the Face Painting School

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An intro to marketing for face painters

© by Kate Matthews 2013

Face Painting School director Kate Matthews and international face painting instructor Olga Meleca on a Melbourne tram

Face Painting School director Kate Matthews and international face painting instructor Olga Meleca on a Melbourne tram, July 2013

MARKETING is a concept that’s often misunderstood. Many people use the word loosely, often thinking it simply means advertising. But marketing is a much broader concept. While promotion (ie advertising in it’s many forms) is absolutely essential to the marketing mix – it is not the only ingredient.

Staying with this analogy, you could say marketing is like making a cake; there are several ingredients, and while there are many variations on the basic cake, generally the essential ingredients are the same. Having a recipe, or in this case a marketing plan, will help you better understand your business and your potential clients. You are much more likely to get a good result if you have a plan than simply muddling your way through without one. Remembering that just like in a recipe, each ingredient interacts with the others in the mix – and all are needed in a good and balanced measure to create a successful business.

Assuming you are face painting as a way to earn money and you have dreams of making it more than just a hobby – then I would say looking at it with your business hat on is essential to your success – as is having a marketing plan.

Marketing is an investment

It’s no secret – if you want to grow your business you need to invest in it; your time, money, knowledge and confidence. Often this means you will need to push yourself beyond your comfort zone – you will need to have some confidence in yourself and your growing business. But to grow your business you have to be prepared to sell it and when you feel you are lacking confidence, I encourage you to remember one of my favourite sayings – ‘fake it til you make it’, right along with ‘if you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?’.

My point, essentially, is… if you work at marketing your business as you do your artistic and technical skills, you will reap the benefits. And there’s no place for being shy in when you’re running your own business.

The value of good marketing for face painters

While talent and technical ability in face painting may earn you praise from your family, friends, and peers, unless your work is truly remarkable it’s unlikely to cut through and give your potential customers a reason to act. They may not even know you exist, and even if they do, drawing them in and then convincing them to part with hard earned dollars in exchange for your services is somewhat of a science and an art; otherwise known as marketing.

Let me put the value of marketing into perspective for face painters. Our potential customers are really very spoiled for choice. If we take birthday parties as one example, it can be overwhelming to start making a list of competitors. Other face painters aren’t the only ones vying for the attention of your potential client – there’s also party venues (eg play centres, bowling alleys, fast food joints), as well as the cheap paint from the toy store, and other children’s entertainers including magicians, pony rides and more.

This raises lots of questions; Who are you, what do you offer, and how do you fit in? How do you stand out from the crowd and how can you possibly compete against brands and corporations that have hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars to throw at a marketing campaign? How do you know which customer is right for you? And how do you convince them your product or service will satisfy their wants and needs?

If you can answer these questions, you are well on your way, but knowing what sets you apart from the others is the first step to marketing success.

The ingredients? The Five Ps of Marketing

Traditionally there’s a concept known as the ‘Five Ps of Marketing’: putting People at the core, they include Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. The five five Ps work together in harmony- while you can measure them individually, each of the Five Ps need to be present in some form to make a successful business.

Luckily marketing can be intuitive and there’s lots of examples of people who are making the most of their market without really understanding the theory. But whether you’re a natural or a novice, here’s where I introduce you to my diagram and a basic run through of the concepts….

5ps marketing

PEOPLE

At the heart of any business are people – both the customers and in our case – us – the face painters. ‘What’s in it for me?’ is a question your potential customers are going to ask themselves… which means you will need to give them the answer upfront if you want to engage them. If you don’t, they are likely to switch off before you even have a chance to tell them how great you are. Because no-one really cares how great you are, except for your mum and your best friend.

PRODUCT

What are you selling and the associated benefits (What’s in it for me?). However you ‘package’ your product (ie service), it is critical to address the needs and benefits of the intended target. eg. face painting birthday parties: “Delight guests (desire to impress) and create lasting memories (desire to record the day) bringing fun and colour to your event (or reading between the lines, it will be boring and dull without face painting). What other ways can you package your product? Do you offer more than one product or service?

PRICE

Many face painters say they aren’t sure how to set a price. Essentially it’s the cost (financial, emotional, psychological, lifestyle or time related) or barriers (inconvenience) the target audience faces in undertaking the transaction. But put simply, both parties are looking for a fair deal and for that to happen, there needs to be a mutual benefit.

dollarConfidence here is key. Knowing the ‘going rate’ (if there is one) may help, but please try to avoid undercutting your competition simply to get a bigger market share. Undercutting will inevitably lead to a price war, and in this case no-one wins. And remember if you set your price too low at the start, it will be difficult to raise it later on. It’s better to add value by providing additional services that set you apart from your competition. Be confident in setting your price and value what you do. Always take into account the cost of doing business – you should be aiming for a profit! And please, please, please don’t feel like you have to be affordable for EVERYONE. You don’t. If you want to be in business in a year’s time – you’ll need to set your price for profit.

PLACE (also known as position)

Geographic and conceptual – how far will you travel? And how do your potential customers see you in relation to your competition? Are you the cheap face painter or are you exclusive – expensive and well-known in the best neighbourhoods? Initially it will be up to you as to how you position your brand in the marketplace – but your reputation and the service you deliver will also have an affect which will ultimately position you in the customer’s mind. Hopefully it’s at the ‘top of mind’.

PROMOTION

The most visible of the marketing mix. Promotion is made up of the messages you communicate; advertising, PR, sponsorship, materials/resources, media channels and activities that will effectively reach your audience. It’s how you engage with your target audience.

Probably the easiest of the marketing concepts to understand, most people would agree: successful businesses need to promote their products and services. Promotion, aka advertising, is a critical tool for attracting new customers and building lasting relationships. When done with purpose and pizzazz, promotion can help you increase sales and establish your competitive advantage.

The purpose of most campaigns is to communicate a clear message to persuade customers to act. To keep your brand, including your products and services, in ‘top of mind awareness’ (see above). A common mistake is to put the business/product/service first. But you should never forget people (your potential customers) should be at the heart of your promotion – not your brand. Afterall, who doesn’t want to know, ‘What’s in it for me?’

Most successful advertising campaigns tend to focus on satisfying the current and future needs of your customers and encourage them to take action – a step in your direction, whether that is a new facebook ‘fan’, and enquiry or a sale.

There are many channels for promotion… and I’ll cover that in part two (coming soon).

In the meantime, if you have any specific questions about marketing your face painting business or comments on this post, please add them below. I love to read your comments and will respond to them as soon as I can.

You might also be interested in:

for great results, start with great face paint supplies from Face Paint Shop Australia

for great results, start with great face paint supplies from Face Paint Shop Australia

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4 comments on “An intro to marketing for face painters

  1. Kat
    September 8, 2013

    thankyou for your info… I am just begining to try to market myself after painting at places here and there for the summer time. I would love to be busier with clients and parties… or even pay per face events just not sure where to start…. ads in the newspaper?? mailer postcards… leaving rack cards around places where there are parents likely to pick them up?? whats the best options?? website and facebook marketing but then I can only go local so not sure that is all that beneficial at this point… I will be following your articles thanks for sharing the info!!

  2. facepaintingschool
    November 15, 2013

    Hi Kat, how is your marketing going? Hope you have been busy with lots of gigs. The best place to market yourself is where your potential customers are hanging out. In most cases, that’s social media like Facebook. Also school newsletters. And local Facebook groups – you may already be a part of a few of them like [insert name of town/city] buy/swap/sell groups. It does take a while to build up a Facebook following, but keep networking with like minded people – and don’t forget to give potential fans a reason to follow your page. Think about hosting occasional competitions, exclusive offers, freebies. Make people feel like they’ll be missing out on something if they don’t stick around. Would love to hear how things are going for you. And sorry for the delay in responding, for some reason I missed the notification of your comment. All the best :) Kate

  3. Fee Medwin
    May 25, 2014

    thankyou sooo much for your info :) I was just wondering though if you had any advice for me as Im wanting to start up a childrens party entertainment business, where I dress in character costume, play guitar and sing with the kids, face paint and make balloon characters! I live in a small rural area in the north west of tasmania and there is literally nobody within the whole north west area who is available for kids parties! the nearest is Launceston which is a 2.5 hr drive so there is a market just sitting there waiting!! I have sung and played guitar all my life and absolutely adore kids! I would like to incorporate face-painting and balloon artistry as extras! Any other advice you could give me perhaps? or would i market my business the same way you have mentioned above :) thankyou for you time!

  4. Kate
    May 25, 2014

    Hi Fee, sounds like you’re going to be a hit. I would start by writing a brief biz plan and getting some nice photos together of you playing your guitar, in costume, a few face painting shots, and launch a website/blog and Facebook page. Take a look around and see what you like in other people’s designs and presentation to get an idea of what will work best for you. And remember to sell the sizzle not the sausage, as they say.
    Whatever you write – it needs to talk to your potential clients. How will you solve their problems and meet their needs. Remember hosting a party isn’t about what amazing things you can do it’s about how you will make them feel and what needs you will meet.
    Once you have your Facebook page up and running, go and introduce yourself to as many influential pages as you can. Don’t be obnoxious but don’t be shy. Log in as your page and comment on other pages eg; newspaper, radio station, childcare centres, shopping centres… be relevant to the topic and noone will mind. It’s a ninja campaign lol. Also PM people and businesses you’d like to work with. Let them know you’re available and link to your page and website – check in every few months until you’re busy enough not to hunt down the work.
    Oh and don’t start by being cheap. Value your skills and what you will do for your customers. You will show them you earn your money and if you think bookings are slowing down then you can promote a discount or add some more service features to your offer – a great reason for a promotion campaign.
    Good luck Fee – I hope I’ve been some help. :) Kate

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This entry was posted on August 30, 2013 by in better business and tagged , , .
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