Marketing as Self-Definition

Robert Karimi

¡Viva las Roots! at Intermedia Arts, Robert Karimi, 2011

If marketing leaves you feeling uneasy, reconsider how you approach it. For artists, marketing is an exercise in self-definition, not self-promotion. Your marketing strategy should echo your ideas and intentions. Creative Capital consultant Brian Tate identifies seven principles as a framework to implement and analyze his own strategic marketing plan. This post looks specifically at the elements of the story, the message, the audience and call to action. Brian will discuss using the seven principles in depth on Monday, October 19 in his popular Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing webinar.
Marketing tells a story. Your story is your art. If you don’t tell it yourself, you risk another party taking control of your narrative. Developing a strategic marketing plan is reflexive; it can help you flesh out core themes of your project and strengthen your ideas. Start with creating a self-inventory of what’s important you. Write down why it’s important to you and why you’ve chosen to pursue it. This is where your story begins. Think about what sets your ideas apart and why it matters to other people.
Marketing builds community. Pandering to the general public is likely not a good use of your time and energy. Be specific. Use your time and energy to foster a strong community base. You should spend time connecting with both your target and core audiences. Your core audience is made up of those people who you’re already connected with. These people are the ones who already support you and identify with your story. Many people overlook their inner circles and existing community to dash straight towards those that haven’t already been “hooked,” the target audience. If you don’t nurture your core, you could lose the attention of those who already are already invested in your work.
Marketing calls for action. Thinking about marketing feels icky because the call-to-action mass media has familiarized us with is “Buy!” Political marketing asks for you to vote or care. Public service campaigns, like posters on the subway or anti-smoking ads, ask for you to be aware. In her SHORE project, Creative Capital grantee Emily Johnson calls for the audience to volunteer and be together. Another Creative Capital artist, Robert Karimi, asks for viewers to feed and be fed in The Cooking Show. What does your art call people to do?

“If we’re committed to being in the world, making art about that experience, and fostering conditions where others can do the same, then our stories must be told. Marketing is key to that process. ” -Brian Tate

For more from Brian Tate, visit Part One, Part Two and Part Three of his previous series on The Lab, Strategic Marketing for Artists. Register for the Seven Elements of Strategic Marketing webinar on Monday, October 19 at 7:00-8:30 ET for a comprehensive discussion of techniques to implement the principles. Busy that night? All PDP webinars are recorded and sent to registrants via e-mail whether or not they participated live.
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