Saturday, February 10, 2007

Getting the Word Out

If you have ever taken a class in marketing, one of the first things you are likely to learn about is the 4 "P's".....Price, Product, Promotion, and Place. Each aspect is important to being successful in the marketplace. Let's assume that you have a product, and you have a price for your you need to let the world know about you and your product.....Promotion.

Advertising, promotion, "guerilla marketing" or creating "buzz" are all ways to promote your product. This is a Primer of sorts about each of these alternatives, and the pros and cons.

Advertising: This is when you pay for an ad. The ad could be in a magazine, newspaper, show guide, or on the web. While there are often constraints with any place you decide to place your ad, you are paying for the space, so you have more control. Control over any images used, size, text, content, etc. But it does cost money. Anywhere from $50 or so for a small ad in a show guide, to thousands of dollars in high end magazines geared toward the collector market.

But to some extent you get what you pay for. There is no guarantee that anyone will read that ad in the show guide, or that it will have any life beyond the show. A well produced magazine will have higher quality paper, printing, and a longer shelf life. It may be the kind of magazine that is found in the waiting room of a doctor or an auto dealer. But that high end magazine ad may well be out of the reach of many artists. Resourceful artists have been known to get help in the cost of those ads. They may ask several galleries who represent their work to chip in for the cost of the ad. Their gallery name appears in the ad, and they get exposure for their gallery and any cachet that the artist brings.

But advertising is something that can't be a one-shot deal. You need to have repetition in the ad before you will see any significant results from it. The rule of thumb is that you need to run an ad at least three times before you can judge the results. Most of my advertising dollars go to The Buyer's Guide produced by, and in advertising on their site. After two years on the site, and a more consistent effort in this area, I am seeing a difference.

Let's say that you are still in the early stages of your business, and don't have much money available to spend on any advertising. This is where promotion comes in. I like to think of this as the "free" advertising. Promotion is the press releases, the articles or pictures submitted to magazines, the contests, etc. The cost is your time and effort in pursuing these opportunities. There are no guarantees of return for this effort. You may enter a contest, submit a press release, or send pictures for the gallery section of a magazine. This does not mean that your work will be accepted. You give up the control that you have with an ad. But you may gain some credibility. Even if a newspaper or magazine uses every word of your press release, completely unaltered, there is the perception that editorial content....articles, etc....are less biased than an ad.

Promotion can be a win-win. Magazines are in continual need of content. 4, 6 or 12 issues a year. 8 to 20 articles in an issue. Local newspapers have less reporters on staff these days, and are often looking for articles about local people. You are helping them find material to fill that constant void. But you need to make sure your work is a good fit for the magazine or newspaper. Each publication has different standards for submissions. They can often be found on their website. And the pay-off is often not immediate. But over time, it is one way to build your exposure, and credibility.

Competitions are another great way to build your exposure and credibility. Win an award in a competition, and now you are an "award winning" artist. Lists of competions can be found in many magazines including The Crafts Report. There are an endless stream of books that are being published in the world of craft. They will often include a gallery section. Lark Books for one, has a place on their website where you can see what types of submissions they need for upcoming books. You risk rejection in each case, but the potential rewards are great.

Finally there is the guerilla marketing or buzz factor. This is the more organic type of marketing. It can be a blog where you post your latest work, or about your upcoming shows. Or it can be networking with other artists. This takes time, and effort, and without some sincerity in your message, is likely to fall flat.

I am someone who loves to share finds. Good or bad, if I learn about some new product or service that I really liked or absolutely detested, the people in my life are likely to learn about it. Some companies are trying to build on this in a more formal way. There are Bzzz Agents, or guerilla marketers and You Tube. I had joined Bzzz Agents because I thought it would be fun to do, and a natural fit with who I am. Turns out, for me, you can't force something like that. I did not Love or Hate any of the products I tried out, so creating buzz felt artificial to me. I am a flunk out of a Bzzz Agent. But I am opinionated, so this blog, or on-line forums are a great way for me to share my opinions and thoughts, and perhaps help people learn about my work.

Do you have plans for Promotion for your business? If not, now is a good time to start thinking about where and how you can get the word out about the gorgeous work you are creating.

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