An Audience Development plan for a such complex reality like an archive have to deal with some theoretical assumption about cultural heritage and cultural marketing. The big part of topic is related to the cultural product and its features. More than others cultural institutions archives have showed problem in order to tailoring a cultural product for different kind of publics. In order to face this issue is important to carry out a reflection about some general assumptions.
1. That culture should be made accessible to all people.
2. Only removing the physical, geographical, economic and psychological barriers,
culture will become accessible and currently under-represented segments of the population
will have a place among the audience.
3. That culture is a tool against Social Exclusion.
These three statements underlie many of the communication strategies. But despite their great value they can suggest a missionary dimension of the concept of culture and cultural product.
While museums or art galleries can afford to focus their communication (in part) on the characteristics of their cultural product, for museums this is much less true.
The idea of a cultural product that is recognizable and perceivable in its value and values by all audiences is partially true (the differentiation of values between cultures is an element not to be underestimated) only for those cultural institutions whose "products" are characterized by universally appreciable values, such as aesthetic value or rarity.
Although some "products" of the archives (parchment and decorated volumes) have characteristics that allow a flat communication of their value to large audiences, the real cultural heritage of the archives is different. It does not have neutral or universally vectors or vectors independent from forms of mediation.
Usually the archives' strategy in order to reach their public is reversed. Cultural organizations, and furthermore the archives, could begin by choosing an audience segment to target and then designing a cultural product and a communication style to satisfy the desired benefits to that audience. But cultural institutions have usually not follow this pattern, as they have felt that they should not change their cultural product to meet the desires of the audience. This problem about the immutability of the cultural product is spread among the archives. The fear to adulterate the archival science or the archival value of an item sometimes could freeze the innovation and could create a barrier in order to reach new publics. Cultural institutions have usually used the segmentation process to find a market segment to which their existing and consolidated cultural offer could be appreciated.
Archival institutions should elaborate different products tailored to different groups
with different tastes. For example, an analytic and multimedia investigation about the contents of some archival series and a 'user-friendly’ series of documental outlook, related to civic and local history of curios facts about the past. Different products for different groups. Defend the scientific value of an institution should not is to sticking in offering the same kind of product (and effectively to the same group of people all the time) and believe that everybody should take it.
Only overcoming this 'missionary' attitude and accepting the occasion to shape different scientific cultural product for different segment of public an Audience Development for an archival institution could have real and concrete targets.