grab bag blog

This is where I talk about my work, my discoveries, my creative process, and the ins and outs of marketing in the arts.

Why Discounts and Sales Alone Never Work

November 6, 2017

Filed under:

content marketing, wisdom

If I hand you a picture of a delicious-looking steak dinner and tell you that if you buy it now, it’s 40% off, how likely are you to jump on that deal?

What if I put the meal right in front of you, so you can see it and smell it and hear the fresh-from the grill sizzle? I take you into the kitchen and show you how it was prepared and let you meet the chef. I walk you through the garden where the food was grown. Then I bring you back to the meal and tell you the price. Are you going to buy it now?

The first tactic is traditional, old, stodgy marketing. It’s a commercial of a car on a highway with an attractive lease offer. The second tactic is content marketing.

Cartoon: give them the sizzleThere are a few ways to do content marketing. One is to give your buyer something they already want or need. You offer them a free e-book with insights into problems they may be having or you offer them free webinars to an expert talk about their problem. Once they’ve decided that they trust you, they’ll hire you to provide a certain service or product.

I’m on a lot of those emails lists. Too many. That’s how people often sell services.

I’m interested in selling products, specifically arts products. Books, movies, live performances, etc. And to do that, I follow the same gameplan: I offer as much related content as I can. Selling a book? Give away excerpts online. Even better: serialize most of it online, enticing people to come back regularly to read more. Hyping a movie? Send your director and stars around to do interviews and tell stories about how the movie was made. Producing a play or dance piece? Post videos of your rehearsal process. Get your performers to tell us how they are approaching the art and why it’s important to them. Publish research and early design sketches.

This may seem like you’re giving the meal away for free, but you’re not. The best part is the actual product: the performance, the book, the live concert. You are simply walking people through the garden and the kitchen. You are building the hype. You are showing people all the pieces of your puzzle, but not the whole. And we, because we are human beings, are hardwired to want to complete that puzzle, to close the circle. We want closure.

Let people smell the steak and hear the sizzle. They’ll be begging to taste the full meal, no discount required.


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