Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Quick, what is the best way for you to promote your organization?  Advertising? Facebook? Email? Word-of-Mouth?

One might argue the best way to promote your arts organization is to let your artists and performers do it for you. This might not always be the simplest, or most practical application of resources, but if you think about it, showcasing your artists in order to spread the good word about your theater, gallery or symphony could be the best promotion ever.

But what are we really talking about here?

Many of us already have outreach programs that go out into the schools to engage young people and ignite excitement in the arts for them. But, how do you do this on a larger scale, in a relevant way to entice new audience members to your front door.

Creativity is the name of the game, and as with all good promotion, your goal is to bring attention to your art and your organization, to generate buzz and to capture your potential audience’s attention. No-one said it was easy, but think about the benefits of having the full strength of your organization’s talents at your fingertips. The talent many advertisers have to pay for, you have in-house and when combined with the passion the artists have for their art, you have a dynamite combination to draw attention to your organization.

When producing a promotion with internal talent, most likely you will be working cross-departmental to engage the artists and design team. Be sure to clear upfront what is marketing’s responsibility, and what is on the programmatic side. Be precise in your requests, and never take advantage of the members of the creative team. In the end, they are doing you the favor and if you are lucky enough to have cooperation from them, make sure they do not regret the decision of working with you.

It is usually marketing’s responsibility to find the promotional opportunity to connect with the artistic side and generate the attention necessary to create more demand for your art. Sometimes these promotions are an easy fit, other times it will take you numerous attempts to make the connection. Don’t give up. The perfect situation is out there for you, but when you arrive at it, you must be sure of the goals.

To put the stress and strain on the programmatic side and get them out of their comfort zone or rehearsals should not be taken lightly. Rather, treat the team as you would any other vendor when the meter is running. While I have always espoused that marketing is an art form which needs to be practiced to be perfected, the arts truly do need the time for rehearsal, introspection, review and development. Since promotion is a necessary evil, most artists will understand and assist you, however some might believe it is beneath them – which is the time you will need additional support from senior management to get the job done.

The number one asset you have is the art and the performers themselves. If you do the research and build the relationships necessary to provide these promotional opportunities, then you have a real chance to make a difference and bring much needed, and well-deserved attention to your organization. By taking your organization and putting them on display somewhere your prospective audience may not have normally stumbled across them allows you to draw attention to your efforts. It also can create other cross-promotional opportunities, uncover untapped funding avenues which if explored, could result in other support from your community at large. Your biggest fans already get it, but reaching that next level is the difference between simple success and a much deeper relevance.

File it under ‘any trick in the book,’ but using your number one asset to entertain and engage your prospective audience might just be the most effective and creative opportunity you have to broaden your audience and strengthen your base of support.

About

Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years. Currently, Sean is a principal in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the U.S. including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference. Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street, a program of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire or email him anytime at sking.aspire@gmail.com

Posted in Content Marketing, Creativity, Marketing, Marketist

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About Sean King
Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years.  Currently, Sean is a principle in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the United States including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference.  Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street program in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. He also blogs a artsmarketingblog.org.  You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire. Sean resides with his wife Natalie and son Haydn in the global crossroads of Fogelsville, Pa.