It was my second year of law school. I was preparing to do oral arguments for a mock trial. A mix of laziness and arrogance caused me think that the case was open and shut. I believed that the side I was arguing was so clearly right that the ruling would go in my favor.
Of course, the day of the arguments I got crushed. When it was over my professor gave me some sage advice:
"Remember, there is always another side."
For every reason why you should get something, there is another set of reasons why you shouldn't. If you ignore those reasons, or invalidate those reasons, trouble is coming.
That experience informs my arts marketing approach. When I'm tackling a project I begin by coming up with all the reasons why someone wouldn't come to see the work. I become downright cynical. I tear the project to shreads.
Then I start making the case.
I look at all the reasons why someone wouldn't come see the art and try to mount a counter argument. Then I try to incorporate that argument into my marketing. Here's an example.
My day job is producing a theatre piece entitled Proof. It's a good, solid, piece of theatre. That's part of the problem. I knew that a core argument against coming to see it was "I've seen this thing before, why see it again?"
That's a fair statement.
We constructed a counter argument. The counter was that the location of where we were doing the piece (the University of Chicago/Hyde Park Neighborhood) would help to create a different experience worth seeing. The argument made sense. The author went to school here. The neighborhood matches the setting of the play.
Then, as we created marketing for the piece we created videos and articles talking about the author and the academics in the play.
Instead of ignoring the argument, we went straight at it. Was it a perfect answer to the argument? Maybe, maybe not. But the key is that we didn't just try to wish it away.
We live in busy, cluttered, complicated world. No one is going to pick your work just because you tried hard to create it. You have to be willing to advocate for your art.
Reminder: This is one of the topics we will be covering on April 20th in Chicago at my arts marketing workshop. Be there.