Innovating Through Artistry

PEAK Performances

In Author: Melissa Snoza, ENTREPRENEUR THE ARTS on July 31, 2009 at 6:39 pm

We tend to think of a peak performance as something we view as transformative from our own perspective, but are we the only ones in the room?

 I recently attended two workshops presented by the Arts Engagement Exchange which addressed the concept of psychographics as applied to marketing and programming in the arts.

The first was a lecture by Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre, California’s largest boutique hotel company. He recently wrote a book titled PEAK, in which he applied Maslow’s heirarchy of needs pyramid to multiple facets of an organization (customers, employees, etc.).

He also explained how rather than using demographics, he used psychographics to design his hotels and reach his customers. Each hotel he builds is modeled after a magazine, as Conley feels that the magazine industry does a fantastic job in creating an identity-refreshing experience for its readers. Need other brands that do the same? How about Apple or Prius – both of these products give the person who buys them a bit of a psychological boost, reinforcing the self-image and beliefs they espouse.

In applying his ideas to the arts, he presented three layers to the needs pyramid, the lowest being “entertain me,” then “move me,” then “transform me.” As an example, he shared an experience he had in London with a theater company that presented a moving play highlighting issues relating to racial bias, and presented by actors with disabilities.

The program itself was moving, but then the company invited the audience to stay and participate group discussions to explore the issues brought about during the performance. To Conley’s surprise, about 80% of the audience stayed. His group of 60 people stayed in discussion until 3am.

In this way, Conley described the performance as having fulfilled his expectations, his desires, and lastly, desires he didn’t know he had. He had no idea before coming to the performance that he would find himself engaged in a room of strangers, brought together by a common cultural experienced that inspired them to share stories and ideas through the night.

Following this, AEE presented a full-day workshop, where organizations could send two staffers to help to explore their audience psychographic. Groups were challenged to create specific, named identities for their core and target audience members, and were asked probing questions about their favorite place to buy shoes, choice in mobile phones, and spiritual beliefs.

We also had the opportunity to share ideas about how our organizations meet needs, desires, and more, from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to online ordering to backstage passes.

It’s an interesting thing, viewing the concert experience from your patron’s eyes. Next time you go to a show, take notes. Was it easy to find? Did you have to pay to park? Was there enough/not enough/too much information in the programs?

And how did this shape your opinion of the artistic experience before a single note was played?

Melissa is the flutist and Executive Director of the Chicago-based Fifth House Ensemble. Like what you read here? For more music entrepreneurship tidbits, visit, brought to you by members of 5HE.

  1. LOVE IT! It is all about filling needs Ladies and Gentleman. AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN when you do!!

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