By Betsy Natter
How does an organization that is nearly a century-and-a-half-years old maintain its following and keep itself relevant for its audience? For the Quakertown Band the answer is varied and continuous marketing.
Celebrating its 140th anniversary this year, the Quakertown Band is a community symphonic band that plays a variety of historic and contemporary music at concert venues throughout the Bucks and Montgomery County area. Over the years it has undergone many changes in uniforms, conductors, personnel, the styles of music it plays as well as how it attracts and maintains a following of concert attendees. With such a wide variety of music genres easily accessible to anyone at any time, maintaining interest in brass band music and concert attendance was proving an increasing challenge. Not only was the average age of the audience increasing, but so was the age of the players themselves.
But an increased push in marketing strategy and focus on the band’s moniker of being one of America’s oldest and most entertaining community bands has revitalized the organization. Attendance at concerts has increased and the ranks have swelled as younger musicians are once again joining the group. Within the last five years particularly, the non-profit organization has expanded its outreach and marketing efforts, beginning with the addition of two positions to its Board, directors responsible for marketing and media development.
Eric Szabo, Director of Marketing, is continually utilizing a variety of tools to keep the Quakertown Band name and branding out in the community. Participation in several annual community events is advertised using large street banners and color posters hung throughout the area in local businesses and libraries. In fact, contact with key local businesses and community leaders has been crucial in keeping the organization in the public eye. Direct mail is used several times a year when postcards announcing key concert events are mailed to a list of approximately 500 individuals and businesses. Tri-fold schedules of summer concert series are also distributed at each outdoor event where face to face interaction with the public is easier and more informal.
Another important component of the band’s marketing success has been a revitalization of the website including frequent updates. The site has been expanded to provide more content and interactive components were added. The band’s schedule is continually updated with Google map links to concert locations, links to the group’s social media pages and articles delivering updates and news. Currently, the website features two videos, one featuring the band playing a piece at their anniversary concert this past spring and a clip of a special news feature done by PBS39. Both videos give site visitors an opportunity to experience the band beyond what static content delivers.
The organization also recently appointed one of its members to coordinate all of its social media activities. Trumpet player Susan Halteman keeps the conversation going on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “It’s been great to have someone keeping this content fresh for us,” said Szabo. “It doesn’t do much good for your organization to have one of these accounts if you don’t keep it updated.”
Another key piece that has moved the band forward was the success of a 2015 Kickstarter campaign that raised over $15,000. Frequent fundraising progress updates and gift premiums increased local interest in the band, both among individual and corporate donors. Funds were used for the professional recording and production of a CD entitled, Only Quakertown, featuring only pieces written or arranged for the band. The CD, in addition to previous recordings, is being used to promote and create interest in the varied music and unique sound of this local cultural gem.
If you are interested in learning more about the band, visit their website or better yet attend one of their upcoming concerts. A 140th anniversary celebration is scheduled for Aug. 26 at Park at 4th in Quakertown.