How To Find The Truth About Your Audience Demographics


By: Ceci Dadisman

We all have anecdotal information about who buys tickets to our organization’s event.  “Well, our people are all [insert adjective here]” or “our people are [insert adjective here] so they prefer to…” If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone.

But how well do you REALLY know your audience?  Do you actually have data that shows who, demographically, is purchasing tickets or memberships?  If you do, awesome! If you don’t, I’ve got a couple of ways that will help you find out.

How To Find The Truth About Your Audience DemographicsWhy should you find out the demographics of your audience for real?  Most arts organizations need to not only grow their audiences, but grow specific segments of their audience.  Yes, an opera company may need to grow their audience generally, but the Baby Boomer segment is a particular interest in their market.  Maybe you have programming that fits in with a particular demographic group and you want to reach out to them specifically for those events.  Perhaps your audience doesn’t accurately reflect the demographics of your area and you want to improve that.

I’ve got two tools that I highly recommend you check out to get some demographic intel on your audience.  Those of you who regularly read my posts know that I’m the queen of free and low-cost solutions.  This is not necessarily one of them.  However, I firmly believe that getting and using accurate data is an investment and I’ve have many occasions where the return was absolutely worth the cost.

Tool #1

Reach out to a list broker or mailhouse in your area that can do a list matching for you.  (If you’re in my neck of the woods, call these guys and ask for Scott.)  A list matching is a process where they take your patron lists and run them against their database and attach demographics to each person.  Some of the demographic information could include age, presence of children in the home, annual income, etc.  You can work with them to find specific pieces of information that you might want to know above and beyond the standard (like if they own a boat, for example).


Beyond that, they can use the demographic profile of those on your existing list to find new, qualified prospects.  These prospects could match all of the demographics and basically be a clone of your existing patron set, or they can be a clone of a segment within your patron set that you want to grow.

Tool #2

There is a new software on the market called PatronLink360 which is developed by Arts & Analytics (which is headed by the guy who literally wrote the book on precision marketing.)  Arts & Analytics was created to provide big data services specifically for arts organizations.  If you’re even the slightest bit tech savvy, PatronLink is a self-service way to get this demographic information as well as to clone varying segments.

You load in your list, the software runs its magic, and you have demographic data in just a few minutes.  If you want to clone your list to get new prospects, you can do that with just a couple of clicks.

Arts & Analytics

The cool thing about this software is that rather than paying per service, you pay a monthly fee so you are free to load in as many lists as you’d like whenever you want.  Want to find out the demographics of the people who attended your world premiere?  Check. Are you looking to see the growth of a particular segment year over year? Check. Need to get real life demographic numbers for a particular program for a grant application or report? Check.

I’ve used both of these tools personally and can attest to their efficacy.  Let’s stop making up estimating demographics and get some real data to back us up.

How have you used demographics to guide your marketing?  I’d love to hear your experience!

Disclosure: I used both tools recommended in this post while working as a practitioner at Palm Beach Opera.  Currently, I provide Arts & Analytics with marketing consulting services.
Ceci Dadisman
Ceci Dadisman
Ceci Dadisman is a marketing professional with more than 15 years of experience creating effective communications campaigns utilizing innovative, forward thinking methods. She is nationally recognized as a leader in digital marketing and specializes in multichannel communications campaigns. A frequent public speaker, Ceci’s recent and upcoming engagements feature national conference appearances at NTEN, Museums and the Web, National Arts Marketing Project, Arts Midwest, American Alliance of Museums, OPERA America, Midwest Museums Association, and Chorus America in addition to many other local and regional events. Known for her easy-going and vernacular style, she creates open learning environments with an emphasis on information sharing and useful takeaways. She is a member of the National Arts Marketing Project Advisory Committee and the West Virginia University College of Creative Arts Visiting Committee, and is a mentor in West Virginia University’s Creative Consultant program. She also teaches the arts marketing course at West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts and is on the faculty of Chorus America’s Chorus Management Institute. Ceci was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from West Virginia University’s College of Creative Arts. She currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.
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