When you work as a freelance marketeer, you’re often parachuted in to help save an event from disappearing into oblivion. The event in question might be the most moving and powerful piece of art, something that comes around only once in a generation, but if its potential audience doesn’t know about it, then it is all in vain. Fortunately, the task of getting the word out has never been easier, thanks to the plethora of social media tool available on the web. However, this doesn’t mean that the job doesn’t require some fairly specific know-how and expertise, so why not take a look at these hints and tricks that will help you maximise the audience for any artistic project.
Form close ties with the creative team
Creative people occasionally distrust a marketing team but frankly they’re everyone’s best asset when it comes to getting the audience excited about the show. If you’re given the luxury of being employed a few months before the event, spend this time getting key personnel involved in the process of building anticipation. If you’ve the budget to commission a bespoke website then that’s great, but you can can excellent results by setting up a Tumblr blog alongside or instead of this to allow followers to share photos, quotes and post their own reactions. If you get the creative team on board with providing things like behind-the-scenes footage, videos, costume designs and esoteric moodlings., all this will help in building a sense of an impending occasion. A web 2.0 audience wants to feel like it can reach out and touch any experience so it’s incumbent on you to create a sense of intimacy or, conversely, mystery.
If you’re looking for more permanent marketing jobs in London or its urban equivalent, it’s important to build a portfolio of work that shows you understand the power of creating anticipation both through public interaction and by holding things back. A really good example of the way buzz has been built through interaction is the Twitter marketing of ‘Gatz,’ a six hour theatrical reading of the entirety of The Great Gatsby. The LIFT festival did a fantastic job of curating its retweets so that they were an eclectic mix of ecstatic audience anticipation (I can’t wait to see this show), reception (OMG, I loved this show) and cast member tourist reports (one particular retweet from the lead actor’s account saw him musing about his favourite exhibits in the British museum) to create a real sense of lives lived around the show. Everyone reactions, from audience member to key creative team are given the same weight, so that everyone becomes part of a unque artistic event. The way to scale this down to a smaller model is to target Twitter users who have the magic equation: probable interest and high follower count. Interact, retweet pertinent tweets that circle around your subject matter. Don’t be afraid to be slightly left-field – think of each tweet as a piece of a mosaic – it’s about creating a mood.
You can create an equally enticing mood with mystery. This tends to work better with larger-scale projects but it’s worth taking a look at the way that Secret Cinema uses a combination of exquisite web design, youtubed footage of past events and a carefully meted email campaign that makes audience members feel part of a larger narrative. The fact that the subject matter is a complete surprise for those attending the event is underscored by the way the emails give cryptic clues and wardrobe suggestions. Initiating a puzzle to be solved is a classic way of engaging audience interest. It may be that this is not appropriate for your event, but instilling ambiguity and what David Lynch calls ‘space to dream’ in your social media campaign means that you can capture the imagination of a potentially diverse set of demographics. Sometimes a lack of explanation can be your best friend.
With these seemingly diverse strategies in mind, you can create a really intense and fascinating campaign for any event. Whoever said marketing wasn’t a creative act?
Serena Jackson is a freelance marketer, blogger and writes occasionally for Brand Republic