Audience Building Part 2 – Start from Scratch

This post was originally published in Ms in the Biz on September 26, 2014.

Cindy Marie JenkinsThis is the second in a series of Audience Building articles, where I go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.

These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.

Typical Question from Client: “When should I start promoting?”

My Answer: “When did you get the idea?”

Although a tad hyperbolic, I do mean it, just not in the typical sense. Throw most of what you’ve heard about “promoting” or “marketing” out the window. Start from scratch, because we all know when we’re being sold something, and most of us have miles to go before we’re Amanda Palmer.

What I mean is that the more time you have before an actual product “launches,” or whatever your industry equivalent is, the better. Start your research into your audience. Start your conversations within fan groups similar to your work (note that I said conversations, not promotions). Get inside your audience’s heads, become a key player inside their world and find others to become your ambassadors.

First, have you plotted your Audience Targets as described in my first blog here? Go and do that. I’ll wait.

You’re back? Great, now we’re ready to begin.

STEP 0.5 : Understand how to organize yourself to avoid overwhelm. Are you a spreadsheet kind of person? Do you prefer a messy worksheet document that is organized later? Or would you rather pin all your research to a private Pinterest board before figuring out how to organize it? Because I now work babe-in-arms or babe-on-floor, large Post-it notes are sometimes my best way. [photo 1]

Whatever works for you. Just pick one way and stick to it, or change midstream to a method of organization that makes sense to you. Keep your research moving.

STEP 1 : Choose one of the Audience groups from your target exercise and start your research. Let’s use “people interested in re-tellings of fairy tales” as an example. Whatever target group you’re researching, the core questions remain the same:

  • What do they read (blogs, books, etc)?
  • Who do they follow/Who are their Influencers?
  • Where do they hang (on and offline)?
  • What do they watch?
  • What twitter chats do they frequent?
  • What social platforms do they use and how?
  • When can you pursue, and when might you consider finding an ambassador? (For instance, most parent groups won’t allow you into them if you aren’t a parent.)

STEP 2 : Fall into the rabbit hole of research. Sometimes all you need is one good lead to set you off on an adventure. While researching fairy tales via genre-related twitter chats, I found@inkgypsy and her website Once Upon a Blog.

(I’ll just give you a few hours to read all her research, thoughtful reviews and commentary. I ended up on her site for thirty minutes after visiting there just to get the link.)

So, how does @inkgypsy help you find the answers to our seven audience questions? Start with her own research. Use those questions as mere guideposts for what you can learn about your audience. She is a great example because she is equal parts a fan, expert and potential ambassador. Some examples:

STEP 3 : Track and Connect with all relevant Leads. Here are a few fun ways to track Audience Leads (choose based on your comfort level as described in STEP 0.5):

  • Follow and/or add Leads to a Twitter List (private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
  • Create a tracking spreadsheet and add as many places where these Leads live online as you can find, including but not limited to: website, email, twitter, facebook (page or profile, but always add to an Interest List so you can easily find them later), Pinterest, You Tube or vimeo, etc. If you notice there is a social platform that many of your Leads frequent but you are not on that platform, consider building a profile there. For now, just note it.
  • Pin all their websites and blogs to a Pinterest Board (As with twitter, private one if your own feed doesn’t yet reflect the topic of fairy tales, public if it’s obvious why you follow them.)
  • Just toss their website links into a document to parse out later (using the above).

STEP 4 : Set reasonable goals for yourself. I always like to offer the Rule of Five. If you can devote five days out of seven to research at least five potential members of an audience group, then not only will you find more inspiration for your project but you will begin to understand how your potential audience makes decisions.

STEP 5: DON’T SELL YOURSELF. Don’t pitch, don’t promote, or anything close to that. (If someone asks directly, that is a different story.) You are starting the process of building relationships so your potential audience trusts you enough to believe that your work is worth their time. Finding Your Audience is only the beginning. In future articles, I’ll show how to develop and nurture these potential audience groups to the point at which you can start inviting them into your work.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments or tweet me @cindymarie and I’ll answer.

Indie Art: Not Your Undergrad Production of “The Maids”

A friend of mine’s been working on her own adaptation of The Papin Sisters story, better known as the sisters in Jean Genet’s The Maids who [spoiler alert] end up killing their mistress.

But this looks to be an entirely different production…….I’ve seen Naomi’s past work, and admire her imagination, story-telling and ensemble work. As an added bonus, all the ticket sales go directly to her actors and team, some of whom have been workingon this show since January.

Here’s a taste:

Our New (Acro)Door from Diavolo: Architecture in Motion

As you may have notice in our pictures and videos over the last couple days, we have a new door!  But not just any door, this one comes to us courtesy ofDiavolo: Architecture in Motion and is fully equipped to handle the acrobatics and high-flying skills of our ensemble!

though some people still tend to doze off on from time to time…

But in the end, we just end up hanging out.

All in all, our ensemble and production team have been working tirelessly to get ready for our opening night.  So, if you are in the L.A. area, and haven’t got your tickets yet – seating is very limited!

Tickets are available here: http://holdmetight.bpt.me

And if you have a moment to help spread the word, shares, tweets, and emails are greatly appreciated as we push through the last couple days of our fundraiser.Cheers!

Hold Me Tight ensemble

Visit the ‘‘Hold Me Tight’ an MFA Thesis Project’ campaign.

Audience Building 101: Know Thyself / Know Thy Audience

This is the first in a series of Audience Building articles that were originally posted on Ms in the Miz.

I don’t just want to give you a punch list of how to build a devoted fan base; you can easily google some perfectly fine pointers. I will go into depth on the sticking points, the places where I see people take short cuts but are actually quite vital.

These are all methods on how to find and build new audiences, not just promoting without annoying your family and friends. Everyone has to actively attract and sustain new people in order to grow their audience, whether for your personal career, web series, feature film, blog, play, book, business, jewelry store…..you get the idea.

Audience Building 101

Know thyself. (In 160 characters or less.)

One thing I love about Twitter (and there many) is that the profile picture and bio are great examples of how quickly you must explain yourself to someone new. This is a freedom, not a restriction. You shape exactly how people think of you visually and tell them what you do and your personal mission. Go through these Brainstorms for Twitter and it can help you everywhere else, including in-person introductions.

cmj just eyes croppedWhen I change my twitter photo, it is very deliberate. Once, someone with whom I’d had lengthy conversations on twitter but never met in person didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t wearing a green cap (like in my previous profile photo). Last summer, I’d tried in vain to explain where I was in a crowded bar to a playwright, and he found me based on my glasses, front and center in my new one. How do you know the right photo to use?

Brainstorm: What do I want people to know about me? I find 3-5 specific words do the trick. (Using myself as an example:)

1. Curious

2. Nerdy (my freelance business name is Outreach Nerd & I also write about parenting on @ParentingNerd)

3. Focused

4. (optional) Honest

5. (optional)

Brainstorm: How do I want people to feel when they see my photo? Keep these as simple as possible, and be sure they reflect emotions.

1. Intrigued

2. Safe (they can trust me)

How can you possibly describe yourself in 160 characters or less?

1. Find one or two words that brand you in a unique way (based on the above brainstorms)

2. What you DO (Could be job title and/or personal mission)

3. Your associations, projects, related twitter handles and/or hashtags

4. Your current project (also in the website)

For instance, here’s mine at this moment:

Storyteller & @OutreachNerd – I bridge gaps between Audiences and Art. Communications Dir @24thST. New @ParentingNerd.*

Show to a few people and ask them if it sounds like you. Picture wearing your bio plastered on a sandwich board at a conference or an opening gala – are you that comfortable with it? It will be a lot of people’s first impression of you, and you want it right, and you want it current.

I can’t tell you how many times I go to someone’s twitter profile to find information about their new show, and the website listed directs me to an outdated page that has no bearing on the information I want to know right now. You lost my interest. If your current project has a twitter handle and/or hashtag, put it in the bio. Keep it current; keep yourself relevant. Direct people exactly where you want them to look. You have the power. Use it.

Know Thy Audience.

The very first step to this endeavor is narrowing it down. “Everybody who likes comedy/likes to laugh” is not specific enough. Is your comedy akin to Steve Martin, Chelsea Peretti, Louis CK, John Oliver, Sarah Silverman? Is it tweetable, or more long form? (Time-sucker Tangent: see Patton Oswalt if you want a stellar example of using limitations to create comedy that also shows insight into society)

With all of my clients, I place an image of a target and markers in front of them. Be sure to use markers. They make everything more fun.

photo1 8-17-14

Begin in the center of the target: who are the guarantees, the people you know are devoted to you and will share anything just because you ask? People who usually go in the center include the following:

  • Family
  • Close Friends
  • Donors (if you fund-raised)
  • That person who Likes everything you post on Facebook and sometimes it’s a little creepy, but you really think they mean well and aren’t stalkers.

Then begin moving to the outer circles. In the circle just outside the center target, your potential audiences here   may include:

  • Collaborators (They are often considered a given for your main audience, but are not always reliable. Collaborators usually work on multiple projects and their performance or comfort level with promoting in general may contribute to how much they hustle the project. You also have to give them the tools necessary to make it easy, which I’ll cover in a later post)
  • Colleagues/Associates (People who understand that you need help and may ask for it in return.)

Note that you want to consider how close the potential audience is to both your product (people who love the genre of your film, for example) and how close your current real connection is to them. If you want to target Firefly lovers but haven’t been active in any forums, blogs, etc, then move them further away from the center than if you’re a familiar face around the fanbase. It will take time to gain their trust.

Here is how I coach people through completing their target audience list:

  • Don’t think too much about it. This is a brainstorm. Write every thought that comes into your head and don’t edit. You’ll appreciate it later.
  • You can always move people, so don’t obsess over where they go in the target either.
  • Get as general and as specific as comes to you in the moment. “People who like early Bill Cosby comedy” are different than “People who like The Cosby Show”, though they overlap. But if all you can think is “Bill Cosby,” write that and go into detail later.
  • Peel apart every part of your product that might attract people: genre, themes, sub themes, locations, hobbies of characters, actors, etc
  • Use a soft focus on the project to see it from a different angle. Ask people not familiar to read/watch and give you a new perspective into their personal hook.

If you take the time to fill in each outer circle with as many details as you can, it will avoid overwhelm later. Imagine you are sitting at home, and you feel like you should do something but you don’t know what. Don’t just post a soulless status update that sounds too sales-y even for your tastes. Sit down and focus on just one of these potential audience groups. Where do they live online? Who influences them? Where do they find their entertainment? It is so much easier to find a specific potential target than just think “I need more people! Say something witty right now”

How do you find them? That is in my next post, Audience Building 102: Starting From Scratch.

Comment with your questions or tweet them to @CindyMarieJ. I’ll answer or address it in a later post.

*Since this post was originally published on September 30, my twitter profile bio changed, according to how my focus shifted.

How do Diana, Jessica & Steven Make it Work as a Work-At-Home-Parent?

I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.

Here is an introduction to our guests, two by two. Read about Lisa & Róisín here , Deepti & Tish here.

Diana Kohne KennyDiana Kohne Kenny

is a visual artist who shows new work several times a year, a mom with an active toddler, and in between runs Art Cricket LA, a new business that connects people to local art.

 

 

Jessica Ires MorrisJessica Ires Morris

tries to fit acting, raising a one year old and working remotely for a financial consulting firm into her life and her home. Each area benefits and suffers from the others.

 

siw450x450Steven Wasserman 

has worked on numerous independent productions as director, producer, cinematographer, editor and writer. His work has been featured in numerous international film festivals and broadcast nationally on cable television, and CEO of Hachitan Entertainment, specializing in Creative Production of Film & Video content for broadcast, marketing and entertainment.

 

Moderated by Cindy Marie Jenkins, Storyteller and Outreach Nerd, Communications Director@24thST Theatre. A workaholic () who loves being a new mother  . What could go wrong? Adventures of Lil’ Pirate Dude chronicled @parentingnerd.

If you are a work-at-home-parent, considering it, or as an employer want to keep your hiring options open, please join us!

Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

Thursday, Sept. 25 (1-2:30pm)

At 24th ST Theatre, 1117 W. 24th ST, LA 90007 (corner of Hoover & 24th ST) Map.

Join the Facebook event for updates.

Deepti & Tish Make it Work as a Work-At-Home-Parent

I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.

Here is an introduction to our guests, two by two. Read about Lisa & Róisín here.

Deepti GuptaDeepti Gupta

an actress, voice over artist and producer, recorded her first audiobook when 7 months pregnant, in a make-shift booth of blankets and towels, in the hot month of June. Now, a mom of a toddler, she’s recording audiobooks from her professional booth at home and learning to strike the balance with work and family on a daily basis. www.deeptigupta.com

Watch the trailer for her film Happy and You Know It.

TRAILER – Happy and You Know It from Hamari Films on Vimeo.

Tish HicksTish Hicks 

is an LA Voiceover veteran who runs The V.O. Dojo, a training, networking and resource center connecting voiceover actors of all levels.

The V.O. Dojo is a training, networking, and resource center connecting voiceover actors of all levels, from those with an initial spark of interest to seasoned V.O. professionals.

Inspired by the discipline of martial arts and the fun and playfulness of improv, The V.O. Dojo encourages voiceover artists to approach their craft fearlessly and with the wisdom of a warrior.

If you are a work-at-home-parent, considering it, or as an employer want to keep your hiring options open, please join us!

Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

Thursday, Sept. 25 (1-2:30pm)

At 24th ST Theatre, 1117 W. 24th ST, LA 90007 (corner of Hoover & 24th ST) MapMore Info.

Join the Facebook event for updates.

Lisa & Róisín Make it Work as a Work-At-Home-Parent

I put out the call for Work-at-Home-Parents, and seven wonderful people answered! They represent a variety of careers, their children are all different ages, and Thursday’s Round Table is sure to be lively and helpful.

Here is an introduction to our guests, two by two. Info on the free event is below.

Lisa Cassandra

Lisa Cassandra

Lisa Cassandra  is an actor, grant writer/development consultant, and copy editor, as well as an entrepreneur with her own health and wellness business. She also conceived and directed the children’s short documentary film, The Jackson Pollock Project. She does all this as a single mom around a teenage daughter and son. Mostly she’s exhausted.

Roisin Ching

Róisín Ching

Róisín Ching is a Speech Language Pathologist, parent educator, and co-owner of Echo Speech Therapy. She and her 14-month-old son are currently cataloging the hiding places of all the cats on their block.

If you are a work-at-home-parent, considering it, or as an employer want to keep your hiring options open, please join us!

Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

Thursday, Sept. 25 (1-2:30pm)

At 24th ST Theatre, 1117 W. 24th ST, LA 90007 (corner of Hoover & 24th ST) Map. More Info.

Join the Facebook event for updates.

Email cindy@24thstreet.org to RSVP.

Event: Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

If you are a work-at-home-parent, considering it, or as an employer want to keep your hiring options open, please join us!

Making Life Work as a Work-at-Home Parent

Thursday, Sept. 25 (1-2:30pm)

At 24th ST Theatre, 1117 W. 24th ST, LA 90007 (corner of Hoover & 24th ST) Map.

Join the Facebook event for updates.

We are everywhere now: the Work-At-Home Mom or Dad. Technology has created room for working remotely unheard of just a decade ago. It may seem ideal, but really just creates its own unique challenges. Round-table with guests will include questions and comments from all attendees as well.

Use #WAHParent to join the conversation from home. And yes, children welcome!

*How can you transition from freelance/office hours to working around a child’s schedule?
*How to communicate client expectations without making excuses?
*How to create an office area flexible enough to also balance parenting activities?
*Where to find local activities that allow you to relax or work without your child, and ones that give you the time to focus on them away from work? (Also a handout)
*How to address breastfeeding during meetings
*Should your small budget go towards a babysitter or assistant?
*All this, and quality time with your partner, too?

Round table Guests include:

Lisa Cassandra  is an actor, grant writer/development consultant, and copy editor, as well as an entrepreneur with her own health and wellness business. She also conceived and directed the children’s short documentary film, The Jackson Pollock Project. She does all this as a single mom around a teenage daughter and son. Mostly she’s exhausted.

Róisín  Ching is a Speech Language Pathologist, parent educator, and co-owner of Echo Speech Therapy. She and her 14-month-old son are currently cataloging the hiding places of all the cats on their block.

Deepti Gupta  an actress, voice over artist and producer, recorded her first audiobook when 7 months pregnant, in a make-shift booth of blankets and towels, in the hot month of June. Now, a mom of a toddler, she’s recording audiobooks from her professional booth at home and learning to strike the balance with work and family on a daily basis. www.deeptigupta.com

Tish Hicks is an LA Voiceover veteran who runs The V.O. Dojo, a training, networking and resource center connecting voiceover actors of all levels

Diana Kohne Kenny is a visual artist who shows new work several times a year, a mom with an active toddler, and in between runs Art Cricket LA, a new business that connects people to local art.

Jessica Ires Morris tries to fit acting, raising a one year old and working remotely for a financial consulting firm into her life and her home. Each area benefits and suffers from the others.

Steven Wasserman has worked on numerous independent productions as director, producer, cinematographer, editor and writer. His work has been featured in numerous international film festivals and broadcast nationally on cable television, and CEO of Hachitan Entertainment, specializing in Creative Production of Film & Video content for broadcast, marketing and entertainment.

Moderated by Cindy Marie Jenkins, Storyteller and Outreach Nerd, Communications Director @24thST Theatre. A workaholic () who loves being a new mother  . What could go wrong? Adventures of Lil’ Pirate Dude chronicled @parentingnerd.

RSVP by emailing cindy@24thstreet.org

Sponsored & Hosted by 24th ST Theatre24th st