Waiting for the call
A few weeks ago I was in the studio working when the gentle delcatones of my ringing iPhone snapped me out of my workman trance and pulled me back into the reality of the moment and the necessity of answering my phone. Searching around my immediate area produced no visible evidence and, by the time I located the wayward device on my bass amp across the room, I had missed the call.
Checking the call back number revealed that it was from the 407 area code. 407? Hey....wait.... I know that area code. I've called it many times to get theme park tickets and make dining reservations. The 407 area code is from Central Florida, Orlando and Walt Disney World.
My mind froze at the thought...Orlando. Disney. Could it be Disney calling? It had to be some kind of marketing call right? A customer survey about our last Disney resort stay? A notification from Disney Vacation Club about our membership? A special dining offer for our next vacation. Something.
But what if it isn't? What if it was a professional call. What if it was the call I have been waiting on since I was a chubby little, blond haired, wide eyed 4th grader drawing pictures of Snoopy, Batman, Darth Vader and Garfield. What if it was Disney calling to talk to me about my art? What if it was someone with Disney Parks Merchandise who wants to get me a Disney license so I can produce artwork that will be sold in the theme parks. Or.....What if it was someone from Disney marketing who wants to talk about hiring me for a freelance design gig. What if it was opportunity waiting on the other line and not a sales pitch? What if all my artistic goals and dreams would be granted by whoever was on the other end of the call. What if. What if. What if.
I patiently waited for the voicemail dialog box to appear on the screen and, when it did, I quickly punched the "Listen" button and held my breath.
Sounds like a marketing "pocket dial".
Not surprised. I was hopeful but, then again, why would Disney just call some dude in Kansas, out of the blue, and offer him an opportunity for no apparent reason. They didn't and they won't.
So that got me thinking...what could I do to generate enough traction and exposure to get my brand in front of big media gatekeepers like Disney? Not only that...but what could I do to build a thriving brand that allows me to create challenging and impactful work of my own design and make a living at the same time?
I am a big fan of social media and marketing guru Gary Vanyerchuck's (www.garyvaynerchuk.com) philosophies on brand building in the context of this technological day and age And, in his brilliant video "1 > 0", he makes a case for a realistic approach to building brand and the unrealistic expectations with some who believe they are "bigger than they actually are" when they try, and fail, to get meetings with some of the most powerful/influential people in business, technology and entertainment.
As Gary points out....generating enough brand equity to get in front of powerhouse people, doing high exposure things, takes time and many, many small meetings before actually getting "the meeting" with them. Building your brand cadence to effectively tell your story takes practice and repetition to allow for refinement and impact in content and presentation. Generating a portfolio (or resume) of quality and creativity takes many hours of work and critical development. And, last but not least, .building a community of depth and quality means taking the time to reach out and value every connection...because you never know when that 1 connection, on the blog with 10 readers, will be the right one and turn into 1000. 10,000. 100,000 or more. 1 > 0.
So here I am. It's 2015 and the wide eyed 4th grader in me is still working towards the big score, the big break, the right combination of timing and talent that will nab me either that call from Disney or launch my own artwork out into the stratosphere. The cathartic release of many late nights of dreaming, planning and executing. The "overnight success" that was years in the making. So, as I work away in my heartland studio, it is always good to remind myself to stay patient and focused on the goal in front of me. Bottom line is that the opportunities available to us creatives now are gargantuan and numerous compared to those had by creatives just a generation before. I am living in the right time to pursue this crazy dream and for that I am thankful. The climb may be hard but if all I do is look at my phone, and wait for the call, I'm going to miss the view.