Do it how bands do it!
(5 minute read)
Today’s suggestion for newsletter topics is short and sweet:
One event at a time.
I learned this one the hard way.
One year, I had three events in one month.
This was almost two decades ago, when postcard mailings were the way we stayed in touch with our audience. I had a huge mailing list, so even postcards could run into hundreds of dollars to promote events.
And if people couldn’t make it to one event, they would have the opportunity to catch the next one, or the next, right?
And so I combined all three events in one postcard.
I was very proud of myself for keeping my marketing costs down. But I paid for it dearly.
All three events were total duds. NO ONE showed up. I mean, crickets.
I was devastated. How had I lost such a huge audience in a handful of weeks?? What was going on???
At the time, I wrote a monthly column for a fine crafts magazine, The Crafts Report (now known as Handmade Business.) I became friends with my editor, Larry Hornung. (Not the hockey player!) We had wonderful phone chats from time to time. I loved his insights and his wacky sense of humor.
And fortunately for me, he also had a side-gig as a musician in a band.
I sadly shared how nobody liked my work anymore, and he set me straight in a jiffy. Starting with, “No, no, NO!…”
“Never, NEVER promote more than one event at a time!!!”
They said it’s common knowledge in the music industry (on the level where you’re not doing world tours!) to promote only one gig at a time. He reiterated this points many times in our conversation.
Our audience is comprised of human beings. Human beings, when told they have not one, but two, or even three opportunities to attend an event will do this:
They’ll say, “Ooh, the first one’s on a Friday night, but I’ve got another thing I might go do, so I’ll just go to the second one.”
The second date approaches, and they’ll say, “I could go tonight, but now I’m tired, so I’ll go to the third one.”
Then something comes up between now and the third event, and they can’t go at all.
This is sooooo normal. In fact, I scheduled a meet-up (socially-distanced, open windows, masks) recently with a potential customer. They suggested two possible days/times, and I said, “Let’s go with the first one so if something comes up, we have a back-up plan. Sure enough, something came up that was juuuuust important enough to push that back.
Unfortunately, something had come up for them, too, so they were not sure they could make it. Then fortunately, they found out they could, but unfortunately I’d already started an errand that was hard to bail on. Fortunately, I did bail, and fortunately, they hadn’t gotten my message that I couldn’t make it.
We arrived at my studio within minutes of each other.
We had a good laugh, they found their perfect piece and had to leave sooner than they’d planned, because guess what? They had to be somewhere else.
When you give people too many opportunities to opt out easily, they will.
And when you create a little urgency with your event, they are more likely NOT to opt out.
As I’ve said before, ‘urgency’ in sales tactics can be overdone. We’ve all seen the little timer counting down on a website, telling us we only have 20 minutes to take advantage of this amazing offer. I grit my teeth and move on, as most of us do. So don’t overuse this.
But do focus on one event. Especially now, when it’s hard to have in-person events at all. And especially when we get through these times, and we’ll again have infinite opportunities for so many social functions.
Note: I know that it’s common to post such a list of events on our websites, especially if we do a lot of fairs and shows. But in many cases, these are spread out over a state or region, or even across the country. So we are actually still focusing on one event in one area, as opposed to multiple events within 20 miles of each other.
Also, be sure to share what will be unique and special about each event. For an author’s audience, it could be an opportunity to meet the writer and have our book signed by them. If it’s in our studio, there’s not just the opportunity for visitors to experience our sacred creative place, it’s a chance to watch us demo our process. If it’s a gallery show, it’s an opportunity to see a full display of our best work (solo show) or a lot of other favorite artists (group show.) Let people know if the event will also support a cause you and your audience cares about. (See last week’s article in this series about that.)
All of these details may attract different people, which is fine.
And if you’ve already created different groups in your email newsletters, which is a FASO email newsletter feature, then you can send out different emails to each group, focusing on their stated interests. (For example, people who are only interested in workshop might be more inclined to attend a demo event.) (Me? I’m not that organized, so I send ‘em to everyone on my list.)
I’m so glad I shared my woes with my editor that day, with the exact person who had the perfect insight to my problem. One creative reaching out to another creative to share what we both had in common.
Promote one event at a time.
Three events? Three different notifications, spaced just enough in time so people can make good choices, for us, and them!
And speaking of sharing, if you enjoyed this article, share it! Link back to it here on Fine Art Views, or my blog at luannudell.wordpress.com.
If someone shared this article with you, and you’d like to read more in this series, visit my articles at FineArtViews.com.