DELAWARE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The Museum’s goal is to become a place and resource that inspires the next generation to make the world a better place. Through compelling cutting-edge exhibits, hands-on learning experiences and top-notch educational programs, DMNH aims to achieve this vision and move confidently into the next decades as a modern museum, ever relevant in a changing world.
Behind the Scenes
Getting Ahead of the Curve
Two Fold Strategies
Schultz & Williams has been engaged in a full range of planning, development and marketing projects for DMNH, including strategic and business planning, marketing and capital campaign studies, and fundraising activities. First and foremost, the Museum needed help uncovering ways to enhance the visitor experience now in order to build attendance and execute cost-effective marketing initiatives that would mobilize near-term investment and engagement, and more importantly, build long-term support for its future vision.
While DMNH has kept pace with innovative educational programming, attracting regional school students and special interest groups to the Museum, its appeal as a visitor destination has been compromised by dated exhibits, a lack of thematic collections, minimal visitor services and low-impact interpretation. Furthermore, specific constraints have prevented investment in marketing initiatives at a sufficient level to penetrate the market and motivate the public to visit the Museum and support its cause and vision. In addition, one of the Museum’s biggest challenges is its location in a highly competitive market that includes an abundance of current, high-profile, popular family destinations and events, all vying for attention, attendance, members and donors.
Schultz & Williams conducted a market research study that consisted of a review of the Museum’s current marketing materials, internal interviews, on-site intercept surveys, telephone surveys and a benchmarking review. We also conducted focus groups with four distinct audiences: parents and grandparents who visited the Museum with children 4–11 years old; recent visitors who came without children; parents and grandparents who have not visited the Museum; and teachers from within 25 miles. The goal of the research was to understand the Museum’s real and perceived strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges, and to provide explicit direction on how to build on the Museum’s strengths now in order to generate interest and revenue to support its strategic plan and future growth.
The results of our research over many months indicated that most important for the Museum, as well as for its future, was to create a “culture of marketing” that permeates and energizes the entire Museum operation, thus improving the quality of every visitor experience and public encounter in order to boost attendance, membership sales and donor interest through positive word-of-mouth advertising.
Top-line findings from the market research yielded 12 high-value recommendations for the Museum’s strategic plan and uncovered ways for the Museum to build on its current strengths to enhance its products and services in the short term while planning for its future. Specifically, the research results identified key target market segments and provided essential data to inform strategies and timelines for executing visitor-centric, programmatic and marketing recommendations over an 18-month period. They were designed to expand outreach and improve the visitor experience through special events, enhanced interpretation, wayfinding additions, modest exhibit upgrades, visitor services training, website improvements, social media initiatives and community outreach. Through specific marketing tactics and consistent messaging informed by the research, the Museum is able to improve its public outreach at minimal cost and positively impact the visitor experience.