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Dreams vs. Reality: Win-win sponsorship (Part 2)

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Remember that producer who gave us a pep-talk after our dreadful proposal pitch? It was none other than George Town Festival producer juggernaut, Joe Sidek. His words of wisdom engraved on my producer brain, “Sell your body but don’t sell your soul.”

What is it about the ‘body’ that needs the selling? Perhaps this was Joe’s hint of negotiating with partners and funders so that it can reach audiences to deliver its message.

Art projects are seen as dynamic, fresh and engaging. Photo credit: Christine Ngh

Art projects are seen as dynamic, fresh and engaging. Photo credit: Christine Ngh

And nobody knows more about reaching out to one’s audience than marketing and promotion expert Christine Ngh, founder and co-director of Bumblebee Consultancy. With a background in business and finance from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Christine honed her skills at marketing & promotion line for more than 12 years at various multi-national companies like Colgate-Palmolive, L’Oreal & Reckitt Benckiser. This direct exposure to the consumer product market and tenacity to connect the world of marketing with the rich content that’s at the center of all artistic creations; drove her to launch her own marketing consultancy in 2010.

Pinching off household consumer products

Imagine all the consumer products you encounter in a day; from the moment you wake up until bedtime. From toiletries to food products and cleaning detergents, hundreds of consumer products can be found in the Malaysian home. These products are there because someone somehow convinced us to buy them. How can we as art project producers take advantage of this?

Marketing through art community partnership

Christine has a lot of face time with her communities, or as a marketer would put it, spends a lot of time interacting with the consumers. She looks at things – besides the products themselves – that are important to consumers These are the things she can then arrange into innovative and unique marketing approaches.

Likewise, in the arts, Christine’s secret weapon is her close working relationship with artists and producers and to ensure the right ideas are selected, organized and released into the market.

Christine’s secret weapon is her close working relationship with artists and producers. Photo credit: Christine Ngh

Christine and her team match the needs of the marketing of consumer products with that the needs of its communities. Art projects are seen as dynamic, fresh and engaging, offering the potential to bridge the gap between the community and the consumer products, in an innovative and interesting manner.

Why companies want to channel their marketing money into your project

Unlike corporate social responsibility (CSR) or government grants, company budgets for marketing and promotion are much larger and on-going. This is because companies are always looking for new and innovative ways to reach consumers, especially at the launch of a new product. Investment in brand awareness and establishing brand image is crucial at this point so corporations allocate considerable budget for promotions.

“(C)ompanies are always willing to listen to win-win angles that benefit your art project while helping them reach consumers.” Photo credit: Christine Ngh

Brand products that face fierce competition also tend to invest more to retain and grab market share. Therefore, companies are always willing to listen to win-win angles that benefit your art project while helping them reach consumers.

“However, this isn’t only about appealing to the marketers,” explains Christine. “It’s also an opportunity for the art project to ride on the brand’s strength for a wider and deeper reach.”

Developing a mutual mindset

The ability to step back and take a look at your art project from other people’s perspectives enables its ideas to develop more holistically and realistically. The biggest danger for an art project producer is to have a tunnel vision. “(This is) an opportunity to train yourself to take others’ interest into consideration and develop a mutual, rather than solo, mindset.” Christine points out. The more collaboration and support you get for your project will make it more accessible and inclusive to all layers of society.

“Train yourself to take others’ interest into consideration to develop a mutual, rather than solo, mindset.” Photo credit: Christine Ngh

Getting off the beaten track

Christine also hopes more of her fellow marketers will join this wave of continuously innovating marketing approaches, as there is still a lot of room for different marketing disciplines to come in and take a share.

It’s safe to say that Christine is in a career she created for herself. She finds it rewarding to be able to make something out of nothing, that can last into the future, grow further in it’s breadth and grow beyond the geographical borders .

What you’ll gain from Christine’s session

Slotted for the second half of `Passion to Profession: Masterclass’, Christine will begin by structuring your project proposal ideas. She’ll help you look at brands that have similar ideas as you do. Lastly, we’ll go through a step-by-step as to how to angle your content to match theirs.

We highly recommend that you register for both sessions and to take up Suzy Sulaiman’s ‘How to Write an Art Proposal‘ as a pre-requisite. We aim to impart with you as much skills and knowledge for your art proposal to enable you to approach sponsors and funders immediately. Stay tuned.

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Suzy Sulaiman
Suzy Sulaiman

Suzy Sulaiman has two babies; one is the Digital Art + Culture Festival and the other is a human child named Teja.