The Art of the Business, Part 3 – Touchpoints

For a downloadable or streaming audio podcast of this article, click here.

This month’s Art of the Business deals with a term you may or may not have heard before: touchpoints. A touchpoint is any way that your consumer, or end-user, comes in contact with your work. It could be a webpage, an e-newsletter, a poster or flyer, an ad in the newspaper. Marketing theory says that it takes, on average, between 6-8 exposures to your marketing materials, or touchpoints, before someone will even consider making contact with you.

Six to eight! We are so inundated with advertising and marketing these days, that we have learned to tune it out. So it takes a lot more hits, or more innovative ones, before we can actually make contact with our potential clientèle. And I’m not even talking about the sales process—but you have won half the battle just by making contact.

So, your job as an artist who, god forbid, wants to make money from their art practice is to increase your touchpoints as much as you can. Maximizing your touchpoints is going to help get your name out there, and make you easier to find.

How can you maximize your touchpoints? I’m so glad you asked. I will share a few ideas with you in this column, but I gotta save some for future columns…. I have to have something to keep you coming back for more, after all!

Word of mouth is always the best form of advertising. A couple of weeks ago, when I was looking for someone to move my stuff, what did I do? I picked up the phone and called a couple of my friends who had recently moved and asked them for recommendations. It makes my life easier, I don’t have to do a google search, and call 7 different moving companies. I already have the advice of someone I trust—I’m going with that. While I know that art is subjective and not a moving company, and you have to take that into account when you are asking people’s opinions, the bottom line is do the best job you possibly can and people will recommend you. Recommendations sell tickets. Or paintings. Or CDs. You get the point.

In my first column I talked about exploring what it is that makes you, or your show, or your film, unique. Let that idea or concept inform all your decisions about additional touchpoints. Whatever it is that makes you unique, settle on it, and then use it on everything. In marketing, that’s called branding. Think of the golden arches, or the Nike swoosh. You see those things, you know immediately what they mean. Ideally, you want your clients to do the same when they hear your name, or see one of your touchpoints—know immediately what it is you stand for.

Here is a not-totally comprehensive list of other ways to market yourself and increase your touchpoints, some of which I will get into in more detail in future columns:

  • Business Cards: you never know when you might meet Stephen Spielberg in an elevator. If you did, how would he get in touch with you about your fantastic film? A business card is a wonderful way of continuing that conversation.
  • Posters: don’t break your budget with posters, but do try to have one with a catchy, interesting image.
  • Postcards/Flyers: a combo poster/business card. Catchy image, all the basic info, and a way for you to continue the conversation: “You think my show sounds cool? Here’s a postcard with the info.”
  • Webpages: What do you do when you need something? You google it. Enough said. You need a website. Whether or not you pay to have someone build it for you or you do it yourself; what should go on it; etc., will be fodder for a future column.
  • Facebook/ You Tube/ My Space: free, useful, and everyone is on them. I am using these social connectors more and more all the time to market my clients.
  • Newsletters: a great way of keeping in touch with your end-user, or even your potential end-users. The key for newsletters is to make sure that they offer information that is useful and appreciated.
  • E-mail: It’s free! Everyone has it! I send usually between 2-3 for every show I do.
  • Brochures: more in depth than a poster or a postcard, less information than a webpage, it may be a useful marketing tool if you are promoting a season, or offering more in-depth services that require more information.
  • Leave-behinds: this is something that you leave with your client after the work is done. I know a closet-installer (hey, it could be an art!) who leaves a half-a-dozen nice wooden hangers (with his logo on them) in each closet he finishes. A nice touch, and a good way to spread word-of-mouth.

I will flesh out many of these in future columns.

So until next time, here’s to bums in seats….

Rebecca Coleman

Rebecca is a contributing columnist and founder of Titania Productions, a Vancouver Marketing and Public Relations Company.

Local Stage and Screen Icon in Dire Need of Your Help

Babz Chula, beloved Grande Dame of West Coast stage and screen, has been fighting an ongoing battle with cancer for years, and has suddenly taken a turn for the worse. babz1.jpgDubbed “the Queen of the Indies”, Babz grew up and started her career in New York, and has been a fixture in the Vancouver independent film and theatre scene for years, as well as being a long-time mentor to young artists and a constant volunteer with many charity causes. She had been winning the battle with two separate cancers, but recently one of them has moved into her liver, and has become agressive. You can read about it and her thoughts on what she’s going through in Babz’ own words here. Please do. It’s astonishingly heroic.

Some friends have organized an effort to help pay for her quickly mounting medical bills, and have made an urgent appeal for help to the arts community. From a letter sent out this week:

Our very good friend, beloved ( I could go on here, talented, eloquent, hilarious, infinitely courageous) Canadian actress Babz Chula has recently been diagnosed with her third cancer…we found out just weeks ago that cancer has again reappeared – this time metastacizing into her liver. At the strong insistence of both her oncologist and her naturopath, she is embarking on both chemo and some other incredibly promising treatments – but unfortunately, due to the testing stage that some of these treatments are in, they are not yet funded by our standard Canadian health plan. That said, we are doing what anyone would do if their friend needed such help – we’re trying to fund it.

They have started the Babz Chula Lifeline for Artists Society, which is a registered non-profit created to raise money for her treatment, and to raise awareness of the disease. Click here to read more about it, and to donate if you are able. You will also find a link to the Society’s online auction list, you won’t believe who’s putting up dinner dates on the auction block.

And please pass this link on to your address lists, it really is a matter of life or death.

Hot Stepsister

From Graeme Stewart at Blog TO:

Spare a thought, if you will, for poor, poor theatre. In this age of long-form television, blockbuster films and digital doo-daddery, live theatre tends to get a little overlooked. It’s kinda like the Cinderalla [sic] of human narrative. Hardworking, honest, and totally hot. Problem is, she’s being oppressed by evil stepsisters who have way fancier clothes. But once a year, theatre gets the fairy godmother treatment and gets to step out in style in carriage that used to be a pumpkin.

Happy World Theatre Day, everyone.

cinderella_mop.jpg

The School of Hard Knocks Reunion

There’s a viral meme floating around the theatrenet asking us to speak about some lessons we’ve been taught the hard way, and then to pass it on to three others. This is a fine and worthy exercise, as those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, so I will proudly throw my hat in the ring. For my local readers, it’s worth your time to track back through the links to read what the rest of the crew has to say about this, starting with the two guys who tagged me (double-teamed, thanks guys); Tony and Ian over at Scott’s site. Ahem…

1. Just because people find your battle cry inspirational, it doesn’t mean they’ll follow you over the hill. – I tried and tried and tried for years to get a tribe together. Spent hundreds of hours and dollars on drinks preaching the gospel of DIY theatre, setting up readings and scene study groups, decrying the dearth of good indie theatre in Vancouver. There are so many talkers and so few doers out there, especially with something that takes so much work with such small financial remuneration, that finding the tribe to begin with is a wearying exercise in tenacity. But finally, inevitably, someone listened to my sermon and said “great, sounds good. How’s tomorrow to get this started?” The snowball’s been rolling ever since.

2. Other’s ideas on your work just might be better than yours. – This was a hard pill to swallow when I first started working in true collaboration with other artists on my originals. As a young playwright you tend to hold on to every word and plot device like it was your preciousesss, and every minor criticism or “that doesn’t really make sense right here” comment landed like a personal insult. Fortunately I worked with very smart and talented people with sound instincts, and they helped me to realize how useless ego is in pursuit of the true story. Now I can honestly say not one word I write is unchangeably precious. It also helped that we could fight with each other-really fight-without it affecting our relationships outside of the room. That’s the tricky part.

3. The Stage Manager never pays for drinks. – On the load-in day for our very first production we showed up early at our rented theatre with everything loaded into a one-ton U-Haul, except a stage manager. To this day I have no idea what we thought we were going to do about that little element-we were learning on the job-but to my eternal gratitude my business partner at the time stepped up to the plate and ran the entire run. Ever since then I have considered the SM the most important person in the room. As a bonus, it was around then that I realized that there is no problem without a solution in the world of the theatre, and I have been a much more relaxed person ever since.

Psst…pass it on. Adam, because he loves jumping into a fray, Mike, because his is my wife’s new favourite theatre blog, and Heather, ’cause she’s just cool.

Wanted: Theatre Artists for Civic Action

Victoria-based acting teacher turned governmental watchdog Jessica Van der Veen is looking for a few good theatreists to help out with an upcoming action at the BC Legislature next month. On Monday, April 7 there will be a rally drawing awareness to the issue of the closing down and selling off of public school lands as brought about by the Ministry of Education. Jess is looking to add some colour and movement to the verbiage of the rally on the legislature steps, any theatre artists in the Vancouver or Victoria areas that are interested in working with her to put something together that will creatively get some attention can contact her at bc.lands@gmail.com, or through us at vanstage@gmail.com.

Hey, it would look awesome on a resume.

Children should always be beautiful, safe, strong and free. – Jessica Van der Veen

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