5 Brave Marketing Tactics To Steal From Museums

Museums are perceived as old-fashioned, but some are actually exhibiting cutting-edge marketing work.

In this post you can find five different creative marketing moves, along with advice on how to copy them.

1 | Full frontal attack on Twitter

Two of London‘s leading museums became embroiled in a hilarious war on over who has the best exhibits.
Twitter user Bedranz roused the Natural History Museum against The Science Museum:
“Prove your museum has the stuff (exhibits) to win in a real war.”
The Science Museum claimed they would win, replying:
‘We have dinosaurs. No contest.’
But the Science Museum had an impressive reply:

‘@NHM_London is full of old fossils, but we have robots, a Spitfire and ancient poisons
. Boom!’
‘What about this merman and we do have a Polaris nuclear missile,’
the Science Museum said.
science museum twitter war s
And so it went on the entire day.
That day, the two museums achieved a record number of Likes, Shares, and many news article mentions.
twitter war museums s

Steal this tactic:

If you own a B2C, and your product advantages are obvious, it’s an easy job.
But for SaaS providers it’s gonna be much trickier.
Still, it can and has been done.
study case on Marketingsherpa details how Ryver messaging service took on the strong Slack brand.
Ryver attacked Slack on Twitter to incite fans into drawing attention to Ryver.
They ran an ad saying “Slack is so last year”.
Ryver claim this tactic helped them achieve a 4.81% conversion rate with peaks up to 10%.

2 | Offer a brave view of your company

Do you have the courage to show awkward moments, even if your business deals with very serious issues?
Look at this poster advertising an exhibition about Karl Marx.
Ad by Young & Rubicam Prague
Karl Marx stands for some very abstract ideas. He has become an -ism.
His ideas mobilized global politics, some resulted in war casualties.
But here is a picture of Marx cutting his toenails.
This is a very boring, intimate, even embarrassing activity.
Why did they use this image?
So everyone would see that they can somehow relate to the great Karl Marx.
That in some way, even a very trivial funny way, his life story is relevant to all of us potential visitor.

Steal this tactic:

It takes guts to show such a scene.
We want our customers to see us working, maybe having coffee. Not performing personal hygiene.
Still, is there anything more personal that you do, that you can share with the world?
A moment that shows an authentic, vulnerable moment?
Consider putting it on your About / landing page, or as your Facebook cover (header) image.
You can A/B test this option with the more generic image you use.

3 | Sharing economy experience hacking

Some shrewed marketers are hacking the trendy Airbnb platform to promore their brand:
In April 2016 a huge campaign offered everyone to book a night at Van Gogh’s Bedroom In Arles.
Behind this listing was a room in a flat in the city of Chicago IL: The room was created by the Art Institute of Chicago.
They built a 3D replica of Van Gogh’s Bedroom and posted it on the holiday rentals site, for $10 a night.
Then they ran an orchestrated media campaign for the listing’s promotion.
The stunt worked – all the major TV networks and leading international newspapers published the story.

Steal this tactic:

What you can do is plan a unique experience, and promote it on one of the community-led platforms.
For example, if you are a semiconductors manufacturer, you can build a simulation of “clean room”, fit to host a family of science fans.
Post it on airbnb for $10 a night, and promote the experience listing via multiple channels.
This room doesn’t have to be situated at your office / plant.
You can set it up near a big conference where you have a booth, for example.
If you have a lifestyle/consumer product, look at what Lego is doing this November:
Lego is offering a night at LEGO House in the town of Billund, Denmark.
A family of four can stay and enjoy a unique playground experience, and “fall asleep surrounded by 25 million bricks”.
The Museum of Modern Art New York has offered Quiet Mornings:
Silent exhibition tours on Wednesdays in July between 7:30–9:00 am, led by a celebrity wellness expert.
They also provide a drop-in meditation space, with guided meditation sessions.
Image: Elyssa Goodman | HyperAllergic
In the UK, you can promote your branded experience on Funzing.
In Houston, Texas, there’s Do Stuff.
Do you have a large room or a roof top nice enough to host a meditation/mindfulness session?
The session can include a speakers panel – with the mindfulness teacher and your CEO or COO.

4 | Turn your logo into an empty frame

The logo of the Serpentine Gallery in London was the first to set the trend of media container logo.
Concept and creation by Pentagram
Other museums followed with their own versions.
For the Portland Art Museum, Studio Ziba increased the letter P and made it transparent, so it serves as a window into to any image / exhibit.

Steal this tactic:

We all have lots of pictures: of our employees, projects, reports, offices.
If you want to do some DIY graphic design experimenting, and aren’t familiar with Photoshop, take these simple steps:

A. Open Power Point, choose a blank slide. Add a Text Box, and in it write in it the name of your company / brand. You can try on this idea with your copmany’s logo by using just the first letter. Set font size: 150 at least.

B. Choose the text and on the Format menu define Text Outline line 1 pt, light color like yellow or red. The Fill set as “no fill”. Now you have a showcase.

C. In Fill text select Picture option and choose a files from your computer. You might need to try a few different pictures before the “logo” looks good.


5 | Offer free literature

When you exit an exhibition you can usually find leaflets with in-depth information.
In large museums there are sitting areas with copies of exhibition catalogues.
catalogues in sitting area
Image: Caley Vanular

Steal this tactic:

You know how CEOs are always interviewed in front of their bookshelves?
Share this library with clients!
Make your office space a place to pick up knowledge.
Buy a few copies of books your CEO recommends, and install a sign saying visitors can borrow them.
Put ten relevant business books on your coffee table.
If you can get a nice budget allocation for this, install a bookshelf in your waiting area.
You can put a sticker with your logo on the back of the book, or on the inside cover.
Some might take a book and fail to bring it back.
But what will you lose by that?
You gave them a gift of knowledge.
Borrowing a book from your company will create a connection with your brand.

For more museum marketing moves you can follow leading Twitter accounts, like

Have something to say about this post? Questions? Corrections? I’m listening

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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