A Page from Our Handbook: Developing a Promotional Strategy

Penny LaneFilmmaker Penny Lane presenting on her work at the 2012 Creative Capital Artist Retreat

Every few weeks, we’ll be posting tips straight from the Professional Development Program’s Artist’s Tools Handbook—a 200+ page resource we give to Core Workshop attendeeswritten by PDP Core Leaders Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman. The book covers everything from writing to budgeting, websites to fundraising, elevator pitches to work samples. Similarly, each post will be packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about our PDP workshops here.

Open CallPromoting your work is communicating about your art to others. It’s sharing your ideas, your dedication and your passion concerning a significant part of your life. You have made an enormous investment of time and energy in creating your art. Promoting your work honors that commitment and, as such, needs to become another part of your creative process.

All of the material included in previous posts in this series will be used in this process: work samples, artist statements, resumes and bios, elevator pitches and Internet essentials. This post focuses on the way in which those pieces come together to form a cohesive marketing plan.

Developing a Promotional Strategy
Every artist’s promotional needs and goals are different. To help you develop a Promotional Strategy, brainstorm answers to the questions below. Your answers will shape your plan for moving forward.

What am I trying to achieve with my marketing efforts?
Is it to sell out your performance? Receive a critical review? Cultivate a funder? Develop a relationship with a venue/gallery/publisher/producer/agent? Pull off a national tour for your upcoming performance or publication? Is your goal not on this list? Fill in the blank: My goal is___________. This goal is the driving force behind your plan.

Who is the audience I’m trying to reach?
It helps to be specific when you make a list of your target audience(s). It could be all the potential funders for an upcoming project, new ticket buyers, dance enthusiasts, potential exhibition spaces in another city, listings editors in the press, literary critics, etc.

What is my message?
Not all audiences respond to the same message. For each individual or group you target, decide what you want to communicate about yourself, your work or your event. What aspect(s) of your work might be most compelling to them? If you aren’t sure what these are, interview a friend, colleague or supporter of your work and ask them what they find remarkable about what you do.

What are the marketing tools available to help get my message out?
Make a list of appropriate methods that are available to you, such as printed announcements, invitations, posters, phone calls, handwritten cards, electronic press kits, updates for your website and/or social networking sites, emailed announcements and introductions by other art professionals. Be an aggressive observer in your field. What tools are other others using to promote their work and activities?

What approach is the best match for reaching my target audience?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to promotion. You need to match up the right marketing tactic to the right audience. A press release is a good method for contacting a listings editor or critic. A letter of intent may be more suitable for introducing your project to a funder. An introduction by another artist may be the most suitable approach for deepening a relationship with an art dealer. If you aren’t sure, do some research. Are there additional approaches you can add to the list?

Check back regularly for more Pages from Our Handbook. Coming soon: Creating a Press Kit.

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About Jackie Battenfield and Aaron Landsman

JACKIE BATTENFIELD is an artist known for her luminously colored paintings and prints of natural forces. Galleries throughout the United States represent her work including: Addison-Ripley, Washington, D.C.; Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois; Allyn Gallup, Sarasota, Florida, Michele Mosko Fine Art, Denver, Colorado; and DM Contemporary, New York. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Award (1991), the Warren Tanner Award (1996) and the Fulbright Scholars Program (2011). Jackie was the founding director of The Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn, York overseeing its development into a stable art organization. She has been teaching Professional Practices to artists since 1992, first as seminar leader in The Artist in the Marketplace Program (AIM) at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and currently in the MFA program at Columbia University School of the Arts. Battenfield is author of The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love, Da Capo Press, 2009. AARON LANDSMAN’s performances combine formal experimentation and long-term community engagement. His works are often staged in spaces where people go every day, such as homes, offices and meeting rooms. Current projects include: City Council Meeting, a participatory work presented in four US cities in 2012-13; Appointment, a suite of performances for single viewers in small offices, presented so far in New York, Oslo and Detroit; and Running Away From The One With The Knife, a play about suicide and religious faith, to be presented at the Chocolate Factory in 2014. Previous work has been produced by The Foundry Theatre, PS 122, DiverseWorks and other spaces in the US, UK and Europe. Landsman’s work is funded by the NEFA National Theater Pilot, Jerome Foundation, MAP Fund and NPN. He has performed with award-winning theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service and other artists, taught at Juilliard and NYU, and guest lectured widely. He lives in Brooklyn, NY and Urbana, IL with his wife, Johanna Meyer, and their son Harold.

One thought on “A Page from Our Handbook: Developing a Promotional Strategy

  1. Hi Jackie & Aaron — I just discovered your series from a tweet by CAA! What a great series – simple, to the point, powerful. I never do enough promotion and I’m probably a little clumsy at it. I think your series could be a real help. I think I should answer your great questions in this post, as a blog post of my own, so I can work on promotion and document / explore the process at the same time.

    Thanks guys! 🙂

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