I am slowly learning how to throw pottery on a wheel. It’s a lot of fun, and I am slowly getting better. But that is not what this post is about.
I was talking to Jeff, the owner of the studio where i am learning. He is a cool guy, and has created a really unique environment in his studio that allows people a chance to be creative, learn, and be part of a community of artists. Somehow marketing and promotion came up. He does not really do much promotion of his studio, or the store that goes with it, im sure there are lots of reason for this, but one of them is classis: “i dont have enough money.” Part of me loves to hear people say this because that is a big part of why I like hiring myself out to small organizations, i like being able to help people who feel like they can’t do something figure out how to do it.
But really I kind of cringe inside when i hear people say this, especially people who are running organizations doing something unique and important. To survive organizations have to make money, and to make money they have to find clients, and to find clients they have to connect with the right people somehow.
So, here are some no to low cost ideas and thoughts, which may be good or bad, for 3rd Street Clay Works:
Leverage Existing Fans (people like me)
- Give current students some money off (say $50) their next 8 week session for every new person they bring in who signs up for classes
- Give us store discounts or credits to give to our friends and family who are looking for Christmas presents
- give us incentive to talk about what we are doing in the studio on social sites (say for example, a monthly drawing for a small prize, you get entered by posting your latest work to your facebook profile.)
- Feature a different student each month on a blog/website/facebook page/etc. Perhaps a short video, a little write up, some pictures of recent work, stuff like that. The hope is for that person to tell their friends about the profile.
- Do a show or two a year for everybody. Most of us (like me…) will probably never show our work publicly, so it would be kind of fun to get a chance to. Make it a lot of fun (demos, a band, let people try making some stuff, have good food) Invite lots of people.
There are of course opportunities in social media. A blog might be interesting, it could have instructional articles, reflections on life (I think Jeff could probably write some great reflections on life!). A web site would probably be helpful also, just s simple one so people have a place to get contact info, class schedules, stuff like that. I think though that the low hanging fruit is on facebook. There is already a facebook page, but its not very active, stating to post constant content there would be a great way to get students to start taling about what they are doing at the studio. A few ideas:
- post pictures of students recent works
- short video demos
- real time play by plays of opening the kiln after a fiering
- links to interesting ceramics stuff online
- links to new music
- contests (give away a mug or something like that for doing something that might create attention, like posting a picture or link)
I actually think that groupon could be an effective tool. Giving people their fist 8 week class for 70% off would be a great way to get some new people in the door and hooked.
Its not for everyone
This is actually a really important realization. There is not exactly a mass market for learning to throw pottery at 3rd Street. FIrst, it is very local, people would not be willing to drive very far. People in Siloam Springs, Chicago, or Tokyo don’t matter to that part of the business. Second, not everybody wants to play in the mud, or even cares about how to form a pot. Third, even of those who do want to learn to throw only a small part of them would fit in at 3rd Street. There is a specific style of teaching, atmosphere to the studio, and group of people who come that would not appeal to everybody. So, you have to figure out the characteristics of those people and figure out where they are and how to connect with them.
Because of this it would be interesting to see what would happen if 3rd Street was really exclusive. What if they only way to get into classes was to get an invite from somebody already in a class. Suddenly classes are a hard to get into club, and you have to fit the profile to even be considered.
Jeff has created something unique at 3rd Street (I might write more about that later). There are stores of people to tell, there are stores of a place to tell, and it will attract people to it. Stories like this:
The Big Picture on Vimeo.
The more these stores can be told through all of the ideas above the more real this place becomes in peoples minds, and the more they might be interested in what happens there.