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By Laura Bruney, Arts & Business Council of Miami

The 2012 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach which ended on December 9th featured the perfect marriage of arts and business. Hundreds of high end companies hosted private parties; pop up exhibitions and roving ads on cars, carts and even people.  Millions of dollars in art sales, restaurant meals, hotel rooms and luxury car rentals exchanged hands.

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This year’s massive six day extravaganza featured thousands of the world’s top galleries showcasing art work worth more than $2.5 billion. The growing economy and booming arts market translated into sales for the week that exceeded $500 million.  The Basel spin offs included 22 satellite fairs that converted Miami into a rambling art lovers paradise. From South Beach to Wynwood, from North Miami to Coral Gables, from Pinecrest to South Dade there were museums, galleries and unique spaces featuring thousands of works of art, special events and cultural happenings.

Corporate marketing executives took notice. The way brands connect with consumers takes many forms. Partnering with an event like Art Basel and the related activities provides the opportunity for direct contact with new customers.  Hundreds of companies were looking to capture the attention of the 500,000+ arts aficionados that descended on Miami and Miami Beach for the week. Brand managers rented museums, galleries, warehouses, gardens and clubs to showcase their products in an artsy atmosphere. From Stella McCartney to Perrier Joet, from Arizona Beverage Company to Cartier, from Chopard to Bugatti they were all trying to catch the eyes of consumers and collectors. Banks, financial planners, luxury cars, jewelers, private plane vendors, spirits, champagne and gourmet food were featured in a dizzying array of parties, soirees, exhibitions and more.

What can arts organizations learn about arts and business partnerships from this very successful arts event that has grown into an extraordinary world renowned extravaganza?

  1. Basel brings a culturally significant audience with a lot of influencers. Corporate brand managers and sponsors love influencers and trend setters.
  2. Influencers are early adopters – many companies looking to launch new products or services sponsor Basel related events. Local groups can do the same thing on a smaller scale. Match your demographic with a new company or product launch in your area.
  3. Identify your influencers – they might be patrons, they might be subscribers they might attend your events. They are usually activist oriented individuals with large social networks that are trusted by others.
  4. Turn your influencers into your advocates. Reward their loyalty.
  5. Learn about the demographics of your influencers and then decide what companies or brands would benefit from a partnership with their circle of influence.
  6. Identify the circle of influence of your board and others associated with your group.
  7. Create partnerships that provide win-win access for both the participant and the sponsor. Who are your potential sponsors trying to reach and why. Dig into corporate websites and marketing outreach to determine if their target audience matches yours.
  8. Think about brands and companies that want to build a relationship with your existing audience and patrons. Send customized sponsorship proposals that detail the demographics of your audience and how it matches the potential sponsor.

Following the Art Basel model  does not necessarily have to be an expensive undertaking. Experiential marketing is a growing trend. Arts organizations can provide a venue for product sampling, to showcase new products and to creatively present companies.  From the smallest dance company to the largest orchestra we can all take something from the success of Art Basel Miami Beach and translate it into something local and meaningful.

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