The Art of the Business

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

Can SMS Save Our Souls? September 22, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Australia,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:59 am

While in Australia, I had a few conversations with folks there about how they are using SMS messaging to get bums in seats.

One gal I met at one of my workshops said “If I get a text message from a friend to come and see their show, I will probably go.”

Here are some quick statistics about our use of text messaging:

  • In September 2009, Canadians sent approximately 100 million text messages per day.
  • In total, Canadians sent 3 billion text messages in September 2009.
  • For the first nine months of the year, a total of 24.7 billion text messages were sent (from January 2009 to September 2009).
    This is up significantly from the previous year, when a total of 20.8 billion text messages were sent in 2008.
  • Text message volumes have been doubling every year since text messaging was introduced in 2002.

Statistics provided by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (from January 2010)

And one more thing: while most people I know text, we all know that it skews to the younger demographic.

We don’t use SMS campaigns to market our work here in Canada, but maybe we should start. I had a conversation with John Paul one day while we were on a plane about how they have used SMS to market shows. I’ve summed it up here.

1. You first need to sign up with an SMS gateway provider. I’ll include some links to some at the end. This gets you a phone number that people can respond back to, but you don’t get any messages on your phone. All of the work you do goes through a website interface where you can write and schedule your messages, collect data, and respond back to people’s texts.

2. You need to collect data and mobile numbers. There are a couple of options for this. First, you can ask the people involved in your show if they would mind giving up the contents of their mobile’s phone book. Second, you can create a data input page (for example, if you already have an e-newsletter sign-up, mobile number can be one of the input fields) that is connected to your website or blog. Third, put the word out using social networking that you are collecting mobile numbers for an SMS campaign (it may help to tease with discount or value-added offers), and link to your data input page. Finally, you can put the number on any hard-copy propaganda you have out there: posters, postcards, etc.

A screenshot from TextMagic

3. Build your campaign. If you are using someone else’s phone numbers (and here is where it gets a bit dodgy), you need to segment your list to just that person’s contacts, and send those contacts a text that references the person you got their number from. For example:

Liz Sidle wants you to know about her new show, Dreamweaver, October 28-31, at Performance Works!

You also have to give them an out. So, you need to say something like

To stop recieving messages like this, reply with "STOP"

The tricky bit is that you only have 160 characters to work with.

You should not overwhelm the person with messages. And with SMS, the effect is more immediate than with email. So, for example, you could do a “day-of special” where you could send a text message saying that you are offering them a special discount that is only good for tonight or tomorrow night. They simply reply with the amount of tickets they want. You can phone them, or request their email address to close the sale.

While in Australia, I met a really cool guy named Craig Lambie, who is working on a SMS program specifically for the arts. I can’t tell you too much about it because it is currently in progress, but I’ve been invited to beta test (nerdgasm!), and will certainly let you know when it’s launched.

Has anyone out there had success using SMS campaigns? I’d love to hear from you.

References:

How to Set Up an SMS Campaign

www.textmagic.com

www.clickatell.com

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Getting the Kids In September 20, 2010

Here’s what we know: children who are exposed to the arts from an early age, will, statistically speaking, probably grow up to be life-long consumers of art.

So, if you take your kids to see The Nutcracker every year at Christmas, chances are, when they grow up, they will continue to go to The Nutcracker every year at Christmas, and take their own families as well.

We are blessed in this city with companies like Carousel, and the VAG has family programs, as well.

For my birthday last month, I wanted to see the Impressionist exhibit at the VAG. I am a lifelong impressionist lover, Degas being my favorite artist. I went with my sweetie and my seven-year-old son. It wasn’t his first trip to the VAG, and he was pretty well behaved for a seven-year-old, but a couple of weeks later, when I visited the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, I discovered Kids’ Activity Trails.

I was there to see the main exhibit: European Masters: Stadel Museum 19-20th Century. It was an amazing collection, and I got to see lots of Impressionists and whole room (Sally Stubbs!) of Beckmann.

As I was wondering through, I noticed small plates, similar to the plates that contained the name and description that accompanied each painting. These plates were hung lower, at a kid’s eye-level, and featured a large letter and a couple of questions. The Trail worked two ways: first of all, as a kind of a treasure-hunt for kids: they had to go through the gallery and find all 26 letters of the alphabet. Second, each plate had a word on it (corresponding to its letter of the alphabet) that asked a question related to the painting to which it referred. (sorry I don’t have photos, they weren’t permitted in the gallery)

I couldn’t help but think how much Michael would have loved it. It was engaging and fun for kids.

In order for us to get kids hooked on art, it has to be affordable, and there has to be something there that engages them.

Have you seen any great examples of engaging children in art recently that you’d like to share?

UPDATE: I just saw this great Editorial in The Star written by Des McAnuff, the AD of the Stratford Festival (the Canadian one), and it’s perfect for today’s blog post.

 

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.

 

9000 Km in 4 days August 30, 2010

Filed under: Australia — Rebecca Coleman @ 1:52 pm

The travelling Social Media show has hit the road! We left Melbourne at noon on Sunday, and flew into the Gold Coast of Australia, Surfer’s Paradise, to be exact. Let me tell you, they don’t call it Paradise for nothing. There is beach as far as you can see, and not just any beach. Fine, white sand, perfect, pristine, hardly even a seashell. Rollers crashing up on the beach. I dipped my toes in the Australian ocean.

Monday morning: our venue for the workshop is The Gold Coast Arts Centre, a stunning facility that houses theatres, movie theatres, art galleries and restaraunts. I am in awe of this resource, it’s completely amazing. We do our workshop for about 30 in a basement room that is usually a cabaret space. Wonderful day. Great feedback.

megan shorey meganshorey

@rebeccacoleman it’s been a great day full of brain food – Thank you both 🙂

Jonathan Bee-Dub jbutlerwhite

Everywhere I go lately, I have amazing conversations about social media w/ Canadians. Thanks @rebeccacoleman for a fantastic seminar today.

eduardomurillo eduardomurillo

Did a Social Network Marketing seminar with @rebeccacoleman at The Art Centre Gold Coast. She knows her stuff & learned some new marketing.

A cab is waiting for us at the door at 5 pm, we grab our stuff and dash without hardly saying goodbye. We get to the airport, check in, have some dinner while waiting for the plane, then board for the nearly three-hour flight to Adelaide.

Today, we do the workshop here, and then dash out the door to the airport for a flight back to Melbourne. Then, tomorrow morning, I am on a flight home.

All together, 9000 Km in four days. My head is spinning, but I am also so grateful to have had this experience. I’ve learned so much and been so inspired by the amazing energy of the workshop participants.

I miss my son, so I’m happy to be getting home, but Australia, I’ll be back! You’ve been warned!

And no doubt will write future posts on what I’ve absorbed here, as it all has a chance to settle.

 

I Heart Melbourne August 27, 2010

Filed under: Australia — Rebecca Coleman @ 3:36 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling this summer. It started with going to the Okanagan Film Festival at the end of July, then a trip down the Oregon coast to the Napa Valley in August, and now to Australia. I’ve seen some really cool places, but none of them have captured my heart quite like Melbourne.

I can’t help but compare this city to Vancouver, and there are lots of wonderful things that we share in common: cool, artsy neighborhoods, and lots of green spaces. Melbourne, however, is a city of 4 million, as opposed to our 1 million, so it certainly is all on a bigger scale.

There are two things that I really find different and interesting about Melbourne, as opposed to Vancouver. The first is that the Cultural district is really in the middle of the city, in easy reach of tourists, and is very central. A block or two from the main train station are the major (national) art galleries and performance centres, as well as many other, secondary galleries and theatres.

The National Arts Centre

The second thing I’m loving about Melbourne is how willing they are to take risks. Sure, the larger theatres are doing Shakespeare and other easily-recognizable big shows. But there are also lots and lots of people that are doing edgy, developed work that blurs the boundary between theatre and performance art. In Vancouver, we hardly do that kind of stuff, because it doesn’t pay. It’s hard to get an audience in to see it. But here, there appears to be more funding for the arts, and they are, therefore, able to be more creative, free, and derivative in their work.

The Victorian architecture is stunning, and the food has been world-class. Even places that we stop at for a sandwich at lunch seem to be able to elevate that simple dish to a whole new level.

Don’t even get me started on the people. And I got to see penguins.

I’m completely in love with this city.

 

The First Workshop August 26, 2010

Filed under: Australia,Workshops — Rebecca Coleman @ 1:48 pm
Tags: , ,

Talk about hitting the ground running. I mean, I knew I would, but I think I was maybe not quite prepared for the pace of the last couple of days.

What I love about it, though, is that I feel like I’m really immersing myself in the Melbourne theatre scene, and I’m getting an intsense and quick schooling in how its done here.

Most of Wednesday was workshop prep at the Incubator with John Paul. Planning, creating PowerPoint, handouts, dealing with the tech stuff–did we have internet access, did the video projector talk to the computer, etc. My interview in Arts Hub also came out, so that was pretty exiting.

We took a break to attend a marketing event at The Malthouse Theatre. I was in love with this venue. I hope I get a chance to go back and take pictures and share them with you, because it was the kind of space that we dream of having in Vancouver. Brand-spanking new, gorgeous, industrial-feeling type lobby with a coffee/lunch bar (where there were tons of theatre people doing deals and having meetings) and a really great black box theatre which seats about 500, depending on configuration.

Thursday was the workshop. Our venue was the South Melbourne Town Hall, just across the street from where the new home of the Incubator will be. There were 40 people there, primarily from the theatre scene, but a few visual artists, some musicians, and one woman and her partner who had a children’s show. (The photo I took didn’t turn out because my camera’s batteries died)

What in inspirational day. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to watch people switch on to social media and how it can help them to connect with shier audience.

After, we went round to a local pub for a cider with a couple of the participants and enjoyed the same conversation that I have had with theatre artists everywhere: Why are we doing this? Why is there never enough money? How do we encourage people who don’t come to the theatre to come to our shows? Seems like, no matter where we are, we all seem to struggle with the same things.

JP and I had a “Starving Artists Pre-Theatre Supper” and then went to see [Title of Show] at a lovely space called TheatreWorks.

Last story of the day: when I got home, I tweeted about what fun I’d had at [TOS] and how much I loved the song “Die, Vampire, Die.” This morning, I got this reply:

These guys were not at my workshop, but they clearly didn’t need it. Melbourne gets it.