Every time I read Seth Godin's blog, I get a strong feeling that all the conventional wisdom about marketing oneself as an artist is wrong.
Godin has an endearing mission. He understands exactly how irritating being marketed to is, and still has something to say, so he's figuring out workarounds. He wants marketers to be more honest. He understands the marketing value of overdelivering and downplays the usual stuff, like talking endlessly about yourself and lying. This post is classic Godin: it's about talking about other people instead of your product.
Two things about this approach make it particularly relevant to artists:
1. Unlike most approaches to marketing, it takes as given the fact that nobody is listening. Worse. That everyone is actively working not to listen. And instead of talking more or louder, Godin is suggesting creating a new playing field that the consumer (gallerist, other important person you're marketing to) actually wants to be a part of.
2. Instead of being about talking, it's about being trustworthy and developing your (or your brand's) integrity.
These are a hard sell. Creating a playing field that someone important wants to be a part of seems impossible when that person won't even look at your slides. And integrity? In the mean streets of Chelsea, the Lower East Side and Culver City, where bad behavior is the rule? It seems like an invitation to get fucked.
But this is exactly what I like about Godin's approach. In order to buy it, you have to swallow the hardest pill of all, and know that nobody wants to listen to you. But you also have to know that you have the power to create a listenership over time by behaving with integrity.
What about you? What marketing strategy has worked best for you? Where do your opportunities come from? What do you find a complete waste of time? Do you send unsolicited material to galleries? Do you apply to juried shows? Do you wait for hookups from friends? Is there another marketing blog you read? Do you hate to call it marketing?