A newsletter on progress-space research and audience development for cultural leaders. One reader calls it, "sometimes funny"

(Reading time: 2m, 29s)

If you’ve ever wanted to visit one of England’s magnificent cathedrals, I recommend you book a trip yesterday before all the confessionals are replaced with ticket booths.

Earlier this month, I wrote about Rochester Cathedral installing a miniature golf course. Now, Norwich Cathedral has a helter-skelter.

The Very Reverend Jane Hedges said their goal in installing the slide was to “try to get people to think about the meaning of life — to think about their place in the world.”

Moving on.

Several of you wrote in with thoughts on last Friday’s letter about communicating the value of children’s museums, which got me thinking about what informs the value propositions organizations create.

ICYMI, Friday’s letter compared the Please Touch Museum’s promise “We Build Brains” to the Long Island Children’s Museum’s headline “Explore. Play. Create.”

These value propositions likely appeal to different kinds of patrons. Some parents are looking for a place to take their child where they can “explore, play, and create” for an afternoon. Others may be looking for a way to help their child’s development — They’re looking for experiences that will help them prepare their child for success in school and beyond. “Building brains” might be more appealing to them.

I tend to think that the Please Touch Museum’s promise is better overall, though, because:

  1. The phrase communicates the “why” behind all the usual events and programs at the museum.
  2. “We build brains” suggests unique value. The museum is going to help the child in ways that you can’t find elsewhere.

When the Please Touch Museum says, “We build brains,” what they’re really saying is: “Feel free to go to the park or stay home and watch cartoons, but we’re in the business of making children better humans. You can get on board, or you can catch the next bus. We’re driving a double-decker with the top peeled off, so you’re going to have an amazing view, but if you’re not interested, feel free to wait for the next bus, which will probably be a rusty Greyhound that smells like urine and toe jam.”

You might be thinking: “Ok, some parents are looking for a place where their kid can have some fun on a rainy afternoon. Others want to hire the museum for its expertise in childhood development. Aren’t both perspectives valid? Doesn’t each museum want both kinds of visitors?”

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Yes. And I think the Please Touch Museum is the one that’s doing a better job of communicating to both groups.

But let’s not beat this to death.

What I want to ask you about today is how you segment your audience.

This example of how two children’s museums communicate value to their audiences shows how the museums might think about different segments of their audiences — the Rainy Day Dad looking for a way to pass the time and have some fun versus Developmental Dad who is looking for an expert who can help him in his effort to raise a child who will succeed in school and beyond.

If you’re like most organizations, you probably segment by demographics — especially age. Whenever I talk with an executive director, I hear them talk about younger people or millennials. How can we get more of them to come to the museum or join the board?

Is that how you segment your audience? Do you also factor in other things like interest or behavior? How are you tracking the information? What’s hard about communicating to different segments of your audience?

Let me know in a reply. I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading,



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