The beginning of the year is a good time to think big thoughts and take swings at redefining our marketing art. We all suffer from the same challenges: making more with less, raising more funds and awareness, becoming or expanding our leader position in the community.
But what happens if you look at the way you have been doing business from an entirely different perspective? While still remaining true to your mission, there are always opportunities for you to expand and push boundaries to achieve growth in activity, attention and funding. Here are four exercises to challenge you:
#1 – Reimagine your business. Many of us have become so staid in our ways that it is virtually impossible to think of it any way than the way it currently exists. The magic of being in marketing is that you really do have a voice in the way your organization is position and branded. We’re not in the programming side of things, and clearly programming drives these decisions in arts organizations – however if you’re able to put your own fingerprints on the messaging and how your patrons interact with your org, then you do have a stake in making change for the better.
#2 – Redefine the way your supporters or patrons see you. There are three types of audiences for our art. All businesses for that matter have their loyal customer, their once-in-a while customer and their prospective customer. You want to keep your loyal happy, your once-in-a while customer coming back more often and your prospective customer to give you a chance. Remember, we’re not about reaching all of the general public, but rather your market – those individuals who are the friends of your fans and others who share the same likes, passions and sensibilities. Reflect their emotions back to them and you will be more successful than you ever imagined.
#3 – Head straight for the ‘Blue Ocean.’ One of the most influential books of my career has been ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ by W. Chan Kim ad Renee Mauborgne. http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Ocean-Strategy-Uncontested-Competition/dp/1591396190. The gist of the book if you have not read it, is to encourage you to look at the space where no-one currently is active and either create a product or service for that space or re-engineer your offering to be something completely different than what currently exists. Competition is bloody, thus the red ocean. Head for blue.
My favorite example from this book as it relates to the arts is the creation and subsequent world domination of Cirque du Soleil. They not only redefined what ‘circus’ meant, but they created an entirely new art form with sales of nearly $1 billion per year. The success of Cirque is astounding and it took leaps of faith and creativity to achieve the extraordinary.
As a marketist, we normally do not have a seat at the table when these decisions of substance are being made. But your creativity and knowledge of your current and prospective audiences should be enough for admission to these meetings. At the very least, if you’re not present when the decisions are made, you can provide insight and perspective from your seat as to how marketing can support these initiatives.
#4 – Be remarkable. You’ve read it before from so many authors it feels trite to even say it. But by simply rethinking how you advertise and promote your product, you will eventually find the perfect message, with the proper balance between creativity and call to action, with engaging ideas for your fans to talk to their friends about for weeks and months to come. Achieving that type of campaign is what makes something remarkable and worthy of reaching the tipping point where new fans search you out.
These four exercises are meant to push you towards the goal of trying new concepts and thinking beyond day-to-day routines. Of course, we are still tasked with meeting the same budgets, building more buzz about our art and artists and not only reaching but exceeding the business goals for the year. However, you must always spend some time pushing the boundaries; asking why not; and generally being a rabble rouser rather than a lockstep infantryman.
While there are always needs for all types of people in an organization, why not have some fun and stir the pot a little? Marketists have to begin to define themselves as new business builders and by looking at everything through a slightly different prism it might provide new results everyone will benefit from and perhaps even allow you to make an indelible impression on your organization for years to come..