The term “Marketing” derives from the word “Market”. It is a process to communicate, promote and relate a product to the market, in a way that creates profit and satisfies the needs of both the organisation and the market.
Contrary to the usual belief that Marketing is all about sales, around the 1960s (and quite innovatively for the time) consultant, educator and author Peter Drucker stated that “the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous”. This way, he introduced a customer-centric approach to marketing that focuses on getting to know and understand the customer really well, so that the product or service fit them perfectly – and so, sell itself.
This customer-centred approach is particularly important for the cultural sector. Indeed, cultural services and products need to be scientifically, educationally, aesthetically, or culturally significant, but they must also find their audiences – recipients. Otherwise, the cultural organisation does not meet its social mission; namely to mediate culture to everyone without exceptions.
Furthermore, the organisation will lose audiences, and subsequently supporters and funds, which will hinder the organisation’s potential to create significant and innovative cultural products – quite a vicious circle!
Having said that, there is still an acknowledged reticence in the non-profit cultural sector towards using marketing techniques and a –sometimes unfounded- optimism that the quality of a cultural product is by itself enough to entice audiences. Despite that and because of the funding cuts, the increasing competition from a number of leisure-time activities, and other sources that vie for people’s attention, cultural organisations turn to cultural marketing increasingly. This way, they hope to promote their relevance, retain their audiences, attract new participants, and link their cultural products to “the market” more effectively.
How is “the market” defined? A market must comprise of existent or potential customers, with buying power and unfulfilled needs.