Double the fun at the DMA

Which is your DMA?

In work mine is the Direct Marketing Association in the UK.

But my passion is art, so to me it’s also the Dallas Museum of Art, ok, I live near Norwich so it’s an academic interest!


The connection goes beyond the initials DMA though. I’m a marketer, you know that, you know I love, and live, data in my day job – especially if you are a regular reader of my blog.

I sit on the Data Governance board in the company where I work.

The last business book I read was “In data we trust” by Bjorn Blöching. A good read I might add.

You get the picture …

I think the DIrect Marketing Association do a great job in the UK in promoting the positive use of data in direct marketing – they are a voice of reason in so many ways when the tabloids and Middle Britain get upset about the ‘secrecy’ of data and when the ‘big brother’ words are thrown about.

I believe that data is becoming ( in fact already has become) a new currency which means that in order for businesses to ask for, and receive, useful data there needs to be clear value and a clear transaction. My CEO said recently in regard to an only slightly disconnected topic, “imagine if we did that without asking” a good thought to hold in this regard as he didn’t mean it in a good way !

So why am I posting about the Dallas Museum of Art in this context. Simply because they are treating data as a currency really clearly, really openly and getting their members/customers to embrace that fact.

Exactly a year ago today the Dallas Museum of Art made 2 significant moves, bold ones; they stopped charging admission and created a membership scheme called DMA Friends. Check out the scheme from this link.

The numbers tell a story;

  • Admission fees were only a relatively small percentage of annual revenue – 2.5% in fact
  •  In 9 months 33,000 friends were recruited
  •  $9m of philanthropic donations have been received to support the programme since it’s launch

It works really simply – visitors get ‘greeted’ on entry and directed to a bank of iPads. There they are asked for some data about themselves and to become a member of the DMA Friends scheme. The key data is a mobile phone number, email address and zip code. The mobile number proxies as a member number – which is a really clever idea I thought ! Crucially the system is completely based on opt in.

And the transaction? Or currency? …

… Ok its points, not rocket science I grant you, but they build up into experiences such as free admission to paid exhibitions, sleep-overs in the museum ( very groovy) etc. So a combination of random acts of kindness – which I like: see my last post – which you cannot buy, and things that generate repeat visits like discounts off big exhibitions. More visits = more purchases in the shop, more visits to the restaurant and so on – clear simple economic pay off.

It’s really straightforward and is a very clear trade-off for the member and the DMA.

The museum has been very clear that it will use the data it collects and I like the fact that on the anniversary it plans to publish the anonymised data learning it has from the past 12 months. Amongst it’s trailed plans are a desire to advertise the museum in zip codes in which it under-indexes. There is a clear parallel learning here for other industries. If you have an objective, in this case to have broad appeal, collect and then use data that supports that objective. Simples as the Meerkats might say.

The software it uses is being made available free to other museums and galleries and that is a measure of its success as a transactional tool I think.

I will continue to like and admire the DMA in regard to my direct marketing …both of them !

I am indebted to and Modern Painters magazine for the fascinating insight into the Dallas Museum of Art initiative. It has certainly made me think about how simple openness and clarity can assist in asking members to trade some rich data about themselves.

21 January 2014
PS: The Dallas museum is a lovely concrete building as well, always a bonus for me !

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: