The Art of the Business

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

Does your book match its cover? July 28, 2010

Filed under: Arts Marketing,Business of Arts,Perception of worth — Rebecca Coleman @ 6:04 am
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Last week, I almost didn’t eat dinner at what is, quite possibly, the best restaurant in Kelowna.

Quick back story: I was in the Okanagan for the premiere of The Beast of Bottomless Lake at the Okanagan Film Festival on Wednesday night. My sweetie and I came up a couple days early both to work and to have some fun–wine tasting on the Naramata bench, hanging out at the beach, that kind of thing.

We got into town after the long drive from Vancouver last evening around 4. We dropped our stuff at the hotel, and headed out to see the town and look for a place to eat dinner. Just down the street is we found a place called The Rotten Grape–recommended to me by a resident here. But it wasn’t open, so we moved on.

I wanted to take a photo of the OIFF banner, and while I was doing that, Dave discovered another restaurant. It was called RauDZ, and honestly, from the outside, it didn’t look like much. But we were hungry, and it seemed like the best option at the time.

So we went in, and were immediately ushered to a cozy little booth in the back. The decor was exposed brick and warm chocolate tones, with a huge blackboard above the kitchen sporting quotes about food. The kitchen was entirely open behind a pane of glass–the ultimate in transparency.

The experience just got better and better. We were informed that the chef, Rob Butters, likes to cook local and seasonal, and that the menu was about 85% organic. They had martinis which they made with a fresh fruit puree of whatever was currently in season. The food was wonderful: I had plump little grilled squids stuffed with a kind of tapenade, served on a salad of the tentacles and cauliflower. Dave had white salmon with gnocchi that were so tasty. Our desert was probably the best part of the meal: a fantastic coffee creme brulee and a chocolate ganache with a cherry/anise sorbet and cherries stuffed with hazelnuts.

There is nothing to not recommend about this restaurant: the drinks, the food, the room, the service were all exceptional.

The problem was, we were confused by the branding.

The signage (cheesy martini glass), the confusing name (“Rod’s”? “Road’s?” “Rawd’s”??) spelled with a mix of capitals and lowercase letters gave me the feeling that the restaurant was something pretty average. But it was pretty special on the inside.

Photo by David McIlvride for RauDZ Regional Table

Photo by David McIlvride for RauDZ Regional Table

Whatever it is that you are trying to sell: paintings, jazz albums, seats at the opera, ballet or theatre, or even martinis, remember: people do judge a book by its cover. Yes, I know, we’re not supposed to, but we do. It takes us less than 10 seconds to form an opinion about something. That dosen’t give you a lot of time. Make sure you do it right.

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On the topic of touchpoints September 28, 2008

Originally published March 31, 2008 on The Next Stage)

This month’s Art of the Business deals with a term you may or may not have heard before: touchpoints. A touchpoint is any way that your consumer, or end-user, comes in contact with your work. It could be a webpage, an e-newsletter, a poster or flyer, an ad in the newspaper. Marketing theory says that it takes, on average, between 6-8 exposures to your marketing materials, or touchpoints, before someone will even consider making contact with you.

Six to eight! We are so inundated with advertising and marketing these days, that we have learned to tune it out. So it takes a lot more hits, or more innovative ones, before we can actually make contact with our potential clientèle. And I’m not even talking about the sales process—but you have won half the battle just by making contact.

So, your job as an artist who, god forbid, wants to make money from their art practice is to increase your touchpoints as much as you can. Maximizing your touchpoints is going to help get your name out there, and make you easier to find.

How can you maximize your touchpoints? I’m so glad you asked. I will share a few ideas with you in this column, but I gotta save some for future columns…. I have to have something to keep you coming back for more, after all!

Word of mouth is always the best form of advertising. A couple of weeks ago, when I was looking for someone to move my stuff, what did I do? I picked up the phone and called a couple of my friends who had recently moved and asked them for recommendations. It makes my life easier, I don’t have to do a google search, and call 7 different moving companies. I already have the advice of someone I trust—I’m going with that. While I know that art is subjective and not a moving company, and you have to take that into account when you are asking people’s opinions, the bottom line is do the best job you possibly can and people will recommend you. Recommendations sell tickets. Or paintings. Or CDs. You get the point.

In my first column I talked about exploring what it is that makes you, or your show, or your film, unique. Let that idea or concept inform all your decisions about additional touchpoints. Whatever it is that makes you unique, settle on it, and then use it on everything. In marketing, that’s called branding. Think of the golden arches, or the Nike swoosh. You see those things, you know immediately what they mean. Ideally, you want your clients to do the same when they hear your name, or see one of your touchpoints—know immediately what it is you stand for.

Here is a not-totally comprehensive list of other ways to market yourself and increase your touchpoints, some of which I will get into in more detail in future columns:

  • Business Cards: you never know when you might meet Stephen Spielberg in an elevator. If you did, how would he get in touch with you about your fantastic film? A business card is a wonderful way of continuing that conversation.
  • Posters: don’t break your budget with posters, but do try to have one with a catchy, interesting image.
  • Postcards/Flyers: a combo poster/business card. Catchy image, all the basic info, and a way for you to continue the conversation: “You think my show sounds cool? Here’s a postcard with the info.”
  • Webpages: What do you do when you need something? You google it. Enough said. You need a website. Whether or not you pay to have someone build it for you or you do it yourself; what should go on it; etc., will be fodder for a future column.
  • Facebook/ You Tube/ My Space: free, useful, and everyone is on them. I am using these social connectors more and more all the time to market my clients.
  • Newsletters: a great way of keeping in touch with your end-user, or even your potential end-users. The key for newsletters is to make sure that they offer information that is useful and appreciated.
  • E-mail: It’s free! Everyone has it! I send usually between 2-3 for every show I do.
  • Brochures: more in depth than a poster or a postcard, less information than a webpage, it may be a useful marketing tool if you are promoting a season, or offering more in-depth services that require more information.
  • Leave-behinds: this is something that you leave with your client after the work is done. I know a closet-installer (hey, it could be an art!) who leaves a half-a-dozen nice wooden hangers (with his logo on them) in each closet he finishes. A nice touch, and a good way to spread word-of-mouth.

I will flesh out many of these in future columns.

So until next time, here’s to bums in seats…everywhere.

For a downloadable or streaming audio podcast of this article, click here.