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Monday, June 13, 2011

Making it fit your Niche and the Personal Side of Self Promotion

Making it fit

One of the problems with being a "niche" artist is that when it comes to promoting yourself, you have to find "niche" methods. As I stated in a previous post, there are countless numbers of folks out there writing about tricks, tips and methods of marketing yourself. I know because I do read them. Not every piece of marketing advice is going to apply to you, so you will have to run much of it through some heavy duty filters. As an example, here are a few decent websites:

Social Media Examiner
How To Market Yourself
For Musicians: (my friend Bob Baker's) The Buzz Factor
And one of my favorite blogs -Seth Godin's Blog

As for myself, a comedy murder mystery playwright, I have to sift through much of the information, on-line and in books and twist it to fit what I do. Years ago, my friend Mr. Baker hosted an "Indie Music Boot camp" and he asked me to come and video tape the various presentations. There were some great guest speakers offering insight into the "indie" world of self-promotion including Derek Sivers, founder/creator of CD BABY and Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity. As I listened to the speakers pontificate on marketing and promotion, I found it was easy to replace the word "musician" with the word "playwright" and apply the advice to myself. (except the bit about creating an email list for a nifty Newsletter -everybody is on that bandwagon!)
I encourage any artist, whatever your niche, to read the information available about promoting and marketing and modify it to fit yourself.

The Human Element

One popular topic the speakers discussed was "Social Marketing". The major factor of social networking sites is the personal interaction or human element. Back in High School, when I was a minor actor in "The Miracle Worker", the playwright William Gibson did not have a Myspace or Facebook page. He did not have a website. You could not jump on-line and find out if he "Liked" anything or played Farmville. If you really desired to interact with him, you could write a letter and send it off to his publishing company and maybe, just maybe, they would forward it to him. Perhaps, years later, he might respond.

These days, you can find and interact with almost anyone on the internet. Many of the theatre groups and/or actors that have been involved with my scripts, are my "friends" on Facebook. I get emails from High School students who are involved in my plays and have questions about characters or dialogue, which come straight to me (not forwarded from a publishing company) and I always respond personally.

Lee Mueller at Freedom High SchoolI have even visited a few High Schools during productions and held Question/Answer sessions and lead the students through some improv games. I'm not telling you all this to toot my own horn, but only to claim that "personal interaction" is one of the best methods of "self-promotion" you can utilize. People will remember you from the interaction of answered email, phone call or personal appearance more than they will remember the name from a byline.

The Discussion Interaction

There are many websites such as Linkedin that have "groups" related to your field. These are "discussion" groups where people just like you come to seek advice, introduce themselves or maybe even rant. Many social networking sites have discussion groups for your field of interest. Be careful about jumping into any group full throttle as an advertising billboard for yourself:

"Hi I'm an Amazing Playwright and have 500 scripts your Theatre needs to produce!"

Gee, thanks Goober! But this is a Playwriting Discussion Forum and we are all amazing playwrights that have scripts theatres need to produce. It would have helped if you were familiar with this fact. I believe the appropriate response involves the phrase "preaching to the choir". Read over the threads in the groups to get a good idea of what the topics are about before you jump in guns a blazin.

Anyway, I encourage artist to interact with other artists. Lend advice or participate in any discussions that may be posted. Stay away from the Smarmy Salesman approach. Use it to "network" with others in your field. I have met other playwrights who specialize in certain types of plays, (musicals, children's plays)and have had inquiries from Theatre groups looking for that exact type of material. I will immediately forward this onto the playwright and in turn they will do the same for me.

In fact, prior to writing this blog, I posted a question on the Playwrights Group, seeking other writers to share "How They Promote or Market" themselves and hopefully will get some responses I can include in my next blog. There is also a comment section below if anyone wishes to contribute.
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