Marketing takes time and resources, and not all approaches work for all venues. Spending time to make this more accessible, has been shown to increase visitor numbers significantly. A well planned and imaginative approach will ensure that visitors and staff alike, will reap the benefits. Before even thinking about strategies it is useful to reflect on why people visit a venue. Motivations can range from a spontaneous visit during a day out to a more specific interest in the building or event. It is also important to understand why people chose not to visit. Anything from a general lack of interest to a feeling that the venue has nothing to offer someone with sight loss, will impact on the decision. For many, going around a museum is a very passive experience if there is nothing on display which can be handled.
Information does not reach blind and partially sighted people easily. It takes time, hard work and a very proactive approach to develop strong relationships. Blind and partially sighted people are more likely to consider making a visit if they are made aware that a venue has facilities such as audio guides, talks or hands on sessions.
- The best way to ensure what you produce is accessible is to ask people with a range of different sight levels to test it and give you feedback.
- Capture the lead up to a new exhibition by writing short blogs, taking photos and describing these. The idea is to document the essence of how an exhibition is put together.
- Interview blind and partially sighted audiences about their thoughts of a tour, workshop or collections and use this dialogue to target new audiences. Target radio and talking newspapers to reach new visitors.
- Advertise live streaming for people who can’t attend an event or session, so they can at least be part of it, ensure you describe any visual objects, images. Alternatively, consider creating podcasts of objects and or images/visuals.
- Create a clear access statement with useful information about the building, the support available, transport connections and accessible buses, taxis, pre-recorded video tours, images, descriptions of the space/environment online.
- Try an outreach approach – go and find blind and partially sighted people and offer them a taster tour, workshop, or run a handling session to encourage them to visit.
- Try targeted marketing by using local authority data profiles of blind and partially sighted people living in your area.
- Target talking newspapers and ask if they will send information out about your event to their mailing lists.
- Web designers – include access in their brief if they are commissioned to create a site for you. Do ensure they understand accessibility guidelines and use blind and partially sighted testers to check their designs.
- Tag onto other people’s accessible events to increase audiences and networks.
- Use social media by targeting blind ambassadors to share what you are doing. Don’t forget to use description with all the visuals you provide.
- Encourage blind and partially sighted people to work with you as ambassadors to connect to other blind and partially people through word of mouth.
- Start finding out how to convert print into braille or where to get an audio file made quickly for marketing purposes.
- Encourage staff and volunteers to attend training or conduct further research to improve their knowledge of marketing to blind and partially sighted audiences.
For your venue, try and answer or find out the following:
- What is your unique selling point that attracts visitors?
- What facilities do you have in place that would benefit visitors with sight loss?
- Are there other venues nearby or in your network that offer accessible events?
Credit: Zoe Partington and RNIBAll resources