Sunday, June 26, 2011

You Get What You Pay For

Some people think that Beth and I are expensive. They compare our fee with the competition and come to the conclusion that we cost too much for their school or organization.

In some cases, they may be right. Some folks have tiny budgets and no matter how much they value us, we’re unable to work together because of money. Even in this economy, though, the single biggest block to our working with schools isn't the price. It’s justifying our worth versus our competitors.

Imagine trying to describe your worth right now – your talents and your character, your education and work experience all in thirty seconds. What would you say to a prospective “buyer” that would encourage him or her to give you a job? You better be ready to say something that they’ll remember!

I’ll never forget how a local clothing store made its reputation with the phrase, “an educated consumer is our best customer.”  The reason that this phrase was so successful is that everyone wondered, “Am I an educated consumer?” The store wasn’t just saying we have great clothes and fair prices, they were saying, “Only smart people need come by.” Wow.

Beth and I began playing music in schools in 1993. Back then, we collected everyone’s brochures to learn how the marketing was done. With few exceptions, every act followed the formula that is applied not only in arts-in-education but throughout the world to sell stuff: fabulous quotes, exciting descriptions and photos of happy clients. It seemed like every act had the quote, “They’re the best we’ve ever had in our school!”

So, what’s a cultural arts rep to do? How can you decide which acts are going to please the teachers, students and principal and which ones might be an embarrassment to you? Here’s what we suggest you do to foolproof your cultural arts experience and receive lots of compliments for your efforts:

  • Preview the Performer and/or Contact Their References. You wouldn’t buy a dress without trying it on, would you? Ask their references how it benefited the students and whether the teachers thought it was worth giving up class time. Get specific.
  • Talk, Don’t Email. We know everyone’s busy, but you’ll get much better information from a performer when you communicate via telephone. Your intuition is very important.
  • If the Price is High, Ask Them Why! Our fees are based upon the fact that we’re two performers, we buy and maintain the best sound, sets and costumes, and we often spend a full year developing a new program. Additionally, we are local to New York where the cost of living and doing business are astronomically high. 
  • Go for a Grant. We know how your stomach churns at the thought of researching and writing a grant, but some of them are surprisingly simple. Check to see if a teacher can help you. They often know about local organizations and foundations that are just itching to give money for fantastic programs – like us! Here's a way to get a $500 grant that's easy:
The truth is we are not expensive. Our fees are based upon the actual cost of providing you with the best entertainment we can plus a reasonable profit so that we can stay in business. The value we bring to you, however, far exceeds what you are paying us. Because we are so experienced, dedicated, passionate about music, education and children, you aren’t just contracting for our talent – you’re getting two fellow parents who want the best for your kids. Can that be said of the competition? Ask around. Talk with us. Come see us perform or teach. And here’s what we think you’ll find:

An educated cultural arts representative is our best customer!

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