The Art of the Business

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

The Rule of Brian September 13, 2010

So, I just got back from doing a series of workshops in Australia. Sorry, you’ll be really sick of me talking about this soon, but I am processing through all that I learned, and I want to share it with you.

One thing kept coming up repeatedly at all the workshops, and that is this:

You cannot take old methods of marketing and apply them to social media.

I start to teach my course at Emily Carr tonight, and this is exactly the topic of tonight’s class.

In the past, we employed what my former boss at the Alliance, Judi Piggott, called spray and pray: you got as much marketing material as possible, and then put it in as many places as possible. Your goal was to reach as wide an audience as possible, because you never knew where they were. I’m talking, billboards, TV commercials, sides of buses, ads in the newspaper, posters, postcards, websites, the whole works. The problem with spray and pray is that it’s expensive. And the return on your investment was minimal, maybe, if you were lucky, 10%.

Now, if you’re a big business with lots of money in your marketing budget, maybe this isn’t a problem (although many big businesses are adopting the new rules of marketing, as well). But if you are small business, like an artist, you probably can’t afford to buy the side of a bus. So instead, look for your niche, and market to that.

But you can’t just spray and pray to your niche using the same methods. I mean, you can, and you will probably have a higher return rate. But increasingly, we are exploring methods of relationship marketing. I’ve talked about this ad nauseum, so I won’t get into it too much here. But I had a great conversation on Twitter the other day with Brian Seitel, and I promised him I would quote him in my class tonight. So, ladies and gentlemen, The Rule of Brian!

New Media, Social Media Marketing, is about creating a conversation with your potential or current audience. How is that marketing? Well, if we define marketing as being creating relationships based on trust, then being accessible to your audience and being responsive to them is a great way to make that happen.

If there’s one thing I want my class to take away with them tonight, this would be it.


2 Responses to “The Rule of Brian”

  1. JudiP Says:

    Hey Rebecca, thanks for the mention. I’m still working through the use of the terms ‘old’ and ‘boss’ as adjectives for me (the truth hurts!), maybe I need a publicist. But I digress. ‘Spray and pray’ is a very useful (albeit not invented by me) term to describe a method that serves two purposes: firstly, keeping really really busy doing something that will convince other folks that you’ve done your best, despite paltry results, and also to keep yourself from having to do the hard work of research and follow-up and networking. Who can argue with spending time on creating awesome print material, then sending out hundreds of resumes or plastering the city with posters and flyers? If people don’t respond, it must be THEIR problem, right?

    Now, when this approach is applied to Twitter and Facebook, a place where we don’t even need to go out in public with tape and a staple gun, or talk to store owners for permission, our denial is even easier to maintain.

    It is interesting to me that as the Internet has made Long-Tail Economics a reality for many small-niche groups and markets, it has also led to an explosion of excess noise online. Artists are right to be wary of using these techniques without a solid core of authenticity to the relationship component. Marketing tweets and Facebook event pages only work if I know you and I’m already interested in what you do. They inform in a timely, personal way, but are a real turn-off if they just try to sell me something. UNfollow!

    Break a leg tonight, Rebecca, it will certainly help those of us ‘consumers’ of the arts to have better-informed and truly competent folks using these tools to get us engaged in their work. Think life-long relationship, not ‘bums in seats’ and you’ll have MY attention!

    Judi Piggott

  2. Oh, crap. By “old” I meant, “not current,” not, you know, old.
    You make some really great points. I keep saying to people that just because a lot of people are using social media wrong, doesn’t make it right for us to do it. I’m with you, if someone is shouting at me all the time to buy tickets, I’m outta there.

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