Session 4: Marketing

Position yourself to effectively and appropriately communicate your artistic practice, build a lasting brand and sell your art, performances, screenings or writing.

Biggest Marketing Mistakes of Startups

How to Plan and Execute Great Startup Marketing Programs

And information on how it really works from an expert consultant in the tech industry.
Video courtesy of MaRS Discovery District. (


Begin to outline your marketing plan in your business plan. Continue to fill in some of the blanks as we continue to work through this session. If you are more visual, think about drawing this up in a way that helps you define and organize your thoughts about pushing your message out there (advertising, email, social media, etc.), or pulling people in toward your work (go to your website, social media, come to your shows, seek out your work).

Executive Summary

This is the last item you write, but helps someone get the gist of your marketing before they get into the details.

Target Audience

Who is going to pay for your art? Who will pay to see you perform? Who is reading your stuff? It may help describe one fictional ideal character. Include:

  1. Demographic Profile: This includes things you can typically observe or answer with one question. Things like gender, age, ethnicity, where they live, level of education, etc.
  2. Psychographic: This is a bit more difficult to get at and includes other interests they have outside of your work. Where do they go? What do they like to learn about? What are they talking about?
  3. Needs: The most difficult of all is finding out what your audience wants or needs and why they are coming to you. What do they want? What frustrations do they have? What gives them energy and enthusiasm? What conversations are you striking up that really get them talking?

Your Niche

Why are you different than the other artists, writers, musicians and performers that you identified in your marketing research? Why should someone choose to see your show or buy your art instead of someone else’s? Why should they spend money on your artwork instead of spending it elsewhere? Focus on the strengths you outlined in the first session. This will inform your messaging and brand.


What are those audiences willing to pay for your work? Are you a bargain or high-end? Can you be both? Can you charge more if you perform in a special location or for a VIP audience? How much more do you charge for custom pieces? Getting the right price is an art in itself, but building a strategy can help you identify your best prospects for making money through your creative voice.

Reflection Questions

1. Once you create it, how will you use and continue to revisit your marketing plan?

2. Based on the major components of the marketing plan, what areas do you currently spend a lot of your time on?

3. Which areas would you like to spend more time on in the near future?

4. Based on your current skill set and experience, which areas of the Marketing Plan do you foresee yourself reaching out to others to help with?

5. Name a few individuals or organizations that could lend you a hand in those areas.


Communicating Who You Are

A “brand” is essentially a promise. It is a “pledge” of some sorts, whether that is to provide a high quality product, the lowest possible price, or the quickest possible service (or all of the above). It is the essence of a product or service delivery, including why it is great, and how it is better than all competing products.

Read This Handout Before Moving On 

AEI-Branding Handout


Write down three elements of your brand image that you would like to develop and make more visible to customers and potential customers (e.g. the work you create, your packaging, your website, etc. If you don’t have packaging, consider things like your bio or where you conduct meetings with collaborators, editors or producers).

For each element, list one strategy you will use to strengthen your brand across everything you do. In the case that your artwork is segmented into different brands, build a strategy to strengthen each brand without competing with one another. Add this to your goals in your business plan.

Establish a concrete deadline for implementing that strategy.

List some measures of how you might know the strategy worked (e.g. an increase in page views, meetings scheduled, revenue).

Reflection Questions

1. What are some examples of strong brands that you have encountered?

2. Which brands do you find yourself most loyal to?

  • What about these brands do you find appealing?
  • If these businesses suddenly branded themselves in a different way, do you think if would affect your buying habits? How or why not?

3. What one word do you think people would use to describe you?

  • To describe your art?
  • Your business?

4. How can you build on these existing perspectives to develop a consistent brand message?

5. What kinds of customers do you think would be most likely to respond to this image?

6. Who would be your most likely competitors for reaching these potential customers?

Marketing for Artists

Now that you have a strong sense of your market, you can use that knowledge as you develop a strategy for reaching them where they are. With so many outlets and constant information being thrown out there, building and maintaining relationships is key for individual artists. Here is how one artist made his mark in the comic and illustration market.

Marketing for Artists 101 (Bobby Chiu)


To date, what are the strategies you have used to tell people about your artwork outside of your immediate circle of friends and family? (business cards, festivals/conventions/conferences, postcards, websites, advertising, press releases)

Which of those generated the most or best exposure?

What target audiences that you identified in your market research and marketing plan do you want to reach most?

What did your research find about how this audience or type of client gathers information? (Are you more likely to reach them electronically or on paper? What do they tend to read, and where do they read it?) The more narrow you can get here, the less likely it is that you will waste money and time on blanket marketing efforts.

Create a Marketing Campaign

A marketing campaign should be an extension of your marketing plan.

In other words, you have one overarching marketing plan; marketing campaigns are a collection of activities to achieve the goals in that plan. A marketing campaign may be to increase traffic to your website, for example. Another campaign may be to sell a particular event or collection of work. You may have different campaigns to reach different audiences. Once you have determined how your audience prefers to receive information, the campaign is a set of strategies to expose your work to them.

  • Are there particular people with whom you need to make contact to run this campaign (reporters, advertising departments, etc.)?
  • Do these individuals work on particular deadlines or timeframes of which you should be aware?
  • What kind of barriers should you prepare for with a particular marketing channel (e.g. perceptions people have of Facebook ads and how you combat that)?

Choose one way you can increase your visibility with the right people without spending too much or any money. Make that the basis for your first campaign.

Create Your Elevator Speech (Or "Boiler-Plate")

Describe yourself and your artwork in 100 words or less. Every word should be chosen based on how your audience receives information, pulling their interest, rather than starting with you. Most often, avoid using technical terms since most people may not have experience in your artistic discipline. See the next section on storytelling to craft your message in a way that can draw someone in and remember you.

Activity: Tell Your Story

Choose a piece of content you need to create to engage people with your business. It could be a video, your about page, a business pitch presentation, or anything else you are doing to put yourself and your artwork out there.

  1. Identify the protagonist and the starting point. (Is it you today? Is it where you were when conceived your idea? Is it your friend or someone who experiences a piece you created?)
  2. Explain the routine or average day of the protagonist.
  3. Pinpoint the “inciting incident.” In other words, what happened in your world or the protagonist’s world that set that routine in a different direction?
  4. State the obstacle and describe all the frustration and tension that rises as you try to overcome that obstacle.
  5. State the moment of bliss, the moment when the artwork and process you are offering to your audiences or clients solves all of the problems and tension.
  6. Tie up loose ends and state the new normal.