Making a Creative Marketing Plan That Works
Does this sound familiar: You’ve made something really cool and you want other people to see that really cool thing. In fact, ideally, these people like your cool thing so much they’d join your Patreon membership program to get more of it. Sweet, right? But, do you ever feel a bit stuck going from making that really cool thing to people seeing it and deciding to become your patron? That, my friend, is where marketing comes in. Marketing your Patreon page is actually pretty simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s effortless. The good news is that you don’t have to invent strategies from scratch — there are tons of tried and true marketing tactics that have worked for other creators and will work for you, too. And if the concept of promoting your Patreon membership business makes you nervous, remember that putting your Patreon page out there means more opportunities, more collaborations, more resources, and more financial support. Good things come to those who market their businesses. Let’s take a look at some simple, actionable, and foundational steps to begin building a marketing plan.
Who Else is Out There? Conduct Competitor Analysis
Creators are often inspired by people doing similar things and it’s likely you already have an idea about who’s out there. Still, a true “competitor analysis” can give you a closer look at what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and what you can glean from them in order to level up your own marketing. If the term “competitor analysis” feels too strong, think of this as research on your peers and mentors — this is an opportunity to learn from other creators. To start, find five comparable creators who have similar messaging, use similar mediums, and also have a similar perspective to yours. Then, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are they?
- What’s their Twitter-length explanation of what they do? What’s their ‘elevator pitch?’
- What are the things that they offer? How much do they charge for those things?
- Which channels do they use to speak to their audience? Are they only on Instagram? Only on Etsy? Are they talking to supporters in person while touring the globe twice a year? Do they have a presence on every social media channel ever created?
- What are they really good at? What do you see that they could improve? What are things they are currently doing that you think will improve your marketing?
- What about them and the way they engage with their audience makes them stand out?
Next, consider supporting these five folks. It may seem counterintuitive but supporting similar creators (even if you consider them true competitors) can give you a deeper look into what they have going on behind the scenes, how they work, and what value their patrons receive from them. Not to mention, it also supports the artist community and helps to lift everyone up a bit higher. After you’ve surveyed your competitors and done your research, take a deeper look at the marketing and community outreach they’re doing. Then? Note the ideas you have that none of these creators seem to be pursuing. Any gaps you spot could be opportunities for you to stand out. For example, if you see that few illustrators are offering custom behind-the-scenes photos to patrons, perhaps offering it yourself will help you stand out. On the other side of this, if you see that no one in your community is offering a specific item or implementing a certain marketing tactic, it could be a sign that they’ve tried but patrons weren’t interested. You could always reach out and ask creators like you what they’ve tried and what has or hasn’t worked for them. Next, allow yourself to be inspired by your observations. This isn’t about copying your fellow creators, but finding the inspiration you can use to establish your own unique offering. Put your own spin on an email newsletter, how you use Instagram stories, or the content in your live streams. The one thing your competitors definitely don’t have is your personality and brain, so use their techniques your way.
Who Are You Talking To? Create Researched Personas
Okay, back to the cool thing you’ve made and are making — while your work is, at its core, an offering available to everyone and anyone, and you don’t want to limit yourself to only a certain demographic of people, knowing your target will greatly help you get your message out. Creating personas can help you fine-tune your language, figure out where your potential patrons are, and make it easier to anticipate what your audience wants. You know that person who comes to every live webinar, who comments on every post, and who hearts every single Tweet? They’re the perfect place to start when creating personas. Once you’ve found them, ask these questions:
- What are they trying to accomplish, what do they do regularly in their lives, what were they looking for when they found your creation?
- What other content do they like, love, and engage with aside from your stuff?
- What types of posts that you share or products you sell do they get most excited about?
- Where do they hang out, in person and online?
Most marketing techniques would say to go all out and figure out everything from what kind of car you think they’d drive to what big dreams they want to pursue in life. But, even if you don’t build a complete person from scratch, the key is to sketch out enough that you’ll have an idea of who you’re talking to and how you can best offer them value. Once you’ve done your sketching, create your persona. For example, you might create a persona named Alex who loves to chat about sci-fi podcasts on Twitter. And now, when you talk about and promote your work, you won’t just be chatting into the ether; you can talk directly to Alex and aim your messaging toward their interests and know that they are eagerly excited to hear what you’re up to.
How Do You Say It? Key Messaging and Brand Voice
Now that you’ve created a persona and know who you’re talking to, it’s time to focus on how to talk to them. You already have a style of expression that’s unique to you — the key is to be able to articulate and reproduce it so your marketing feels clear and cohesive. Here are a few exercises you can use to hone your voice:
- What are three words that best describe your creations? Keep those words in mind whenever you’re sending messages to your patrons.
- Develop a list of key messages that you can share in different ways. Use images, words, and media that support your messages. For example, a podcast about prejudice in online gaming might have a key message about people of all identities belonging; an independent singer-songwriter might have a key message about asking for what you want and going after your dreams.
- Create parameters about what you’ll share and talk about. Will you only talk about your work or will you promote the work of other creators? Will you share backstage access and give patrons a behind the scenes look at how you create or just the final product?
When in doubt, tap into your community and ask fellow creators or mentors if they can feel your unique expression in your messaging. You can also use patron engagement to determine which messaging resonates best with them. Remember, they often know your voice even better than you do.
So What’s Next? Outlining goals
Where do you want your business to go? What do you want to accomplish in the year ahead? Having measurable goals to accomplish can make a huge difference in how and what you’ll achieve. In fact, many studies show that making goals that are measurable and have a timeline are the most likely to be successful. Goals are the heart of your marketing plan, they are the reason you’re doing all this marketing in the first place. Here are a few ideas to inspire your own goals:
- Increase your Facebook followers by 1,000 in 2019
- Promote your Patreon on social media three times a week for the next three months
- Publish a minimum of three blog posts each month this year
- Increase the downloads of your latest release by 500
Once you have a place to aim, you can start laying out your marketing plan more specifically — what platforms are you going to use and for which kind of media? How often will you post? What will you send to your email list and how often? How will you tell people about your next big project or release? Remember to keep your plan simple. Spark some friendly competition by getting to know your community, talk to “Alex” like they’re a friend you love getting to know, and make sure to outline measurable and actionable goals. Marketing your creative business and membership program can feel daunting, but remember: your audience already believes in your value and wants to see what you’re creating. You’re marketing to people who already like you — it’s okay to put yourself out there, in fact, it’s expected. If you need permission to promote yourself, you got it: you get to talk about your work, your cool thing, with your family, friends, social communities, email subscribers, and any other audience you can find. The right people will keep listening. Take up space, get loud, and toot your own horn. You’re making cool stuff! Go forth and tell the world about it.