September 30, 2016

“Museums on Us” by Bank of America Provides Artful Inspiration


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A little known program by Bank of America, now in its 19th year, may provide opportunities for small businesses in 101 cities across the country. The “Museums on Us” program offers credit and debit card holders across the U.S. free access to 150 participating arts and culture institutions in 101 cities the first full weekend of every month.

It’s a unique promotion that has the potential to interest a fair amount of customers. And it also gives other businesses in those areas the opportunity to attract some of those same customers to their locations as well.

Here are some ways small businesses can make use of this type of program to draw in new customers.

“Museums on Us” Offers Discounts to Museumgoers

If you run a local store or restaurant near one of the participating museums, you could attract some of those museumgoers on the first weekend of each month by offering them discounts. Ask them to bring in the ticket stubs from their museum visit and offer them a percentage off their full bill or purchase. This encourages them to stop by your business after their outing and gives them a sort of exclusive offer. You can put signs up by your location to advertise the promotion, especially if potential customers might have to pass by in order to get to their museum of choice. Or you could advertise in local publications or buy some outdoor ad space near one of the participating museums.

Provide a Cultural Tie-in

People often go to museums for the culture, whether it’s an art museum, history museum, science museum or other type of attraction. So if your business can offer something similar, you could use that cultural feature to attract some of those same customers. For example, if you own a gift store, you could set up an exhibition of art from local artists on the first Saturday of the month and advertise it in local publications, as a way of bringing more people through the door. The people who enjoyed their time at a local museum could decide to make a whole day of it and stop by your location for an extra dose of culture for the weekend. And if one of your local museums is having a special exhibit that seems extremely popular, you could even theme your own event to piggyback on that.

Provide Trip Ideas

Travel websites or publications that highlight local attractions can use the “Museums on Us” program as a way to highlight other activities in the area as well. For example, you can put together a full weekend itinerary for potential travelers or even those who live in the area and are looking to have a “staycation.” Add the local museum that customers can access via the promotion, and then add in local restaurants, bars, parks, events, theaters and other activities that they can take part in before and after the museum. You can even create different themed itineraries — ones for families, couples, locals, etc. And if there’s more than one museum in your area that’s part of the program, you can come up with different themed itineraries for each one.

Partner with Local Schools

Many museums are especially popular with school groups, since there’s often an educational tie-in. And while there probably aren’t a whole lot of field trips going on over the first weekend of each month, there are plenty of parents who could take the opportunity to provide some cultural and educational activities for their kids. For that reason, partnering with local schools could be a great way to bring museumgoers into your business. You can work with teachers and administrators to get the word out that students who go to local museums with their families can then come to your location and receive some sort of discount or free gift afterward.

Host an Educational Contest

You can also get the educational community involved by hosting a contest that relates to one or more of the local museums involved in the “Museums on Us” program. Ask a question about one of the exhibits and allow people to submit answers throughout the weekend for the chance to win a prize (maybe a month long pass to that museum or another local attraction). You can also offer smaller discounts to everyone who enters just to get even more people involved in the promotion.

Art Museum Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found on her personal blog Wattlebird, and exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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One Reaction

  1. Aira Bongco

    I think museums can provide an artistic side to a business especially if you operate on the creative side like having a graphic artist company. But I think even technical people need a little creativity as well.

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