A u g u s t   2 0 0 3

Guest Writer

Do what you do best
Part three: Marketing as performance art
by Carolyn Campbell

adore Drew Barrymore. I find her unapologetic create-what-you-want-and-connect-how-you-will attitude refreshing. Plus, she's 28 years old and has produced two successful films with top female stars.

Like me, you may have opinions about her work. But her accomplishments are impressive. Her secret? She is unencumbered by the need to convince others – and more importantly, herself – of the value of her work. Every step along the way reflects her spunky, sassy, dynamic style. She
knows her audience and "performs" to them.

She epitomizes marketing as performance art.

Every day each of us is in the performance of our life. As artists and creatives, our life pleasure focuses around creating anew ... again and again. We relish transforming the unknown into the known, illuminating life in a new way. Whether through the world of words, image, movement or music, our creative work ultimately culminates in a "performance" – a showing, a theater date, a concert, some type of engagement between you, your work and those who want what you create: your audience.

Often, I watch artists run from their prospective audience because marketing their art feels like cheating or demeaning their work. But when I say marketing, I am not promoting becoming a sales person. In fact, I'm suggesting quite the opposite; you don't need to become anyone other than who you are. Be a performance of you and your art. Let people experience the feeling they'll get from your art through their conversations with you, from your business cards, your Web site, your brochures, your portfolio presentations.

OK. But right about now you might be asking: "How do I actually do this?"

I'd like to give you a success-insured script to follow. But if you're going to "be" your art with people, you'll need to trust your unique style and voice. That's the place of aliveness that engages others.

To do so, I invite you to first identify the core threads of your work. No one knows these better than you. These are your most compelling performance elements. By honoring them and designing your particular art of connection around them, you enhance your ability to connect with impact – and expand your comfort in doing so.

As an example, here are my five core elements and how I use them in my work:

• Create a powerful "environmental" visual context
• Build an interactive experience
• Use color, light and texture to set the tone
• Highlight the cathartic moment
• Challenge an old way of thinking

Here's how each element translates into marketing:

First, I always bring prospective clients to a "transformative" environment, one that physically reorients their life perspective. It might be a fabulous garden, a teahouse, an amazing spa. Much like in my theater work, I believe this inspires expansive thinking and self-believing. By providing a place of visual transformation, internal shifts can occur in soft but powerful ways.

Second, interactive experience is central to all my work, beginning with initial connection. I move as quickly as possible from e-mail to creating a personal relationship – even with international clients. They get to "experience" our relationship; I try to never have to "tell" them about my work.

I see many artists keeping a distance between them and their clients and trying to talk to (rather than with) them. The old art adage of "show, don't tell" is my primary guide point. By saying less and allowing clients to experience more, they get a visceral understanding of the work.

Third, when I design my promotional materials I let color, texture and image illuminate the flavor of my work. A picture speaks a thousand words, yet I continually see materials that are divorced from the character of the person. Dare to show yourself and reveal your unique style in your Web site, business cards and promotional materials.

Ah, the cathartic moment. Whether I am a director, concept designer or coach, I reach across the line of comfort to ask my clients/audience the intimate questions and create an opportunity for them to see something from a fresh lens. Isn't that why people seek out and buy art? To see from a new perspective? To infuse their life with meaning? I don't wait until the performance/finished work for this to occur.

And finally, by inspiring and not preaching I can help people change to a new way of thinking – in their own way, in their own time.

In the end, all marketing does is give people an opportunity to make a new choice for their life, so they can more easily succeed in performing their life.

Take a moment and list your elements. Consider your artwork. What are your core threads? If you don't know, ask a few friends or acquaintances for feedback. Then get creative and see how you can infuse those concepts into your performances and connect in the world.

And remember: like Drew Barrymore, creating your marketing performance by doing it your way means you are doing what you do best. Plus, it just might be a lot more fun!

Don't miss Part one: Dare to connect and Part two: Confessions of an introvert.

Carolyn Campbell, an artist, speaker and facilitator, helps creative types build thriving business ventures that honor their passions and desires. Check out her profile in December's Sketch Pad, visit her Web site and e-mail her at carolyn@thecoresource.com.

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