Female Leader Conversations Feature Deanna Varga, Founder & Director Mayvin Global said, “Make opportunities where others find corners. I strive to unpack and reframe issues to deliver commercial and revenue generation solutions for organisations.”
Deanna Varga is a business leader and commercialisation specialist, highly regarded for her strategic thinking. Deanna’s business Mayvin Global focuses on tourism, business events, arts and culture sectors – the ‘experience sectors’ – which are integral to the social and economic fabric of our community.
Deanna believes we’re global consumers and, as such, we need to look externally to ourselves, our industry and sometimes our country for solutions and new ideas. Deanna has served in many leadership positions including with Transport Heritage NSW Ltd, Biz Events Asia – Editorial Advisory Board, and is an Arts Tasmania and Screen Tasmania Panel Expert.
A COMMERCIAL MINDSET
Why do purpose led organisations need commercial orientation?
Commercialisation involves the strategies, plans, knowledge and skills needed to take a concept, asset, product, or service into market to generate financial and human value. I work across commercial and non-commercial organisations taking lessons from one to the other. Each sector has specific challenges, but the core principles still apply in any sector where there’s a need to build a sustainable business model.
In the arts and culture sector there are big debates around ‘who pays?’ for its services. Traditionally the government is a primary funding source, and when up against health and education for funding it often loses out, which means it must be self-sustaining to survive. Cultural and not-for-profit organisations are compelled to think strategically about their revenue sources without denigrating their customer’s experience.
CULTURAL SECTOR LEARNINGS
What should businesses seeking more of a commercial edge be thinking about?
Like all organisations, ones that have a focus on commercial activities give themselves the best chance for a sustainable future, to fulfil their mission and core purpose.
The cultural sector has a low tolerance for the overtly commercial. ‘Commercialisation’ needs to be elegantly integrated without appearing to devalue the brand, assets or experiences of stakeholders, and work to enhance what an institution can achieve. In this highly competitive and socially aware age, this should be the goal of all organisations, yet it’s difficult to do.
However, some cultural organisations do it really well. They have successfully honed their strategic skills to think how their assets can best work for them. These organisations are wonderful examples that all (for-profit and not-for-profit) can learn from.
How can organisations attract more paying customers by developing an ‘experience’?
Regardless of the industry sector your organisation operates in, the fundamental question will always remain – how can more people be enticed ‘through the doors’ that wouldn’t otherwise come?
There are numerous ways to add revenue sources. A good way to start is to step in the shoes of your ideal customer; walk around the organisation and experience it as they do. Review the programs you offer: are they valuable? How can they be leveraged? If there are gaps, what could you introduce that adds to the experience you’re creating?
The Queensland Art Gallery’s exhibition space is the perfect example of how they have used their striking physical assets and created a unique venue for hire. Many organisations have used this space for launches, award nights, conference dinners and more, and the legacy lives on long beyond the product consumption.
SUSTAINABILITY IS SYSTEMATIC
What organisational systems underpin a successful commercialisation strategy?
Commercially successful organisations carefully manage change that pivots on a defined strategy. If your organisation develops new product offerings and hires people to manage them, you must have the right systems and processes in place in order to reach a whole new level in the fulfilment of your mission. For example, having clear decision-making guidelines that can be acted upon quickly is vital to operational efficiency, as day-to-day commercial activities can’t wait for the bi-monthly board meeting.
Relevant, accurate and usable data is integral to all business today. Visitor information, member and donor behaviour, and marketing databases all need to be easily extractable for measuring and monitoring growth and determining what strategies work.
While this may not be new information to many, “it doesn’t happen in our organisation” is also a common statement; digging deeper can reveal significant gaps.