I’m planning a day-long marketing workshop with a friend who is, among other things, an improv actress.
If you know nothing else about improvisation, you might recognize the foundational concept of “Yes, and,” which encourages actors to accept what others do on stage and build on it.
Everything about the creation of this marketing workshop we’re calling “Learning to market yourself can be fun. Really.” feels like the “Yes, and …” of my passions in life.
The spark of the idea
Like me, Amanda Hirsch is a Brooklyn-based solopreneur marketing consultant, though her focus is different — she helps mission-driven organizations and individuals tell their stories online. For example, she helped the George Lucas Educational Foundation better demonstrate its impact by creating a new content strategy for the about section of its website, as well as rewriting the copy.
Amanda and I are friends and we’ve talked for years about how we might collaborate, looking for ways to blend our different skills and experiences. She’s an English major and an actress with a natural interest in story telling. Meanwhile, I’m a journalist turned MBA who surprised myself by nerding out over data and who loves helping clients clarify their business goals as the foundation for their marketing communication plan.
We had brunch a few months back — brunch is practically a religion in New York — to look for ways we could work together. Amanda talked a bit about an online class she’d taught and what she’d learned from it, I joined in with ideas I’ve been kicking around to do more teaching, and the next thing I knew, we were brainstorming an in-person workshop Amanda gave the working title, “Get Your Shit Together Online.”
When you brunch with an improv actress, apparently you might just “Yes, and” yourself into a great idea.
Honing the concept
We know there are roughly 23 gazillion marketing workshops already offered, so we wanted to offer something that wasn’t just a “me, too.”
Since Amanda is an actress and writer, and I’m a writer who has hung out with musicians my whole life and who is married to an artist, we both feel a connection to creatives. We thought it could be fun for us to tailor our marketing advice specifically to creative people, whether they own a business or they sell on Etsy on the side.
We talked about how friends of ours including Lauree Ostrofsky and Katie Goodman have successfully offered workshops focused on women. I thought that could work especially well for a marketing workshop, since women might have a different voice in their sales pitches and it might be more comfortable for women to ask their most vexing questions in a room with other ladies.
When we blended those two ideas, we thought, well, we’re in Brooklyn, where else are there more creative women than here? And we wondered if bringing together a community of creative women might have its own huge value, separate from the workshop itself.
We did some quick Googling and were stunned to find no one with a group named Creative Women of Brooklyn. The closest we found was the Creative Women’s Network through the Brooklyn Arts Council, but that’s a publishing cooperative, a different concept from ours.
Making it real
Over several long planning sessions, fueled by coffee and laughter, we worked out the details.
The outline of the syllabus quickly showed how well our interests fit. I believe strongly you have to clearly set and articulate your business goals to succeed with your communications, and find that often clients who come to me complaining of marketing problems actually need help at the strategic level first. Amanda is passionate about clarifying what your story is, including your mission and goals, so that ripples through everything from your website to your social media.
We’ll each take time to help our participants on their goals and their stories before moving to the roll-up-your-sleeves part of creating a marketing plan of action. Since we’re both bloggers and active on social media, we both have insights to share here.
We know some people struggle with their marketing communications — they find it overwhelming or confusing or just their least favorite task — so we wanted to take as much of that angst away as we can. Let’s get whatever’s stressing you off your to-do list and finally get it done.
We considered so many possible names I lost count but settled on one that directly gets our point across: Learning to market yourself can be fun. Really.
To underscore that, we’re having the workshop in the backroom of my favorite cocktail bar, the Long Island Bar. Doesn’t having a delicious brunch and a couple of cocktails at a nationally recognized bar with a small group of other creative women of Brooklyn sound fun?
Bringing it all together
A few years ago, Amanda gave me a freelance writing assignment for PBS.org, to do a story on collaboration in the Brooklyn food scene.
I was so inspired talking to Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, who described his approach to collaboration as person first, project later:
“I like the idea that you decide who you want on the bus with you, then you decide where the bus is going,” Oliver said. Sometimes different expectations about costs, revenue or goals can challenge collaboration, but liking your collaborators makes it easier to communicate through those problems.
Collaborating with people who inspire me and push me to learn and grow is a high priority for me this year. Even more to the point, I want to spend more time with people who live life with gusto.
So I’m collaborating with someone I want on my bus, and doing that in the service of the creative women of Brooklyn. I’m sharing my skills and experiences with people I find inspiring, aiming to help them become more successful, and hosting this event in a place that feels like my home away from home.
It’s not often I give up an entire Sunday to work, but I’m so looking forward to Sunday, May 17. It’s a single day that ties together so many of my passions, and I think participants will feel that.
If you’re a creative woman in Brooklyn and you’d like to sip cocktails while improving your marketing communications, I hope you’ll join us!