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Great Lakes Theater "The Merry Wives of Windsor," 2014

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The Power of the Collective

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I know I’m not alone when I say that for the last several weeks I found myself nerding out over all the Olympics coverage.  After all, I recently saw a headline that some 219.4 million viewers tuned in to watch the Games this summer making it the most watched event in U.S. television history. For me, I especially love watching all the team events – be it the swimming and track relays, the gymnastics group competitions or traditional games like basketball and soccer. There’s just something about watching a group of athletes that are at the peak in their respective sports work together to represent their countries and accomplish something more than they could individually.

As I listened to athletes talk about their team performances and the strategies that made their success a reality – finding new ways to improve their performance together, preparing for unexpected conditions, respecting each other’s individual strengths – it got me thinking about my work with CPAC’s Collaborative Marketing Database and about the concept of competition more broadly. At its core, the Collaborative helps arts and culture organizations pool their consumer data so they can more effectively target their marketing dollars and use statistical modeling when developing marketing campaigns to grow their audiences. It is operated by Elliott Marketing Group who works with each participating organization to design, carry out and evaluate promotions.

One of the key messages CPAC uses when promoting this program is for arts and culture organizations to view each other as collaborators instead of competitors when working to build their respective audiences. While one organization’s data can yield a great deal of information, collaboration allows a fuller picture of the regional market of arts and culture consumers to be developed. In research terms, it’s like taking what is a good sample and making it great – appending more information to make the analysis even more robust.

Now don’t get me wrong – the choice between collaboration and competition is not an either/or. Like so many other things, it’s really about striking a balance between the two and recognizing how their relationship changes depending on a given situation. When thinking about Cuyahoga County’s arts and culture organizations as one piece of a much larger regional puzzle, we can start to see how our definition of competition and collaboration changes when considering the local, regional and national markets.

Like the members of an Olympic team, Cleveland’s arts and culture organizations are individually distinct and compete based on their unique strengths. However, when we begin to zoom out from the localized view to a more regional or national focus, it becomes easier to see the power of the collective. For Olympic athletes, it begins with individual competitions and ends with membership to their country’s Olympic team. For arts and culture organizations, it begins with audience attraction for their own programs and services and ends with the overall strengthening of a core sector of our community’s economy and ultimately a way for the region to define its competitive future. 

Categories: collaboration, Collaborative Marketing Database, marketing

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