Building Marketing Systems with a Community Arts Group

The group Nen Daiko plays Japanese drums, or taiko, at cultural events in the Washington DC area. Nen Daiko was founded in 1994 and is an integral part of the community at the Ekoji Buddhist temple. The group’s mission is to share the cultural and musical aspects of this art form.

Nen Daiko photo by Sarah Gilbert
Nen Daiko photo by Sarah Gilbert

To help achieve this mission, Nen Daiko created a website and social media accounts where they announced performances and open houses. Each month, a group member volunteered to write a blog.

However, marketing was a challenge. It was difficult to know what to write in blogs and to stay motivated with social posts. Were these marketing efforts attracting performance opportunities or audiences? Was it helping Nen Daiko share the cultural and musical aspects of their art?

Focusing on Audience Needs

Press the Go Button worked with Nen Daiko to identify 12 specific audiences for its marketing efforts. The goal was to create digital content that emphasized the benefits of following or hiring Nen Daiko.

Rather than listing only the features of Nen Daiko’s work, the content would emphasize the benefits to the audience. Focusing on benefits instead of features is an integral first step in building marketing systems.

One group that Nen Daiko wanted to attract was people who enjoyed community events. What might entice people to come out for Nen Daiko’s performances at these events?

Taiko music typically gets your heart beating, with rhythms that reverberate through your whole body. Nen Daiko could easily imagine solving this problem for this audience:

“Do you struggle to find inspiring events that make you feel invigorated and joyful?”

The promise Nen Daiko would make is:

“Nen Daiko will provide an inspiring event that makes you feel invigorated & joyful.”

To strengthen the promise further, it could include a numeric element such as:

“Nen Daiko will provide an inspiring event that makes you feel invigorated & joyful with our 50 pound drums.”

(Note that the promise is a mirror of the problem – get more info on problem/promise development.)

So what digital content could Nen Daiko make that would reinforce the promise? The group tested:

  • a step-by-step view of how Nen Daiko maintains its handmade drums
  • exercise tips based on the group’s warm-up techniques
  • personal stories of group members
  • stories behind the songs in the group’s repertoire

While many audiences feel connected with the deep booming drums, many American audiences are not well acquainted with taiko. It was important for Nen Daiko’s digital content to make taiko more accessible. When someone sees how a taiko is made, how the group trains, how the performers stay motivated or the meanings of the songs, they are more likely to find performances invigorating and joyful.

One of the first content pieces that the group produced that directly targeted a customer problem was a New Year’s post about taiko exercises. Animated gifs of Nen Daiko members doing the exercises brought lots of traffic and excitement on Facebook.

Nen Daiko side-to-side stretching exercise
Nen Daiko side-to-side stretching exercise


The new content attracted record numbers. The number of people who liked Nen Daiko’s Facebook page grew from 351 Likes to 500 Likes, a 30% increase, from September 2015 to August 2016.

Nen Daiko’s Most Successful Technique for Growing Facebook Page Likes: When someone new to Nen Daiko’s Facebook page liked a post, they were invited to like the page. This moved people from a fleeting interaction of enjoying a beautiful photo into a longer term relationship on social, with more likelihood of appearing on their feed in future.

Better Marketing Asset Management

Another reason why Nen Daiko enjoyed a new level of marketing success was the implementation of a marketing system around gathering and storing assets. Often there are talented photographers and videographers in the audience or working with event organizers. In the past, it was rare to gather their photos and videos, or to share these assets via the website and social. The group made a greater outreach effort and received a bounty of donated imagery and video. They created a shared storage location on Google Drive and Dropbox. They posted these compelling photo and video donations on social quickly after each performance. They publicly thanked those who donated.

Since Facebook’s algorithm has often favored animated gifs or videos, this resulted in unprecedented Facebook numbers for Nen Daiko. A typical post used to get a few hundred views, but these stories received 1600-2200 views. It also inspired the group to start an image-driven Instagram account that gained more than 80 followers in a few months.

To keep building this marketing asset library, Nen Daiko put out calls for photos and videos via social.

Nen Daiko’s Most Successful Technique for Finding Audience Videos After Performances: Nen Daiko members scan hashtags on Instagram to find relevant assets in the days after a performance. The group then reposted those photos and videos with attribution to the Nen Daiko accounts. This technique resulted in the highest performing social posts of the year.

Changing the Group’s Marketing Mindset

These experiments shifted how Nen Daiko members think about marketing. As each experiment gained results, members were increasingly motivated to contribute to marketing efforts. The audience-focused digital content engine is now on track so when the group needs to gear up for new marketing goals, the systems are in place to achieve them.

Note: Press the Go Button’s services were provided to Nen Daiko on a pro bono basis. Carla Brown is a Nen Daiko member.