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 attendees, written 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.
Promoting 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.