Advertisement is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking.
- Robert Stephens, Founder of The Geek Squad
As we get down to the final two in the Presidental race, Senators Obama and McCain probably both have a bunch of smart people locked in a room trying to figure out what each candidates path to victory is.
Each candidate has the same goal, 270 electoral votes, but the path each one has to that goal is probably quite different.
Sen. Obama's team is looking at his message, the unique demographics he can draw to the pools, etc. and deciding that he has a better chance at winning some states then others.
Sen. McCain's team is doing the same.
As an artistic organization, you should probably be thinking the same thing, "what's our unique path to victory"
How does your organization plan on getting the necessary money, audience and infrastructure needed to survive long term?
The big mistake I see arts orgs make is that they spend 90% of their time planning their artistic schedule and THINK they are planning their long term survival.
They aren't. The quality of art you do is just one of many factors that dictate how successful your company will be.
Another big mistake I see is arts orgs basically copycatting the strategy that works for the big guys and think it will work for them.
Most big arts org anywhere in the US is built on some combination of old money and subscribers.
As a new or emerging arts org, that old money and subscriber base probably isn't available to you, so your electoral map to victory must be different.
This one from from the Nonprofiteer:
The answer to “Why are we a nonprofit?” can’t be “Because we couldn’t afford to operate if we weren’t.” If that’s the case, it just means you’re a badly-organized business.
To the workshop in June. Here are a couple of reasons:
1. I hate workshops that suck, i.e. give little to no useful information. The June workshop will not suck.
2. No matter what field of art you are in, you probably need more earned income. The workshop will give you some of the ideas and energy yoi need to get going.
From the comments section of yesterday's post:
"Constituency definition is the highest level policy decision that an arts organization can make."
Or to put it another way, answering the question of "who are you making your art for" is the single most important question an artist or arts org can ask.
Not . . . "what type of art are we making?"
Not . . . "which one of us is making the art?"
Not . . . "how much are we charging for the art?"
Not . . . "where are we presenting the art?"
All those questions are secondary concerns. The clearer your sense of who the audience for your art is, the better your odds of long term success.
Some in the arts feel that programming decisions and marketing decisions are two separate departments.
Artistic programming decisions are Marketing decisions. Meaning the type of work you do goes a LONG way toward determining the audience you get.
If you are a nonprofit arts organization in or around the Chicago area then this intensive marketing workshop is for you. I'll be teaching the course all 3 days.
Here's the details, please read the whole thing because in this case the details matter . . .
The workshop is called Money + Marketing and it is presented by the SouthSide Arts and Humanities Network.
NOTE: You do not need to be arts org based on the South Side to go. You can be from any where.
This three-day workshop is designed to take the mystery out of the arts marketing process. In a series of engaging and interactive sessions, you will learn:
1. How to determine the most effective target audience for your marketing.
2. How to select the best marketing tools given your time and budget.
3. How to create and communicate the right message that will have customers and donors flocking to your organization.
By the end of the workshop, all participants will have a solid marketing plan they can immediate use to earn more money.
The marketing plan can then be used to apply for a grant from the Arts Work fund for Organizational Development.
On Monday, June 30th you will have the opportunity to meet with Marcia Festen, the Director of the Arts Work fund, who can talk about how to create a strong proposal.
Participants who choose to apply for this grant will have the opportunity to have a professional grant-writer from the University of Chicago review your application to make it stronger. If you receive an Arts Work grant you will be able to use that money to bring your marketing ideas to life.
Here are the dates and location of the workshops:
Monday, June 16th 5:30-8:30
Tuesday, June 17th 5:30-8:30
Wednesday, June 18th 5:30-8:30
Monday, June 30th 5:30-8:30 (Meeting with Marcia Festen from the Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development)
Alumni House at the University of Chicago, 5555 S Woodlawn
Here's how you register for the event:
In order to register please send the following information with a $50 check made out to the Civic Knowledge Project.
The check should be mailed to:
Southside Arts & Humanities Network Coordinator
Civic Knowledge Project
The $50 check will be returned to you after you (or a representative of your organization) attends all three workshop sessions. Please note this is a free course, but we require this refundable deposit check in order to reserve your spot in the course. When you mail the check please also send in the following info:
Website (if applicable)
I want to be clear here, the workshop is free, but you need to send the check anyway to reserve a spot. If you show up to all three days you get your money back. If you don't then consider your check a donation to the SouthSide Arts Network.
I think you will find the workshop to be well worth your time and energy. It's going to be an informative, engaging few days.
If you need more info contact Joanie Friedman at: email@example.com.
Or me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
One last thing, we want to keep enrollment to less then 20 groups so if you want in, register ASAP.
Going back to my posts about making sure you have strong admin help in your arts organization, I should point out that interns and volunteers are often EXCELLENT sources of help that are tragically underutilized.
In fact, when people ask me about any mistakes I made when I was the Executive Director of an arts org, I always say that I didn't connect with our local universities for help AND I didn't take advantage of the people who came along every year looking to donate time and energy to the cause.
So now in my new life, I have made if a point to take advantage of the wonderful skills our department interns have. No matter what size your arts org is, you can work out a relationship with local colleges to have interns. You probably won't have to pay them. If you do, the pay will be nominal but the rewards can be huge.
Like some things in life, marketing is a complex exercise that can be summed up in a series of simple statements.
For example, some could say all marketing wisdom could be summarized like this . . .
1. Find the right audience
2. Find the right message for that audience
3. Repeat the message
I've talked a lot about 1 and 2, but I probably haven't given Step 3 enough attention.
Your target arts consumer needs to hear your message a lot before they actually commit to participating.
How many is a lot? It depends. Some marketers say they need to hear it at least 5 times. Some say that number is between 7-10.
No matter what the number is, the point remains the same, your message needs to be heard a lot of times in order to be notice.
Here's the second but equally important point, your message needs to be heard a lot of times AND it needs to be heard in different ways.
That doesn't necessarily mean the message needs to be different, but the vehicle in which that message is presented needs to change up.
I'll try to use an example, for our current show at Court here's how many different ways we hope our customers will hear about the show:
1. They receive an email directly for us
2. They see a print ad
3. They get a postcard in the mail
4. They hear about it on the radio
5. Someone who sees the show suggests they go see it (word of mouth)
6. A newspaper article runs about the show
7. They receive an email ad about the show from another source (i.e. a Metromix.com email)
8. They walk around the University of Chicago campus and see one of our posters
That means (ideally) a consumer will see our message at least 8 different ways. That message frequency is key to getting consumers to purchase anything, including art