This sample essay on Aberdeen Maritime Museum provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
The purpose of this report is to provide a critical analysis of the existing communications strategy at Aberdeen Maritime Museum, and recommend future promotional activity. This will be done through an investigation of the museums target market, the current communications strategy used, a possible future communication strategy and ways to evaluate it.
Conclusions will then be drawn.
The Information needed for this report was gathered from textbooks, journals, the Internet and an interview with John Edwards, Aberdeen Maritime Museums Keeper of Science and Maritime History which took place on Monday 4th November.
Aberdeen Maritime Museum has been part of the city’s heritage for numerous years. Prior to 1984 it was situated in a basement room of Cowdray Hall before it moved to Provost Ross House.
1998 saw the opening of a £4million extension to the museum in its own purposely built building, (a converted church and empty plot next to Provost Ross House) making the museum five times its previous size.
Today the museum is a very popular attraction within the city with 81,460 visitors last year (Evening Express, 14 March 2002). The museum has been ranked 24th out of 360 museums in Scotland. (www.scottishmuseums.org.uk). The museum has also won a five star award from Scottish Tourist Board. This is awarded to establishments who are ‘exceptional.
Segmentation is ‘The division of the market into customer subsets, one or more of which becomes the target market, each with a distinct marketing mix’ (Turnbull, 2002). Therefore, target marketing ‘is the process whereby specific segments are selected and marketing plans are developed to satisfy the needs of the potential buyers in the chosen segment’ (Fill, 2002)
The museum targets local people as it contains local history. (90% of the objects inside the museum have been donated by local people (Edwards, 2002)) Segmenting people by this method is called geographic segmentation as the target market is in a specific area.
School children and 16-24 year olds are the museums main audiences. The main reason for this is due to the large number of educational visits. Segmenting by age is known as demographics. Demographics can be defined as ‘dividing the market into groups based upon demographic variables such as age, gender, occupation, education, religion, race and nationality. (Kother and Armstrong, 2001)
Therefore the museums main target market (school children and 16-24 year olds in the Aberdeen area) is segmented by geo-demographics (a combination of geographic and demographic segmentation)
Business tourism is also a fast growing market, with an increase in conference and exhibitions. The Maritime Museum offers conference facilities that are growing in popularity. This could be because it’s classed as an ‘unusual venue.’ Previous users of the conference facilities have included Grampian Police and major oil and computer companies. This market could be segmented on the basis of demographics – the museum is targeting professionals looking for a venue to hold their conference.
The museum also has customers who visit the museum to use the shop and the cafe facilities. This group of visitors would be segmented and targeted based on their behaviour traits. Overseas visitors to the city are not specifically targeted. Most visitors knowledgeable about the museum find out information via the Visit Scotland.
The Maritime Museum’s target market of local people could be broken down into more specific segments such as schoolchildren, 16 – 24 year olds and professionals looking for conference facilities. Other segments such as retired people and families could also be considered.
Current Communication Strategy
‘Marketing communication is a management process through which an organisation enters into a dialogue with its various audiences’ (Fill, 2002). The main communication methods used to achieve communication are advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, exhibitions, packaging/design, personal selling, sponsorship, merchandising/point of sale, corporate identity, public relations and word of mouth.
Advertising can be defined as ‘any paid form of non-personal presentation and promotion of ideas, goods or services.’ (Kotler and Armstrong, 2001)
With an advertising budget of £10,000 per year, the museum can not afford any large-scale advertising activity. Currently the museum advertises locally through a leaflet produced by Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums called the ‘Diary.’ The leaflet highlights exhibitions and what’s going on in the Art Gallery, Provost Skene House and the Maritime Museum. (Appendix 1.) The Diary could be described as an ‘arts marketing consortia – a regular forum for joint marketing’ (Freeman 1997) The benefits of this include reduced advertising costs, and reaching people who are unaware of the museum.
The museum produces its own leaflet, but it is unavailable outside the museum. This is because it is primarily used for orientation around the museum.
The museum also invests in advertising in a leaflet called ‘North-East Scotland’s Coastal Trail.’ (Appendix 2) There are over 200,000 leaflets produced, so it reaches a large number of people at a relatively low cost. (Edwards 2002)
The small marketing budget means that the museum can not afford to have regular adverts in the local press. However, they are considering advertising in either the Press and Journal or the Evening Express each week in the same space to that people will become aware of the advert, then visit the museum.
The only form of outdoor advertising that the museum partakes in is a banner outside the museum.
Another form of advertising is through the Maritime Museums web page (www.aagm.co.uk), this is known as interactive advertising. Significant investment into Visit Scotland (www.visitscotland.com) is also made. In doing this the museum a reach a world-wide audience.
Kotler and Armstrong (2001) define direct marketing as a ‘direct communication with carefully targeted individual consumers to obtain an immediate response and cultivate lasting customer relationships.’ The ‘Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums’ could be described as direct marketing. As well as providing funds to the AAGM, members receive invitations to functions and exhibition openings, mailings of information, and discount on selected items from the shops. (Appendix 3)
‘Sales promotion seeks to offer buyers additional value as an inducement to generate an immediate sale.’ (Fill, 2002)
As the Maritime Museum offers a free service, sales promotion is not used. However, in 1998 until 2000, the museum introduced entry charges. Consequently, the number of visitors dropped by 75% (Edwards, 2002), so were therefore abolished. Sales promotion could have been used during this period, for example a family of four could have paid entry fees for two adults and the children got in free.
Packaging and design is concerned with the ‘designing and producing the container or wrapper for a product.’ (Kotler and Armstrong, 2001) This communication method does not play apart in the museums strategy as they offer a service.
Personal selling is a ‘form of marketing communication that involves a face-to-face dialogue between two persons or by one person and a group. (Fill, 2002). Again this method does not play a part in the museums communication strategy.
Fill (2002) defines sponsorship as a ‘commercial activity whereby one party permits another an opportunity to exploit an association with a target audience in return for funds, services or resources.’
The museum does not sponsor anything it does however hold ‘Techfest’ and activity weekends during the summer holidays for children (their target audience). Benefits of doing this include increased visitor numbers and increased awareness of the museum..
Merchandising/Point of Sale
Merchandising is done at the museums shop, which sells goods such as pens, pencils and stickers that all contain the museums name
Corporate identity is simply ‘the awareness, perception and attitudes held by an organisation’s various stakeholders’ (Fill, 2002) The museum finds out about its image by survey sheets which they have had for the last four years, and also by notes left in the visitor books which are placed throughout the museum. The museum is also conscious that the ‘average shopper’ is not aware of the museum, but to find out exact figures, they would need to carry out expensive market research done by experts.
Public Relations / Publicity
In the March 1997 edition of the Museum Journal, Sarah Freeman stated ‘during this time of cutbacks, aggressive political manoeuvres and market saturation, museums have started looking for allies to help them reach out to the public and convince audiences that are vital and worthwhile.’ The best way for museums to do this is through public relations.
Public relations (PR) is about ‘building up good relations with the company’s various public’s by obtaining favourable publicity’ (Kotler and Armstrong, 2001)
Whenever a new exhibition is introduced into the Maritime Museum, a press release is sent to the local newspapers, which will then possibly run an editorial on it. This benefits the museum as it costs nothing but will also ‘increase visitor numbers, raise support, influence people, establish a professional reputation and target audiences that are hard to reach’ (Freeman 1997)
PR also has its downfalls. Main stories may only make it to newspapers and TV (local, regional or national) if there has been a disaster, a visit from a famous person, or a wacky or topical story. If there is important news on the same day as the museums editorial, the museum story is likely to be dropped, so it is very vulnerable. (Freeman 1997)