museum marketing

Museums and tourist sites, how to set up your marketing budget?

Marketing budget: first steps in data-driven decision making

The traditional budget model no longer works

Museum attendance around the world is steadily declining. But there is hope, and that hope lies in a new model of data-based budgeting

The majority of museums currently follow a so-called traditional model when setting up their marketing budget. Museums spend about 80% of their budget on print, television and radio advertising and only 20% on social media advertising. This model made sense until Facebook reached one billion users in 2012. It is now more cost-effective and easier to plan targeted campaigns on social media and digital platforms.

In addition to this difference in reach, the weakness of print advertising is that it does not include demographic results, audience preferences or ROI as digital ads do. 

Instead of an 80/20 split, the new marketing model promotes a 60/30/10 split that attracts a younger and more diverse audience that is to be retained. 

Traditional model

- 80% (radio, television, print media, promotional items)

- 20% (Facebook, Twitter, web banner ads, etc.)

Data-driven model

- 60% (Google referencing, advertising agency, social media, web banners, promotional items, etc.).

- 30% (Radio, TV, print - very targeted to older audiences, etc.)

- 10% (Innovation Fund - try something new and inexpensive)e

Different museums need different budgets

Let's create your marketing budget together using the new template. 

Before you start, please read the warning below :

This budget model is based on American museums because the financial and operational records of American cultural institutions are publicly available through the tax form 990. In addition, there are U.S. standards for the size of the annual museum budget and the types of museums, making it easy to create and share a marketing budget model for museums.

Finally, there is a difference between marketing and advertising. This model uses the word "marketing" as a general term for advertising, marketing and promotion expenditures. 

Annual budget sizes (based on data from Pax Analytics)

Here are two resource files from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to help you determine your museum's place in this model:

The different types of museums Americans

A list of budget sizes for the different types of American museums

Small museums (annual budget between $100,000 and $500,000)

- Mainly local historical museums, historic houses, children's museums and preservation sites, etc.

- Research shows that smaller museums, compared to larger ones, often spend a larger portion of their annual budget on advertising and marketing. However, they often lack financial resources for audience development initiatives and spend too much on traditional advertising methods without actually increasing the number of visitors.

- Average marketing expenses represent approximately 4% of the total annual budget.

Small museums - Data-driven model

- Small museum (annual budget of $250,000)

- Total Marketing Budget - $10,000

- 6,000 - ads on Facebook and Google adwords.

- 3,000 - regional print ads, radio...

- 1,000 - promotional items, brand partnerships.

Medium-sized museums (annual budget between $500,000 and $15,000,000)

- Art museums, general museums, botanical gardens etc.

- The average marketing expenditure is about 2% of the total annual budget.

Medium-sized museums - Data-driven model 

- Average Museum (annual budget of $8,500,000)

- Total marketing budget - $170,000 

- 102,000 - Hire an advertising agency for audience targeting and strategic ad placement on high traffic websites, streaming platforms such as Pandora/Spotify/YouTube, use CDP and data analysis tools, set up Facebook campaigns, web banner ads and Google SEO.

- 51,000 - buy ads in regional tourism magazines, radio ads

- 17,000 - to create promotional items and focus on broad public outreach.

Large Museums (annual budget between $15,000,000 and $100,000,000)

- Science centres, zoos/aquariums, art and history museums located in metropolitan areas.

- Average marketing expenses are less than 2% of the total annual budget.

Large museums - Data-driven model 

- Large Museum (annual budget of $30,000,000)

- Total marketing budget - $510,000 

- 306,000 - Hire an advertising agency to target national and regional audiences throughout the year and place strategic ads on high-traffic websites, streaming platforms such as Pandora/Spotify/YouTube, regularly use data analysis tools for real-time analysis of audience growth, implement year-round Facebook campaigns, web banner ads and Google SEO.

- 153,000 - purchase ads in nationally distributed travel magazines, purchase full-page ads in recognized national publications such as National Geographic, regional/national radio ads.

- 30,000 - At this point, your museum should have its own mascot. Also buy an outdoor banner on a local highway or a billboard in a subway. This is an easy awareness tool that builds brand awareness.

World Museums (annual budget between $100,000,000 and $500,000,000)

- The Met, the Smithsonian, the MoMa, the British Museum, the Louvre, and so on.

- The marketing budget is less than 1% of the total annual budget.

World Museums - Data driven model

- World Museum (annual budget of $150,000,000)

- Total marketing budget - $10,950,000

- 6,570,000 - A full-service in-house advertising team with outside support for major annual events, year-round national and international audience retargeting and strategic ad placement on high-traffic websites, streaming platforms such as Pandora/Spotify/Youtube, hire a full-time data analysis team focused on audience growth metrics. The combined advertising and data analytics team is responsible for year-round Facebook/Twitter/WeChat/Instagram campaigns, web banner advertising and Google/Google Analytics SEO.

- 3,285,000 - purchase advertisements in print tourism magazines with international and national circulation, with an emphasis on airlines serving the museum's metropolitan area, purchase full-page advertisements in recognized national publications such as National Geographic and Time, regional/national radio advertisements.

- 1,950,000 - use this fund for innovation. Organize a community festival. Celebrate a museum's anniversary. Book weekly museum experiences. Use multiple influencers for extended campaigns. Organize an annual conference for museum professionals on an important topic.

Visual Solene crop

Solène Jimenez

Would you like to carry out a data & CDP diagnosis of your organisation? Take advantage of 30 minutes of free consulting by reserving your slot.

Sophia Baladi

Sophia Baladi

Would you like to carry out a data & CDP diagnosis of your organisation? Take advantage of 30 minutes of free consulting by reserving your slot.

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