At Museum Hack our mission is to reimagine the adult museum experience and get people excited about going to museums again. But make no mistake, we are a business and we measure our growth very carefully.
When we first started doing tours, we relied on word of mouth to attract new guests and even some press. Since then, we’ve become more sophisticated in our approach and use a wide range of tools and resources that fuel our growth. This post contains six of those tools and resources we consider the most efficient.
The secret sauce at Museum Hack is our incredible team of talented, hard working people. At the museum, we hire people with performance or academic backgrounds to tell the fascinating stories of the galleries. Our guides are supported by a team of virtual assistants that work remotely to do our admin, marketing, customer support and other key business services.
We’ve had great experience hiring people on Upwork. We love Upwork because our virtual assistants come with verified work experience and we can easily track hours and pay them. One example of a great Upwork hire was the designer that built our website -- we weren’t ready to hire a full time designer yet, and Upwork provided the flexibility to get great talent at a reasonable price.
Free Content Online
Everyone is aware of the massive and ever-growing library of free content online. There are some great “how to” guides out there! These articles can provide insight you need to get started. Generally we turn to a Google search or our networks when we want to tackle a new experiment, e.g., when we wanted to experiment with running LinkedIn ads for our company team building tours. We found a comprehensive guide online we could follow step by step. We estimate this saved us $500 to $1000 in “rookie mistakes” we would have made if we started experimenting from scratch. Another example is writing guest posts on other sites. Guest posts seemed like a great way to share our expertise in the museum space and to help build links to our website. We applied strategies from a number of sources, including Ramit Sethi’s post about how to guest post.
At first we weren’t sure if Facebook Ads would be a great fit for us, i.e., people had told us that they aren’t as direct as Google Adwords and wouldn’t convert as well. While Facebook Ads aren’t the biggest source of leads for our business, they do provide a consistent flow of interested people. Pro tip: update your images often. We are fortunate to have a ton of great photos from our tours and other events, but we’ve spent a lot of money building up that archive by hiring professional photographers.
One of the biggest challenges of growing a company is the added administrative work with every new hire. Museum Hack now employs 40+ people across the US and worldwide. To administer salary payments and other benefits we use a platform called Justworks which frankly just gets the job done fast and right. The software also makes payroll-related tasks like taxes, etc. a breeze. We first heard about Justworks in an interview on Mixergy, which is another great resource for learning best business practices and growth strategies.
Hiring great people is really tough. Every time we publish a job posting we receive hundreds of applicants -- in some cases, thousands. When we first started we would post available jobs on sites like Craigslist and applications would come in all sorts of formats: .docx, .pdf, google docs, etc.
Now we create every job posting in Jazz, which creates a standard application for all potential hires. This allows us to quickly filter and review the candidates, as well as collaborate on moving the best candidates forward. The best part is we never have to worry about the technology or organization -- it’s just done. The common theme with many of these resources is that they support the growth of our team.
Email List / SumoMe
One of the best things we did for our business was starting to build our email list as early as possible. From early on, we’ve had different ways for visitors on our website to sign up for our newsletter, which includes useful information about museums, fun photos, etc.
Our email signups and website traffic went WAY up when we started using SumoMe, which makes it really easy to create popups, welcome mats and other email signup formats on your site. We estimate that using SumoMe has helped increase our email list growth by 2x and increased traffic to our website by allowing us to stay connected with these people. Highly recommend this tool.
That’s it -- six of our best resources for growing our business. But a big heads up: often it’s the case that one tool can work in isolation, but is maximized by how you use it in conjunction with other tools and resources at your disposal. With that final thought, what’s your best resource for growing your business?