Monday, October 24, 2016

Marketing 101: Cohesion - Why Does It Matter?

Welcome to the sixth, and almost last post in this marketing series!

1. The Questions I Consider About Marketing                                    
6. Cohesion - Why Does It Matter?

  1. the action or fact of forming a united whole.

Okay, lay out your marketing materials in front of you. What have you got? Do you have a business card? What about a brochure? Maybe some handouts with information about services you offer? Possibly you have a press packet, or maybe some clever gimmicks? (I know a juggler who gives out frisbees) 

Got them all laid out? Great! Now, look at them. Do they look like they've been produced by the same artist? Is there anything about them that ties them together? Could you pick up any piece of your marketing and hand it to someone and they could identify it as yours in a few seconds? 

If someone had more than one piece of your marketing, would they realize the two pieces belonged to the same artist? Would they associate the material with you and with each other?

Why you might wonder, does any of this matter? 

When you are trying to encourage people to invite you into their space, you need to keep your name, image, and offerings in the running. People don't tend to hire artists upon first viewing. You most probably will get sent to the back of the line, especially if there are budgets to consider. It often requires multiple encounters and good reviews before some venues will take a chance. 

Clients need to remember your name, image, and what you do. Every piece of your marketing should constantly be reinforcing those things.

Your marketing is the foundation on which you will build your outreach to customers. The more cohesive it is, the better your ability to reinforce the image you want to project. If your marketing pieces do not work together, then they are not providing reinforcement. They are like well meaning soldiers running in all directions with no plan of action.

Some basic thoughts:

1. I know that early on in this series I said you didn't need a logo. If you have one, it makes creating cohesive marketing much, much easier. So, while you don't need one. It is not a bad idea.

2. Color schemes aren't a bad idea either. Picking a color scheme for your marketing helps it jump out at people. They can identify you with the patterns or the color.

3. Your pieces are easily identifiable as being from the same place, and your client can see the thoughtfulness and professionalism of the work. People do think about you differently if your marketing is well put together and thoughtful. It makes them believe you will carry this over into your business.

4. How you present yourself is important. As I've said several times in this series, there will be a number of people who might not encounter you personally before they see your marketing materials. Consider the difference between getting some random items and getting some cohesive material. 

One of the things we face when we are dealing with our marketing materials is that they are not all created at the same time. We get our business card, and then four or five years later we get something else. We are constantly making sheets for clients because our offerings change, or we need to put something together for a client, and it works out so we keep it.

This is where your stationary can play a role.

Putting stationary together is pretty easy...especially if you have a logo. When you send out sheets, just use your stationary and it will automatically fit into all of your other marketing themes.

As for me, when we got our marketing redesigned, one of the things I told the group was that one of my signature stories was called The Exploding Frog. They thought that was pretty funny.

When I got the first drafts of the material, I noticed that they'd worked a frog into all of the marketing. Every single piece of marketing features that funny little guy. You can see him peeking onto the stationary.

He makes an appearance on the back of my brochure.

Here he is on the back and front of my press packet

On the front of my business card

If you head over to my website, you'll see that my website has the same graphics and images as the rest of my marketing, and my logo is front and center. That little frog is there as well.

Recently, we realized that my website is not compatible with cell phones...when we got this thing designed you couldn't surf the net with a phone! So, that is on our list of things to fix. I am pretty sure if you get a website designed these days that is automatic. If your site was designed quite some time ago, you might want to check on that.

My little saying about stories also makes an appearance on my business materials. 

This is from my website

So, let's ask the question:  Does your marketing need to be cohesive? No, absolutely not. There is nothing that suggests that your marketing must all have the same look or anything like that. 

You are not required to rethink every piece of marketing, and if you are having great success with your current hard marketing, then keep doing what you are doing.

However, if you are in the process of designing new marketing, revising your marketing pieces, or just making new things, it isn't a bad idea to have them working together. It comes down to a professional look that reinforces who you are. 

Cohesion allows you to build on the foundation you've created, and reinforce the images you want your clients to have. Each individual piece should add another element to that image, and reinforce your professionalism, thoughtfulness, artistic merit, and desirability.
Cohesion, every element in the universe is doing it!

Happy Marketing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Press Kit: What On Earth Is This?

This is the outside of the folder

1. Part 1: Marketing 101: Questions
2. Part 2: Marketing 101: Logos 
3. Part 3: Marketing 101: The Business Card
4. Part 4: Marketing 101: The Brochure
5. Part 5: Marketing 101: The Press Kit
6. Cohesion: Why Does It Matter?

When I first began in this business twenty-nine years ago, I attended my first Center East showcase. 

I knew I needed to offer the PTA reps something, and I was pretty sure my small business card would get lost as they picked up larger offerings from other artists.

Two days before the event I got an idea.

I went to Kinkos, rented some computer time, and created seven or eight documents with pithy quotes and what I felt were grabbing titles like "From the Front Lines". I also printed a price sheet and a short biography. (I didn't have much to put on that bio at that point!) Every single sheet had my contact info on it so that if the pages were passed around anybody could reach me if they had only one piece of paper from the packet.

Each sheet was printed on a different color of paper. I also printed a couple of recommendation letters.

I took one of each sheet, put them in large manilla envelopes, stapled my business card to the top left corner, and closed the packet with the metal clasp.

For years, that was what I handed to prospective clients. I always called it the Pr Packet. Turns out  there is an actual name for that thing. It is a press kit.

Press Kit - A package of promotional material about a product, candidate, or service 

There are some beautiful things about a great press kit.

1)  It does the talking for you
2)  It should give people a quote mine.
3)  It should link people to your online presence
4)  It should make you look uber professional
5)  It should give a feel for who you are and what you do - vibe, I think I'm saying it should have your vibe
6)  It should make people feel excited about what you offer
7)  It should be a visual feast
8)  It should have practical information about your services and products
9)  It should have biographical info
10) It should sell you well

When The David and I had all of our marketing materials overhauled, I sent that manilla envelope off to the group who designed our new look. They took my various marketing sheets and turned them into something pretty cool.

I now have an updated press kit. My little sheets of multi-colored paper have grown up!

Here is another one.

The various sheets are different sizes. They fit inside the folder which has my bio and other pertinent information. The sheets are all focused on the various services I offer.

The business card has its own little holder

 "From the Front Lines" is actually the smallest piece. It goes at the bottom. We were getting new ones printed when I took this pic!

Fully loaded! Brochure, card, and sheets

My biography is printed on the left inside panel, as well as some more info about me

What is in my press kit?

-Pricing for storytelling
-Info about my books
-Pricing for my CDs
-A sheet for Workshops
-A sheet with fun quotes for promotional use
-I always put three or four recommendation letters behind the last sheet
-A business card
-A Brochure
-The back and inside cover of the kit has information about who I am and what I do.
-I have a mix of quick pick information and more in-depth information to mine for introductions, or to introduce me to a panel of potential clients.

I keep a couple of these with me at all times. During the summer when I work in libraries, I give out a handful of them when teachers or other interested parties approach me after shows and ask how they could get me at their venue or event.

So, do you need one of these things?

It is very handy, but like everything beyond your business card, you don't have to have one...but it is very handy!

Having some kind of more in-depth kit you can give to potential buyers might not be a bad thing.

If the brochure is like a giant business card, then your press kit is like a really involved brochure!

Now, the truth is, lots of artists have virtual press kits. They are way cheaper as you have no printing costs. I have included some links to articles that have ideas about how to put a press kit together.

1. This article offers some creative ways to present a press kit.

2. A Press Kit idea for a band...this could also work for any artist who creates recordings.

3. You can actually design your own press kit on this site! 

4. Another online portfolio creator for a recording artist. Looked interesting.

5. This is a how-to for Indie films, but I thought it was interesting, so I threw it into the mix.

So, now you know what it is and how we use it. You can make one virtually, have one printed, or you could forgo the whole thing!

If you decide to create one, there are lots of options. Your press kit could be an elaborate affair, or it could be simple. Either way, it is another potential tool in the arsenal of getting your name out there and expanding your bottom line!

Happy Marketing!

Ahem, do you remember me asking you to keep your eye on that little frog? I hope you did! We'll be talking about him in the next post!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Marketing 101 Part 4 - The Brochure: A Giant, Musltitasking, Business Card

The fourth installment of the Marketing 101 concerns that odd piece of gear called 'The Brochure'!

1. Questions about marketing.
2. The Logo: Do you need one?
3. The Business Card: Is It Working Hard, or Hardly Working?
4. The Brochure: A Giant, Multitasking, Business Card
5. The Press Kit: What on earth is this?
6. Cohesion: Why Does It Matter?

I've had brochures for many years. I think of them as more involved business cards. I hand them out to people at showcases, but I don't keep them on me on a daily basis. I probably should.

I sometimes hand these out to people instead of giving them my business card.

So, I went looking for advice about brochures. It turns out there is some controversy about these things. Who would have thought?

Marketing firms and those who design brochures keep assuring people that they need them. 'You must have them', they claim, 'as part of your marketing package'!

You Must!

5 Reasons You Must!

Of Course You Need A Brochure.


Then, there was the other side...people who pay for them.

Nah, you don't need that thing!

Of Course You Don't Need It

You Don't Need One...You Need Five...Maybe None...

Then we get to the place I want to be....How do you know if you need one?

Well, let's get down to that.

1. What would you do with it?

If you don't ever have occasion to give something like this to anyone...don't get one.

If, however, you run into the odd person who doesn't know what you do, finds out about it, might be in a position to hire you, or would like more info, then you could always slip them a brochure.

Surely you've been somewhere when  someone told you about something interesting...I am not talking about the odd religious pamphlet you get...and you were intrigued. Surely you've picked up a brochure about something to get a little more information. The next time you pick one of these things up, imagine someone picking up your brochure and doing the same thing. Sound tempting? Then maybe you should have a brochure.

2. Who would you give this to?

I have friends...I'm looking at you Willa Brigham, who are really go-getters for marketing. She told me that occasionally she stops by schools she's never performed for, goes into the main office, introduces herself and drops off her marketing materials. If you do that sort of thing, you might need a brochure.

3. Do you do trade shows?

If you do trade shows, you can always give this to perspective clients. If they are going back through all of the stuff they got from Arts Market, you glossy brochure might be just the ticket.

4. Would you leave it with schools or venues who would keep it? 

After a show, if you do residencies, you could hand the brochure to the managing director or principal. You could use it to get the word out that you offer a wide variety of services.

5. I'm sure you could think of other reasons to distribute something like this...if you wanted one.

6. You can send it to people in the snail mail. There is always that!

7. Advocacy that you don't have to do out loud.

Ever tried to explain what you do to someone you meet if you are a performing artist? Well, the brochure is the best way to take the second step without you saying, 'Yes, I am a free lance performing artist. I've won blah de bah awards, I travel all over the world, I've got blah de blah recordings, I'm an author of blah de blah books and here is where you can find out more about wonderful me and all the wonderful things I do!'

You hand them the brochure, and the brochure does the talking for you. You can stand there and bask in their adoration as they read the carefully crafted words that say, 'You are standing in front of a damnably brilliant, talented person who does something you didn't even know could be a job!'

Then, they can ask about the items that most interest them instead of you reciting things and hoping you hit upon something they can understand.

So, maybe you need a brochure, maybe you don't, but if you did print one, what would you put in the thing?

Your logo or catch phrase can go on this thing


Product offerings

product offering!

Quick explanation of what you do


Online info

Make sure you keep the text bite sized.

Most people are going to scan this thing, not read it like a novel, so make sure there are points that pop!

The best thing about a brochure is that you can use it as part of making all of your marketing hang together.

It is another chance for branding.

It is an expanded business card with more info, but just enough to whet someone's appetite.

It can link people to your virtual marketing.

So, that's what I have to offer on the brochure. Here are some other thoughts.

Do You Really Need a Brochure: six questions to ask

So, follow the link above, ask your questions, consider your answers, and get one made or don't. If you do, however, consider how it fits with the rest of your marketing pieces.

Cohesion is the name of the game as you add pieces to your marketing arsenal, so if you don't already have a brochure, decide how it can compliment the pieces you are already using.

If you already have something that doubles as a probably don't need a brochure!

Happy Marketing!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Your Business Card - Is It Working Hard, or Hardly Working?

Marketing Materials: Installment - 3 Business Cards

1. The Questions
2. Do You Need a Logo?
3. Is Your Business Card Working?
4. The Brochure
5. The Press Kit
6. Cohesion: Why Does It Matter?

Wow. I just learned a great deal about business cards. You think you know a thing, and then you sit down and try to write about it.

The history geek that hides in my soul went looking for the reason we even have these things. The fact that I actually guessed the correct answer makes me think I might spend too much time reading period literature.

So, if you care to read about it...Here is the history of business cards.

"How did a simple card, 3.370 x 2.125 inches come to play such a central role in the business cultural of the world? Depending on the sources consulted, the cards may actually have originated in China in the 15th century."

The number of links I found that gave advice about business cards was extensive. There are lots and lots of things that people suggest about business cards. Some of the advice is contradictory.

So, I've endeavored to collect up what seemed to me like some best practices.

The first thing you should do is go and get your business card. Got it? Great! Now, let's see if your card is working for you.

1.What does this card say about you?

  Look at your card. What is the first thing that draws your eye?

1. Is it obvious what you do at a quick glance?
2. if you have a logo, does it convey what you do?
3. Does anything on your card draw your eye?

If it is not clear what you do or what you offer, then your card may not be working for you. If someone has to hunt around your card for some idea of why they have it, that is a problem.

2. Does your card look professional?

There are so many services you could use to get your card printed. These services offer cards at great prices.

You could go to Staples!
You could try Vistaprint!
Go Eco Friendly!
You could even have Vegan Cards!
Do It Yourself All Over The Place!

There are tons of services, and you can get fifty of the things for ten bucks!

You could drop some bank and let someone else take care of designing it.

You have so many options!

Here is one recommendation I've seen all over the place!

Don't do them on your home computer.

If your business card does not look professional, then you won't be taken seriously as a professional.

3. Be creative, but beware

I have seen some really cool business cards. People do what they can to stand out from the crowd. Well, it turns out if you are too creative, your business card might be remembered, but it won't be kept.

Most people have a system for keeping cards that assumes a standard size and shape. If your card doesn't fit into that standard, it will most likely be lost or tossed, according to the experts. Oversize cards are also a no go according to the people who claim to know such things. Better to find a creative way to stay in the standard size and shape...or so I've read. Several musicians I know have guitar pics as their business cards. Pretty cool. How many of you have ever seen a musician misplace a guitar pick during a set?

4. What size is your font?

Do you have teeny tiny writing on your business card? Would someone over fifty struggle to see what is in front of them?

Is your font in a really light color?

Don't miss out on a portion of your business because those who might purchase your services can't read your card.

5. Is your card too wordy? 

You need contact info, maybe something graphic, and something to identify what you are offering. If your font is big enough you won't have space to list the twelve things you do on the front of your card.

If your card is cluttered, then nothing draws your eye, and your customers have nothing on which to focus. (psst. this is where a logo would come in handy)

6. Are you using both sides of your card?

If there is nothing on the back of your card you are missing out on marketing space. This can be where you put your tag line, or a picture of yourself or something graphic and grabbing. You could also put info on the back. Again, make sure the font is good sized.

7. What kind of contact info is on your card?

Do you have your street address on the card? Apparently, giving yourself an address that isn't virtual makes you look more legit. Your virtual contact should be there as well. Some sources suggested putting the company blog or a link to a video about the company on the card instead of your website. I suppose that depends on what is on your site and how often it gets updated.

8. Is your card glossy?

This was a tidbit I found that had detractors. Some people like to write on business cards. They record information that helps them remember who they saw, and where. In some cultures, writing on a business card is considered taboo, rude beyond reckoning. Either way, if you get a glossy card or one that has an unusual surface, nobody will be able to take notes on it.

9. Is your card boring?

Your personality ought to be on this card. At least, that is what it is for in our trade, so if you are an artist and your card is boring...

10. Now, look at your card beside the rest of your marketing materials.

Does this card fit with the other bits of your marketing? Does the card reflect the brochure, reflect the marketing sheets, reflect the pictures, reflect the website, reflect the press material? If not, how different is it? Is there any cohesion in your marketing?

So, what do my marketing materials look like?


Back of Card

Front of Card


  When we run out of this batch, I'm going to change the font to black instead of the mustard yellow, despite the fact that it is in keeping with the color scheme!
Pocket folder for Press Packet

I have a brochure. I'll discuss what we do with this thing in the next blog post.

This is the front and back cover of my pocket press packet. I will unpack this thing in a future post and show the contents. This is a clever thing that looks really cool.

So, is your business card working for you? 

Here are some more links if you want EVEN MORE information about business cards.

21 Huge Business Card Mistakes You Must Avoid

Is it time for an upgrade?

Happy Marketing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Ramblings From The Road

I wrote this over a decade ago for the NC Storytelling Guild Newsletter. Just found it in one of my old document folders.

They were a pair of active, nutty, silly, imaginative little people!

Ramblings From the Road
Donna Washington

I spend a good deal of time on the road these days.  My car has become one of my best friends.  It is a blue-black 1994 Saturn sedan.  I put about thirty thousand miles a year on my car which means that it has almost 200,000 miles to date.  I’ve gotten to the point where I look forward to throwing a couple of days worth of stuff in the back and buckling myself into that seat that is perfectly molded to my figure.  I love the feel and handling of that old car and I trust it.

I take strange u-turns, go for miles in the wrong direction and misread my maps at least once on every trip, but since I tend to leave the day before anyone expects me I just do what I have to do to get there.  My little car has taken me through the mountains in snowstorms and across flat flooded roads in torrential rains. Once I spun out and ended up off the side of the road and into some trees.  A couple of nice young men helped me get my car back on the road and I drove at twenty miles an hour to the nearest Saturn dealership.  They hosed the mud out of the wheel wells and it was as good as new!

I also spend a good deal of time in hotels with the television off and the lights dimmed, hunching over my keyboard working on books or writing exercises.  I have gotten used to these quiet evenings alone waiting for my husband and children to call or getting instructions from my contact in that area.

This June, I had a different experience.  For the first time my in life my children and husband went with me on tour for three weeks.

There are some things you can never be prepared for.  I dropped my sedan off with my sister and we loaded our station wagon.  I was not prepared for how much I missed my little sedan.  Another thing that didn’t occur to me was how crowded a hotel room can be when there are four people sharing one bathroom and two beds. 
Not to mention the fact that both of the televisions were on when we were all in the room together.

It was a strange mix of work and play that was at times wonderful and at times very exhausting.  I forget how much work children are if you are actively raising them.  We were constantly in search of museums, zoos, natural experiences, wildlife, local attractions and anything we could think of to entertain and educate our two children who are four and seven. 

We discovered that Georgia is number fifty in the nation in education and that through most of the state there are no museums or any other kind of educational or interesting places for children to go and experience things.  When I asked why this was I was told that most folks just send their kids to the pool all summer.  

My children loved all of the greenery of South Carolina and especially Florida.  They loved being able to go swimming every single day.  In fact, our biggest problem was that they are incredibly active and it was hard to fill their days with enough physical activity to make them sleep at night.  They loved all the travel and they spent their time in the car talking about the animals and the people and the places.  They loved the ocean and they loved eating at McDonalds at least once a day for three weeks.  They loved the hotel suites where they got a television all to themselves.  They loved meeting kids who were from all over the place.  They loved the car games we played and they loved the stories.

My husband and I were exhausted with trying to keep them occupied as well as getting me to two or three shows almost every day.  There were times when I was so wasted, David would take the children out somewhere and let them run around for a few hours so I could sleep between shows.

I missed my sedan and maneuvered the wagon as best I could, but it just wasn’t the same, luckily, no one was hurt.

I didn’t ride home with my family.  They drove up I-95 and I took a plane to Virginia.

As I sit here tonight thinking about the last few weeks I can safely say that this hotel room is much too quiet.

Here's to remembering what it was like to be a full-time parent!!!

Happy reminiscing!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Branding: Do You Have A Logo?

My first logo

This is the second post in my series on Marketing.

1. Marketing 101: Part 1 - Questions.
2. Branding: Do you Have a Logo?
3. Is Your Business Card Working?
4. The Brochure
5. The Press Kit
6. Cohesion: Why Does It Matter?

I learned to write cursive in the third grade. I loved it. I watched as the elegant letters I'd always seen my mother make, come flowing out of my pen.

Words and how we use them have always fascinated me. Writing words and letters in interesting ways has been a passion of mine since I was little.

I am an unabashed logophile.

I started playing with different ways to express my initials somewhere around fourth grade, and within weeks of graduating from college, I put together the logo you see at the top of the post.

I put that logo on everything. I included a little graphic of it under my name when I applied for showcases or grants. For many years it was on everything I sent to anyone.

Now, some of you who have known me for a long time are staring at that thing and saying, "If you used this everywhere, how come I've never seen it?"

This brings up a good question. Do itinerate performers actually need a logo?

This short article by a company that generates logos doesn't think so.

"...ask yourself, do I really need a logo for my business?
Here’s how to tell…
Think about what a logo’s primary job is: to help customers distinguish between products on a shelf, or to tell one service apart from a competitors. For example, take a look at this glass of cola. Can you tell what kind it is?"

The image is a glass of brown liquid with ice. There is no way to tell what it is unless it had a logo.

So, I thought I'd go that way. A few images.

Who made this cap?

Who made this cap?

 What is in these bowls?

Is one of these pairs of shoes a knockoff? Maybe.

Obviously, branding matters when you have a shelf full of similar or possibly the exact same something, and you are trying to distinguish what is what.

Advertisers also use logos in order to subtly influence our brains for preferential treatment. They spend years telling us that their brand is different from other brands because they use 'better', 'stronger', more 'durable', 'tastier', 'organic', blah-de-blah-de-blah than their competitors.

We, as performers are not shoes, hats, or generic bowls of goo. Does having a logo make any difference in the world?

I would argue that while nobody is going to mistake me for Sherry Norfolk...
this is not me.

there is still a place for logos in our business.

The logo can be used to give your marketing materials a more professional look. Though nobody is going to look at a graphic and say, 'hey, that means that this is storyteller is more durable than that other one!' having a logo can make your marketing look fancier.

So, where could you find my logo?

I put it on my stationary. This is the same paper I used for my contracts, invoices, communication, and handwritten notes.

The little bit of writing you see on the left side of the page is something I said offhand once when someone was asking me a question about the veracity of my tales. It got a laugh, so I decided to keep it.

"Every story I tell is true...except for the parts I make up."

That little phrase has been used for so many introductions and bios that it is way more associated with me than the logo.

What is nice about the logo, however, is that it can be put on anything that is part of my work product. It gives my marketing cohesion.

One of the things I will talk about over the next few posts is having your marketing materials support each other.

Eight or nine years ago, The David and I decided to redo the marketing material. I had designed my business card and logo, but we chucked the works and rebranded the whole thing. We sent our old stuff to one of them slick marketing groups, told them what we were looking for, and they designed a brand new logo for me.

Simpler. Cleaner. I hated it at first.

This new logo arrived with mock-ups of all sorts of interesting things and a new look for the company. We redid the business cards, the stationary, and got new marketing toys. We even got a color scheme.

So, here are some of the things that changed after we put our marketing materials in the hands of people who actually know how to create stuff for marketing....

Stationary with contact info on the bottom

My new stationary doesn't have that little phrase on the side, but at the bottom, in that gorgeous purplish-red color is all of the contact information for the business.

We use this for contracts, invoices, letters, and anything else you would need for correspondence from the company.

There is a new addition to the stationary...that little frog. Don't forget him, he's everywhere.

The business card is less wordy, laid out in an easy to read manner, and my manager's name is  listed as the contact, not mine! Not only that...if you flip that sucker over....

My tagline is on the back, and there I am in technicolor so that it would be impossible for you to confuse me with Sherry Norfolk.

So, here is the thing about the logo. 

1. It isn't likely anyone is going to associate you with a particular logo since so much of our business is word of mouth, watching people on Youtube, or listening to CDs, mp3s, or finding us on the radio.

2. At some point, if you are working this as a business, it will be necessary for you to produce materials for marketing, legally binding agreements, or correspondence, so having a logo gives you something to put on all of that stuff.

3. If you don't want to create a logo, you don't need to do so. You are a unique performer, and there is no chance someone is going to distinguish you from someone else because you have a puppet theater emblazoned on your jacket. 

So, do you need a logo? Nope. Not a bit of it. Lots of people don't have them. You can have lovely marketing materials without using them. 

In our business, your name is far more important than your logo. Your name is your brand. All of this other stuff, well, that's just frosting on your cake.

Logophiles Unite!

Happy Marketing.