Selling Your Creative Ideas

Lesson 7/15 - Profile Your Audience


Selling Your Creative Ideas


Lesson Info

Profile Your Audience

So far we've been talking about the idea itself and trying to let go of the idea, of it having merit or not, trying to think about who it's going to benefit, and so what I wanna do now in this new section is talk more about who's gonna support it and making it into an action plan. So another thing I would like to kind of plug is that this class isn't just for launching to outside supporters, my immediate experience recently has been trying to find sponsors, like going and doing a pitch for a sponsorship package and then coming back, having killed the bison and say, hey, they gave us $5,000. So that is, you'll hear me talking about that, that's kind of the frame of reference that I have, but a lot of the knowledge that I'm drawing from comes from the agency world. So you actually might find a lot of this applicable if you do work in a nine to five environment, if you do have an agency, well agency's never nine to five, it's way worse than that. (laughs) But if you have to launch creativ...

e ideas internally, if you have to come up with ad campaigns and you have to launch it to a boss, to a client, you'll actually find a lot of this very valuable as well. So there are other situations that this applies to, and that's part of why I'm trying to keep it really broad, for creative campaigns of all kinds. Where does this kind of success come from when you're pitching an idea? It mostly comes with knowing who you're dealing with. So we start this whole section with profiling your audience, we often hear about profiling in a negative way, like police profiling and horrible things like that, but the term actually comes from the agency world where they talk about profiling your audience. Worst job I ever had was for a national pharmacy chain that you've all heard of but I won't mention, because when I went there as the creative director and said who is the target audience, 'cause that's what I had been trained to ask, they said everyone, and they're kind of right, like we all go to this place you guys. So I mean, it's a pharmacy chain, who doesn't need cough syrup? So it was the hardest job I ever did and it was because there was no defined audience. So please don't be that, don't be the cough syrup seller, you need to be targeted, know who you're dealing with. Think about the different supporters that we talked about just a little while ago, and earlier in the lesson we said there are categories of supporters, we're gonna call them profiles. And I want you to create these profiles for them, start researching similar ideas to yours, find out where their funding came from. Don't necessarily keep it in your area, especially in my case, because in Milwaukee when we were doing a street art mural alley, we didn't have any others in Milwaukee, so I had to really look at say the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, I had to look at what they were doing in Denver RiNo district, I opened up my net wide. And then I didn't just look at their website, I tried to call people there. So find out where people's funding came from, and as you uncover these new funding sources, you also might wanna revisit your friends and family list. So I'm repeating a lot from the beginning, but I want you to see how all of these things are building and spiraling on the same things you've already written down. The notes you took earlier are going to serve you well as you get further into the lesson. Who do you know in that line of work? As you start thinking about corporate donors, you might remember that your best friend from college works for a major corporation and that's your in. So that's what I mean, some of these donors you're gonna reach through your own network. So I would hope that by now you have a list of notes, or at least some to dos to make these notes later to suggest what the biggest benefits are to your idea, who the supporters might be, and I want you to start drawing lines between them so that you understand that, making profiles of these targets. What do you know about corporate donors? Maybe nothing, that's okay. If you work in a non-traditional world like me, I have a friend, this is not his real name, but he goes by Professor Pinkerton Xyloma, shout out to Pinky, who's big dream, and he's still doing it, is he runs a circus and sideshow in Milwaukee, and we love him and he is a treasure to our city. His big dream is to bring back vaudeville and the circus. You will not meet anyone more awesome and more eccentric and more further from the business world than Professor Pinkerton Xyloma, you just won't. And so he to me is like the quintessential creative, he has an awesome idea, he knows it's gonna bring culture, and joy, and fun to his audiences, but he's gotta run it like a business. So I've seen him struggle over the years with how am I gonna sell more tickets, how am I gonna do this stuff? It would be really hard for Pinky, I hope he's watching this, I hope he's like oh my god, (laughs) but it would be hard for him to go to a Kroger corporation, a major grocery store chain, and say, we would like funding for our little carnival in the Midwest. And why? Because that's probably not a good fit. They probably wouldn't have any benefit for supporting him, and he probably wouldn't even know what to say when he walked in one of their conference rooms. So every idea doesn't need a corporate sponsor, and if it does, you need to know what line you drew between those two. Again we talked about public grants, you definitely wanna do your research on this, I'm just gonna stand here and say Google it because there's a lot of public information about public grants out there, and some of them are national and some of them are local. Obviously local ones are gonna be a lot easier for you, and you're gonna automatically qualify because a lot of grants are regional, geographically based. So start asking yourself what those profiles are for these people. Art patrons and individuals, so you know, what benefits from your benefits list are going to appeal to these categories? That's where we're at right now. We're thinking about a corporate donor, what are they looking for? So this guy, this little cartoon I chose to be my corporate donor guy, in his private life, he might be really into carnivals, or really into street art, or whatever, but that is not his role when he's at work and when he's approving how his corporation is going to spend their foundation's money. I've talked to people at major corporations in Milwaukee who I won't name, but they often have foundational arms that give to charitable causes, and that needs to be in line with what their business is doing, with what their corporation's larger, loftier goals are. One of them that I've been talking with as recently as just last week, I'm in talks with them now for another community art project, and they will say right out, we are trying not to have brain drain in the Midwest. We raise up, we have really great engineering schools here, we have really smart people, but then they go to the coasts. How do we keep the best technology talent here when people just wanna run off to Silicon Valley, or to New York, or what have you, and other tech centers. So they are trying to do, that's their larger goal. So one of the projects they're looking to fund is to have an event in Milwaukee that sort of combines art, music, tech, manufacturing, and makes technology and all that seem very happening and very exciting in a city that's mostly been known for small engine manufacturing over the years. So how do they create these loftier goals? If we can come in and say, hey we can bring the art to your art and tech event, to your art and tech festival or conference, we're the subject matter experts that are going to bring what? Know what you're bringing. I'm not a tech expert, I don't know how to keep people from going to Silicon Valley, that's not what I do well, I'm a painter for god's sake, but what I can do is I can bring the art, and I can bring the artists, and I can bring the logistics for having really cool, really cutting edge, and really interesting and well connected art projects. That's what they want, they already know technology. So think about what they want, and don't fall into the trap of I know that Steve is really into this stuff in his real life, he and his wife just went and looked at a street art corridor in San Francisco, that doesn't matter, okay? What matters is what that corporation, 'cause he's signing on behalf of them. So that's what I mean by profiles, drawing those lines and trying to understand motivation of the person you're talking to. We talked about storytelling a little bit, and you may have already figured out that I'm really into storytelling, I can't help it. I am a southerner, I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and storytelling is everything when you're a southerner, and having lived outside of the south, now I realize that it's actually hard for other people. (laughs) Why? Storytelling is like a unit of measurement for talking, it's like Legos. How do we even, if you don't have a beginning, a middle, and an end to everything you're telling, I just don't even know how you get from here to there. But a lot of people can't, it's not everybody's strong suit. So you're gonna need to be able to think about the story you're telling all the time, and even though you have profiles for people and you're telling it a little differently maybe to grants than you are to corporations, it's still the fundamental story of where this idea came from, its origin story, who's gonna benefit from it, and all those great things we've already talked about. Again, my caveat is this is a general class, I wish I could be more specific about a certain idea, and that's why I keep falling back on either the mural alley or other examples that pop into my brain, because I wanna try and help you make this actionable, but your idea is yours and only you can apply this. So I hope that's getting through. I'm gonna keep working in the realm of the hypothetical. But storytelling is huge. So what exactly are you going to do? This is where we get into actions. What's your idea again? (laughs) I know you've probably written it down now and I've told you to write three versions of it, and you're probably at this point, probably you don't even know what your idea is. Once you get into the brainstorming part, you can even confuse yourself. You've been in the dreamer phase for maybe too long, I don't know, and you are just like, you know what, I give up, I don't even know what this idea is anymore, I've gotten so much freaking feedback from everybody and everyone wants it to be something else, and I don't see the vision anymore. You're drowning in possibilities. That's when you know it's time to go to the action plan, honestly, because that's when, 'cause the dreamer room, I agree with Zu, it's a wonderful place to be, but it can also overwhelm you and it can become scary because it's overwhelming. So who even knows if this thing's gonna make sense, the only way you're gonna do that is by pinning it down and by saying what exactly is it, calm your creative brain. Even Pinky, with the carnival and all the crazy things that happen on the stage, behind the scenes has to plan out exactly how long every act is gonna be on stage, exactly how he's gonna sell tickets, exactly where he's gonna put the posters up, what his social media campaign is, and so forth, who's gonna photograph the event, these are all very pragmatic things, and that's the only way that you can run the circus folks. The circus has to look wild and crazy, but behind the scene's somebody's gotta be the brains and the action plan for it. So let's try and nail it down.

Class Description

Ideas are the natural realm of creative people, but sometimes the toughest part is selling a new concept to the world at large. How do you convince potential supporters to get behind your idea? Learn to recognizing the importance of community and audience–Your idea has an audience, it has potential. In Selling Your Creative Ideas, with Stacey Williams-Ng, you’ll learn to find and connect to the right audience that can help make your dream project a reality, and get paid for it.

In this class you’ll learn.

  • Networking Strategies
  • Matching your Ideas to the Right People
  • Researching Potential Supporters
  • Going from Idea to Project to Profit
  • How to Define Success

Stacey Williams-Ng, the mastermind behind Black Cat Alley, an outdoor art gallery, will take you through the entire process of getting paid to create your art project.

In Selling Your Creative Ideas, Stacey will help all creatives get organized, and package their ideas to make them appealing to potential supporters. 



I really liked Stacey's way of speaking, her voice and energy! Thank you and congratulations making your projects real and good luck with your future ones!