Running a face painting business is about 10% painting and 90% looking for new clients. Word of mouth works great for a while, but if you want to take your career to the next level, you’ll need to find ways to attract new clients.
This quick guide will introduce you to three essential marketing principals every small business owner should know about – these simple rules of thumb will enhance any type of advertising campaign, whether you’re just passing out business cards or buying big billboards by the highway.
When most people think about parties and festivals, they think about clowns and balloon twisters and caricature artists – face painting might make that list but it’s rarely a “top of the mind” item. This means that body artists have to do more than just advertise their own businesses: they have to advertise the entire industry. You have to convince people to try face painting before you can convince them that your face paint service is the best.
Your advertisements can often double as promotion for face painting in general. Including phrases like “safe for all ages” or “perfect for birthdays” can give people context into the different ways they can use face painting. Tell a story with the visual aspects of your advertisements: include pictures of corporate parties, children with fun paint designs, sports fans bearing the logos of local teams, etc. When people see your advertisements they should immediately think, “Wow – my event needs THAT!”
Keep your elevator pitch positive and creative – save a few of the more technical/competitive points for when you need to close a sale. When closing a sale, you can brag all you want (If you buy global body paints or other hypoallergenic skin-friendly brands, say so! If you have liability insurance, make sure to say so!) But these points are always more effective after the customer already knows a little about face painting in general.
Face painters are at a disadvantage because they have to advertise to people who might not necessarily need the service for weeks or even months, if at all. Your advertisements need to have staying power. Focus on making your information “findable” when people need it most: make sure your business has a listing in the phone book, on the search engines, and on the bulletin boards at party supply stores. Ramp-up your advertising efforts before party-heavy holidays.
The next step is to create a presence within the community. Make your business and brand recognizable. Choose a simple color scheme and logo and stick with it. When working at a large public event, use a branded tablecloth or feather banner to make sure that people know who you are. Include your phone number so passersby can store it in their smartphones.
Invest in a pack of professionally printed business cards. Give them out two at a time so your prospective customers can give them to other prospective customers. When you get room in your budget, consider upgrading to “free swag” items like branded refrigerator magnets, coffee mugs, t-shirts, and other useful items. Free stuff can serve as perpetual advertisements to ensure your phone number is always within reach.
Even if you are the only body artist in town, you still face a certain amount of competition. At festivals, you have to compete against the vendors, the merchandise stands, game tickets, etc. You have to compete against theme party companies, magicians, costumed performers, and balloon artists for the private parties in town. This is where incentive marketing can come in handy.
Incentives are a classic sales strategy: discounts, coupons, contests, and giveaways are powerful and alluring. People hate to pass up a good deal. If you have a particularly difficult time competing with the larger entertainment companies in your area, consider offering value-added extras. You could appear in costume, or have an option to setup a photo booth session.
These are some of the most expensive yet most effective marketing techniques but they’re worth the investment. Plan each big budget campaign carefully, using the awareness + exposure + incentive formula outlined in this guide.
The Perfect Ad Campaign
Awareness, exposure, and incentive – if you can create an advertising campaign that encompasses these three ingredients, you’re sure to drive up demand and solidify your presence in the local entertainment community. Effective promotions can stick in the minds of potential customers for years: the efforts you take now will continue to pay off for the rest of your career. Get excited about advertising! Spread the word!