Shakespeare's Globe CEO: 'Never let marketing data lead your artistic choices'
A view from Neil Constable

Shakespeare's Globe CEO: 'Never let marketing data lead your artistic choices'

Neil Constable trained at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Last year The Stage's Top 100 named him and Dominic Dromgoole, the Globe's artistic director, as the joint seventh-most-influential people working in theatre and the performing arts.

Be in it for the long term

For many people, and particularly younger generations, coming to Shakespeare’s Globe may be their first experience of the playwright, and it has the power to transform their perception of his work. It’s important that every point of contact with our brand is positive and visitors want to maintain a relationship with us. Loyalty is a long-term game; whether it’s a student who returns as an adult or an audience member who makes one trip a year to see our plays, our brand can play a huge part in ensuring they feel they belong at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Take creative risks

In my leadership role supporting creative teams, I have learned never to let the marketing data lead your artistic programming choices, but instead use the data to inform your audiences about the journey of artistic choices they can make with you. In my world, every artistic decision is a business decision, and vice versa. It is by taking creative risks, continually surprising and delighting our audiences with our programming choices, that we get public recognition for our work, win awards and, in the long term, build our audiences.

The devil is in the detail

Brands play out on so many different platforms. It’s only since I started at the Globe that I have fully recognised the potential of a brand’s power within the UK’s creative economy, and it’s the first time I have had to overtly protect a brand. Though flattered that images of the Globe Theatre pop up all over the world supporting others to sell their products and strengthen their own corporate messages, we have taken serious steps and investment to protect our IP and brand identity.

Look at the bigger picture

I recently recognised that I have not devoted enough time to bringing my senior management team together to break down the barriers of ‘silo’ working. It’s critical – no matter how big or small your organisation is – to communicate with each other. Undertaking a staff survey can be the first step to finding out just how much or little you know about the bigger picture. If you haven’t done one, do it this year. We’ve implemented stronger cross-organisational working practices and improved internal communications systems. This can be as easy as designing a new intranet, volunteer newsletters or a monthly video or blog from a member of the executive team to ensure staff are aware when we are giving them ‘new’ news and how all our work delivers to our shared mission.

Give your online followers what they want

Our social-media followers are incredibly active in engaging with Shakespeare’s Globe as an entity. It takes a lot of hard work to provide them with the content they demand, but it also gives us an opportunity to tell them far more about our brand than we can through more traditional channels. It allows Shakespeare to be a part of our daily lives as well as a worldwide conversation.

In some ways, the Globe is a guardian of the Shakespeare ‘brand’ around the world. As an educational charity with an international mission, we have to learn quickly how best to use our brand assets (theatres, actors, Shakespeare’s words) to make a strong connection. We want to create the aspiration to visit our site and experience the architecture and plays, or seek us out on DVD, through touring productions or in cinemas, but also to create an international community that shares a bond through Shakespeare’s stories.

Push the (tech) boundaries

One of the innovative and successful ways we are distributing our work is via the recently launched online Globe Player. The set-up costs were about 20% of what they might have been 10 years ago. Avid theatre-goers are now enjoying our productions on screen at home in more than 130 countries.

The CRM factor

Shakespeare’s Globe is a multi-faceted organisation – it’s more than a theatre, it’s an education centre, an international visitor attraction and a commercial enterprise, among many other things. This means creating a brand structure that can hold and communicate all those things elegantly is a huge challenge. We really need to understand what motivates our audiences and visitors, and how they want us to communicate with them; but we also need to surprise and enlighten them in ways they hadn’t expected. One of our biggest challenges in the next year is to develop a new, comprehensive, CRM plan; this will become a huge part of managing brands, as much as graphics and taglines.