My studio tour, the first one I'd ever done, was coming up and I had a last minute idea. It was a brilliant idea (or so I thought). My idea was to pass out 100 flyers to 100 of my closest neighbors.
Why hadn't anyone else on the tour thought of this?
My neighborhood is pretty spread out and is a fairly rural area. All the properties are separated by a green belt. Because of this I barely even know my closest neighbors. I felt it was a perfect opportunity, a perfect excuse, to market myself. After all, the whole goal of me doing the tour this year was to share with my community what I do and, hopefully, to gain more followers. So, I made up a simple flyer.
The first line said in large letters, "Did You Know That Your Neighbor Is An Artist?" Followed by, "Come visit her studio and see her latest works of art." The rest of the info briefly stated the date of the tour, and my address, and my website address.
After printing 100 copies, folding the flyer so the eye-catching lines were above the fold, I stapled a business card to the flyer.
A great and cheap marketing idea, right? Now, how does one go about distributing this information?
Here comes the part that you should never do. My "Lucille Ball" moment.
(see any resemblance?)
It was about 3:00 pm and I was very selective about which neighbors mailboxes would receive my flyers.
The ones I liked the best were those that were in tight rows.
It made the distribution more efficient.
Houses that looked disheveled or mysterious or had lots of worn out cars parked outside didn't receive a flyer. Surely, they would have no interest in art or me for that matter.
This type of marketing turned out to not be the most brilliant of my ideas.
Turns out that it is a federal offense to open someone's mailbox even if you aren't removing their mail and giving them exciting-happy-neighborhood-event type of mail.
It makes sense.
I get it...now.
(Far Side cartoon by Gary Larson)
Hearing that made me feel like I'd been punched in the stomach. Already nervous about the success of the tour, I now was very worried that I would get reported and fined a billion dollars...
or worse...be put in jail. That would not be cool. Even if I do look good in orange.
"Lucy! You've got some 'splainin' to do!"
In the words of what Lucille Ball might say, "WAAA! All I wanted to do was be neighborly, invite them to visit and to meet them in a very positive environment. WAAA!"
So far, no phone calls or subpoena (or whatever they give you) from the post master, no retaliation of any sort and no police officer at my door.
Btw, one of the receivers of my mailbox flyer is a police officer. Yeesh!
He did not come to my studio. Only a few of my neighbors came. The tour was still a success. People came from all over and I had 130 visitors and had a few sales. Not bad for my first tour.
Next time, though, I'll inform my neighbors in a legal way.
More art stories:
A Lesson In Fashion Turns Into A Funny Tattoo Story
Curiosity And Other Artistic Traits
Demo Is A Four Letter Word
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