I've had the privilege of talking about the arts, marketing, building an audience, diversity and other subjects with people from all over the world. I've done presentations in converted churches in Portugal and inside a Civic Center in Iowa. And when I think about my career most of it boils down to telling artists and institutions one simple thing:
Yes, you can do that.
You can do unique, creative, innovative things with your marketing. In fact you can do things that don't look like "marketing" at all. You can build an entire career, an entire organization, on superior customer service, hospitality or storytelling.
I've encountered all sorts of marketing challenges and what most of them come down to is that something special about the art, the artist or the organization is being buried. They have been told, or told themselves, that certain thing can't be said or that other things MUST be done in order to be successful.
But what life teaches us over and over again is that to stand out in a crowded, cluttered, competitive world you have to willing to create, define and then stand on what makes you unique.
If you look at many of the brands that people praise today from Apple to Zappos all of them started with their willingness to challenge some assumption about how the business ran and how the product was sold.
And that's why I always say that great marketing requires a bit of courage and a lot of wisdom. You've got to be willing to look at yourself, look at the world and then make marketing choices that will help you find your own unique path.
It isn't an easy thing to do. The pressure that comes from needing to generate revenue and audience can drive all of us to making safe choices but that is a false safety. It's a safety that lulls the audience to sleep and causes them to slowly move away.
At my day job we have been able to exceed our ticket sales expectations in 4 out of the last 5 seasons. A key driver to that success has been the team's willingness to constantly pursue ideas that tell the story behind the organization. Another driver has been the willingness to push ideas (even successful ones) closer to the edge.
The side effect of that is that we try a lot of ideas that don't work. We do things that make us (or at least me) nervous.
But that's what the real job is.
The job isn't selling tickets, the job is being brave enough to do the things that will ultimately sell tickets.
Like the blog? The best way to get it is via email. Sign up here. Plus you'll get a free copy of my e-book Authentic Arts Marketing