Take a Chance on Innovation

@ritadynan posted this article, Innovation Isn’t Just About New Products, on her Pinterest page.

Through this article, one can dive into the idea of the intent of innovation and how often times, new start-up companies tend to trump larger organizations when it comes to being innovative.  According to this article, the intent of innovation is to answer the question, “What will innovation give me that nothing else will?”  This question may be asked by a lot of NPOs, but still it is not being effectively implemented.

For example, there are many well-established art institutions that have the talent and marketing reach to be extremely innovative, but time and time again they are beaten by smaller organizations.  According to the article, this is because of five barriers and risks…

  1. Lack of the needed mentality to cultivate new ideas
  2. Misusing resources
  3. Under-utilizing the creative capacity of your human assets
  4. Too much focus on general product delivery
  5. Holding on to past principles and being afraid to take risks


If an institution wants to successfully implement innovation, which is considered by many business professionals today to be the most important business issue of our time, they must work against these barriers.  Art leaders in the NPO world must dedicate themselves to innovative ideas and stop falling behind when it comes to connecting to their existing and more importantly potential target audiences.  They should strategically invest in innovation, recognizing its long-term growth and not being so afraid of the financial risk.  Financial barriers are clearly an issue and something that challenges all NPOs, but seeing that the use of innovative ideas is growing rapidly, it is becoming clear that business success is linked to innovative strategies.   For more details on “Innovation Intent,” read the full article Innovation Isn’t Just About New Products.


Pairing Data Collection and Innovation

A non-profit organization is one that uses any excess revenue to attain its mission   rather than allot the profit.  It is possible for a non-profit organization to become wealthy through excellent marketing strategies, but it is a great challenge.  NPO’s must more carefully study all internal and external factors that could effect their organization’s success.  Internally, they should analyze the marketing mix, performance analysis, and any other constraints they may face – in most cases this will be financial.  Externally, they must examine customer analysis, analyze their competing organizations, discover their target market, and stay in tune with the ever-advancing technology and economy of our time.

As stated, the major constraints for non-profits is more often than not financial, which is why they rely heavily on donations. If an organization can carefully listen to its audience, collect market data to ascertain what they want, and essentially become an expert on the audience’s mindset, the organization will be able to create a marketing campaign that will be heard and utilized by the audience.  If then this is implemented in an innovative way, the chances for success are even greater.  Heifer International is a great example of this.  An organization dedicated to ending poverty and hunger, they were being challenged by many competing organizations during the holiday season.  In 2012, they studied their audience of donors, their target audience, and were able to create an innovative fundraising campaign that connected with existing and potential donors and increased their holiday donations by 28%.

Although this type of organization is not the same as a non-profit museum, art institutions can learn a lesson from the organization’s data collection and innovative customized marketing.  To see more about Heifer International’s interactive campaign, read about the case here.

Storytelling Taken a Step Further…

@ritadynan had posted this article, 7 Basic Types of Stories: Which One Is Your Brand Telling? Creatives explore humans’ archetypal plots, on her Pinterest page.

According to this article and an Advertising Week panel hosted by TBWA, an international advertising agency based in New York City, there are only seven different types of storytelling.  The biggest challenge is not only in telling a story about your brand and deciphering between content and context, but in deciding which type of storytelling best suits the brand of your institution.  This then of course must be told “skillfully, believably and – if you’re going to invite consumers to join in the story – extremely carefully.”  The seven basic types of storytelling  are as follows:

1. Overcoming the Monster

  • This is the classic underdog story and in many cases, this can rightly match the image of a nonprofit

2. Rebirth

  • Here, a company will tell a tale of renewal.  For example, a nonprofit museum can tell a story of revival – representing the organization as an exciting lively place for interactive learning, not one of an outdated solely intellectual and often  an intimidating atmosphere with no fun which is how many viewers see it.

3. Quest

  • Here, the article exams the mission and discusses IBM and their idea of making a smarter planet.  All non-profit art museums have a clear mission – they can do more than state this mission in their content and can tell a story about it as a self-professed passionate quest

4. Journey and Return

  • Think of transformation.  This is all about helping the customers discover a new place in life, changing perceptions and expanding the consciousness.  What better place to expand the mind and reflect on life than a place dedicated to works of art that do just that?  Non-profit art institutions should use this to their advantage, pushing their “products” on a deeper level.

5. Rags to Riches

  • This is where institutions can tell tales of “rising from the ashes.”  Although some non-profit art institutions are extremely well-established, there are thousands of others that started from nothing and displayed strong growth establishing themselves as thriving organizations.  They can use this fighting story to their advantage in their advertising to connect with visitors.

6. Tragedy

  • According to this article, not many institutions can use this type of plot except in PSA work, but if you have shocking tales or depressing stories to tell, people can develop a strong connection with these messages.

7. Comedy

  • Opposite to tragedy and more difficult to implement, but extremely effective, is comedy.  Here are two examples, the first a print example from the Museum of Communism in Prague showing Karl Marx at home.  The second, a Youtube video done by the Philadelphia Museum of Art showing their employees performing a parody of the 2012 viral ‘Gangnam Style.’ Image


Innovation: The Most Important Business Issue of Our Time

@ritadynan posted this article, One Small Business Shows the Advantage of Offering Facility Tours, on her Twitter page.

According to many business professionals today, the challenge of creating radical innovation and totally new product categories is becoming the most important business issue of our time.  Innovation can create growth, build up existing revenue, and create new revenue streams.  If effective, new product development can be extremely successful, but it is particularly difficult.  Companies must follow the basic new product process (identifying opportunities, generating concepts, evaluating concepts, development, and launch) and remain dedicated, attentive, and patient to their ideas.

In this article we read how a small craft brewery in Maine, Allagash Brewing Company, innovatively overcame challenges in their business.  Even though the company was selling out summer tours, they were facing issues of loud spaces that were spoiling the visitor experience.  Thinking innovatively and taking a risk, the company invested in testing technology for solutions until they successfully developed a wireless headset system.  According to the article, “Using the portable tour guide system, visitors on the tour can hear even if they are in the back of the group.  Tour guides are now more relaxed.  Line workers don’t have to endure listening to the same tour over and over, day after day.”

Unlike the implication of technology but similar to this concept of pursuing innovation, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is also experimenting with enhancing existing programs.  Like many other Museums, the first Sunday of every month at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is “Pay What You Wish” – if they wish, visitors may enter the Museum for the cost of a penny.  Realizing the success of these days by the mass amounts of visitors that activate the Museum and through gap analysis finding an opportunity in the market place, the Philadelphia Museum of Art created Wednesday Nights at the Museum.  Wednesday Nights at the Museum, like first Sundays, are Pay What You Wish.  Unlike any other major art institution in the area, the Museum stays open late and essentially free between the hours of 5:00-8:45 p.m.  In addition to this, the Museum’s remarkable collections are activated by inventive, interactive, and dynamic programs with mini-film festivals, creative gallery experiences with regional artists, musicians, and local cultural organizations, and drop-in art making workshops and games.  This initiative is still growing, having just started in February 2013, and is bringing in a few hundred additional visitors each week for the institution.  Although this may not seem like a lot, these additional attendance numbers should be appreciated in a world where retaining visitors and gaining the attention of potential visitors is an everlasting challenge.

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Learn more about Wednesday Nights at the Philadelphia Museum of Art!

The Philadelphia Museum of Art actually seemed to dedicate itself to new product development and innovation a lot this year.  This past summer between June 28 – September 2, the Museum dedicated itself to another new program – Art Splash. The Museum’s Perelman Building was opened in a new way, transforming its spaces into a world for kids and their families, filled with five family and children oriented exhibitions, interactive art play spaces, and daily family programs.  Explore, create, and play – the message that brought in almost 30,000 visitors in less than 3 months and proved that dedication to innovation can lead to success.

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The Death of Content – Long Live Storytelling

@ritadynan had posted this article, Why Agencies and Brands Need to Embrace True Storytelling: Branded content is not the same thing, on her Twitter page.

“To build on the opportunities that today’s hyperconnected and social consumer as well as new distribution platforms offer, agencies and brands need to move away from thinking about branded content and embrace true storytelling,” Jon Hamm states in his article What Agencies and Brands Need to Embrace True Storytelling.

Through storytelling, people outside the organization have the opportunity to feel more involved in the message of the organization and will therefore feel more connected and more likely to invest themselves in it.  By portraying your message via storytelling rather than overwhelming an audience with pure content, a person can place themselves in the message of your institution and clearly understand what it has to offer and its overall mission.


Content is content – basic informative details of an institution coming from the mind of the organization.  But storytelling connects on a deeper level with the audience, portraying basic human values and beliefs.  Content then has nothing against what storytelling advertising can generate because it has the capability to connect with the minds of the audience.  As Hamm relays, storytelling is the way we “explain the world around us…  The truly great storytellers have long embraced the fact that the most powerful stories happen in the mind of the audience, making each and every story unique and personal for the individual.”  Understanding this idea and using it effectively can be one of the most effective marketing tools.  Read Hamm’s full article here.

Creativity and Connection through Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is essentially open idea solicitation from customers where an institution can encourage their audience to share ideas for innovation or improvements for existing products.  It is an effective source of new product ideas where customers are associated with significant current trends and have an understanding of problems being faced. Apple used crowdsourcing in generating ideas for the iPad by monitoring reviews and blogs as well as gathering customer opinion data to comprehend customer needs.  Nonprofits should recognize the potential of crowdsourcing, too.

Today, the role of the Museum, as other for-profit businesses, is evolving.  The idea of the traditional special exhibition, a show created by the curators telling the viewers how to interact and what to think, is dying.  There is an increase in audience participation for permanent collections and for crowdsourced exhibits.  The first crowd-curated exhibition was called Click! done in 2008 by the Brooklyn Museum.  With this show, Brooklyn residents were asked to share pictures they had taken of the city on their website where other viewers would vote on their favorites.  Although this exhibition was met by the tensions of “What is/isn’t art?” and “Who are the true art experts?” – it was a foot in the door for something new and many other Museums in the United States have followed suit since.  Just this past summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art had a similar experiment.  As part of the exhibition, First Look: Collecting for Philadelphia, the Museum displayed two photographs done by an artist known as Weegee.  Throughout the exhibition, the Museum solicited feedback from visitors by asking them to choose between one of two images that they would like the Museum to add to its permanent collection.  Over the three month exhibition period, the project generated feedback from hundreds of visitiors.  The Museum then posted the feedback and winning photograph on its website to spread awareness of the project.  If they wanted to take the project a step forward, they could have incorporated it on their website from the beginning, not only showing the end results.  Then sharing this on their social media could have created a type of open innovative web forum that might have generated feedback from thousands of participants rather than hundreds.  Of course we have to keep in mind the price of photography rights and posting the images on their website, which is part of the financial barrier dealt with by most nonprofits and maybe the reason why only the winning image was posted at the end of the project.  Read the viewers comments here.

To read more about the exhibition, Click!, visit the Brooklyn Museum‘s website or read a review done by the New York Times.

Word of Tweet

With the extreme rate of technological development, the way people communicate and operate is vastly changing and with this so are the practices of business and marketing.  Now, not only are individuals using online networks and communities such as Facebook to connect with others, but businesses are making an online presence here as well.  More and more businesses are creating social media accounts like Facebooks and Twitter to share real time posts such as “status updates” or “tweets” to connect to viewers.  These small online actions may not seem like they will accomplish much, but they may actually yield to big results.

Today, more and more studies are showing how small acts of online engagement are leading to more and more offline activity.  With the outbreak of social media and mobile sharing, online marketing is growing enormously and should be jumped on by non-profits because it is essentially free.  Sites like Tumblr, Youtube, and Twitter, not only bring your network to the light of millions of people, but also allow people all over the world to tap into your network and connect with your institution on a different level.  And not only will they connect, but you will be giving them the capability to share your message through more than word of mouth – they can share through the vast, endless, worldwide web.  Take a look at this infographic that illustrates the 20 marketing stats that will drive 2014 as predicted by Webdam, a web-based digital asset management platform…Image

Now, nonprofits do not have to be held back as much by their financial barriers and can connect people in some of the same ways for-profit organizations connect.  Here is a great example done by the Philadelphia Museum of Art – launching their new Special Exhibition: Léger: Modern Art and the Metropolis by connecting to their home based Philadelphian audience.