Creating Your Own Campaign

Public relations and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Public relations is the process of creating relationships with various “publics”—current customers, potential customers, the media and other artists, for example. Marketing is the process of creating, advertising, promoting, distributing and selling a product. Your product, of course, is your art. Good public relations enhances all the aspects of marketing. Here are five basic elements of a public relations and marketing program:

1. Keep in touch with those who know you. Your current customers are your best source of future sales. Notify them of your new shows, awards you receive, or simply to keep in touch at least every six months. Also stay in touch with the media with releases about your achievements, especially a reporter who’s written about you. Invite the media to your shows. Become active in your community’s art culture by going to openings, meetings and other art events.

2. Reach out to new markets. Enter weekend art shows. Send a media release or article to magazines or papers you haven’t contacted before. Add a new dimension to your product line. For example, if you’re a painter and there’s a large community of horse enthusiasts in your area, paint more pictures of horse scenes. Once you make contacts and sales, keep in touch with these people.

3. Encourage referrals. Word-of-mouth is a great way to get new business. You can ask current customers, business contacts and other artists (whose art doesn’t compete with yours) to make referrals to you. Give them an incentive to make referrals by offering something if you make a sale.

4. Set up a system for making art and doing business. Make time to produce your work and to do marketing and public relations. Have materials on hand to use as public relations tools (see No. 5 below) and to use for distribution of your product. Create an annual budget that includes marketing and public relations costs.

5. Use the public relations and marketing tools employed by other businesses. Learn more about public relations and marketing by taking a course or reading books. Join local business groups like the chamber of commerce and learn from the members. Use the common tools of business cards, Web sites, media releases and advertising. Advertising is very expensive, but placed in the right publication can give you a good return on your investment.

These five elements are closely connected. Keeping in touch with customers gives you an opportunity to ask for referrals, and referrals subsequently lead you to new customers and markets. Becoming more like a business gives you a model to set up a system that will save you time and control your expenses. As a business in the community you’ll constantly be meeting new markets, potential customers and referral sources. Public relations and marketing have a variety of elements, but as you start you’ll find they’re interconnected and will lead you to greater success in your art business.

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