The handsome fellow up above is the Silver Surfer. Here is his story. In comic book lore the Surfer is called a herald. He is the herald for a being named Galactus.
Galactus is one of the most powerful beings in the universe. He's big. He's almost unstoppable. But that comes with a downside or two.
One of those downsides is that he's slow. The other is that he's always hungry. So he sends out the Surfer to scout opportunities.
The Surfer is everything Galactus isn't. He is fast. He is flexible. He is ahead.
And that's the relationship marketing should have with artists and arts organizations.
Did I lose you? Let's try it again.
The creation of art can be a very slow process. People can work on films for years. A theatre company can take months to make programming decisions. There is nothing wrong with that, it's just how it is. On the positive end, once that art lands into the world it can make a powerful impact.
So that's what a lot of art is, slow and powerful. Just like Galactus.
But Galactus was smart enough to understand that he needed something around him to be fast. He need something that could go ahead of him, target opportunities and let people know what was coming.
When I took over the marketing at my institution one of my first tasks was to speed up everything.
If it took a week to get an email approved, we worked to get it down to a day.
If it took five weeks to get a web redesign figured out then the next time around we would try to do it in three weeks.
Was it easy? Nope. It was hard as hell. It was hard because the reality is to speed up a process you have to leave some people OUT the process or limit their input within the process.
It's hard because being fast sometimes means being imperfect and having to adjust on the fly.
So it's hard, but it's necessary.
It's necessary because the world is fast and getting faster. In the time a typical arts organization spends debating visuals and sweating word choices a ton of information is moving out into the world.
It's also necessary because the good marketing can places that the art can not go. Think of it this way. You may not have a Nike product on your body right now, but you know what Nike is.
Maybe you will never wear Nike. But if Nike was to vanish you would know it. You might even miss it a little.
That's what marketing can do. It can touch people. It can educate them. It can change them.
One more point about this Surfer analogy. What makes the Surfer great at his job is that he willing to lead.
Marketing has to be willing to lead as well. Once the artistic vision is set marketing has to be willing to come up with new ideas, experiments with concepts and reinvent experiences.
If you are not doing that then what's the point really?
So when I think about my job as an arts marketing, I think about the Surfer. Maybe now you'll do the same.
Surf's up. Let's go find some opportunities.