The Art of the Business

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

Fundamental Keys to Expand Your Readership October 11, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas,marketing with blogs,SEO — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:39 am
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This week is all about SEO and Keywords. First up, a guest post from Alex Papa on how to get eyeballs to your blog or website.

Enter the ‘Blogosphere’: a world where corporate minds and marketers of all kinds congregate with a common goal. A goal to have their distinctive voices heard, to build a level of trust, and to present their services. Businesses have scanned the blogging scene, and recognized that the blogging platform presents a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Marketing strategies and blogging are now intertwined as a form of brand building and promotion.  Irrespective of prior knowledge, geographical positioning, or intellect, the blogging realm offers significant potential for reward.

Blogs and Business: Where is the Benefit?

Unlike a commercial website, a blog presents a lax setting. Viewers are not barraged with “Buy Now” buttons and other conspicuous sales pitches. This lowers the guard of the reader, and opens the door for a relationship to be built. A relationship initiates a level of trust, which correlates to a potential client and friend. The key determinants to solidify a level of trust is to offer your reader unique value-adding content. The content you provide illuminates your voice, exposes your character, and establishes your credibility. Contributing value-adding content on a consistent basis will ensure your readers return to your blog.

An expansive reader-base equates to a sizable market for your service. But with millions of blogs in existence, obtaining significant traffic can become an arduous assignment.

Social Media Traffic

Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook can yield significant traffic for your blog. Facebook is the second most traffic intensive platform on the web, with Google firmly on top. Creating targeted “groups and pages” on Facebook can drive a substantial amount of traffic directly to your blog. Joining and participating in communities such as forums have proven to be another free source of direct traffic.

Organic Traffic

Another supply of sizeable traffic will be derived from the search engines like Google or Yahoo. This form of traffic which is commonly known as “organic” traffic will be the prominent source of traffic your blog receives. Traffic generated from search engines will always be laser targeted because users key in search terms that are specific to their needs.

Quality blog authors commit a fatal error by producing blog posts that are eloquent and of superior class, but lack search engine friendliness. Search engines are not professors evaluating the quality of your writing. They are programmed to decipher the relevance of your content according to the search term utilized by the user. If for instance a user keys in the term “Increase Blog Traffic” and this term is not incorporated in your content, then the search engine will deem your content irrelevant. Search engines don’t care if you are a best selling author.

There should be a dual focus when writing a blog post. Firstly, one should write for one’s user, and secondly, one should write content that is optimized for the search engines.

Keys to Writing Search Engine Optimized Content

When a search engine evaluates the content on your blog, it links the content of a post to “keywords” that are commonly used by everyday search engine users. If your blog post does not contain any of these keywords, your post is of no value to the search engine. The elements required for you to optimize your content for the search engines are:

•    Engage in keyword research. Know what people are searching for in relation to your service offering.
•    Structure advertorial posts by integrating a primary product keyword into your content.
•    Ensure your keyword appears in the title, introduction, body, and conclusion of each post.

Traffic is the lifeblood of your blog, and your readers will sustain your blog and business, if you offer them long-term value through your content. Subtlety is essential when promoting your service to your readers. Assaulting you readers with consistent sales pitches will destroy your relationship and reduce business profits. Approach each post that promotes your service with tact, and use persuasive language rather than heavy-handed sales pitches.

Alex Papa is the editor of Norton Antivirus Codes blog. He also manages several online marketing companies such as Business Opportunities Expo.

 

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

Follow Flowtown on Twitter

 

Mobile Tagging: Posters? September 29, 2010

In March, I got this cool package in the mail. It was called Stickybits, and here’s what was in it:

Stickybits are like little post-it notes that have barcodes on them. You scan the barcode and “attach” it to something: a website, a file, a video. Then, out in the world, someone sees your Stickybit, is intrigued, downloads the reader to their smart phone, scans your barcode, and is taken to whatever you attached to it.

My inner nerd was pretty excited about this, but the wind got let out of my sails, because the app was only available for Android and IPhone, and I have a BlackBerry.

Flash forward…

Recently, I was reading WIRED Magazine (yes, I’m a nerd), and came across this advertisement:

Interesting, right? These things are popping up more and more, so I did some more research. Microsoft has their own Tagging Software.

So, I got to thinking: you all know how I feel about posters. In a nutshell, I think they are a marketing tool that has a very low ROI, and the main reason is because there is nothing about a poster that you can take away. Will you remember the URL? Probably not. You might take a photo of it with your camera phone, or have your poster linked to a phone number you can text for more information.

What if we could attach or print a bar code on posters? People could download the software, scan the code, and be taken instantly to a website where they can find out more about the play, watch a trailer, and, most importantly, buy tickets.

It’s a great idea in theory, but this technology has a long way to go:

  • You have to have a smartphone to access the applications (although more and more people are getting them)
  • The technology only works on some smartphones (see my example above), while others are still in development, because it’s so new.
  • Does the technology actually work? I downloaded the reader app for the Microsoft tag and scanned it a dozen times, and it kept coming up with an error message. It never took me to wherever it was meant to. Meaning: it was a fail.
  • There is no across-the-board reader: for each of these tagging systems, you would have to download a separate reader app.

I really love this idea from a marketing perspective, but it feels to me like it still needs a lot of work before it works in the real world.

Has anyone used one of these tagging systems? I’d love to hear of your successes or failures. Or if anyone is planning on putting such a system into place, I’d also love to hear about that.

Linkage:

http://www.beqrious.com/

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/the_scannable_world_mobile_phones_as_barcode_scanners.php

 

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

 

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.

 

Who’s your audience? September 8, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Marketing Ideas — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:07 am
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Picture, if you will, a  meeting. The meeting is between me and you. We are meeting to discuss publicity and marketing options for your upcoming play/performance/concert/art exhibition/CD launch.

I say to you:

“So, who’s your audience?”

And you say…..

Oh, please don’t say “Everyone.”

This scenario has come up for me a few times in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d dedicate a blog post to it.

Look, we all want everyone to love us and come to our shows (“They like me! They really like me!”), but it’s unrealistic. Most of the shows I do publicity for are not appropriate for my 7-year-old son, or for someone’s granny. So, if you cut off the top and the bottom, you’re left with the middle, which is still pretty big.

It’s also incredibly expensive to market to “everyone.” It means taking out a billboard, or an ad on the side of a bus, or a full-page ad in your daily paper. That’s a lot of money if you’re a small business, and you probably can’t afford it.

We’re afraid that if we “niche” our work to a specific audience, we’re excluding the rest of our audience. And this isn’t necessarily true. But if you bill your show as the greatest comedy ever written (which, in my estimation is a horrible sales pitch to start with, but stick with me for a bit), and people come to your show, and don’t find it funny at all, then you are in a bad situation. You promised something that you were not able to deliver.

Just because you are marketing to one slice, doesn't mean the whole pie can't come. Mmmm.... pie....

On the other hand, if you let people know that it is a comedy in the style of Monty Python, well, then, now we’re getting somewhere. At the risk of alienating 90% of my audience, I have to confess I’m not a huge Monty Python fan. So, if I went to see a show that was billed in that style, I’d at least know what to expect, although most likely I wouldn’t go.

Who would go? People that like Monty Python! And there’s lots of them. Not only that, but you can figure out where people who like Monty Python hang out (online and otherwise) and target your marketing directly to them. Which is actually a lot easier to do than marketing to “everyone.”

So, the next time you are planning something that requires getting people in through the door, ask yourself:

1. What kind of people would really like this event? Get as specific as you can with your demographics: age, sex, income, profession. You may not have access to all this information, but do the best you can.

2. How do I get in touch with these people? Where do they hang out online, or in real life? Is there some kind of a networking event that they would be at that you can get yourself into?

3. What kind of campaign would appeal to your ideal demographic? Speak their language, and use graphics or images that will appeal to those kind of people.

4. Finally, if you have someone in your inner circle that fits your target demographic, you might want to test it on them before you get started, and get their feedback.

Your goal is to have people see your marketing material and say “Oh, I so relate to this–I see myself in this–it appeals to me.”

That’s the first step to getting them in the door.

 

They don’t call it a “revolution” for nothing August 17, 2010

Okay, seriously, this is cool.

A new company called Pay with a Tweet has figured out a way to barter Tweets for stuff. For example, The Globe and Mail published this story yesterday about the Ottawa Indie band called hotshotcasino. If you tweet about them, you get to download one of their songs for free.

The service is available for either Facebook or Twitter, and allows you to edit the message–except for the URL.

Absolutely brilliant. Think of the applications not just for musicians, but for theatre, e-books, restaurants (free appy for a tweet?).

Here’s the thing: we’re using social networking, anyway. Many people are looking at it as a kind of a currency. So why not reward the people that make the noise?

Read the article in the Globe and Mail

Pay with a Tweet website

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