A big part of effective marketing is making a stated or implied promise to the public. As an example take a look at this 3 minute web commercial created by a Las Vegas casino called the Stratosphere.
There are a few interesting things about this spot:
1. The venue is taking an aggressive stand against their competitors. Their promise essentially is "we will not be like those other places that screw you over".
2. Taking that stance probably isn't as easy as you think. I'm sure that these folks have many interactions with the casino operators that they are criticizing in this spot. I'm also sure some of those people are not going to be happy with it. But it's important that anything (including art) that wants to thrive in the marketplace stand for something meaningful and distinct. Sometimes you have to use your competitors to create that distinction.
3. The spot excludes a lot of people. For example, if you define yourself as a "luxury" consumer that enjoys a high priced cocktail or an exclusive seat in a nightclub this spot basically tells you that you are not welcome. I've written in the past about how strong marketing can talk about who the experience is for AND who the experience IS NOT for.
4. It's hard to make a meaningful promise. It's even harder to keep it. When you think about it, the promise the venue is making impacts everything. They now have to figure out how to deliver on their promise of "great fun at a great value" in a way that still serves the bottom line. They may discover that keeping that promise has some unintended consequences. They may find that keeping the promise creates internal conflict between executives, employees and other key stakeholders.
When I work with artists and arts organizations to improve their marketing getting them to understand the importance of making a promise AND that there is no such thing as a perfect, consequence free, promise is a real challenge.
For example an artist may choose to cultivate a young, "hip", audience and then become shocked when this audience quickly moves on to something else. Why be shocked? That's a natural risk that comes from the audience you chose. It's better to try and embrace that risk and figure out a way to deal with it.
My overall point here is that this is a good example of an organization that is in a crowded and competitive marketing trying to find a way to stand out. Will it work? Who knows, but it's a real effort. Hell, I'll probably even check the place out during my next trip, which is something I wasn't inclined to do before. Then we will see if it's a promise kept.
Spend a little time this week considering this example and see how it could apply to your work in the arts. What is the meaningful promise that you or your organization could make AND keep?