Do you have a marketing plan?
When an entrepreneur is starting a new business, people expect that they have a well-written marketing plan in place. And while it’s not always the case, most business owners do have a prepared marketing strategy for promoting their business.
Why shouldn’t a creative entrepreneur have a marketing plan, too?
Unless you’re new to this blog (if you are, hello!), you’re probably familiar with our stance that every artist is an entrepreneur. If you want to find success, and make a profit, with your art, you have to treat it like a business. And that means that you need a marketing plan.
Hold on. Before you get that deer-in-the-headlights look, stop and take a breath. You don’t have to spend the next month researching and writing out a complicated 50-page manifesto on how you’re going to become the area’s most in-demand performer. You probably don’t need anything that in-depth.
The purpose of a marketing plan is to determine who your audience is and how you can best reach them. That doesn’t take 50 pages. It takes 5, double-spaced. You can write one up in an afternoon, if that’s all the time you have to dedicate to it, and we’re here to show you how to put it together.
Know your product and your audience
Before you can sell yourself as an artist, you need to have a firm understanding of what, exactly, it is that you are trying to sell. What are you offering? More than that, what makes it different from what your competitors offer? To do this successfully, you need a strong product. As an artist entrepreneur, that product is you.
You also need to know who you are selling to. Who is your audience, in this case, the people who will want to buy your product? The answer to that question is going to depend on what you’re trying to accomplish with your dance. Do you want to teach? Do you want to give workshops at area festivals? Perform in local productions? Run a production company? Something else? Each of those options has a different target, or ideal, audience. Figure out yours, and start thinking about how to best connect with them.
What makes you stand out? What are you ‘selling’ to your audience every time you take the stage? How do you want people to remember your performances? What are you offering that is unique? There are thousands of other dancers out there, all trying to make a living with their art, but there’s not a single one of them that can do what you do best. Figure out what that something is, and make it who you are. That’s your brand. And then pick up a couple books on personal branding, or check out our recent post on personal branding. Your brand is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy; take the time to really learn how to make the most of it.
Set up your Tools
One of the best perks of the digital marketing age is the variety of free (and inexpensive) tools available to entrepreneurs. Start with a website and analytics program. Set up a blog. Add in the social media networks of your choice. Do a search for marketing tools, and see which ones might best fit your business. Get ready for offline marketing, too. Order business cards. Make a list of organizations and events that might provide opportunities to network with other professionals (and potential target audience members) in your area.
By this point, you know what you offer, and who you want to offer it to. You have your tools lined up and ready to go. Now, you just need to connect with the right people. Start using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and wherever else you interact online as a professional artist. Consider digital advertising on Facebook, Twitter, or through Google’s Adwords (Pay Per Click) program. Get involved in community dance events. Meet people. You can’t do everything from in front of a computer screen.
Is this marketing plan going to last you for the next five years? No, but it’s enough to get you started. And that’s always the hardest part of any new business. Once things get going, you’ll find it easier to continue developing your brand and keep reaching out to new (and current) clients/audience members. You’ll be able to modify and add to your marketing plan as you continue to grow and evolve as an artist entrepreneur.