How entrepreneurs can boost audience engagement and financial sustainability – Aubrey Bergauer

On today’s episode of The Small Business Show, we’re pleased to welcome Aubrey Bergauer, author, TEDx speaker, and founder and CEO of Changing the Narrative. Bergauer’s newest book, Run It Like a Business, provides readers with valuable insights and business strategies.

Key Takeaways 

1. Bergauer’s personal experience highlights a significant moment of realization that managing an arts organization could be a viable career path. This emphasizes the critical role of arts management in sustaining and thriving arts organizations, emphasizing the necessity of skills and strategies that go beyond pure artistic talent.

2. Bergauer points out that arts and culture organizations often misidentify their primary challenges and solutions, particularly in audience development. While the common belief is that new and younger audiences are needed, the data suggest that the issue is retaining them after their first engagement. This shift in perspective – from acquisition to retention – demands a strategic reevaluation of how organizations approach audience engagement.

3. A core thesis of Bergauer’s book is the assertion that the quality of art is not responsible for declining audience numbers or relevance. Instead, the focus should be on other aspects of the business, such as marketing, customer experience, and financial management, to support and promote the art effectively.

4. Bergauer advocates for adopting successful strategies from the for-profit sector to address challenges in the arts. This includes applying lessons from user experience research, the subscription and membership economy, and digital content strategies to enhance audience engagement and financial sustainability.

5. One of the primary challenges among artists and cultural organizations is focusing intensely on the artistic side while neglecting financial management. Bergauer stresses the need for arts organizations to elevate their “offstage talent” to match their onstage talent, ensuring that solid business practices support artistic excellence.

"The art is not the problem; it’s about optimizing other parts of our business." - Aubrey Bergauer

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