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Two questions to find your superfans
If you could only ask two questions to unleash word-of-mouth referrals and increase group attendance, consider these.
I will bring you a whole person
and you will bring me a whole person
and we will have us twice as much
of love and everything
Mari Evans, from “Celebration”
What if you could ask only two questions to reveal your most enthusiastic and socially motivated audience members – people who not only love your work, but also live to organize their friends and families around social events? Would that be useful to your audience development efforts? Would it inform or transform how you communicate with these VIPs?
Those magical unicorns may well be hiding in your audience lists. But they may also have survey fatigue – low motivation to open, complete, and submit yet another survey. So the shorter and more productive the inquiry, the better.
The first question may already be in your arsenal:
“How likely is it that you would recommend [company] to a friend or colleague?”
Individuals answer with a number between 0 (not at all likely) and 10 (extremely likely). Then respondents are sorted into three categories:
9 or 10: Promoters
7 or 8: Passives
0 to 6: Detractors
To calculate your Net Promoter Score, you subtract the percentage of “detractors” from the percentage of “promoters” (hence, “net promoters”). If you’re clever, you also flag each respondent’s record and shuttle them to different teams to take different actions (celebrate and animate the promoters, learn from and build connection among the passives, and neutralize the detractors by understanding and resolving what upset them or left them cold).
But just knowing someone’s self-perceived likelihood to recommend doesn’t calibrate their actual likelihood to take action. For that, you need a second question, developed by Alan Brown and his team at WolfBrown (Brown 2004):
How strongly do you agree with this statement?: “I’m the kind of person who likes to organize outings to cultural events for my friends.”
Brown et al used this question to differentiate “responders” from “initiators” in an audience group. Responders “strongly agree” with the statement “I’m much more likely to attend cultural outings if someone else invites me.” Even if they think highly of your programs, they aren’t likely to initiate attendance on their own, let along with others. Initiators find joy and satisfaction in curating and coordinating social activities – not only inviting, but also organizing the scheduling, the purchase, and the before and after activities. Brown calls them “Type A cultural consumers.”
Initiators are a minority of any audience, but they can dramatically impact total attendance. In a 2001 study of U.S. adults, Brown and team found that “18 percent of those considered to be ‘culturally active’ (i.e., any arts attendance in the past year) identified themselves as Initiators using this definition, compared to 56 percent who identified themselves as Responders.”
The value of a minimalistic audience feedback system – two questions, maybe three – are many fold. For one, mini-surveys decrease the effort of a response. For another, simple and consistent results are easily shared and understood across the organization – operations, marketing, development, financial management, and so on.
As Reichheld advises: “a customer feedback program should be viewed not as ‘market research’ but as an operating management tool.” And these two questions can help your entire team find, celebrate, support, and grow your organization’s most productive fans.
p.s. If you enjoy this weekly resource, refer a friend to enjoy it along with you! Your referrals earn you admiration as well as free goodies!
From the ArtsManaged Field Guide
Function of the Week: Marketing
Marketing involves creating, communicating, and reinforcing expected or experienced value.
Framework of the Week: Value Proposition Canvas
The Value Proposition Canvas encourages you and your team to explore and understand a set of customers, audience members, or constituents from their perspective: What jobs are they trying to do? What pains do they encounter in that effort? And what gains do they experience when they succeed?
Brown, Alan. “Initiators and Responders: Leveraging Social Context to Build Audiences.” Knight Foundation Issues Brief Series. WolfBrown, Summer 2004.
Colvin, Geoff. “The Simple Metric That’s Taking Over Big Business.” Fortune 181, no. 6 (July 6, 2020): 112–18.
Evans, Mari. Nightstar, 1973-1978. CAAS Special Publication (Unnumbered). Los Angeles: Center for Afro-American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 1981.
Reichheld, Frederick F. “The One Number You Need to Grow.” Harvard Business Review 81, no. 12 (December 2003): 46–124.
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