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How Bauhaus Are You? or Why Your Museum’s Website is the Best “Gallery” Space You Never Knew You Had

Websites for Small Business Owners | Sylvia Adams

One of biggest challenges that small businesses and institutions face is “doing more with less”. I worked briefly for a company that designed products for museum gifts shops. We worked with some of the biggest museums in the world and the biggest hurdle we faced season in and season out, was:

How can we sell a renowned work of art on a mug or an umbrella or plastic shopper tote, make a profit and not make the museum look like complete sell-outs? Classy right?

I attended an art & design college for 4 years and took numerous courses in art history and it all came down to which plastic shopper tote was “granny” going to buy.

But let’s be honest. Nothing in this world comes for free. Museums have to keep the lights on just like everyone else and many have come to the realization that the digital space is going to have to play a role in that in the future.

While we all love the trinkets and gifts waiting for us in the museum gift shop, most visitors believe or not, come to see the art. I will never forget the first time I went to the Louvre back in the late 90s to see the Mona Lisa, I couldn’t believe how small it was – nor could I believe the tidal wave of people and signs that led you her.

Now every museum can’t have a Mona Lisa they do have a “star” in their collection and your website can be your “virtual gallery” that can bring in more engagement with your collections, more foot traffic and dare I say money into your museum. But with all the noise surrounding us these days how can the little guy compete?

What if you’re a little guy like Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum or what if you run Harry Truman’s Little White House in Key West?

Websites for Small Business Owners | Sylvia Adams

How can you compete with the big boys and those big budgets? The answer is simple. You don’t – because you can’t. You will never have the resources or the staff to pull off what larger institutions can do, but you can learn on their dime.

This week’s post from the Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge blog is a perfect example. It’s a fantastic case study on how the Tate Museum integrated digital marketing into their museum to increase brand awareness and foot traffic.

There are lots of key take aways here like:

1. Selling the idea of digital throughout your organization and get people to see it as an opportunity, not a chore.

2. Why outsourcing social media content is not the best idea.

3. Why it’s OK to give your visitor’s a voice in the co-creation of your brand.

You’ll want to bookmark this post and refer back to it. It has plenty of sound advice that any museum or local attraction could adapt to their business no matter the size or budget.

Check out “Tate’s Digital Makeover Transforms the Traditional Museum” by Michael Blanding with Jill Avery of the Harvard Business School.

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