We Are All Marketers Now: Why Marketing Matters to Non-Marketers
As a way to network, build my craft, and continually generate new ideas for clients, I'm part of a business book club with a group of NYC-based entrepreneurs. We rotate through popular books on business models, strategy, marketing, sales, and more. (Note: all of us were trained as artists, and therefore none of these books are about art. It's business skills we need to run our businesses professionally. More on that later.)
In our January pick, the author writes a foreword persuading the reader that sales skills are essential to any professional, not just salespeople. Skip to chapter one, right? His point, the same point in the forwards of every marketing & sales book, goes without saying.
Then again, maybe it doesn't.
Non-marketers' eyes have a tendency to glaze over when marketing terms like brand, differentiation, impressions, demographic, tagline, and call-to-action enter the conversation. And yet, any successful professional encounters at least one of these concepts daily, whether they're performing marketing actions or not.
Here are just a few ways that every arts professional can benefit from a little marketing savvy:
Getting a Job is Marketing
Marketing is distilling the most sellable points of a product and tailoring that message to the product's target audience. Isn't capturing the attention of a hiring manager the same thing? Performers are starting to take note of this in a very professional way - run of the mill, lost in the crowd resumes, photos, websites, auditions, interviews, and thank-you notes just don't cut it in an industry that's glutted with talent.
Getting a Raise or Promotion is Marketing
It's time for You, Incorporated to increase profit - now you have to convince your existing audience to pay more for what they already have, or that the "product" they already have can do more than they previously thought. Stating your case in a way that puts your customer (your boss and your company) first - communicating "how this benefits you" versus "why I need this" - is hand-down the best way to be successful in moving up.
Fundraising is Marketing
You want someone to give you money, and not for a ticket to your show? Welcome to persuasion at its finest. Not only do you have to sell someone on the idea of something for nothing [tangible or direct], you may have to convince them that Your Cause is weightier and more urgent than the homeless, orphans, natural disaster victims, their church, and their favorite political candidate. In other words, you've got to be the best marketer on the planet.
Every Event is Marketing
Productions, fundraisers, opening night receptions, launches, board dinners, conferences, workshops, even holiday parties - all of these communicate what you're about to your audience, both internal and external. How do your theme, venue, speech, programs, signage, music, décor, performance, play into building the image you want to project and get tied back into what it is you're selling?
Running an Organization is Marketing
You can't be a leader without vision, and your team can't execute on that vision unless you can clearly articulate it. As with all marketing, it matters less that the mission is compelling to you personally and much more that it is inspiring to those who must buy in. This goes double for stage & screen directors.
Hiring, Teambuilding, and Casting are Marketing
Is your team one that will believe in and carry out your mission and brand in a way that communicates it well to your sponsors, vendors, funders, audience, and potential audience? How about your board? If your production hits SpiderMan-size speedbumps, will your team be loyal in their exterior interactions, from Twitter posts to media interviews? The experience, personality, style, and attitudes of those affiliated with your project are all signals to the outside world - make sure they're consistent you're your overall strategy.
Every Interaction with Audience is Marketing
Or more specifically, a communication of your brand and what you have to offer. How you answer the phone at the box office, how ushers take tickets, every word you post publically via social media, any interaction with the press, the way you package the art you ship to your Etsy customers, the way you walk into the audition room. Be clear, be consistent, be authentic, and be creative.
Overwhelmed by marketing? I highly recommend reading a book or two about basic marketing and/or sales principles this year. Many are very simply written and easy to finish in a weekend. Or take advantage of new media and subscribe to a marketing or advertising newsletter, read a white paper by a respected marketer, watch an online video from a (non-arts) marketing conference, or click here for my other Fractured Atlas musings on marketing. It won't just benefit your audience, it will benefit you.
(Got a great business book recommendation? Post it in the comments below!)