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  • ninaksimon 5:28 pm on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    An interesting post by Seb Chan of the Cooper Hewitt about “goodbyers”

    • MarcelaBrandao 6:49 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I would definitely agree about the greater need for “goodbyers” than greeters. Your ticket-seller/takers should already be welcoming visitors into the museum as part of their interactions. It becomes very easy to ignore visitors as they leave because there can be a sense that our “transaction” has ended as soon as the tickets have been purchased and they walk out of sight.
      By reigniting the conversation when visitors are leaving, asking questions about what they’ve enjoyed and letting them know about upcoming events, it is possible to extend the relationship into the future at least as a possibility. The “exit interview” can also be a great place to emphasize the perks of membership and of turning in their admission passes for a rebate on membership. I’ve noticed many of the people who had been on the fence about membership when purchasing their tickets will then join if engaged on their way out.

  • ninaksimon 5:28 pm on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Photos from the August 8 workshop…

    Mariah Roberts talking about how to improve signage and wayfinding in the museum for families during events.

    Prioritizing the leverage points in the event experience.

    The BIG map of the visitor experience at MAH events.

    • Jen Stencel 9:51 pm on August 20, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      WOW! Ok- so do the colored post-its reflect priority/levels of some sort or different colors for different participants? The top themes I get, but as you get into all that- what is the next step? How do you sift through all of that? . What was the sense of the MAH crew after this big reveal?

  • karenbritta 6:58 pm on August 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    my overall thoughts, aha! moments, and what I learned from our amazing loyalty lab workshop:

    • just because someone has a really great time at an event at the museum it does not automatically motivate them to come back- we need to send them away with something, either a physical branded flier, a follow-up email, etc… that connects the good time they had to coming back and having a good time again.

    -having a great time doesn’t necessarily make people feel connected to the institution- we have more work to do on making what feels like an active and thriving community of MAH visitors to us feel like an activity thriving and connected community to those participating- i am really curious to find out through experimentation if physical objects can help fill his gap- what is the effect of a membership card or a punch card or a sticker on our own personal connection to a place. My instinct tells me that there is a huge connection, but I really look forward to testing that theory (and giving people stickers- i really want to give people stickers!)

    • we as a team often (at least emotionally) measure the success of an event by how busy, thriving, full, active it feels- this can be stressor/turn-off to some audiences- security concerns are huge for families and a hectic environment can be hard to manage with small kids.

    -connecting with other downtown businesses can be a way to grow the MAH community- a cultural passport that connects people with other cultural outlets in downtown can make people feel part of something bigger. Connecting the museum visit with what people do before and after (eat, shop) connect the dots on the comprehensive experience. Building on this- parking downtown is a big concern for people- can we work with the city to have free parking for MAH visitors on 3rd Fridays- or $1 off?

    -photos- seeing a picture of yourself on the MAH website, in a MAH email, etc… makes visitors feel more connected, and also motivates them to share their experience with friends.

    -and my favorite aha moment- our members and community have fantastic ideas to share and want to be part of this process- that right there feels like a guarantee of success! We are so lucky to have such engaged (even if they don’t think they are) and creative members and visitors who care about making the MAH better- what comes out of this is going to be exceptional.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps 7:29 am on August 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      On connecting with downtown businesses: how about a “gallery guide” that lists whose art work is being shown in which coffee houses? Or a map of all the (commercial) art galleries around town? The map would probably need updating approximately yearly. The gallery guide would need monthly updates.

      • ninaksimon 7:39 pm on August 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        We definitely find that this is super-popular when it comes to the First Friday listings published in the Good Times (which are functionally a monthly gallery guide). We might think about how we can tighten our connection with First Friday to be more associated with this.

    • Brooke 1:10 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I’m curious if anyone out there has received negative blow-back from posting photos of events online (on your website, FB, etc). We’ve considered posting slideshows from events (both public and from our members-only events) publicly to generate excitement and reinforce relationships, but are concerned that some people might get upset to see their (or their child’s) photo up without permission.

      • Karen 6:30 pm on August 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        yes- this has been a concern for us, and there are certainly people (especially parents) who are uncomfortable with the idea. We have several policies in place to make the process successful for the MAH and its visitors.
        For child specific events (like summer camps and school tours) we have detailed photo consent forms for parents to sign.
        For larger public events where there are both adults and children present we post signs at all the entrances and at the front desk stating that we are taking photographs at the event for our own publicity use, and to please let us know if you would prefer that your or your child’s picture not be taken (basically and opt out clause rather than an opt in).
        We definitely want to make people who are uncomfortable with their picture being used still feel comfortable at MAH events, while at the same time capturing the crowds and energy we are generating. These policies seem to have solved it for us- at least for now. We continue to keep our ears open to visitor feedback and will adjust the policies if we hear a high level of concern.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps 5:00 am on August 28, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      The theater group my son acts with had to ask parents not to post any pictures from some performances this year, as some parents had refused to sign photo consent forms. There can be good reasons for such a restriction (such as custody battles), but it is rather limiting for publicity photos.

  • mariahroberts 7:39 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Ways to connect with geographically and culturally diverse communities.

    Use ideas proven successful from other fields (already active in SCruz)- apply to museum goals…

    For example

    [Anyone is encouraged to apply for small grant towards “community improvement”]

    • Museum version/add-on- (fr Denver idea) Mission/Challenge to photograph/design/re-vision a place in YOUR neighborhood- As a design challenge. Upload to site/create discussions around ideas/invite local public planners etc)

    For example

    • Currently active local family/community support work- ( (First 5)

    [Active in Beach Flats, Live Oak, Mountains etc] Create MAH presence in these active centers.

    • Museum add-on- Mission/Challenge to create portrait collections/community portraits at various sites/in various mediums. Upload to site/share in person etc. Could be attached to school visits as well.
    • Daryl Fischer 6:20 pm on August 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Last year I had the opportunity do some audience evaluation for an interpretive plan we were developing for a national historic byway. There were two strong recommendations from visitors that are easily transferable to museums: 1) A passport booklet, like the National Parks, is not only motivating to see multiple sites (or galleries) during the trip (visit); it’s a valued memento afterwards, one that often finds its way into family keepsake boxes. 2) People like a place to record their memories of experiences shared with friends and family so leave small spaces for fellow travelers to add a comment or a drawing to the booklet (kind of like signing yearbooks!) Interestingly, locals and out-of-town visitors were equally interested in these mementos.

      • Jen Stencel 12:17 am on August 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I agree, it is even fun to read the comments at Panera Bread- which many times included doodles. Amazed- doodling at a bread shop!
        We are thinking (or hoping at this point) of doing a Questing program with the Richfield Historical Society. We loved the idea of having a journal book that records visits (while also leading them around town on a destination/quest) and allows visitors to stamp it with their unique “self brand” stamp.

    • ninaksimon 3:32 pm on August 15, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Mariah – the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum leads a really inspiring micro-granting project called CHARMS to involve more of the community in their big goal of making their area of Pittsburgh the best place to raise a child. While I’m not sure that kind of work relates specifically to the Loyalty Lab goals, I do agree that we should be continuing to pursue partnerships and community organizing that supports a big vision for culture in Santa Cruz County.

  • ninaksimon 4:00 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Several random ideas after a night of strange dreams:
    –Families can’t figure out what to do with the art their kids make at events. Maybe for members, a special space to store/showcase your creations? Or a volunteer takes a photo of you with your thing and emails it to you?
    –Mission of the month to make something that ties to an event that month – we showcase the winners in the lobby?
    –Really focus on getting people signed up for the emails, and at the same time, make the emails more about being part of a community – member of the month interview, more opportunities to help/participate, mission of the month, etc. Like the Denver Art Museum’s Collective – – but more email-mediated and or Facebook
    –Give people more info about the character of different events – intimate, crazy, making, learning, etc.
    –opportunities to donate to very specific activities – maybe a member project of the year that they vote on

    • mariahroberts 6:43 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Family ideas– Love the memory jar idea- That what is created DURING an event becomes part of an exhibit. It would bring me back with my kids to see what had developed. MAH is already doing some projects like the staircase installations that use visitor work/time/input.

      A photo documentation of “what we made” allows for a ritual to mark the end of our time at event. “Time to get our picture, then we’ll head home”. Also- Allows MAH to collect emails/media releases/meaningful follow-up.

      Follow-up email with photo can be another positive emotion touchpoint. Data/connection/planning all in one.

      • gasstationwithoutpumps 6:25 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        The “time to get our picture and go home” would work best if it were a dependable part of every visit, a ritual that could be counted on. If it were an experiment that existed for just 6 months, it would not have the same effect.

    • David 9:30 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      I really like the idea of being able to donate to specific activities. Imagine a very localized Kickstarter for MAH. And it could be that rather than funding the projects, you are funding additions or extensions to the project. There’s also an opportunity for alternative currency. Maybe you can’t fund with dollars (which feels like those who can afford to donate make all the decisions) and instead you build your loyalty program to include some sort of ‘points’ and those points are used to determine the direction of a project. Maybe a combination of the two.

      Points could be earned from every activity you can participate in (actively or passively) at MAH, both online and in person.

      This helps fulfill both sides of the loyalty transaction. It gives consumers a tangible reward for letting MAH track you, and it gives MAH information to better serve their consumers.

      • Jen Stencel 4:02 pm on August 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        I like this idea of getting “points” or maybe it is even a poker-like chip that every visitor gets to drop-in-the box what exhibit/event/activity/project they would like to vote for and see made possible.
        Getting more voting chips by engaging in the exhibits would be thrilling!

        Money is intimidating to me, and probably to most folks. To limit “my participation” with a donation is a frustration and just another reminder of what I can’t do yet.

        Perhaps I am your typical audience: I try to visit my musuems around “kids get in free xdays” to help ease my purse, we pack in the day, and we hope to come back next year. Our memories our fond ones though, and we talk of them for months after the visit. They are a treasure because of the 1x a year.

        But to be able to chip in, to voice what we would love to see next time/next year would make me feel (and especially the kids) “still a part of it”. To watch this “voting” on line would be neat too. And then to see a documentation of whatever “won” on line would certainly build excitement to check it out.

        My fear is not to rule out the 1x a year visitor (distance is also an issue), who still loves what is offered and values the experience.

        • ninaksimon 3:33 pm on August 15, 2012 Permalink

          Right – it could be about voting for one option or another as opposed to funding – or both.

    • Jen Stencel 9:55 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Removing myself from being a librarian and mom- when I visit places with my family, a picture at the end would be a treasured memory for sure. Even better, would be someway that I could also capture a summary of sorts of “what we liked best doing” while there. Not sure how that would work. But when I visited the Science Center in Cleveland, I had a hard time explaining to my husband what our daughters TOP 3-5 things that we had to keep going back to were. I wanted to show what it was and what is was called. That said, I think you are on to something.
      I love reading your work, and as a public Teen librarian I “totally get it”. I am inspired and learning so much from this community. Thank you!

      • David 10:57 pm on August 10, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Jen makes a really good point. You are more likely to let me track you if you feel it will help you. So not just rewards, but utility. If by tracking you I can let you know what you liked best, and then only contact you when something similar is happening, it might be worth it to part with a bit of private-ish information.

        Of course, being completely transparent about what you are collecting the information for, and how you will store, use, trade it, is essential for a place like MAH.

  • ninaksimon 1:46 am on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    We had a terrific workshop today. I’m too tired from the long day to give a really cogent report, but here are a few “aha”s for me from the day:
    –at big events, we need to focus more on thanking and connecting with people on their way OUT than on their way IN. “Goodbyers” or roamers instead of greeters.
    –there is a real market for more intimate events and we should brand them accordingly.
    –people who come frequently to events may have no idea about how to get hooked in with museum email lists, membership, etc.
    –people want to be part of something bigger and it would be good for us to explicitly tie membership to that in language and in action.

    More soon…

    • ninaksimon 3:01 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Also, the whole thing about families managing their visit. Management and enjoyment are alternating parts of the same experience.

  • ninaksimon 9:00 pm on July 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Here’s some information from Adaptive Path on the “experience mapping” technique we’ll be using for the August 8 workshop:

    • Jen Stencel 2:59 pm on August 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing the links. I am spending a delightful cool and cloudy Saturday morning, off-desk coffee break, browsing the slides. Each click of a link or forward of a slide, gets me deeper into an emotional – “wow, this is cool and on-to-something” journey.

      I feel like library services (IMO) has leveled out, dare I say has become a passive, stagnant-ish experience in which I know folks are hungry for a deeper connection- whatever that might be or look/feel like.

      The Adaptive Path workshop sounded so inspiring.
      I aspire for my branch, and system really, to be a “Participatory [museum-like] Library”.

      • ninaksimon 11:01 pm on August 11, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Hi Jen – Have you thought about attending the Risk and Reward library conference next month in Colorado? I’ll be running a workshop there – seems very in-line with some of your interests.

        • Jen Stencel 12:05 am on August 16, 2012 Permalink

          Extremely sad that I cannot get out as much as I would like. However, will your presentation be on slideshare? Can I guess the library? Anythink System??

    • ninaksimon 12:08 am on August 16, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Jen – We’ll have a lot more up about the workshop soon. Lots of stickies to transcribe.

  • ninaksimon 11:35 pm on July 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Some Links to Get Us Thinking 

    The August 8 workshop will focus on building visitor and member loyalty in creative ways. We are trying to build a community of members here at MAH who really feel connected to the institution and to each other.


    Here are a few loyalty-building examples that have inspired me over the years:

    What innovative ways have you seen for businesses to reward people for participation?


    • gasstationwithoutpumps 4:56 pm on August 8, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Be a bit careful setting up the system—it could end up looking like the grocery-store and drugstore “loyalty” card systems, which seem to be set up mainly to extract maximal information from the consumer at the lowest possible cost to the company. I used to shop at Long’s and I liked that there would be unexpected items on sale—I would browse the sales displays. When CVS took over and made sales items only available to people who signed up for their tracking program, I reduced my shopping there enormously. (I’m probably better off as a result—a lot of Long’s sales were on candy.)

      I don’t want to be “tracked” and I resent the implication that sales are only for those willing to be tracked. I also dislike “frequent flier” programs and hotel loyalty programs—they all imply that the casual visitor is not welcome, and I don’t like being treated as a second-class citizen. I realize that I may be in a minority in my opinions here, but I suspect that more people resent the programs than love them—but the people who aren’t frequent fliers never get polled. Be very careful that the “loyalty” program does not create a feeling of exclusion and exclusivity (which is the main attraction of the “VIP” programs of hotel loyalty programs).

      Some more communication with members would help though—I’m a member and I only found out from the Mercury News that there is some sort of member’s event this Friday. A monthly e-mail newsletter telling us what is going on at MAH would be helpful. Even blog posts about upcoming events or a Google calendar we could subscribe to would be nice.

      Note: I do have a wallet full of coffee-shop cards, some of them unfilled after 5 years. I’ve ended up using Peet’s a lot, though they don’t have a punch system, because they sell bulk tea and give me a free coffee or tea when I buy bulk. That works for me, because I get some needed shopping done and I don’t have to carry around yet another card.

      Cards are a nuisance to carry around, but I have trouble parting with things that have value, even if the value is small. It would be nice to have a system that did not require carrying more junk around. The writing on the wall approach is limited by the size of the wall, how easy it is to reach, and how easily monitored. I can’t think of a place at MAH that would work for that system (but I’ve not given it much thought). In its favor, the stars on the wall does have a feeling of being more inclusive than hotel loyalty programs—even first-time visitors can feel important.

      Something that worked for my family when I was a kid at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago: quarterly “journeys” which were pages of questions that required visiting a particular part of the museum and observing the exhibits closely. There was some tiny recognition for every 4 “journeys” and a bigger deal made after 16 completed journeys. (I believe it involved an award dinner and a copy of “The Voyage of the Beagle”, but that might have been after finishing one more bigger “journey” that the first 16 qualified you for.) Despite the difficulty of herding 4 kids in from the suburbs by train every three months, my mother took us regularly to the Field Museum because of the “journeys”. Personally, I preferred the Museum of Science and Industry, but they were even harder to get to and did not have the quarterly educational journeys, so we only went every 2 or 3 years. Having a changing activity that is fun and genuinely educational might help bring in repeat family visits. MAH is too small for an activity like the Field Museum’s journeys, which focused mainly on showing a small part of the museum (often one that was otherwise not much visited), but something where the participant has to hand something in at the end of the visit has value both for tracking and for increasing engagement.

      • ninaksimon 6:07 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Don’t worry. We’re NOT interested in being the next nightmare grocery loyalty card. We are looking at ideas like a cultural passport, museum “missions,” and more opportunities to share the awesome things that members make and do here. We want to give people the kind of delight and focused interest in repeat engagement that the “journeys” did for you. It’s amazing to realize the Field Museum invested so seriously in that program (16 is a lot!).

        Kind of reminds me of this (though way less creepy-commercial):

        • gasstationwithoutpumps 8:05 pm on August 9, 2012 Permalink

          16 was a lot for a kid also—4 times a year for 4 years, plus the longer “Beagle” journey at the end. I think the attraction for my Mom was that she knew that there would be a substantial educational component, and that the journeys would keep all 4 of us reasonably engaged (despite the 7-year spread in ages). I think it helped that the format was always the same, though the content varied, so she knew what to plan for in terms of time and what assistance would be needed for each kid. In a way, the journeys were the opposite of events, which get their attraction from being one-shot, unique happenings.

          Each journey was an in-depth questionnaire which explored one gallery of the Field Museum intensively, aiming for the sort of close examination of artifacts and labels that few casual visitors manage. I don’t remember what age range the questionnaires were aimed at—probably middle school or early high school. I think we (particularly my youngest sibling) were on the young side for the target demographic. The questions generally had short (one-word or one sentence) answers, not open-ended “what do you see?” questions.

  • ninaksimon 4:02 pm on July 26, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Getting Started 

    This is the beginning of the Loyalty Lab project, a set of experiments to encourage repeat and deepening participation in small and medium-sized museums and arts organizations. This work is funded by the fine folks in the National Arts Strategies Chief Executive Program, who believed in this vision and bought in, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services through their Spark Ignition grant program.

    Here’s what we asked them to support:

    Our goal is to celebrate and cultivate deeper relationships with participants, using low-tech, low-cost techniques that are accessible to small and mid-sized institutions. These participants could be visitors, volunteers, users, patrons–whatever you call the people who engage with your organization.

    Here at our small museum, we’re doing a lot of projects that invite people to actively participate as part of their experience. Visitors help paint murals, write labels, and generally get involved in lots of ways while they’re here. The lines between visitor, volunteer, and staff member are often quite blurred–and yet, we do very little to acknowledge the ways that people get engaged and sustain involvement over time. We have very high ability to form relationships with visitors, but very low ability to capitalize on those interactions. We would like to intentionally build on one-time experiences to develop the kinds of relationships and loyalty that will really sustain their involvement with our institution and our mission.

    We propose to do a series of experiments around building customer loyalty. This isn’t about knowing which donor move we’re on–it’s about creating legitimate relationships with visitors that are backed up with fun, surprising, and supportive materials. We’ve seen plenty of unsuccessful, overbuilt systems to allow visitors to generate their own websites of photos taken onsite or content tagged. We don’t want to do that. We want to delight people with simple, low-tech interactions and items that make them feel valued–just as we would do as we build personal relationships.

    For example, we might play with:

    • loyalty punch cards that encourage repeat visitation
    • badges, cards, or trinkets that allow people to “level up” and receive rewards for increasing their involvement
    • different ways to help people connect what they do to other visitors – i.e. being able to tell someone that another visitor came in and commented on their story or added to their collage
    • ways for our staff and volunteers to recognize and celebrate people who are really involved in specific ways – not just to be friendly, but to be able to say, “It’s awesome that you have come to so many music events. Do you play an instrument?”

    This lightweight website is a place where we share our experiments and all the data on what works, what doesn’t, and what formats we create so that anyone in the cultural community can use and build on the ideas. As someone who has run community sites and blogs, I’m realistic that this is not going to become a highly active site with lots of contributions–but I promise you that my staff and volunteers (and I) will be populating it with useful material that will be in a very consumable and reusable format. We hope that you will come along with us on this adventure as commenters, contributors, readers, and provocateurs.

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