I do a good number of arts marketing workshops. After I've spent hours talking about the pillars of contemporary arts marketing i.e. things like storytelling, being authentic, etc. and given examples of how individuals and organizations of all types are leveraging the principles in unexpected and exciting ways someone raises their hand and says:
"That's all well and good, but how do I sell more stuff?"
On one level I get the question. Many of us, myself included, have real sales objectives that need to be hit during a given window of time.
But it's also a potentially harmful question because it puts the sale, the transaction, as the primary goal.
It's been my experience that when an individual or an organization makes the sale an overly high priority then you stop seeing the public as individuals that need to be cultivated. Instead they just become dollar signs.
When you see people that way the marketing can become very risk averse. It's hard to create any real innovation with your marketing when you are being ruled by "the numbers".
Plus when it's all about the sale you are going into a very crowded place. I work in theatre in a town with 200 other theatres. If we all just want a patron's money then, at least in the patron's eyes, we are all the same. And if we are all the same then it's natural for a patron to choose the more well known option . . .
Or the cheaper option . . .
Or the safer option . . .
You get the idea.
No one is entitled to a sale. It's something you earn. And you earn it by real marketing. Real marketing is about understanding your audience, building an authentic relationship and telling a compelling story. That's the foundation.
From that foundation comes your marketing tactics.
Then it's about your ability to execute those tactics.
If you do all of that correctly, the sales will take care of themselves.