Monday, October 31, 2016

Marketing 101 Part 7: The Wrap Up!

Writing a series on marketing has taught me several things.

1. It would be possible to write about this stuff every week and still not cover everything...and I am quite through with this!

2. I never say as much as I mean to, but can fill up this space quite quickly with observations.

3. There are lots of people far more qualified than I to talk about this, and I am going to leave them to it!

This is my final entry in this series, and I mean to quickly wrap up my observations!

To Review:

1. The Questions I Consider About Marketing
2. Branding: Do You Have A Logo? Do You Need One?
7. Marketing 101: The Wrap Up!

I will endeavor to go through the last few points I want to make about this subject in this series.

1. Ghosts Of Marketing Past!

1. When I was a wee, baby storyteller back in the olden days, we used carrier pigeons to get out our message. Yes, then came Western Union and ultimately the post office...the thing we now call snail mail. These days, The David rarely uses the snail mail for marketing; contracts, yes, but that is about it. 

This means we no longer send out postcards. I used to design these myself, and I enjoyed it. We used Modern Postcards back in the day because they were one of the few services that offered what we needed. Today there are lots of companies that offer services like this. 

Barely scratched the surface! The coolest thing about this is that they will print and mail the cards for you. All you have to do is send in the designs. It is a no muss no fuss type of thing. 

Personally, I love postcards, and we got an okay return. In other words, they paid for themselves plus a little extra. I, however, am not in charge of marketing in my company....The David is, and The David controls the budget. 

What do we do instead? We have a vigorous online marketing strategy. The David painstakingly creates comprehensive email lists of schools and libraries in every state in which we market. He also finds out exactly who is in charge of booking cultural arts events for each school. This targeted marketing is much more effective in terms of reaching our potential clients. It also allows him to include links the client can click and instantly see the product they might be buying. 

Not nearly as sexy as postcards, labor intensive, but the return is much better, and since he does it in-house it doesn't cost us a penny extra. 

2. Online or Hard Copy Directories

There are companies that ask you to pay a fee, join a directory, and let them do the marketing for you. They say their directories are distributed far and wide, and your work will end up in front of thousands upon thousands of potential clients. We have signed up for things like this in the past. We no longer use them.

Now, that does not mean these services are not worthwhile for some artists, but we were never able to track the efficacy of these services. When it comes to our marketing budget, if we are shelling out cash for something, we need to be able to track the return. If we cannot see a  return on our investment, we discontinue a service. We typically give such services like this two or three years. 

There may be artists who have found such services financially lucrative or at least a good brick in their marketing strategy, but they have never worked for us.

The reason for this is that most of our work is in schools. The contacts for schools change on a regular basis. They have lots of other ways to find artists and are not as likely to use these directories. Libraries don't seem to use them either. If you work in theaters or have some other type of venue, these might work excellently well.

3. We no longer create marketing pieces in-house. They are always outsourced.

4. Is there something you used to do that you no longer do, but someone else might want to try? Leave it in the comments section!

2. Other Marketing Resources - 

There are lots and lots of blogs that deal with marketing. Just type in what sort of advice you need into Google, and let the internet do its thing.

As for me, I have taken any number of workshops about marketing. There are, however, two that stand out as being exceptional.

Dianne De Las Casas offers an in-depth marketing workshop. You want to know how to reach people, get your name out there and shock the world? Find out where this woman is offering a workshop, and take it!

The other one that struck me as being a stand out in the world of marketing workshops was given by my blogging goddess mentor Karen Langford Chace, and the dashing Simon Brooks.

Karen Langford Chace
One of the coolest things about the workshop they designed is that it not only talks about marketing strategies, but offers a comprehensive look at what type of storyteller you are, what might be your strengths, and what you are most proud of as a performer. The questionnaires they created help you figure out not only how to market, but WHAT to market. It is a very clever approach, and highly effective if you are at the beginning of your marketing career, or thinking about taking it up a notch.
Simon Brooks

There is so much more that could be said about resources and books and people, but I will stop with these two. I did say that one could spend their entire life writing a blog about marketing, and that is not my intention! If you have a link to or a suggestion for who gives a bang up workshop, or a great book you read, feel free to offer that information in the comments section so we can all  benefit from it!

3. The Marketing budget

How much money should you be spending on marketing?

Well, here are some questions.

How much did you actually spend on marketing last year? Do you know? Do you track that? What counts as marketing

-Your website
-Hard and soft marketing
-Advertising in Publications
-Fees for arts councils
-Art Fairs

Can you make a good estimate as to which of your activities produces the most revenue?

Once you know what you spent and what you earned, you will be able to figure out what percentage of your gross was spent on marketing, and what sort of returns you got. This brings us to the burning question:

The simple answer is if you want to grow your business you have to invest in your marketing strategies. Not all marketing strategies are alike. It isn't a bad idea to sit down and evaluate your various marketing activities. 

The best way to track efficacy is to simply ask anyone who books you how they found out about you. In fact, as The David just reminded me, it is the ONLY way to track that!

Some marketing strategies require time to reach fruition, some need to be rolled out at once, some are ongoing. How are they serving you? If there is something you are doing that is a continuous drain on your resources with no clear reason to continue doing it, then it might be time to consider reinvesting that capital somewhere else.

In Conclusion:

The more I write about this the more I realize there are lots of things I never even touched upon...but that will have to be for another day and another time. 

There are lots and lots of ways to market yourself. I am sure you have come up with clever ways to get the word out about your work and the products you offer.

This series deals only with the paper products we produce, it does not touch on all of the other marketing that we do! 

In future blogs, if I say, "You've got to market like crazy every year just to keep your hand in the game", this is the sort of thing I mean. 

Producing and distributing marketing materials that are professional and effective can increase your bottom line, improve your market share, and let everybody know that we storytellers are not in this as a hobby. 

Storytelling is a profession, and it deserves to be treated as such.

Happy Marketing - 

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?
7. In Conclusion

  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?
7. In Conclusion

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!