Good Example Of Report On Marketing Plan For The Ashmolean Museum
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The research object of this marketing plan is the Ashmolean Museum, a time-honored museum for art and archaeology. A situational audit is done by using the SWOT analysis. Some of its strengths that are discussed throughout the paper are its website, location, transportation, and catering services. In comparison, some of its weaknesses include sanitary environment, quality of additional exhibitions, and internet marketing. The opportunities of the Ashmolean Museum include the increase of foreign tourists, balance of elitism and populism, and freedom in exhibition themes and forms. Along with opportunity there usually tends to be some threats, and some of the threats are financing and exhibition planning, public education resources, competitors’ breakthrough activities.
The objective is to increase the fame and income of the museum. The communication campaign designed for the museum is called “Late Night at the Ashmolean”. The museum’s opening hour will be extended to 2am at midnight and the top-floor restaurant lounge’s opening hours to 1am for three consecutive months. The Ashmolean Museum has great potential to increase its reputation and revenue once it makes corresponding improvement according to the SWOT analysis. Also, with the help of the communication campaign, it has the ability to be known and visited by an extensive amount of people.
The magnificent Ashmolean Museum, built in 1683, is Britain's oldest public museum and the most important one among the four university museums of Oxford (Ashmolean Museum, 2012). Its architecture is neo-classical style and it has a large number of treasures and collections, including ancient sculptures, Far Eastern art, Greek and Roman pottery, as well as a large number of valuable jewels. There seems to be some financial distress when it comes to the Ashmolean Museum. In this marketing plan, I am going to conduct a situational audit of the museum and propose a communication campaign to increase its popularity and income. There will be a strong discussion about the strengths and the weaknesses present at the Ashmolean Museum and discuss how these strengths and weaknesses present themselves to helping with the overall popularity and income of the museum. From there I will further discuss my goals for the museum and the marketing plan I will put in place to achieve those goals.
Internally speaking the Ashmolean Museum is of great advantage. The three main strengths of it are as follows. First, the website of the museum is remarkably excellent. All the necessary information can be found on the museum website, including location and access, additional exhibitions, catering and venue information, research and conversations, contact information and links to multiple social networking sites and three tailored apps can be downloaded from the web. The overall museum web layout is very good, so is the text size. Visitors can tell that the website is taken good care of by professionals. The high quality of the overall design of the website results in a good pre-visit impression. Besides, the location and transportation of the museum is satisfying and convenient. The museum is right by University of Oxford in central Oxford located right in front of the only five star hotel in Oxford--Mcdonald Randolph Hotel. It has close access to theaters, shops and restaurants. The nearest bus station is approximately 5 minutes’ walk from the Museum. The train station is approximately 10 minutes’ walk from the Museum and has regular local and national services. Last but not the least, the catering services are authentic and recommendable. The Ashmolean Cafe closes an hour before the museum closes. Different cakes and pastries are freshly baked every day. Warming soups and a range of sandwiches are also available. Traditional cream tea is served all day. The Ashmolean Dining Room has great atmosphere and fantastic city view if sat on the balcony. It offers a range of fine wine and gourmet cuisines.
As for the weaknesses of the Ashmolean Museum, three problems are worth noting. The main environment of the museum is not comfortable and pleasant enough. For example, the toilet facilities, though there are a certain amount of public toilets, including wheelchair accessible on floor-1, floor 3, and floor 4(the restaurant), they are not sanitary and with bad smell. Also, the floors and glasses are not very clean.
Second, the quality of the additional exhibitions is unstable. For instance, the Egypt Thematic Exhibition recently held was said to be of low originality by many visitors on TRIPADVISOR. There were too little real Egyptian treasures on display, and most of the exhibits are reproductions or used as stunts. The instability of quality can be a big problem since the Ashmolean Museum, as a free admission museum, relies heavily on special exhibitions to collect exhibition fees. Therefore, the trust and
public praise from the visitors are of great importance and will directly affect the museum’s operations and profitability.
Third, their internet marketing is relatively weak compared with other museums. Using website evaluation tools, when entering key words like “Oxford museums” “oldest museums ”“history museum oxford”, the rankings of the Ashmolean Museum are undesirable. If inputting “sites to see in oxford” “oxford attractions”, there are no search results at all. In addition, the domain authority of its official website is 20% less than its competitor Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Externally, the market opportunities for Ashmolean Museum are considerable. First, in recent years, the British tourism has been prosperous and become a pillar industry of the UK economy. The foreign demand has been growing steadily especially since the holding of the 2012 London Olympics. Particularly, the number of Chinese tourists has broken all previous record. The UK government, who has always been planning and managing the tourism in an ordered and reasonable way, is aware of this and began to take measures. Since 2013, the British government has continued to make great efforts to increase the number of foreign tourists by large-scale activities like “GREATBRITAIN” and invest six million pounds in year 2013-2014 year to enhance the image of Britain as a major destination for business, investment, tourism and study abroad. Given this, it is advisable for the Ashmolean Museum to make some improvements to attract and facilitate foreign tourists.
The second opportunity for Ashmolean Museum is the balance between its nature of elitism and populism. The contradiction of this for university museum is reflected on the selection, design and interpretation of the exhibition. On the one hand, it has always been the basic goal of university museum to integrate with the teaching and research of university more closely and deeply. On the other hand, whether the museum can help the public have access to higher education is a question raised by HEFCE. The university students have formed a reaserch-based learning method, while high school students are often not drawn by museums’ top-down forms of education. High school students have an independent way of thinking and learning mode, and tend to choose their information receiving channels freely. Thus, how to make the museum more close to civilian while keeping its proper pursuits for professionalism and technicality can be a big challenge and also a huge opportunity.
Third, the university museums have a potential which general public museums do not have the advantage of pursuing. Due to the face that university museum’s primary audience is groups of high cultural level like students and academics, they need not worry too much about the general public’s ability of acceptance. Consequently, they can have more freedom in the selection of museum exhibition themes and forms and even try some controversial theme or exhibition mode to cause public discussion. While the vast majority of the general public museums are supposed to serve the public, the university museum like Ashmolean, could become a testing ground for pioneering exhibitions and forums, to stimulate creativity and debate. This might become the breakthrough for university museums to establish their right to speak and their own culture.
As for the threats to the museum’s development as a permanent non-profit organization, it is not hard to imagine Ashmolean will have some difficulties or drawbacks on financing and exhibition planning. The museum has to comply with the requirements of different sponsors. Because of this commitment and necessity to the sponsors, the museum must gear what they plan on doing towards what makes these sponsors happy and provides plenty of exposure for the sponsors. They are the ones who provide the museum with money and opportunity to grow, so their opinions and needs must be addressed.
The conflict of museum’s resources on public education needs to be addressed immediately. Some tried to solve this problem by cutting off part of the public education program and focusing on high-quality events for outstanding high school students. However, their action was criticized by some who said that it further undermined the openness of the university museum and strengthened its elitism. There needs to be another focus on the museum’s effect and how much it relies on the public education aspect.
Third, some of the competitors of Ashmolean Museum have made creative attempts to outperform the Ashmolean and were surprisingly successfully. For instance, the Oriental Heritage Museum of Durham University implemented the design called "pairing exhibition". The Oriental Culture Museum was featured for the Chinese and Egyptian archaeology and art, and each of these areas were set with two exhibition halls, which was the meaning of "pairing". One exhibition room focused on the family audience and elementary school students and the exhibition planning was taking charge of by the museum's education department. The other exhibition room focuses on high-level audiences like university students and the exhibition planning work was guided by curators and staff with expertise in leading academic background. Another successful case was the "real science" workshops of Manchester Museum. The project selected the first year PhD students from the University of Natural Sciences as hosts, let them take advantage of the museum's experimental equipment to design the workshop and invited high school students to participate. Through the interaction between doctoral and high school students as well as the hands-on use of science experiment equipment, they inspired the high school students’ interest in studying natural sciences.
Another threat the Ashmolean faces is the recession that is currently challenging the entire museum world. According to The annual Cuts Survey, over a third of museums have seen a decrease in school visits and a quarter of museums state they have reduced the number of free events and temporary exhibitions. Some museums have been forced to close their doors to the public completely. 52% of museums saw a decline in income over the last year, with local authority run museums and national institutions impacted the worst.( Leisure Opportunities 2014). With this obvious culture wide effect, The Ashmolean would benefit greatly from entering the forefront of the movement making sure to stay ahead of trends, and also stay ahead of competing museums.
The objective of the marketing plan is to raise awareness and generate media coverage of the Ashmolean Museum, along with soliciting donations, increasing visitors and creating a profit. The specific target is to increase 4000 visitors during the three-month event. The objective will be measurable as the Ashmolean Museum will be able to count all the visitors that it has during the three month event. The staff should have goals to hit in order to earn things that would boost morale. By having a happier staff the amount of visitors would be sure to go up. In order to do this, there should be a chart hung up in the staff room showing the amount of visitors they have had up to that date, from there the staff can feel motivated and strive to provide excellent customer service.
Then campaign is called “Late Night at the Ashmolean”. Usually, the Ashmolean Museum, all hours are based upon the museum website, will close at 5.30pm. The Ashmolean Dining Room, located on the top floor of the museum, open from 10am-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays (entrance via St. Giles after the museum closes), 10am-4.30pm on other days of the week. Now my proposal is to extend the museum’s opening hour till 2am at midnight and the top-floor restaurant lounge’s opening hours to 1am. For three consecutive months, the event “Late Night at the Ashmolean” will be held at the Ashmolean Museum every Friday. The event will not only be a draw because of the fact that the museum will be open but there will also be themes for the event that will keep the customer’s intrigued. Some of these themes, but not limited to, are prom night, mystery theatre, scavenger hunt and speed dating.
The main attendees of the event should be young workers aged 22-30. Late night at a classical museum is a very novel idea because few people have the experience of visiting museum at midnight. Young people are the most potential to be curious and interested by the event. Given that the office workers always have to work from Monday to Friday until late in the evening, Friday night is their best choice to hang out with friends to relax after a whole week’s fatigue. However, I believe people from other age groups can also become the participants of the event. An old married couple taking a tour at an old museum with historical and cultural heritage would be very romantic. Even this can become a family activity, since children have the strongest curiosity to the unknown and the fantastic and mysterious association of a midnight museum may stimulate their interest to walk into it.
Ideally, at the end of the event, the Ashmolean Museum should have obtained a certain amount of revenue for its operation as well as increasing its exposure and popularity.
Reason for the event
This proposal of event is based on the internal strengths and weaknesses of the museum. The Ashmolean Museum, as the world’s first university museum and one of the best museums of art and archaeology, has fantastic appearance and excellent exhibits. Its website is well designed and substantial, but its market awareness is not high enough. There is also a very upscale rooftop restaurant lounge with good atmosphere and nice landscape. Ashmolean should take advantage of these to promote itself.
Benefits for participants, organizers and sponsors
For participants, they can have a chance to enjoy the material and spiritual food from the museum and its restaurant. Organizational benefits include raising awareness, soliciting donations, increasing visitors, creating a profit and generating media coverage. Sponsor benefits might be on-site signage and logos on marketing materials.
Logistics and staffing
The museum may need more staff, part-time workers or volunteers to do a shift work so that there can be enough service staff to do the cleaning, guarding and guiding work during the campaign.
Food and beverage
In order to attract more visitors, the dining hall can invent some new dishes or offer discount and voucher for customers. The food and beverage will not only be new but will also cater to the theme that is present for that Friday night. For example, there will be snacks and punch for prom night, or a sit down pizza dinner and soda for the mystery theatre. The possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating the entire evening into a theme.
The promotion of the event can be done from both inside and outside the museum. As for the publicity and promotion work in the museum, the supportive work of the campaign should be guaranteed. Also, the quality of the exhibition at midnight must be kept at a high level. Moreover, the museum can design specific themes for each week or each month.
In regard to the promotion outside the museum, it can be done through some modern media tools and modes. TV, newspapers, magazines, Internet, radio and broadcast etc. are some effective forms of multimedia promotion, and Ashmolean should take chance to improve the search ranking of its official website. Besides, properly holding public exhibitions and provide the historical materials of cultural relics for a fee are good promotion ways and means. In addition, the museums can do the promotional work more initiatively. For instance, go to some enterprises and institutions, public community or school, etc. to carry out the museum promotional work so that the museum will be able to attract more viewers. The modern media ways and means to maximize the publicity work of the museum can affect the attitudes and ideas of human and society. However, considering the Ashmolean’s modest budget for marketing activities, the best tool that can be used in the promotion of this event will be bus shelter advertisement and leaflets.
Target market: 22-30 young workers in Oxford
Target visitor increase: 4000
Time plan: the 23rd January 2015 to the 24th April 2015
Campaign Budget: £4000
Advertising(3 bus station ads lasting one month):£3000
The Ashmolean Leaflet: 2500 leaflets at £500
Posters in universities and local art cafes/pubs: £100
Based on the field trip to the Ashmolean Museum, visiting its official website and using the SWOT analysis, I come up with a whole situational audit of the museum. The Ashmolean Musuem, like many others, has its weaknesses. A few were discussed in this paper, but the main one which would help with its marketing is strengthening its internet presence. Accordingly, Ashmolean Museum can increase competitiveness by exploiting the advantages to the full such as vigorously promoted its website and overcoming shortcomings like hygienic conditions. Also, it should seize the opportunity to increase its popularity and income by improve the quality of service for foreign tourists etc. and respond to threats by conducting some experimental breakthrough. Furthermore, the communications campaign “Late Night at the Ashmolean” is expected to promote the museum strongly in a relatively short time, in order that people who have not been to the museum before can have the interest to step into it and thus popularize and promote the precious cultural heritage. By incorporating the Late Night feel of the museum, there will also be a stress on customer service of those employed at the museum. This stress on customer service will further expand the word of mouth of those who are already visiting the museum.
List of references
Ashmolean Musuem, 2012. The Ashmolean Museum. [online] Available at: http://www.ashmolean.org/ [Accessed 12 March 2015].
Neil G. Kotler, Philip Kotler, Wendy I. Kotler (2008). Museum Marketing and Strategy: Designing Missions, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons.
Richard Sandell, Robert R. Janes (2007). Museum Management and Marketing.
1. Vistor audit of The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, United Kingdom
Rating: 1=Very poor 2=Poor 3=Neutral 4=Good 5=Very good
3. Website Evaluation Result
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