budget and reach, such as collaborations with other cultural institutions or artists.

I’ll outline different types of marketing collaborations based on those that are involved in a project and the duration of a project.

You’ll walk away knowing what collaborative marketing is, what options you have, and the advantages of each.

What Is Collaborative Marketing?

Collaborative marketing is a marketing strategy where two or more brands, organizations, or individuals work together to achieve a common goal.

Collaborations help collaborators get more exposure for a lower overall cost of marketing and organizing events and campaigns.

Collaborative marketing should help all sides, i.e. all collaborators can extend their reach and grow their audience by cross-promoting each other.

However, there are other, less profit-oriented reasons for collaborations in the art and culture fields. For example, they could help you improve the quality of your work, gain artistic experience, and improve connections to artists.

3 Key Things To Consider Before Running a Collaboration

There are many things to consider before arranging collaborations with other people. Things like a brand’s reputation, its values, and marketing budget should all be taken into account.

Image of two people sitting at a computer.

Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash

However, there are three key questions you need to answer first to determine if a collaboration will be a flop or a success:

  1. Do you share the same goal with your collaborator?
  2. Do you have similar audiences?
  3. Do your brands have some things in common?
    e.g. aesthetics, mission, voice, etc.

Your collaboration will likely be successful if the answer to these three questions is a firm yes.

3 Types of Marketing Collaborations Based on Collaborators

Depending on who an organization collaborates with, we can distinguish three different types of collaborative marketing relationships:

a) collaborations between cultural organizations
b) collaborations with businesses
c) collaborations with individuals

Let’s zoom in on each one.

A) Collaborations between cultural organizations

It’s not uncommon to see cultural organizations competing with each other and comparing numbers.

However, the recent decade showed us that they’d be better off collaborating than competing.

Take Galerie Perrotin and Dominique Levy as an example. These two galleries were housed in the same building, so they decided they’ll both exhibit sculptures made by the French artist Germaine Richier at the same time.

This type of shared programming helped create a fluid viewing experience. That meant most visitors visited both galleries, as they both exhibited objects of the visitors’ interest.

Instead of trying to one-up each other and host separate shows, they put their visitors first and made handsome profits in return.

B) Collaborations with businesses

Businesses help equip art organizations with a large marketing budget they rarely have themselves, as well as other means necessary for organizing events and projects.

Cultural organizations, on the other hand, help businesses improve their brand image and enhance the critical thinking and creative skills of their workforce.

As with most collaborations, it’s a win-win.

Consider this 2018 collaboration between Vans and the Van Gogh Museum. In Museum’s own words, they collaborated with Vans to:

“Present an artfully designed collection of Vans Classics and premium apparel, inspired by Van Gogh.”

This single clip announcing the launch of the new Van-Gogh-inspired Vans collection, which brought in more than 19,000 views. Imagine what their profits looked like.

C) Collaborations with individuals

Organizations are made up of people — and artists are the key people connected with art organizations.

(Well, at least when it comes to marketing!)

If your organization is working closely with an artist, you might want to set up a collaboration with them and another artist with a similar target audience.

This isn’t a new or ground-breaking method of collaboration. Consider this 20th-century example of Pablo Picasso and Gjon Mili drawing with pure light.

Another type of collaboration with individuals is a collaboration with patrons.

Aristocracy may be dead, but there are plenty of wealthy individuals who like investing in art. In return for sharing their financial resources, patrons get free artwork, memorabilia, or public acknowledgment.

2 Types of Marketing Collaborations Based on Duration

Besides defining different types of collaborations based on collaborators, we can also distinguish two types of collaborations based on their duration:

a) short-term collaborations — created around single events or causes
b) strategic collaborations — last over a longer period of time; involve several events

Short-term collaborations are project-oriented. They may include single events, shows, or causes.

Strategic collaborations are more durable, long-term, and require more intensive planning from both sides.

They involve several collaborative events that are either:

· held regularly over a set period of time and have an “expiration date”

· held on a regular basis (e.g. annually, monthly, etc.).

Two are stronger than one

“The biggest advantage of all collaborative projects is that each collaborator gains access to a larger pool of shared resources.”

Whether these are capital or human resources, there’s something each collaborator can and should offer to another.

Now that you understand different types of collaborations, you can make an informed decision on who you want to partner up with (i.e. which resources you want).

If you’re looking to increase your marketing budget, working with businesses might be your best option.

On the other hand, if you want to grow your audience in a more “natural” way, you could work with other organizations or organize shows that feature several artists.

Whatever you decide, keep in mind that you must show up ready. This means you need to be clear on what your organization can offer to your collaborators and make that the core of your pitch.

Originally written by me on Medium. Main photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

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