What works best for your marketing?
Good old-fashioned word of mouth seems to work best for most of our Allies, followed by social media (though many don’t like doing it).
Word of mouth so far has been the best. And the people who know me.
Also thankfully because the bird mural on 26th and Larimer is in such a prime spot, it gets a lot of foot traffic. One of my clients saw that mural and then commissioned me to do his stairwell.
I really don’t do any marketing, I’m not a hustler. I don’t try to hunt down clients but I have a full plate. As far as I know the industry is word of mouth. To be frank I just suck at business and I’m fine with that.
I think it’s just over eleven years of doing this and I just have contacts and friends that largely I’ve met from film festivals, trade shows and being in the industry, and luckily enough they appreciate what I’m doing.
Bree: Instagram has been our only marketing. And hashtagging. I straight up ask people how they found us and a lot of it’s from hashtagging. Isn’t that crazy?[We use] #VisitSaltLake. . .. #MadeInUtah. I think #VisitSaltLake is the one people said they’ve seen the most.
Nate: #Woodworking. #UtahIsRad. Every time I post, though, I do random ones. [Laughs.]
B: And obviously you tag people in pictures. We need to get better at Instagram. But we’re as busy as we want to be right now.
N: We’ve done ads—
B: But nothing – literally nothing has come from an ad.
Nate: Usually people will be following us for a while, like a couple years, and they’ll finally reach out. Sometimes they’ll go to our website and use our custom form or they’ll DM us
Essentially it’s just social media and any of the shows that I do.
As much as I’m out there and talking to people [at shows and conventions], that’s probably more intensive marketing than I could do online, ever. I talked to 10,000 people this weekend [at Comic Con]. Gave out 500 business cards. It’s a pretty intensive marketing strategy.
Instagram helps. It was basically my website until I had a website. Still kind of is.
I’ll post anytime I finish something. With shorter attention spans these days, I just want to show that I’m actively painting.
It’s an app that everyone uses so usually when I finish something, I wait for good lighting, take a photo, color correct it to make it look accurate and then put it up.
It’s also a good way to gauge. Since I do lots of things, sometimes I’ll actually post with the intention of seeing if it actually engages with people. It’s sometimes surprising. Wow, people really like this one.
I use Instagram stories mostly. And what works best online is by having a sale of some kind, engaging my followers on social media and working on something that’s trending, like fan art for a movie or game that’s coming out.
In person at shows you’re advertising your art, as well. You are, in a sense, competing against all the other artists there, so you need to get attention to your table or booth. You need to stand up and engage everyone – sitting there hoping to be noticed doesn’t work. It’s the same with online. You have to go out and engage people to get their attention.
Social media has definitely been the answer and I hate it for a number of reasons. It’s in large part been the death of long-form content pieces. But it’s also been such an easy way for us to communicate with our fanbase. It’s the platforms they all want to use and it’s so simple for us to post or share something that immediately reaches a couple of hundred thousand people who can immediately respond to it. And we can gauge what they like, what they don’t like, answer their questions and comments, just speak to them.
So social media platforms in general, but specifically Instagram. No secret there, especially for a company like Level 1. Because we’re a media company, we’re producing all of this content and Instagram is an opportunity for us to share that content. Which makes it very organic. Because we’re not aggregating other people’s content, it’s more of just like, This is what we do, these are the shots that we have produced here, watch them.
I don’t use hashtags [most of the time]. I’ve never been into it. I can’t be bothered with hashtags. I don’t care enough. And yeah, would we engage with a few more people, could a few more people find what we’re doing?
Actually, there are circumstances, like for SuperUnknown [Level 1’s video talent search contest] where we’re trying to build a collection that’s easily searchable — I’ll use the hashtags for that.
New design clients are strictly word of mouth — I don’t even have a design website. They usually want to see some design work from me, but I’ll just reference stuff that’s out there in the market that they can currently look at.
For painting I have one gallery, Slate Gray Gallery, who represents me in Telluride, Colorado. They sell work every couple of months/ I’m usually selling a piece and making a new piece for them.
I do some private commissions too. I just did a big commission for someone in Steamboat who used to live with a friend of mine from high school and works in a ski shop that sells Armada skis. So that was an easy connection.
Referrals [are how I get most of my work]. And just being in the community, doing Art Adoption, going to galleries, being in the city. You get to talk to a lot of artists and then, if people have a job they know about, they’re like, Oh, I know a guy who does that. So that’s mostly how I get all my work.
People have also come up when I’ve been painting and asked for business cards. And from that I’ve gotten some work, too. The visibility of murals I think helps and there’s no way, at this point, I’ve sold a painting for the amount of money I can get for a mural.
Locally, we don’t advertise. Word of mouth 100%.
I think it’s people seeing something in a friend’s house and saying, Where did you get that done? And they say, Signed & Numbered. Because the frames do stand out from other frames. You can tell they’re different. We’ve also had stuff in different restaurants around town. That’s another way that people find us. It’s literally just word of mouth.
People, connections, giving a hug, touching someone’s hand, community.
Obviously, the first thing that pops into my mind is Instagram and everything like that. But I don’t invest too much into all that stuff, even though it’s helpful, because I don’t feel like I connect that much with the stuff on Instagram or a lot of what I see online right now.
I think it’s when I see someone snowboarding or I see someone playing music or I see someone just existing [in person] then I’m like, Oh, whoa! You know right away whether or not they have something that’s genuine, just the look in their eyes or something. And that’s when I get excited because that’s what everybody strives for and everybody’s looking for. And I just think that a lot of that gets misconstrued over all the social media platforms. It just comes down to being around like-minded people with the same energy as you.
It is mostly word of mouth at this point. And my wife helps out a lot actually, she lets me go to Art Basel. It’s on my own dime but usually when I get there I’ll get a gig that pays for the trip. I’m still gambling on it but when I go on these trips I meet people and then it just kind of snowballs. That’s how the Bushwick Collective thing happened.
So it’s definitely word of mouth and painting in places as much as you can. Collaborating with other artists really helps boost the call backs for sure.
I’d say it’s 50/50 [word of mouth and social media]. A lot of it is social media, online presence. I like to think there’s some sort of formula that works but I don’t think there is. Every time I talk to artists it’s always random.
Word of mouth.
We do zero marketing which is funny because I come from a marketing background.
But I didn’t intentionally want to become a muralist, I would say. I mean, this is a dream come true, it’s always something I admired and wanted to try, but I wasn’t ever thinking it would be a business move.
We haven’t signed one of our murals in probably five years. One of the nice things is once people find us they really want to work with us. But I would definitely not advise that to anybody. If I was a business owner or if I was representing an artist of course I’d want them to sign their work, of course I’d want them to have an Instagram account and post a bunch of pictures. But that’s not what I want to get out of this.
Word of mouth is still one of the best. It creates a lot of opportunities and even call for entries and different jobs, it’s still a little inner circle of people. You may know someone who is on the committee or they may know someone who knows someone who is on the committee.
Word of mouth is probably one of the better things to have going for you, still to this day.
Instagram is the number one way for me to promote what CRUSH is doing because we’re a visual community. And it’s great because it’s basically your online resumé, you can update on the fly and lead someone to that really easily.
But it also kind of sucks because it’s kind of diluting a lot of stuff and it’s hard to tell what’s authentic. I don’t know, it has its ups and downs. It was a free platform for people to do their thing but now they want you to pay to boost your posts so it’s becoming what it wasn’t, you know?
I have my qualms with that and the way our culture is going but you have to kind of move the way society is moving.
I think it’s mainly through friends, family, collaborators— from the relationships that I make. I’m not really marketing myself. The marketing that takes place is on Instagram, which is pushed to Facebook. I don’t actively go on Facebook, I just post the same thing I do on Instagram.
And then I have a website that’s very rudimentary with only the basics on it. I need to add so much to it. But that’s part of the business side that I’m like, Oh, man, I don’t know how to do this crap and I don’t want to.
So work just kind of comes, I haven’t really sought out very much. Even with film, I’ll send out a couple of texts every once in a while, like, Hey, I’m slow right now, you guys got anything?
A lot of [relationships] are from my college days. I think it’s just by— it may sound cheesy, but my love for these people. The friendships I have with my friends from 15, 20 years ago are because I genuinely love and care about them and they me.
You know how it goes, you have either acquaintances or you have friendships. And my group of friends consists of musicians, designers, visual artists, we’re just really— I don’t know, really lucky that all of us genuinely like one another and will connect and promote one another.
Primarily it’s word of mouth.
I’m lucky to live in Salt Lake, it’s got such a vibrant outdoor community and quite a few friends and acquaintances I’ve met over the years are involved in some way with certain companies in the outdoor industry. A couple of times I’ve had a certain friend who’s in some role at a company and they’ll be at a board meeting or whatever and hear that they need a photographer for a certain shoot and they’ll throw my name out. Then from there whoever the marketing guy is or whoever is in charge of the shoot will be able to look at my website or my Instagram and if they like what they see, then they typically contact me about it.