An art museum


Audience research and facilitated planning to inform the relaunch of the museum's membership program.

Membership program research

Like many art museums, this client was building a major addition that would help bring the institution into a new era. The development team wanted to leverage the new building — and help launch it successfully — by rethinking the membership program.

The museum turned to Slover Linett for help understanding latent needs among its current members as well as untapped potential among non-member visitors. We also facilitated off-site creative planning sessions to help an interdepartmental team envision innovative new kinds of member programs, benefits and messages that captured the spirit of the museum's new era.

We designed an alternating sequence of "outward"-looking audience research and "inward"-looking staff sessions, so that the audience's input would inform the team’s planning and the team's ideas would be tested in further research.

That sequence involved both qualitative and quantitative research methods. We began with a set of six focus groups with current and lapsed members and non-member visitors. Those discussions revealed fascinating possibilities for the membership program to help people make deeper and more rewarding connections with art during their visits, and suggested a range of potential collaborations between the membership department and education, curatorial, and other areas.

Based on those findings, we designed an online survey to quantify the needs of current and former members. Our analysis of this data allowed us to estimate interest in the proposed features of the new program and identify effective messages for increasing the sense of affinity — and the motivation for philanthropic support — among members at all levels.

As a coda, we were later asked to conduct formative evaluation (consumer feedback) during the development of new layouts and concepts for the museum’s member magazine. We used intercept interviews at the museum to solicit visitors' reactions and ideas, which we synthesized into action-oriented recommendations for the new magazine.

The resulting redesign of the membership program included new levels, benefits, naming, and communications materials. It has been a success for the museum, helping grow the membership base and improving retention and average gift.

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March 14, 2014 | Nicole Baltazar

Multiculturalism is key for creating inclusive arts experiences


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Project peek

We test mockups of newly-designed membership and marketing materials qualitatively, either in focus groups or during in-depth interviews. This kind of formative feedback helps the organization optimize its approach and provides new ideas for future communications.