Developing a Promotional Strategy

Every few weeks we post 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 is packed with practical ideas to make your life run more smoothly, leaving you even more time for your creative practice. Learn more about all of our workshops and webinars here.

In your arts practice you will always have individuals and groups of people with whom you want to be connected. These connections could be related to an upcoming event, a search for new funding, identifying a new partner to represent your work or maintaining the professional connections you already have.
What you want to accomplish when promoting your work will always stem from your goals. Your short and long-term goals will help you identify those with whom you wish to communicate.

To help develop your Promotional Strategy, you’ll need to first answer the following questions:

What am I trying to achieve with my marketing efforts? Is it to:

  • Sell-out your performance?
  • Receive a critical review?
  • Cultivate a funder?
  • Build an online subscriber base?
  • Develop a relationship with a venue/gallery/publisher/producer/agent?
  • Pull off a national tour for your upcoming performance or publication?

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 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 artists 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?
If you don’t clarify your strategy, it is difficult to make smart decisions about your best marketing approach. moreover, it’s hard to know what is worth doing and what is not. Your time and resources are valuable. Taking a moment to develop a clear strategy will be time well spent.

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