Do you speak Marketing?

Switch Festival and working on a marketing plan for it, has been a great opportunity for both teams to test the benefits and the challenges of working closely from an early stage of the planning process


The biggest challenge (as well as my favourite part) of my job is to sit between two very different teams: Learning and Marketing. A lot of my work is about reporting actions to both teams, switching from one language to another, keeping the conversation relevant for everybody and at the same time making sure not to lose any of the values involved; also, of course keeping young people’s voice in the conversations too.

Switch Festival and working on a marketing plan for it, has been a great opportunity for both teams to test the benefits and the challenges of working closely from an early stage of the planning process. For me, coming from a marketing background, it has been very interesting to think about how to talk about marketing in a learning environment and using a learning vocabulary, and how to approach different tasks while ensuring that this joined-up thinking is kept alive and effective.

At the beginning of our Festival Lab, we had a fantastic session with our Circuit Marketing Consultant, Rachael Escott, in which the group was asked to think about the different audiences for Switch Festival. We identified five target audiences and made collages of fictional characters, each of them representative of a different target. Having a visual reference and applying a creative activity to describe and reflect on a concept such as ‘audience segmentation’ was key in this process. This helped us establish that the targets are real people with different interests, needs and perceptions of art. Even with this knowledge, keeping the link between marketing, audience and programming wasn’t immediate, we tried to keep referring to those targets throughout the planning process. That has been very helpful for our Head of Marketing, Jane, when she started reflecting on the marketing strategy for Switch. But my question at this point was: how to keep the group engaged in the marketing choices and activities?

Marketing and audience profile circuit

Amanda, the art student – one of the fictional characters

The first activity was to think about the visual identity for the festival: a poster that embodies the values behind Switch as well as is relevant to our audiences. We asked some members of the Collective to draw their ideas, that then we passed on to Tate Design Studio. At the beginning this approach didn’t work very well: as it is often the case with the communication between departments, the group felt their ideas were lost in translation; then we had visit from Julian, Graphic Designer at Tate Design Studio in London who, after taking the group’s initial feedback on board, has been revising the design concepts. Being able to have a face to face conversation was a very important part of the design process, and gave the group the chance to share ideas directly with Julian and get a good understanding on how the Design Studio works.


Consultation with Tate Design Studio

Another key marketing activity for Switch has been the online promotion across social media channels. The group’s first idea was to set up a new channel for Switch; but as digital marketing teaches us, to set up a page and generate a good following is hard work, and needs to be justified by a long term aim. Good marketing practice has meant focusing the energies to our existing channels, but at the same time finding a way in which the group can actually have their voice on them. Following the same approach we used with the design, London-based Tate Senior Digital Producer and Tate Collective Digital Producer, Jen and Leyla, together with our Communications Assistant here at Tate St Ives, Tressa, are going to run a social media training session for the group. The training is thought not just to help the group gain practical skills on social media, but also to develop a sense of ownership towards the channels; we will be looking at the different platforms, scheduling posts with the group and reflecting together on how we want to talk about Switch online. (Looking forward to it!)

Thinking about different approaches to get the group involved in the marketing process has been a very good opportunity to test new cross-departmental ways of working, and at the same time has contributed to developing more awareness around what we do in our young people’s programme and with Circuit and how it can impact across the organisation. Developing new ways to collaborate and engage with different departments and colleagues with different competencies has enabled the group to build confidence, learn new skills as well as play a role within the organisation. Indeed ‘change’ is one of the key themes of Switch!