Your Company
Creating a Marketing Plan

by Annie Strack

creating a marketing planSuccessful business marketing is achieved through a combination of public relations and advertising.  Effective marketing is planned, with goals identified and steps outlined to achieve those goals.  With out a plan to follow, marketing can be haphazard, with missed opportunities and advertising dollars spent ineffectively.  

Often artists make impulsive decisions when it comes to marketing.  Some play “follow the leader” and rush off to copy other artists marketing styles, regardless of whether their product or audience will benefit.  Others make the mistake of marketing to themselves, utilizing only the resources that appeal to them, instead of to their prospective clients.  Artists may end up missing their audience, spending too much money on printed materials that either don’t connect or lack cohesiveness, or making poor choices on where to spend advertising money, or buying ads that their audience never sees.  Artists can avoid these costly and time consuming mistakes by taking the time to develop a marketing plan first.  You can get started on creating your own plan just by following these simple steps.

Determine what your marketing goals are.  Your marketing should benefit and support your business goals.  For instance, if your business goal is sell more art at festivals, then your related marketing goals might include; direct mail campaigns with coupons to clients in that area, e-newsletters with your festival schedule, printed calendar promos featuring your artwork and your festival schedule, writing and sending press releases which are tied in to the festival, or cooperative advertising with the festival.Successful business marketing is achieved through a combination of public relations and advertising.  Effective marketing is planned, with goals identified and steps outlined to achieve those goals.  With out a plan to follow, marketing can be haphazard, with missed opportunities and advertising dollars spent ineffectively.  

Determine who your target audience is.  You need to identify who your potential customers are.  Once you’ve done that, you can then establish a course of action which will make them aware of your product and help entice them to buy it.  You must evaluate where your customers are they likely to look for your product, and how can you capture their attention.  Find out what publications to they read, and where they are likely to live, shop, and work.  For example, my primary product is maritime paintings.  My target audience is boat owners, boating and shipping related industries, and people who live or make their living near water.  I reach those customers though boat shows and related events, yacht clubs and marinas, and through galleries and exhibits in coastal areas.  Just look at current television advertising.  You will notice that children’s programming is laden with commercials for toys and sugery cereals.  Daytime TV shows are interrupted by ads for diet programs, work at home offers, and ads for personal injury lawyers.  Football games contain commercials of pick-up trucks, beer, and pizza delivery.  If you look at your daily newspaper, you’ll notice the advertisers target their marketing to the readers of specific sections.  There’s a reason for this; those advertisers have determined who their audience is, and they have figured out how to spend their advertising dollars to most efficiently reach the maximum percentage of that audience. 

Plan your marketing calendar.  After you’ve determined your advertising and public relations goals you’re ready to assign them to a time table.  You don’t have to create anything fancy; you can start by just writing your information on your desk calendar.  Plan your marketing around your business goals, and create campaigns that are specific to your products and events.  For instance, if your plan includes sending your clients annual holiday calendars featuring your art and printed with your schedule, you need to plan a timeline that includes creating your mailing list, designing and printing the calendar, and mailing.  If you don’t plan ahead, you can end up paying extra because of missed deadlines, rush orders, or simply not having time to compare costs. 

Compile a list of all the media in your area.  Think outside the box and include non-traditional media also, like entertainment guides, chamber of commerce, business associations, tourism offices, newsletters, etc.  The list should contain the names and contact information for feature writers, art and entertainment writers, calendar sections, and advertising departments.  Most of this can be found simply by searching the web. 

Plan your budget.  Start by examining what you spent in previous years, and determine which methods were cost effective.  Also look at the areas that needed improvement, and decide what marketing techniques could be applied for improvement.  Decide whether you want to expand in any areas.  Then determine how much money you can afford to spend on marketing this year, and break that amount down to specific areas such as printing brochures, catalogs, cards, direct mailings, promotional giveaways, paid advertising, etc.  You may also break your budget down even further if you need to, and specify spending for campaigns that are local, regional, or national. 

Compare prices.  Now that you have created goals and a budget for your marketing, you can use it as a tool to compare prices.  For instance, let’s say that you have an exhibit opening next November and you want to get that information out to ten thousand potential customers.  By setting a schedule, budget, and goals, you have laid out the ground work to begin evaluating various marketing venues for cost effectiveness.  You can compare the different options that fall within your budget, and make an informed decision about where and how to effectively spend your money for the desired results.  Rather than send out a direct mail to ten thousand people, you may decide to do a combination of direct mail to a smaller list, share an ad with the gallery, email announcements, and press releases.  You want to spend your money wisely, so you have to decide what is most likely to attract your target audience.  You can do a little research before you spend your advertising money, all forms of media will provide advertisers with a demographic breakdown of their market.  All you have to do is compare it with your target audience, to see if they match.  You may want to look into coop ads, or sharing ads with galleries, other businesses, or even other artists.  Be sure to ask about advertising incentives such as discounts or special rates. 

Track the effectiveness of your marketing plan.  You can use coupons, special offers and gifts, drop postcards for drawings, response cards, guest books, promos, or just simply ask your customers how they learned of your product.  You can then make an informed decision regarding which forms of marketing is working for you, and where you need to expand or cut back.  You need this information in order to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of your marketing.  For instance, let’s say an artist mailed out one thousand flyers or brochures for a total cost of five hundred dollars, and 50 customers responded.  Another artist spent a thousand dollars on two glossy ads in a local decorating publication that reached ten thousand readers, and gained 100 hundred customers.  A third artist spent a thousand dollars for an ad in a national artist magazine that reached fifty thousand readers, and acquired ten customers.  Which one do you think was most cost effective?  By tracking the effectiveness of the plan, we can see that in the first two scenarios the actual cost of acquiring each client is in fact equal; each client cost ten dollars of marketing.  In the third example, the artist only gained ten customers from her thousand dollar marketing campaign, so acquiring each of those customers cost one hundred dollars. 

When you have a plan and a budget in place, you are less likely to succumb to impulse purchasing of advertising.  When a new advertising or marketing opportunity arises, you can compare it to your plan to see if it fits in with your goals and falls within your budget.  The secret to successful marketing is to define your goals, identify your audience, set a budget, and research your options. 

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Annie Strack ArtA professional artist specializing in seascapes and maritime paintings, Annie Strack is a Signature Member of five international and national artist societies and is an Official Authorized Artist for the USCG. She draws from her experiences in her previous career in corporate management to build her successful art career and shares her knowledge of business and marketing through her articles for Art Calendar magazine. Visit her at

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