The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

Vancouver 2050: A Creative City February 26, 2010

Ah, I love social media. The networking opportunities are endless.

I was recently introduced to Sean Bickerton via Susan Weiss, neither of whom I have met in person, but am friends with through Facebook and Twitter.

Sean Bickerton is planning a very cool and interesting forum called Vancouver 2050: A Creative City. It takes place from 8:30 am to 1 pm on Saturday, April 24. As we move forward, post-Olympics and in the face of devastating arts cuts, we may well be asking, what’s next??

From Sean’s blog:

I’m pleased to announce Vancouver 2050: A Creative City! – a public Arts & Culture Forum moderated by Max Wyman and featuring addresses by Maestro Bramwell Tovey, Music Director of the Vancouver Symphony, and Norman Armour, Artistic Director of the PUSH Festival, with one additional speaker remaining to be confirmed.

Our three distinguished arts leaders will each present their vision of what Vancouver as a Creative Capital would look like in 2050, with a view to infrastructure, sustainability and the kind of innovation and enrichment of activities that could energize broader community engagement.

After those presentations, a high-level panel drawn from the arts, business and social profit sectors will discuss with the speakers the concepts they’ve presented, and then open the discussion up to include invited arts, business & community leaders and members of the public.

Our goal with this discussion is to bring leaders from the arts and business communities together in order to fully imagine Vancouver as a 21st-century Creative City with a correspondingly vibrant creative economy.

Click here to read the full post, and to contact Sean.

The forum is free. I hope to see you there!

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5 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Measure your Marketing Effectiveness: Guest Post by Michelle Strassburg February 24, 2010

Filed under: Guest post,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:52 am
Tags: ,

As a business owner, one of your main goals is to generate sales through marketing, and another is to measure and keep those marketing costs down. Using the free web-based software Google Analytics it’s possible to keep tabs on your marketing expenditure and to measure how well (or not) your marketing is working for you. Most web platforms, from blogging platforms such as WordPress to shopping carts such as OS Commerce offer some type of integration with Google Analytics, so if you haven’t already, start by activating this feature.

Before we start – It is always a good idea to check that you’ve integrated Google Analytics and that the tracking code appears across all your pages. The people at SiteScan offer a diagnostic tool that verifies if your Google Analytics tracking code is installed properly on your website. It’s free and takes just a few minutes to report back.

5 ways to use Google Analytics to measure online marketing:

1. Measure user engagement – When you first start using Google Analytics, chances are you might be somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of information. Therefore, the first and easily understood factor to measure is how well users are engaging with your site. Head to the ‘visitors’ tab and look at bounce rate, time on site and page views per user. If your site is offering the information users are looking for, you’d expect to find low bounce rate and high time on site for example. Of course this will vary from one site to the other, and will depend on the type of information you offer.

2. Measure traffic sources – It is essential to get 360 degree visibility on the level of web traffic you’re getting and the origin this traffic. Head to ‘traffic sources’ menu option and ‘all traffic sources’. Now you will see the different web properties which are driving traffic to your site. You’ll notice that the information is displayed as source/medium. Source is the web property which sent you the traffic and medium refers to the type of traffic. This can vary from organic which is unpaid traffic from google search, to cpc which is traffic from paid advertising channels etc. If you’re paying for advertising for example, it is important through this option to get an understanding of what you’re getting for your buck.

3. Measure your KPIsKey Performance Indicators are a measure of performance which every business can set for itself and in Google Analytics these can be measured through setting up goals. Under the ‘goals’ menu you can set different visitor actions which will count as a goal. If one of your KPI’s for example is to measure newsletter subscription, this is precisely where you would look to measure this goal. Through goals you can measure almost endless user actions which is another reason why I find Google Analytics so useful for tracking and reporting. Setting up your first goal takes just a few minute, start by reading this how-to guide.

4. Measure e-commerce sales and total revenue – Google Analytics has an optional module which users can choose to install called e-commerce tracking. Designed for those business owners selling online, e-commerce tracking will report on the traffic sources driving web traffic to the site AND the revenue generated from each channel. It will also provide useful e-commerce insights such as average order value, conversion rates and could work as a basic stock management system. Google offers a handy one pager how-to guide to set up the e-commerce module, though it is best to use a web developer for this task.

5. Measure almost any web marketing channel – On top of the predefined traffic channels you’ll find in Google Analytics, you can tag almost any web traffic channel which will be displayed in your account. By adding a few tracking variables to any URL using this tool, Google Analytics can highlight this URL as a traffic source and report on its quality in terms of bounce rate, user interaction and e-commerce transactions. It’s possible to track social media traffic, traffic from Ad Display campaigns and recently also traffic from your RSS feed.

I hope you found my tips useful.

– – –

Michelle Strassburg ia the marketing director at Wood and Beyond, sellers of hardwood floors and kitchen oak worktops. Michelle has over 10 years experience managing online marketing.

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Marketing vs. Publicity February 19, 2010

I am a freelance theatre publicist, and I often get asked “what’s the difference between marketing and publicity?”  so I thought I’d write a post on it.

Marketing has a much larger reach. Marketing includes anything to do with your brand.

I can hear you now: “I’m an artist. I paint. I don’t have a brand.”

But I would argue that you do. You may not hire a big-ass ad agency to create an overall branding “look” for you, but if you have an online presence (or “footprint”), which can include website, blog, and participation in social media, then you have a brand. If you have a logo, or even a signature, that is part of your branding. The key is to keep things similar across the board: choose similar colour schemes, fonts, and wording when you explain what it is you do, and who you are. That’s branding.

Marketing includes anything that your potential client may come in contact with. It could be a business card, a poster or postcard, or again, your website, blog, or social media presence. Each one of these things is called a touchpoint, and it takes, on average, 6-8 contacts with your touchpoints before most people will even notice you. Purchasing advertising is also a part of marketing: whether you are buying Google PPC ads, banner ads on blogs, or newspaper, TV or radio ads.

As a general rule, Marketing will cost you money. Publicity will not (except for the publicists’ fee if you hire one). Publicity is when you get people in the media (traditional or new) to do a story about you on their blog, or in the newspaper, radio, or on TV. It’s a symbiotic relationship: the press needs to create stories. You need someone to create a story on you. The key to publicity is coming up with a compelling angle, and a great pitch that will convince the media they should do a story on you. And, I have to say, it also helps to have a relationship with the media. Yes, I carefully craft media releases and pitches for each show I do publicity for, but part of the reason I get media coverage is because I have long-standing and trusted relationships with the media.

There’s another big difference between marketing and publicity. With marketing, you really get to control your message, or brand. Because you are paying for that newspaper ad, you can have it say whatever you like, make whatever claims you like, and no one will stop you. Publicity doesn’t work like that. Sure, as a publicist, I try to steer the story into the positive, and if its a preview piece, that is generally the case. But with reviews, I have no control over what the reviewer writes. I get the reviewer to come to the show, then I cross my fingers that they’ll like it.

Having said that, there is a certain cachet just to being reviewed–even if it ends up being a bad review.

Do you have a marketing plan for your art business? Check out this article on Small Business BC.

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Facebook Invite Etiquette February 17, 2010

A couple of months back, I got this email from Kevin Teichroeb, who is the Tech guru guy at the Alliance for Arts and Culture.

He asked me this:

I was just in a meeting today discussing RSVPs sent on FB. Someone mentioned that before FB when “you and a guest” received an invitation to a performance, it meant you were being offered a complimentary ticket. Now, with FB, it is ambiguous. Quite often you are just being invited to come buy tickets to the performance. What exactly is the etiquette of FB invitations?

I should first explain one thing: here in the world of theatre, it is common practice to invite a lot of people to come to your opening night for free. “Papering the house,” as, its called,  is considered good marketing for a few reasons:
1. Getting lots of people in through the door early helps to build the buzz about the show: they go away and tell their friends (hopefully, in theory!), “Hey, I saw this great show last night, you should go see it!”
2. It is a courtesy or a sign of respect to invite your fellow theatre artists, especially Artistic Directors and General Managers, to come and see your show, so that you can see each others’ work, and network.

When people hire me to to publicity, I have a list of 50 0r so ADs and GMs that I send out an opening night invitation to. This invite is usually good for two people: the invitee and a guest.

Facebook invites are an entirely different ball game. I am very careful to limit the amount of free invitations I send out, because we could easily overbook the house (particularly if it’s a small venue) and have angry people wanting to get in, and not able to, because there aren’t enough seats. I attach terms and conditions to the invite, like they are not transferable, and only a limited number of tickets are available.

The nature of Facebook is about sharing information. If you see something you like, it’s incredibly easy to share that information with all of your friends. There is no way to really control it, and nor would you want to–the name of the game is to get the word out to as many people as possible.

So, the answer to your question, Kevin, is this:
If you get an invitation on Facebook to come to an event, you should assume that you are being asked to buy a ticket to that event, unless the invitation specifically states otherwise. If you are getting opening night comps to that show, that invitation will probably come via snail mail or email, addressed specifically to you.

Thanks for your question!

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2010 World Theatre Day Message: Dame Judi Dench February 15, 2010

Filed under: World Theatre Day — Rebecca Coleman @ 8:33 am
Tags: , ,

I was very excited to discover the author of this year’s World Theatre Day address, an actor for whom I have the greatest esteem, and who is a “woman of a certain age”, to boot!

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dame Judi Dench:

World Theatre Day is an opportunity to celebrate Theatre in all its myriad forms. Theatre is a source of entertainment and inspiration and has the ability to unify the many diverse cultures and peoples that exist throughout the world. But theatre is more than that and also provides opportunities to educate and inform.

Theatre is performed throughout the world and not always in a traditional theatre setting. Performances can occur in a small village in Africa, next to a mountain in Armenia, on a tiny island in the Pacific. All it needs is a space and an audience. Theatre has the ability to make us smile, to make us cry, but should also make us think and reflect.

Theatre comes about through team work. Actors are the people who are seen, but there is an amazing set of people who are not seen. They are equally as important as the actors and their differing and specialist skills make it possible for a production to take place. They too must share in any triumphs and successes that may hopefully occur.

March 27 is always the official World Theatre Day. In many ways every day should be considered a theatre day, as we have a responsibility to continue the tradition to entertain, to educate and to enlighten our audiences, without whom we couldn’t exist.

This message is meant to be read prior to curtain on March 27, World Theatre Day.

To see a full list of all the theatre artists that have written the WTD addres through the years, click here.


How to promote your theatre season on a shoestring budget February 12, 2010

Last summer, I was asked to give a workshop called “How to Promote Your Theatre Season on a Shoestring” at the  Mainstage Conference that’s thrown every year by Theatre BC. I did it, to a fairly small crowd, but everyone seemed happy. Then, the other day, I got this email, and I hope you will forgive me for sharing it with you:

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your workshop at Mainstage. Bard in Your Own Backyard presented “Romeo & Juliet” for our second season of Shakespeare. Last year we did “Twelfth Night” and were pleased with attendance of just over 600 (Cranbrook is a small community). This year, we hoped to crack 700. We did posters in the usual spots in the community, a huge poster in the local mall, and a sandwich board of the huge poster that traveled the community. We did our facebook fan page, got professional photos, professional video that was also posted on YouTube, email, got 3 front page features with accompanying articles in the local paper, community service ads on local radio and regional CBC radio and television interview on our local cable station…all at NO COST. We did not buy any advertising at all (aside from posters). None. The result, total attendance of 1150 this year!!!!
So thank you so much for your expertise. There is much room for improvement, but what a fabulous start. Our director was skeptical to say the least of all this internet “stuff” but he is now a firm believer!!!
Thanks again.
Susan Hanson
Secretary of Bard in Your Own Backyard Productions
and Producer of Romeo & Juliet

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation I used to give that workshop. Hope you find it useful.

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What happens when Social Media and Visual Arts collide? February 10, 2010

Twitter/Art + Social Media, that’s what.

From April 1- May 1, 2010, the Diane Farris Gallery will be presenting an exhibition called Twitter/Art + Social Media, an exhibition of work by artists who use social media for the inspiration, production or presentation of their work. How cool is this??

From the Diane Farris blog:

Since 1984, Diane Farris Gallery has been known for finding and establishing new talent. In the year 2010, the gallery recognizes the strong role played by social media in the production and/or promotion of artwork. We are particularly interested in how social media is affecting the practice of artists who use it to share feedback on their artwork, to promote their artwork, to organize shows or to produce artwork collaboratively.

Social media may include websites, blogging, instant messenger, rss feeds, social bookmarking, Facebook, Blogger, Flickr, MySpace, deviantART, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Skype and podcasts. Artwork may include painting, drawing, photography, printmaking and three-dimensional work as well as computer-based art, video and performance formats.

Submissions are currently open, but only until Feb 24. Click here for submission guidlelines.

(with special thanks to Lili De Carvalho)

UPDATE, FEB 19: Submission deadline date has been extended to March 5.

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Are You Connected? Pt 2 February 8, 2010

Last week I wrote a post on how important it is to make sure that your website and all your social media are connected to each other.

I had a few questions after I posted it, mostly along the lines of, “How?”, so today’s post is dedicated to showing you how.

Website: If you have a website, you probably have a contact page. Make sure that your Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media are on that page. Even if you import your Twitter feed to your website, make sure there is some way that people can easily click on a button and go to your Twitter page so they can follow you. A “Follow Me on Twitter” badge works nicely.

Blog: If you are using WordPress, as I am, you can put your contact info in your sidebar. You need to know a bit of HTML code for this, but it’s not too complicated.
You use a simple Anchor tag, which looks like this:

<A HREF="this is the URL of the page you want to link to">the name of the page</A>

So, for example, if I want people to email me, the code would look like this:

<A HREF="">Email Me</A>

It would show up on the page as this:

Email Me

One more example, directing folks to my website:

<A HREF="">My Website</A>

And it would look like this:

My Website

You do all of this via a text widget in your sidebar. Here’s a screen capture of how to do it–including directions to how to use click-able icons instead of text to direct people.

Facebook: Go to your profile and click on the Info tab. If you scroll down, you’ll see “Contact Information.” You can add as many of your websites as you wish. Some social media have widgets that can create buttons that link back to that platform. For example, you can use this widget to create a Linkedin badge for your Facebook profile.

Twitter: If you haven’t yet created a custom background for your Twitter page, a great reason to do so is so that you can post your websites on it. The drawback of Twitter is that you are only allowed to post one hyperlink to your profile, so that should be your main page that you want to funnel people to. You can, however, put your URLs for your blog, website, Facebook, and email on your custom Twitter background. People will have to physically type your address into their browser, but at least the information is there. Creating a custom Twitter Background is the subject of an upcoming future post, but in the mean time, you can use a free service like this.

Aggregators: Because we all have at least half-a-dozen URLs or more, Aggregators are gaining in popularity. What they allow you to do is to post all of your contact information on one page, that has an easy URL, which acts kind of like a digital business card. Some examples of aggregators are Netvibes, Flavors.Me, and one I’ve been using with my BB: Dub.

Create a map of your online presence like I did, and see if you have any gaps, then have some fun with it!

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The Tricky World of Permissions February 5, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, my sweetie, who is a singer/songwriter, got invited with another singer/songwriter friend to perform at an open-mic night. The host was a restaurant. The business-savvy owner wanted to video tape them and put the footage on YouTube.

My sweetie had some pretty big concerns about this: first of all, as with many open-mic sessions, the songs he performed were works-in-progress, so the quality of the songs might not have been at a polished, professional level. Secondly, because they were works-in-progress, they hadn’t been copyrighted in any way, and he was concerned about someone else taking his tunes off of YouTube without permission.

Now, I’m the biggest advocate of using social media to promote your art career. In fact, these days, it’s difficult to get noticed by the big guys unless you already have a built-in fan base of adoring fans. Witness Justin Bieber. Justin is a teenager from Stratford who wanted to be a musician. So, he started his own YouTube channel, and built a fan base. It was only after that, that he got a record deal.

There’s no doubt about it–social media is powerful. So powerful, that you need to be careful with it, sometimes. If my sweetie’s songs had been out on YouTube in their currently unfinished form, it may not have shown his work in the best light. Or worse, someone else could have co-opted his work.

I recently had a conversation with a professor of theatre at a BC University. He was directing a play last year, and the play called for partial nudity. Unsure what to do, he took the question to the students, and the response was, “are you going to confiscate everyone’s phones at the door?” A well-timed photo taken surreptitiously on a phone’s camera cause real damage to that actor if it got out on Facebook.

So here’s a couple of things to bear in mind when you are using other people’s art in social media:

  • Ask permission first–“Is it okay if I use your photo/song/video on my blog post?”
  • Give credit where credit is due: whenever I use photos of a play, I always credit the photographer, even if they were paid for the job.
  • Vet the post past the person before you hit publish: send the person whose work you are using a copy of the blog post before you publish it, to make sure they are okay with what you’ve written.

The bottom line is this: think the golden rule. Wouldn’t you rather be asked if you were okay with someone sharing your stuff before they do?

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