Museums Taught About Marketing, Lecture covers self-promotion
By Mark Storer
Ventura County Star, May 28, 2010
Local museum officials learned this week how to use their museums to boost tourism, customer traffic and marketing opportunities.
The Ventura County Community Foundation and Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau held a seminar for museum representatives and others Wednesday at the Ventura County Office of Education building in Camarillo.
“Find Your Muse! Marketing Museums for Cultural, Community & Economic Impact” featured Richard Peterson of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Peterson discussed how to boost customer traffic and create unique marketing packages involving Ventura County museums, many of which are in the process of fundraising, building additions and moving into larger facilities.
After giving a brief history of the California Academy of Sciences, which dates back to 1853, Peterson gave ideas on how to collaborate and make maximum use of limited resources.
“Tourism is the No. 1 industry in California,” Peterson said. “Showcasing history as a core to understand the future is a natural attraction for us and something most customers are interested in. At the academy, we’ve found that marrying tourism with the museum is a simple collaboration.”
Peterson told museum representatives that they need to connect with area hotels, transportation companies and restaurants and maximize their use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“The best form of advertising is word of mouth, as we all know, and if you’re not working with these people, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers,” he said.
Peterson said the California Academy of Sciences partners with San Francisco hotels to provide package getaways.
The Ventura County Maritime Museum just purchased the former Port Royal restaurant building at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard for an expansion.
“We’ve raised about $1 million, but we’re still about $900,000 short,” said the museum’s Bill Conroy. “We expect to be a Ventura County destination point. We’re expanding our exhibits and finding ways to appeal to more people.”
Melissa Baffa, executive director of the Gull Wings Children’s Museum in Oxnard, said the group needs to expand its profile in the community.
“We’re in a campaign to raise the visibility of the museum,” Baffa said. “We get a lot of people who say they’ve never heard of us, and we’re looking to change that.”
Hugh Ralston, president of the Ventura County Community Foundation, hosted a panel discussion that featured Peterson, Conroy and representatives from the Santa Paula Art Museum, Seabees Museum and Museum of Ventura County. “Museums have become repositories of education,” Ralston said. “The whole purpose here is to strengthen and bring capital to the arts in Ventura County.”
The seminar was part of a three-year initiative launched by the Community Foundation called ArtsLive, designed partly to raise money for artist scholarships.
“There is no one magic bullet to any of these questions,” Peterson told the group. “You have to be willing to try a lot of different things and make connections.”
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