Last month, C4 Atlanta and the Foundation Center Atlanta presented a session about Digital Advertising for arts businesses. Melanie Collins with Analogy Digital Marketing led the session. Melanie has over 10 years of experience in digital advertising. Her credentials include working for Cox Media Group, AOL Time Warner and Microsoft. Melanie also helped C4 Atlanta put together a digital strategy for advertising. We will be re-launching our website in December and many of the recommendations Melanie made will be incorporated.
Melanie introduced many of us in the room to what seems to be a common marketing term: The Marketing Funnel. The funnel is a way to examine marketing reach. Understanding how patrons might move through the funnel is important to creating an effective marketing strategy. The funnel helps marketers know where to spend marketing dollars.
Strategy vs. Tactics
Customers are in the door, now what? How does each tactic fit into an overall marketing strategy. Remember: a tactic is an action you need to execute a strategy. Casting too wide of a marketing net may waste a lot of time and not yield conversions. A common example of a marketing tactic I see employed a lot in arts marketing is reaching “new audiences.” A campaign is created to bring in new patrons. It works. One program achieves the new-audience outcome because it appeals to a certain demographic or interest group. But what about the rest of the programming? How is a new patron going to become a loyal patron (and someday donor) if he doesn’t care about the overall mission?
Your art is your brand
During Melanie’s session, one artist asked how much time he should be spending on marketing. Artists have to balance creating art and selling art. What percentage of time should an artist spend on marketing? Melanie’s answer was that we are always marketing. She cautioned that artists do need to create balance but even the very artwork itself reflects a style, theme, brand, aesthetic and more. How do you tie that all together? More importantly, how do you reflect all of that in a genuine message to prospective patrons?
It is difficult to give a magic number as to hours an artist should be spending on marketing. The truth is sometimes you just don’t know until you get out there and try it. Keep records. Test targets. Do your patrons live on Twitter, or do they prefer Facebook? How do you know? Have a plan and have a way to measure success. Identify what success looks like before you launch a marketing campaign or pay for an ad. Is brand awareness your goal, or is it actual sales? Knowing the answer ahead of time will help you manage expectations and understand analytics.
This Saturday, C4 Atlanta will be offering another Marketing Bootcamp 4 Artists. The hardest part of marketing for artists is simply explaining what it is that they do. This workshop challenges artists to think about how they tell their story. Creating context for you art draws in people who want to buy your art.
Get to know your patrons. Build meaningful relationships. You make great art. Chances are someone wants to buy it. How are you going to reach that person? Hint: They won’t just come to you.
In the meantime, enjoy the PDF version of Melanie’s presentation she gave last month. Digital Advertising – Melanie Collins