The Art of the Business

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

“Crowdsourcing” Your Next Production October 8, 2010

Crowdsourcing is not a new concept.

According to Wikipedia, Crowd Sourcing is

the act of outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, to a large group of people or community (a crowd), through an open call.

The term has become popular with businesses, authors, and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals.

Basically, artists, in these days of dwindling funding, are turning to crowdsourcing as an option to fund their projects. Crowdsourcing engines like Kickstarter are based on the concept that many small donations can add up to a lot of money. People pledge what they can, and ONLY if the project meets its entire goal within a specified time frame, does the company get all the money. If they don’t make their goal, no one donates.

I’ve been interested in exploring this idea as a funding concept, but crowdsourcing engines like Kickstarter in the States or Fundbreak in Australia have not been available in Canada until recently. A new crowdsourcing engine called IdeaVibes has just come online.

I recently interviewed Kathryn Jones, a #2amt colleague from NYC. They have recently hit their goal with Kickstarter, and are moving on to produce their project.

RC: Can you tell me a bit about your project?

KJ: Better Left Unsaid is the first of its kind, interactive live streamed play.  A cross between a play, an online video and a live streamed event, Better Left Unsaid will be shot with multiple cameras, mixed in real time, and streamed live to the internet so that anyone, anywhere in the world with a computer can watch the show and interact with it.

The play itself is  a complex roadmap of a play that begins in Central Park on a strangely warm, foggy day in November. We follow eight characters as their paths twist and turn in unexpected ways. Better Left Unsaid is a story about how our lives are affected by the pieces of information that we choose to withhold from the people we love. Sometimes the same secret that protects one person damages another.

Better Left Unsaid.  8 LIves.  8 Secrets.  How well do you know the people that you love?

RC: Why did you decide to go the Kickstarter route to get it produced?

KJ: I have been working in online video and social media for more than four years so I have been aware of Kickstarter since the time that it launched although initially projects seemed to be raising a few thousand dollars.  I thought the idea was wonderful, but the projects I was developing required more money than it seemed feasible to raise on Kickstarter.  This  past spring, however, I noticed that people were  beginning to raise significant amounts of money on Kickstarter.  When Joey and I began discussing live streaming her play Better Left Unsaid- using Kickstarter seemed like a great way to initiate our fundraising campaign.

RC: How does using a crowdsourcing engine like Kickstarter affect the amount of work you have to do to fundraise? Does it make it easier, or harder?

KJ: Fundraising is a ton of work and crowd sourcing didn’t lighten the load, but it did provide a platform from which to launch our campaign and stay in touch with our backers.  In addition, Kickstarter’s all or nothing policy added a level of urgency to our campaign and ignited our audience with a certain level of suspense as to whether or not we would make it or not. There were a lot of people checking our Kickstarter page the last few days to see how we were doing, and a few even upped their donations as the campaign neared it’s deadline.  While I don’t think we could have possibly have raised so much money in such a short period of time without Kickstarter, as the deadline to our campaign approached fundraising is basically all we did, day and night!

RC: What kind of “marketing” materials did you create for your Kickstarter campaign?

KJ: The first thing we did was build a web site so that people who visited us on Kickstarter could get more information if they wanted it.  Then we built our facebook fan page to which we add content on a pretty regular basis.  Then we created a video for our kickstarter campaign.  We also created a press release and a one sheet- and used all of these materials in various ways as our campaign progressed.

Our video is also on youtube, and can be found here…

RC: To what do you attribute your successful campaign?

KJ: I can’t point to any one thing that made our campaign successful, except for our determination!  We used every tool (except for snail mail) at our disposal, from  twitter, to personal facebook profiles, to our facebook fan page, to facebook notes, to facebook events, to phone calls, to personal emails, to mass emails, to a fund raising event at my partners house (we consolidated the donations and had one person contribute the money to our kickstarter campaign) to networking and one on one drinks.  No one method was a silver bullet.

Even when it started to feel impossible, we would go back to our kickstarter page and see that 40, then 70 then 100 then 120 people had backed us and we were determined not to let all those people down, until finally we closed with 161 backers.

RC: Thanks, Kathryn! Very exciting project–keep us in the loop of when the project airs, and we’ll be watching!

I have an interview request into IdeaVibes, but at the time of publiciation, they hadn’t yet responded to my questions. Perhaps for a future blog post.

H/T to Kate Foy.

 

The Social Network October 6, 2010

I went to see The Social Network last night. Why not, right? It’s a movie about how Facebook got its start, and Facebook is a huge part of my life these days.

But this post is not a movie review. Nor is it a discussion about how much of the film was fact and how much was fiction.

For me, the story begins on Friday night, when Aaron Sorkin, the film’s writer and director, appeared on The Colbert Report. Sorkin confessed that he doesn’t use Facebook, and then said I think socializing on the Internet is to socializing what reality TV is to reality.

Click on the screenshot for the link to take you to the video

I get it. Facebook has certainly changed the way we interact with each other. The question is, is it for the worst?

Certainly, there have been tons of stuff in the news that might support this. Here in BC, there was a recent incident where photos of a young girl who was being sexually assaulted were posted on Facebook. The question that needs to be asked is, how did the person who posted those possibly come to the conclusion that that was cool?

Are we exchanging quality relationships for quantity? Is it better to have 2,000 friends on Facebook, or 200 with whom you are able to adequately interact with?

I have been really vocal on my position on this. As a single parent, and someone who works alone, Social Networking is a life-saver. I love to interact with people, I need it, in fact. But because of the nature of my work and life, the folks I get to see the most are my son and my cats. I get to “check in” with my friends in a virtual way.

This week I had a very powerful expereince. I got to meet Kate Foy in person. I’ve know Kate for two years, and we met via Twitter. We have worked together (virtually) on the World Theatre Day Blog, and had many, many conversations via email, Twitter, and Facebook about theatre and the life of an artist. On Saturday afternoon, Kate and I, along with Lois Dawson, had that conversation around my dining room table with coffee and cupcakes.

That is a meeting that, without Twitter, and without me being on Twitter, would have never been able to happen, and it was an amazing experience.

So, what do you think? Do you think that social networking is making our relationships more superficial? Or is it exactly the opposite? I look forward to continuing the discussion with you in comments below.

 

Blogging to Drive Business October 4, 2010

I first met Rebecca Bolwitt in November of 2008. We sat on a panel at the GVPTA’s Making a Scene Conference with Simon called Marketing Using Web 2.0.

I guess one of the things that really struck me about her was how business-like she was for someone so young. You certainly don’t get to be the Vancouver’s #1 blogger by accident, but she has also taken that fame, and spun it out into a successful business: she live-blogs events, and is a WordPress expert.

Now, she’s written a book. Blogging is one of the more challenging social mediums. First of all, it’s likely the one that you’re going to spend the most time on, if you are really dedicated to it. Secondly, getting your blog set up correctly (I’m going through this process right now!) can be quite technically challenging, and third, finding your voice as a blogger can take some time.

Creating a blog for your business adds another layer: now you have to think about what message it is that you want your readers to get about your blog, and therefore, your company.

For me, the most compelling argument for getting a blog for your company is to allow them to see behind the corporation, and get to know the real people that run the organization. It is also and amazing tool for educating your clientele.

There are 9 chapters in this book:

  1. Why are Blogs so Important?
  2. Leveraging your Blog with Marketing tools
  3. Creating a Blogging Strategy
  4. Blogging Responsibly
  5. Finding Topics to Write About
  6. Who Will Write the Blog?
  7. Getting Eyeballs To Your Blog
  8. Getting Interactive with Multimedia Blogging
  9. Taking Advantage of Web 3.0 Blogs

If you are just starting out on your blogging journey, I highly recommend this book. It’s accessibly written, contains lots of case studies, examples and screenshots, and the resource URLs are very helpful.

I’ve been blogging for two years, and I found some stuff in here that was really helpful, and which I can’t wait to implement into the redesign of my blog.

Blogging to Drive Business: Create and Maintain Valuable Customer Connections by Eric Butow and Rebecca Bolwitt is available at London Drugs and through Amazon.ca for $25.99.

 

Social Media Demographics October 1, 2010

Filed under: Business relationships,Marketing Ideas,social media — Rebecca Coleman @ 7:04 am
Tags:

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

 

Creating Young Ambassadors September 24, 2010

The topic of creating an audience for the future is one of keen interest to me. And is to a lot of folks who know that they will eventually rely upon the youth of today to fill our theatres tomorrow.

I came across this great article from The Miami Herald that talks about a new teen ambassador program that allows teens to attend one performance per month for free, in exchange for the teens writing reviews of the show and sharing them through their social networks.

It’s brilliant on many levels. I’ll be very interested to read the follow-up story.

Read the entire story here.

 

Are Facebook Invites Dead? September 15, 2010

Okay, so I consider myself to be a social media enthusiast. I love it, I love talking about it, and learning new things.

So it hurts me to say this, but I am afraid that the Facebook invitation may be dead.

Here’s the thing: I get tons and tons of invitations. I have over 700 friends, and I like 250+ pages. All of that adds up to many, many events that I get “invited” to. And I’m really terrible at going through them and responding. It’s just a time thing–it’s a pretty low priority in my world, especially seeing as my theatre viewing is mostly limited to shows I am doing publicity for.

There’s one more thing: I have had producers in the past have hundreds of people RSVP “yes” to their Facebook invites and then be dismayed when less than half of them actually showed up at the box office.

Facebook invites, it goes without saying, are a bit lame. Because it’s easy to check the yes box when you don’t have to fork over any cash.

In my experience, only about 40% of the yesses on your RSVP list will actually translate into sales.

Applications to sell tickets directly through Facebook are currently happening, although these are not yet accessible to the little folks (read: us) just yet.

What do you think? Is the FB invite dead?

 

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.