The Art of the Business

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

Social Media Demographics October 1, 2010

Filed under: Business relationships,Marketing Ideas,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:04 am
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You know how us marketing types LOVE the numbers. We’re all about ROI and who’s coming to our shows and who’s buying the tickets, and what methods of marketing are working and which are not.

I came across this the other day, and thought I’d share it with you.

Enjoy. I mean that. Really. Enjoy.

Here’s the link to the original post on Flowtown

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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.

 

Hoopla and Heartache over Reviewers August 23, 2010

The theatrosphere has been buzzing the last few days with controversy involving reviewers and what their rights are.

It all started out with this blog post that was published on August 17th. Mack D. Male’s friend, Sharon Yeo, who writes what is primarily a foodie blog called Only Here for the Food, had been asked, in a not especially nice manner, by the Artistic Director of a company who was producing at the Edmonton Fringe this year, to no longer attend or review any of their shows.

You can read all the posts and all the comments that come after for yourself. But for me, this brings up lots of interesting questions. The joy of the blogosphere, for me, is that anyone with a WordPress or Blogger or TypePad account can write about whatever topic they choose. I love that we have the power to create our own content. However, just because you have a blog, does that make you a reviewer? Or should we leave that job to the people who get paid to write reviews?

The second question this brings up for me is about addressing what is, essentially, a personal issue in a public forum. I’m not saying that Jeff Halsam was right in doing what he did, but I do think it was foolish of him to do it in such a public way. If I were his company’s publicist, I’d be freaking out, because this has all the makings of a PR nightmare.

As a publicist, I would never, ever turn down any kind of possible publicity, whether it’s from someone who gets paid to write reviews or not. A great example is Miss 604. If Rebecca writes a post on one of my clients, I know that post will be seen by thousands of people that day. Rebecca doesn’t get paid to write her primary blog, but her popularity is such that, even though she’s not a formal reviewer, I still welcome her to write because I know it will be excellent exposure.

What do you think? Do reviewers, formal or informal, have too much power? As a producer, do you have the right to tell them to sod off? (sorry, I’m in Australia right now).

As ever, I look forward to reading your comments below.

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Why I love the Aussies July 16, 2010

From an article called Geeks, Tweets, Bums in Seats from The Sydney Herald:

In a Nielsen poll, Australian social media use was deemed to be the highest in the world, ahead of the US, Britain and mainland Europe. Almost a third of arts consumers in Australia now use the internet to research a show or event, buy tickets, view art, listen to music or write blogs and share thoughts on social media, according to a recent report from the Australia Council for the Arts.

And it’s not just young consumers. Worldwide, the average Twitter user is middle-aged. Those aged 45-54 are 36 per cent more likely to visit the Twitter site than the rest of the population, according to a 2009 poll. These are figures the arts industry can’t afford to ignore, although most admit they are still feeling their way.

This really great article goes on to give examples of how artists are using social media (specifically Twitter) to create a buzz about their shows, address concerns and answer questions, and even to create art and plays.

The other reason I really love the Aussies is because they invited me to come to Melbourne and do a couple of Social Media Workshops. As you can imagine, I’m pretty stoked.

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The E-Myth July 12, 2010

Ah, summer’s here. My schedule is slower, I’m only working a couple of hours a day. After that, I am mostly pool- and park-side with my 7-yr-old son. There are certainly worse ways to spend a summer.

While he’s doing his thing, I’m doing mine: and that often means that I’m catching up on my business book reading. This week, I finally finished The E-Myth. More about that in a sec.

In a not-unrelated segue, I also went to Canadian Tire last week to purchase a chair for my patio. It’s one of those ones that folds up into a little bag, so it comes with me to the pool, the park, or camping. While I was in Canadian Tire, a young, clean looking young woman came up to me and asked me if I’d like to collect a boat-load of extra Canadian Tire money, and if I’d like to continue to collect extra money on all my Canadian Tire purchases. It took me maybe about 5 seconds to realize that she was really trying to sell me a Canadian Tire credit card.

I thanked her, told her I already had all the credit cards I need, and went about my business.

But as I walked away, I felt a mixture of emotions. First, I felt bad for that girl. Bad, because I’ve been in University and had to do crappy sales jobs, too. Bad because she was just doing what she was trained to do, and was probably pretty good at it, but it wasn’t working on me (maybe making me feel bad was a sales tactic? I’d apply for a card out of pity?) I also felt a bit angry, which is how I always feel when I’m being “marketed at” either in person, or by phone.

Back to The E-Myth. There’s some good stuff in there.  For example, I really love how Gerber talks about how you should run your business, not have your business run you, and this little gem: “your business is a means rather than an end, a vehicle to enrich your life rather than one that drains the life you have.” I will probably write more about the parts of the book I really enjoyed at a later date, once I’ve had time to digest it all and implement some of the practices Gerber talks about.

Having said that, it has taken me a long time to get through this book, and here is why: Gerber’s model is based on franchising. The whole goal of any business, he says, should be to franchise, OR to build their business to a place where they can sell it and retire. A great idea in theory, but it feels outdated to me.

In the Chapter 18, he talks about selling methods, and guess what? His system is exactly the system that that young woman at Canadian Tire tried to use on me!

Why doesn’t it work?

Franchises and sales strategies are based upon a couple of things: first off, each client should have exactly the same experience. So, if I walk into the Starbucks around the corner from my house, or the one on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, I should basically have the same experience in terms of decor, service, and menu. Our young woman’s sales pitch was based on a script that her bosses know will not work the majority of the time. But based on sheer volume, they figure they can get enough profit, anyway.

What’s missing for me, in both of these scenarios, is the personal touch. The individual, getting-to-know-you stage. I can walk into any Starbucks and order an Americano Misto, and know what I’m going to get. But I won’t know the person behind the counter, like I do at the smaller, independently-owned coffee shop on Commercial Drive that I like to frequent (their coffee is also way better than Starbucks, but that’s another post). If that gal knew me better, she’d know that I am a staunch believer in having only 2 credit cards: one personal, and one business. I’m not her target market.

For me, this book felt outdated, and the tone of it, honestly, was a bit condescending. However, there were some good things in it, as well, and I will devote another post to the things about it liked.

In the mean time, feel free to disagree with me….

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One more reason why you should be online July 2, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Business relationships,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:02 am
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Why?

According to Arts and Entertainment Infozine: People who participate in the arts through electronic media are nearly three times as likely to attend live benchmark arts events as non-media participants.

What does this mean?

Well, in the States, The National Endowment for the Arts did a survey in 2008 called the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA). The survey measured demographic characteristics of U.S. adults that participated in the arts (such as concerts, plays, and dance performances) via electronic media (e.g., TV, radio, computers and portable media devices). It also looked at how people participate in the arts using their computers. The final result is called Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation.

The findings are very interesting: basically, American adults who participated in arts via thier computers (by, say, looking at paintings on line, or downloading and listening to audio books) were much more likely to attend live art events.

I guess this makes sense: if someone is interested in the arts, they will participate in it however they can. But I think we constantly live in the fear that, if we put our work out there, no one will want to pay us for it. No one will want to see it live.

This appears to not be the case.

Arts participation through the media does not appear to “replace” live arts attendance, personal arts performance, or arts creation. In fact, arts engagement through media is associated with higher rates of participation in those activities.
–Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation

Okay, so this is an American survey, but still, pretty interesting stuff.

Download and read the multi-media survey yourself: Audience 2.0: How Technology Influences Arts Participation
Source: How Americans Use Electronic Media to Participate in the Arts

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Biz Books moves to online-only operation June 30, 2010

Filed under: Business of Arts,Business relationships,E-book,Life — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:16 am
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Last week I got a very sad phone call from Cat at Biz Books.

She had made a very difficult decision. She had decided to close Biz’ storefront operation, and to make it be an online store only.

My relationship with Biz Books goes back at least 10 years. One of my very first publicity gigs was for an all-female version of Glengarry Glen Ross, and I remember seeing an ad for Biz in the program, and the producer handing me a card with the name “Bronwen Smith” on it.

A couple years later, Bronwen was cast in a play I was producing and acting in, Five Women Wearing the Same Dress, and today, she is part of my inner circle of friends. I have been jealous of Bron’s job as the manager at Biz since I can remember–what a perfect job for an actor–but now she’ll have to figure out what’s next for her.

Bronwen helps to hype up my book at Biz

I remember their old location in the super dodgy part of E Cordova, with the theatre space right next door, and being so happy for them when they got their new, current location on the corner of Cordova and Cambie.

Cat and Bronwen and the gang at Biz did more for our film and theatre community than just supply us with audition monologues and copies of the plays that the Arts Club was doing this year. Biz was a central hub in our community. There was seldom a time when I’d drop in when there wasn’t someone there I knew, or someone would come by that I knew. They ran workshops, hosted parties (remember Harry Potter releases?), and employed some of the city’s finest actors while they were building a career.

Cat has been incredibly supportive of my own work, hosting a free social media workshop, and selling copies of my book.

While the show will go on on line, I for one will miss dropping into the store to pick up a book, or just to say “hi” to the gang.

Thanks, Cat, Bron, Carrie, Spence, Brian, T, Mel, Shane and Carol.

Here is Cat’s official announcement:

After almost 14 years of being a physical hub for Vancouver’s film, television and theatre communities, we at Biz Books have decided to close our Cordova Street doors and focus on the window to the world that is the internet.

With all of the many changes in filmmaking, television creation and theatre production… not to mention book selling, it has become apparent to us that we need to refocus ourselves on providing you fast, cost effective access to the best and newest resources available and not to be distracted by maintaining a brick and mortar store. Over these past 14 years, the collective efforts of some of Vancouver’s best and brightest actors and writers have come together to build the 10,000 strong Biz Books community. We have loved your visits, support and patronage, and thank you for that and hope that it will follow us to our online store where we plan to continue.

What is changing?

We are closing 302 West Cordova Street on August 15th. We will then be conducting all of our business from our online home at http://www.bizbooks.net

What will continue?

The many things you love about Biz Books will continue on BizBooks.net. Our efforts to bring you the latest and greatest in the areas of film, television and theatre as well as our active role in bringing you the classes, workshops, book launches, author readings, events and contests that you have come to appreciate from our variety of industry partners and presenters.

Where are we going?

We will still be based in the Greater Vancouver area but will not be maintaining a retail space. We will continue to grow our stock levels so that fast local shipping and our presence at many local classes and events will provide you great access to books and software.

Why now?

With all the many changes to Gastown we have been hearing from customers about the challenges they face in coming to see us. Looking towards the future, we do not see those challenges getting any easier or the costs for maintaining a retail space in this neighbourhood (or frankly any in the Lower Mainland) being at a level that any independent bookseller could shoulder, much less one whose customers have had such a challenging few years keeping themselves going.

What about the staff?

Over the years, Biz Books has been so very fortunate to have had the time and talent of so many great people focused on building it. It is with a heavy heart we realize that we will no longer be able to provide regular access to the incredible knowledge of Bronwen Smith, Jennifer Spence, Carrie Ruscheinsky, Teresa Weir, Melanie Walden, Brian Sutton, Carol Hodge and Shane Kolmansberger. We know that they are a huge reason that we have gained the support of so many of you and thank them, with special appreciation to Bronwen for her incredible efforts during her time at Biz (How could we ever sum up her 13 years!?!?), and we wish them all well with their future endeavours. They were the heart of Biz on Cordova Street and they will always be in mine.

We also want to recognize the contribution of the group we lovingly refer to as the “Biz Books Alumni”: Patricia (without whom we would have never opened!), Harlan, Kyle, Cam, Eileen, Jason, Alexa, Gillian, Sydney, Daniel, Melanie, Alana, Jane, Kristin, John, Stacie and Jazmin.

And while we are thanking people… Dave at Webbervision, Ian at Atomic Fez, Rebecca at Rebecca Coleman Marketing and Media Relations, Jasper at NovaCurrent Creative Solutions, David Cowan, our computer genius, my fantastic in-laws Herm & Shirley (for building all of the beautiful wood fixtures that helped to create such a cozy atmosphere here) and our wonderful landlords JP & Barbara… thank you so very much for all of your support over the years and for your kind wishes for us on our new phase.

We are planning a sale to start on July 2nd (we will of course be closed for Canada Day July 1st!) so stay tuned for more details on that and also, please use your gift cards before August 14th or bring them by to have them converted for use on our online store – again before August 14th!

And now the invitation part….

Our last day of operation on Cordova Street will be Saturday, August 14th and we are planning on it being a celebration so we invite you to come by for our BizBooks.net Going-Online Party!

Thanks for 14 great years on Cordova Street and we’ll see you out and about at events in the community and of course, at BizBooks.net!

Cat

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