The Art of the Business

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

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.

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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.