I got the job! Marketing Director at Regional Theater. Now what?
May 25, 2016 5:39 AM   Subscribe

In the fall I will be taking over the position of Marketing Director at a regional, equity theater (yea!). Can anyone in a similar position point me to great resources or offer any nuggets of wisdom/advice? None of my official education was really in marketing. 9 million thanks in advance.

I have been the theater's freelance graphic designer and webmaster for many years, in addition to being their unofficial marketing consultant, especially in the digital/social media areas. My background is in art, graphic design, and digital user-experience with my official schooling being Fine Arts. I am the Marketing Chair on a local nature nonprofit's board, but this is the first time that I will be wearing the Marketing hat and have a salary attached. I don't want to throw away my shot ;)
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Congratulations on your awesome new job! And welcome to the "I didn't go to school for this, but here I am!" marketing professionals club! (I majored in history!)

For digital marketing trends and best practices, one of the best sources I use to keep on top of new features and things are the blogs attached to social media services. Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, and Moz are all really good, but there are probably a bunch of others.

I'm not sure if continuing education for marketing was something you were considering, but I will say this: on the job experience is WAY more useful and relevant than any marketing class could ever be. If you're able to take a class or finish a certification or something cheaply, that might be something to look into, but I wouldn't personally spend any serious money on it.

Source: I work at a college and am just about to finish a tuition-waived certificate in eCommerce. I learned some good stuff and some of it was helpful for my job, but it wasn't useful enough to justify the cost of the degree if I'd had to pay full price. Renting a newer marketing textbook on Amazon and reading it cover to cover would probably suffice if you just wanted more of a feel for the nomenclature and structure of the field.

On the other hand, the best thing I ever did that made me feel like, "Hot damn, I am actually a marketing professional now, and I am doing this pretty close to right" was going to a conference just for higher ed web and marketing professionals. I know sometimes they're expensive or far away, but if you have a chance to go to one nearby, I recommend it. There is nothing quite like being surrounded by people who GET IT, who can share their tips and tricks, and who can reassure you that yes, you've totally got this.

But the number one thing I suggest: don't let the fact that your educational background isn't in marketing make you feel like an impostor. Everyone is nervous when they're moving into a new role, especially if it's one that you don't feel like you have the "background" for.

You're knowledgeable in theater operations, graphic design, and user experience (which is all about communicating visually in a way people connect with easily and enjoyably, is it not?), and you've already spent time at this theater in a marketing role. Your unique background and experience have already made you infinitely more suited to this role than anyone else, and they know this, or they wouldn't have hired you on.

You can do this! Good luck!
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:26 AM on May 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

I *do* have a degree in marketing, and like almost all degree paths, the OJT trumps the classroom every time. So do not feel like an imposter; you're a new hire in a job.

My practical advice is to:
- attend symposiums and read books on things like social media, marketing, etc. There's a lot of fluff and LEARN THESE SIMPLE TRICKS TO BLOW YOUR BUSINESS OUT OF THE WATER (funny enough, marketing "experts" write in a way designed to attract attention, and you have to wade through it).

- my friends in non-profits talk a lot about the CASE method (Copy and Steal Everything). You're fortunate in your industry in that you can find lots of good organizations to benchmark from, and (as long as you're not competing directly for patrons too badly - more on this in next bullet point) - subscribe/follow/friend and watch what they're doing (and what gets response). The thing about marketing - it's out in the open.

- don't be afraid to team up with and talk to your counterparts in other local organizations in the arts. Some might be grouchy (there's always a few angry people in any given space), but most should be willing to work with you. There is a sense that a theatre competes with an orchestra competes with a choir, etc. for donations and attendees, but really those who support the arts in a given region tend to support more than one thing. Build some bridges and even do some joint efforts. For example our local orchestra does an outdoor concert every year at our local theatre grounds (they got a large land grant years ago and the theatre sits in the middle of a huge park), and members of the company do narrations and the like.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:40 AM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Congratulations on the job! I think your background with the group - and especially your digital UX knowledge - are far more valuable than a degree. (I say this as someone with a graduate marketing degree, though my undergrad was Political Science.)

The most important part of marketing (in my opinion) is truly understanding your audience - what makes them tick, why they choose to go to the theatre, why they choose to go to your theatre, what other entertainment options they have, who they're trying to entertain (themselves, family, date night, distant relatives, etc), and so on. Use your UX hat to think these things through, and as you work, make sure your ideas, plans, and content meet the needs of your users/patrons. If a marketers can do this consistently, it doesn't matter where their degree lies.

I second the sources from helloimjennsco- I'd also add Marketing Sherpa, Marketing Profs, and The Content Marketing Institute. Randomkeystrike also has some great tips - I'd go one farther and suggest you find local groups to meet your peers. Depending on where you are, there may be local groups that do monthly/quarterly events where you can talk shop, pick brains, make allies, and get ideas. Check LinkedIn - there are some great active marketing groups, some of which are geographically based.

Good luck - you've got this!
posted by writermcwriterson at 9:24 AM on May 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

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