Marketing Plan: Define Your Problems to Overcome

Marketing Plan: Define Your Problems to Overcome - Melinda Massie Marketing Blog

When I was a dance teacher, we always said the hardest step was walking through the front door the first time. Overcoming that “first timer” hurdle is a problem that many performing arts organizations (and many businesses in general) need to overcome.

Defining the problems to overcome, as well as the strategies to address them, is a MAJOR key to success and a key role that marketing can plan in helping you and/or your organization. Because it’s so important, this week I’m sharing another excerpt from my new workbook, “The Performing Arts Crash Course: Marketing 101 + Plan.

Problems to Overcome

What it is:

The external problems you/your organization are facing.

Why you need it:

Hopefully, you don’t need it! But if you do have problems to overcome, it’s best to name them, know them, and include them in your marketing plan so you can overcome them.

What you need to know:

Think beyond only major crises. Obviously, if you’re in the middle of something major, write it down here, but also think of little problems, too. Maybe people have a hard time pronouncing your name, or they just don’t realize you exist. These are problems, too, and addressing the little things ensures you don’t “die from a thousand paper cuts.”

If you are in a major crisis, outline the smaller problems within it. To use an orchestra labor strike as an example, smaller problems to overcome may include:

  • Eroding trust and support of the community.

  • Eroded trust between management and the musicians.

  • Management only seeing the musicians, a.k.a. product, as a line-item instead of people and extensively-trained artists

  • The public (and maybe internal management as well?) see the musicians as selfish and elitist.

  • People who don't think the arts are well-supported or even need to be supported.

  • Bitter musicians - people who want/wanted to be professional and were unable to for whatever reason.

  • Myths that the symphony audience is dying.

  • Myths that the symphony is exclusive and too elite.

  • Public that doesn’t even realize the city has a professional symphony.

Outlining the smaller problems in detail allows you to create game plans to overcome each of them.

For your marketing plan:

Outline problems to overcome.

Outline strategy for overcoming the problems. What can you do to address each issue?

Example: an organization that had a problem with people now knowing how to pronounce their name made a fabulous “Man on the Street”-style video that addressed it and taught people how to say their name in a fun way.


Pro tip: any time you can teach and entertain at the same time is a good thing.


Related side note: If you are going through hard times, look for examples of what you want happening with others. Having a hard time finding funding? Look for organizations that are winning large grants and donations. Having a hard time reaching new audiences? Look for the organizations that are reaching and retaining them through new initiatives. Google: California Symphony Orchestra X. Have you heard some of the myths too often and are now believing it yourself? Shake that off! Look for the stories that shatter that myth. Let those stories sink into your bones. It will get better again! PROMISE!

Need a starting point? The colossal comeback of the Minnesota Orchestra is a truly outstanding recovery story.

What problems have you overcome? How did you do it? Share with us in the comments below!

Need help defining problems and strategies? Let’s talk.

Melinda Massie

About the Author

Hey there! I’m Melinda. Nice to meet you! I’m a performing arts marketing coach, writer, and performer. I those in the performing arts how to market themselves in a simple, clear, and creative way.

Wannabe runner. Love indulgent foods, whiskey, & champagne.

And not necessarily in that order.