5 Marketing Lessons from Museums 

5 Marketing Lessons from Museums 

Written by Radhika Sethi


#NerdAlert but we love museums! I am that friend that puts every museum on the travel itinerary. While there’s much to learn about history and culture from museums, on my recent trip to the USA, I picked up a different kind of lesson. There are 5 key marketing cues that museums can give founders and marketers. 

Here they are, the 5 marketing lessons brands can learn from museums:


#1 The story is your foundation

Without the story, there is no museum. It is the basis, the core, the foundation of any museum. The story is what draws people to the museum, it is the invitation.

So, what about brands then? We love a good brand story as much as we love museums. The brand story should not come as an afterthought. It should form the core of your product or service offering.

If you are wondering what a brand story really is, read: What Is A Brand Story?

#2 The perfect mix of media for marketing

Any properly put together museum uses a mix of media. You will find audio guides or walking tours, there will be videos along your way, and text with images to break down the story of the museum and its relevance. 

The visitors are engaged in different ways, making the experience as fun as possible (in a museum). But also making it engagingly educative. 

Museums use different forms of communication to narrate the story. At the USS Midway Museum, you are handed a personal listening device that scans QR codes placed in the different sections. You will find videos where veterans explain the very many aspects of the ships. There are, of course, images supported with literature. 

marketing lessons from museums
A must must visit when in San Diego

The point I am trying to drive is obvious. Brands need to keep it interesting and engaging. Communicate with the audience in a manner that does not bore them, in a way that they cannot ignore. You might have a brilliant brand story but your marketing communications need to amplify that story. 

Another inference that can be drawn from this is the pressing need for integrated marketing. You might need social media, public relations, content marketing, offline marketing, influencer marketing, and a lot more. It is essential to create the right media mix and the right communication for each touchpoint.

#3 Let your brand advocates shine

One of the most heartwarming things I noticed at the USS Midway was the inclusion of their veterans. They are conducting walking tours, and sessions, and guiding people along the way. Not only are they so cute that they remind you of your grandpa, but they are also intriguing to civilians. Their life experiences are unique from most others and you want to strike up a conversation with them. 

What can brands learn from this? From your pool of customers, identify advocates. Engage them, and incentivize them to trigger positive word of mouth marketing for your product or service. Every customer has a circle of influence and these advocates should be encouraged to introduce the brand in that circle.

#4 Evoke emotions

If you are open to the experience, museums can definitely draw out emotions. Museums have the capability to create an experience that transports you to another time. The 9/11 Memorial in New York has so thoughtfully documented the tragedy of 2001 and 1993 that you will leave feeling numb, sad, and pensive. While there is a lingering sense of helplessness, you will find solace in how they have honoured the memory of victims.

Of course, the emotions you would want your brand to evoke are different. But when something makes you feel, you tend to remember. You are more likely to share that experience like I am sharing this experience. So, as much as you can – evoke emotions.

#5 Give a clear direction

Museums have a well-defined layout. Maps and signages help visitors walk through the story of the museum. Especially at a large museum like The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), if the visitors are to learn anything from the Museum, a well-laid out plan is essential.

Similarly, it is important to give customers a clear direction on how they must engage with your brand and use the product/service. If the customer comes across your brand and is left confused about the value they can derive from it, you have lost the customer and the rupees you spent on getting there.

This has implications for simplifying your website and being crisp yet informative in your digital content. But at the core of it, it means having a solid brand story and creating the perfect mix of marketing communications. 

Me after 4 hours at The Met

Signing off by encouraging you to visit more museums! 😛 

At Beyond The Panorama, we work with businesses to develop their digital brand presence, and a big part of that is content writing for various channels. If you are looking for help to organize this business function, we would love to have a conversation and set it up! Reach out to us at hello@beyondthepanorama.com on our social media channels.

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