Minimum viable marketing for the arts

As an artist or an arts producer, you know what it’s like to do everything on a shoestring – including tying your shoes with actual string because you know what? It gets the job done and it’s extremely affordable. But when it comes to marketing there’s a fine line between doing it on the cheap and doing your project a disservice.

By now you know you need to do some marketing for your project or campaign. But how much? The answer to that question is: as long as a piece of shoestring.

What is Minimum Viable Marketing?

The idea of minimum viable comes from the startup world. Often seen in the company of words like “agile and “lean”, it really refers to a process of stacking up the potential gains against immediate resource investment of time and budget. It’s an approach that accepts you can’t do everything in the marketing book, and that’s absolutely fine. Instead, you want to do exactly the amount of marketing that will add value without taking away from your focus on developing, exhibiting or showing your actual work: your art. And that’s exactly what the Minimum Viable Marketing approach is.

Starting before you’re ready

A crucial aspect of Minimum Viable Marketing is starting before you’re ready. Preparation is a wonderful thing but it can turn into procrastination or perfectionism before you know it. Taking the MVM approach means accepting that perfection isn’t the aim and that testing and learning with your audience will bring greater rewards than stewing over details in your room. The Host and Founder of the Unmistakable Creative Podcast Srinivas Rao talks about getting going, saying

“Most people think that there’s going to be a perfect time to start; a time when their writing is good enough will be loved by everybody, and will lead to riches and fame. But this is an illusion, perpetuated by not starting and by seeing the people who [accomplished these things already]. I think that to do creative work of any kind you have to start before you’re ready and embrace the mindset of ‘let’s just see what happens.’ Anybody who has managed to get their work out into the world likely started before they were ready.”

The great news is that everything in your career so far has led you to absolutely nail this approach. With a bit of a plan at your back, you’re off to a great start.

The virtuous circle

A virtuous circle is a self-perpetuating cycle where each step generates a positive input for the next. Your Minimum Viable Marketing virtuous circle should look a bit like this:

  1. Think of all marketing activities and channels available (to you)
  2. Choose the best possible activities and marketing channels (for you)
  3. Test the activities that require the lowest effort and investment and have the highest potential reward
  4. Measure the effort and investment versus the results
  5. Return to Step 3 and repeat

A cautionary note

With this approach, you can’t insist on perfection. There will be things that go out into the world that need fixing and that’s ok- that’s what Version 2 is for. If your brand or your professional personality insists on immaculate collateral and faultless organisation, this is not the path for you and that’s okay! However, if this sounds like you, you can find our MVM tool here. We’re always here to help so remember to contact us if you have any questions or feedback!