I’ve been thinking a lot about how a line from one of my favorite musicals, My Fair Lady, pertains to arts marketing. Bear with me.
For those who don’t know it, the Lerner and Loewe musical based on George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, tells the story of famed linguist Professor Henry Higgins and a cockney flower girl named Eliza Doolittle whose elocution improvement becomes his pet project. Towards the end of the play, now a proper lady with perfect pro-noun-ci-a-tion, Eliza delivers the anthem, “Show Me,” admonishing her suitor, Freddy, for saying instead of demonstrating how he feels. “Sing me no song, read me no rhyme, don’t waste my time, show me!” Eliza berates Freddy. Why have I been thinking about this? Well, what Eliza delivers as romantic instruction was actually prescient advice for 21st century arts marketing.
We’ve all noticed the shift towards the visual. It’s impossible not to. Web pages have evolved rapidly to keep up—the more visual real estate the better. Take Facebook as an example: People may have fought the mandatory migration to the Timeline when it first rolled out, but now that it’s here, it’s hard to remember a time when prime real estate wasn’t allotted to visuals, right? And as curators and purveyors of content, our practices as arts marketers have also had to evolve. Marketing once concentrated on the way we talked about our products. Now, it’s about making that message leap off the page—or more often, device—with bold visuals. It’s about showing our audiences what we’re made of. Images have become their own breed of storytelling. We all love our Facebook banner image, our branded Twitter page and our Youtube channel because each offers the chance to distinguish ourselves.
As a content curator for artsmarketing.org and our NAMP Facebook page, I can say with certainty that posts featuring compelling visuals or video clips attract an enormous amount more attention than those that don’t. I consider the visuals that accompany the articles I post as carefully as the posts themselves. I have to. In a world inundated with images, the trick is to catch people’s eyes. Once you do that you have already increased your potential influence. Visuals are a language quickly understood and, thanks to mobile devices, easily shared, so their impact—and your reach—can grow exponentially. Read the rest of this entry »