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Marketing Monday: Getting Focused

The Problem

Most people identify themselves by a label when they are asked what they do or even when they think of themselves in terms of their work. So you might identify yourself as an artist or, I might think of myself as a photographer, well as you see, sticking a label on us doesn’t really help us attract qualified buyers. It also doesn’t help us develop and use a finely focused vision of who we really serve and what we really do. We just continue skipping around in la-la land whistling a happy tune, unaware that we are going in circles.

What we really need is another tool in our kit that we can pull out when we need it. Well, that tool is the Who and What or the Who and Do What. The tool is not an elevator speech, YUK, nor is it a sales pitch. Instead, it is a way of  knowing who really wants our work what they look like etc. and what it is about our stuff that makes them want it or what problem  we solve. Basically, it tightens down the focus of our Perfect customer profile and our offer so we can know it instantly and more importantly have it become part of the core of our business. Knowing these two important things helps us:

  • Stay focused on our intents and in turn helps the right prospects find us.
  • Know how better market and merchandise our work.

    And there’s the label problem…

    So what’s the big deal with calling yourself an artist or me calling myself a photographer? Isn’t that what we are? Well yes and no. There are three major problems with labels.

    First

    A label puts the attention on you and what you do and takes it away from your buyers, because you aren’t just an artist and I’m not just a photographer. As a result we are left with describing ourselves in terms of our process which more often than not leaves whoever is trying to follow us with a blank glassy eyed stare.  You in turn are left wondering what just happened to you message. What did just happen was you lost that potential buyer because she could tell you were more engrossed in describing your process than you were in getting to know her.

    The other thing that tends to happen more often than not is the label gets misinterpreted. So suddenly you find you’re self being asked if you do caricatures causing to delve into a major discourse about how you are a painter not an entertainer for birthday parties, all this just leads you further down the rabbit hole of talking about yourself.

    Second

    A label can get you all tongue tied because you know you are more than just that label and yet when you are asked what you do go off on a litany of process descriptions. Even worse, you can suffer from a severe onset of brain fart and start talking in tongues which is not helpful to either you or her. So again, she walks way, not knowing what exactly you do and more importantly if you are the secret to solving her problems.

    Third

    This one is pretty important in that it can really  limit you and your business in being able to respond quickly to market changes…like now. If you are known as an artist or as a painter it will be harder for you to reposition yourself, because, you are known only that way. So if I were to describe myself as a wedding photographer I would have to pretty much re-invent myself in order to move into another market or style.

    Now, it is important to understand that you are not the only one having difficulty with this and, changing it will not necessarily happen over night. That is were the knowing how to use the Who and What comes in handy because, when successfully used it will not only cure a headache, upset stomach,  etc. It will also help you increase sales, know better how to display your work and in general make your life a lot more enjoyable.

    Who is the Who?

    Guess what, unless you’re a some kind of super hero, you can’t help everyone and even more if you try to bethe_who_add everything to all, you’ll end up being a little bit to a few…that’s not real satisfying for anybody. And it really doesn’t help the right people find you or you to know how to let them know you’re available. So you need to FOCUS and that is what knowing who your market is does for you. It is basically breaking down all those characteristics of your perfect buyer and applying them to a group of people.

    So…your Who is made up of:

    • demographic or statistical info like age,gender etc.
    • psychographic info like the values and opinions that cause them to self identify.

      Basically  your who is the  folks who would walk blocks to buy your work through snow,sleet, rain or heat.

      Other things you need to know about identifying your Who folks, is that people globally,  tend to be attracted to things, causes,, issues etc. based primarily on how much they identify with those things, causes or issues. This is generally not a problem, because you are also likely to be drawn to those folks who closely identify with the things important to you. You may not have a complete match and, there will likely be some overlap, which will go along way to building trust. Additionally, you build trust by sharing terminology and language characteristics that help you hear what the folks making up your Who are saying.

      Finally, the very act of naming the group of folks who identify most with you and your stuff makes a bazillion times easier for them to identify with you because they see that you authentically represent them.

      Then there’s the What

      sunburn3Now you know and can name the group of folks who most identify with your work and what it represents. Now you  need to take a look at exactly what the what is!!!!  Contrary to popular wisdom you don’t just make orange pots, or purty paintings…somewhere in the zapping neurons of your brain you have a fundamental driving concept, or thing you want those orange pots or purty paintings to do. Unbeknownst to you consciously you are making those things in response to some problem you see, some issue that is important to you.

      The what is all about getting down and defining that problem or issue your work is aimed at resolving. This is important, because, as we have learned earlier, people care most about finding solutions. So knowing the problems and issues faced by those who want your work helps you make your solution more visible. And it goes even further, because when you recognize their problems you are also telling them they and their needs are important.

      The problem is more important than the solution because potential buyers will pretty much always see you in relation to their problems and how close you come to being the one who solves their problem. Because only when they see that you are the answer to solving their problem will they stop window shopping and move into buying mode.

      The Lesson and the point

      Let’s look at both now in terms of how they help you and your business.

      The most important thing to take from this is that when folks are out hunting for solutions to their problem of the day, the only thing they are focused on is the problem and its solution. Everything they see is, seen in relation to that problem. So they don’t have time or patience to translate your wood fired technique into their solution nor can they translate your solution, as in “I make the best wood fired pots in the universe”, unless that solution obviously solves their particular problem.

      On the other hand  you will stand out to them because you know their problem intimately, and they know you can easily solve their problem because you understand it.

      The other point of learning here, is that your Who and What helps folks who are already true believers in your ability to solve their problems have a way to let others with similar problems know you are The One who can successfully solve their problem. So unless someone is expressly looking for the best wood fired pots in the universe they won’t see you as a solution. However, if that person is looking for unique table ware and particularly cream & sugar serving pieces and you offer just such items, which happen to be wood fired, you will be far more visible to her.

      In the end your Who and What may be like one of these:

      • I help young couples who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.
      • I help people who want unique locally handmade tableware that will help make their entertaining and dining experience fun.

       

      Related posts:

      1. Marketing Monday: The Holy Grail Just so you can understand how this approach to sales…
      2. Marketing Monday: anatomy of a courtship These first few steps of the courtship dance are all…
      3. Marketing Monday: The Offer The real buyers, the ones who will come back again…

       


       

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      Marketing Monday: The Offer

      Review

      The first two installments in this series we talked about the importance of knowing your Bizmodel and how the normal retail model doesn’t fit artsyfartsy bizs to well. We also described why they are different and why an artsyfartsy biz model needs to keep this specialness in mind when customizing their bizmodel.

      The offer

      The first part of the artsyfartsy bizmodel is the offer...basically what are you selling? And what are you selling it for? So you might think that this part of the model is pretty easypeasy

      You sell stuff you make to get $$$$$ right?

      Well there is a little more to it than that…so let’s take a look first what that simple thing does. See looking at your artsyfartsy bizmodel  as a way of selling your stuff to make dough for whatever reason breaks the all time do not ever break even if your life depends on it cardnal rule of selling artsyfartsy stuff. That rule is:

      Thou shalt not commoditize thy stuff!!!

      Of course you can but in the process burn out, hate your life, and head off to never-never land to escape the craziness of feeling like a factory. See when everything is all about getting dollars there is no time or energy to get to know who your buyers are and why they buy your stuff. In other words there is No Relationship. And guess what? Those swarms of buyers who are pushing and shoving each other to buy that dodad of yours will probably never buy another one because they are only interested in one thing…price, and maybe a momentary impulse to have your do-dad.

      Do you see what’s happened? This easy as pie gimme the dough business model did a couple of things:

      • It put the focus of the sales process on price;
      • Your handcrafted thing into just a thing a commodity.

        So what’s the big whoop about that?

        Well, in fact, some majorly stuff that could keep you stuck as a human production machine.

        First and really important is  that when price is the primary consideration all you really think about is whether you are charging to much, it is very easy to under price your stuff because those swarms of buyers are only concerned about price so you’ll easily fall down that slippery slop of keeping your prices down which in turn make sure your profit ends up being peanuts. So when you do need to raise your prices you end up obsessing over every penny being the one that will drive everyone away and you into the street.

        Second and this is also very important to understand… The real buyers, the ones who will come back again and again won’t be showing their smiling faces any time soon, because they are more interested in finding the solution to their problems. They may buy your thing but only because they thought it was cute or whatever. Their attention and focus is on getting that one problem solved…that is their mission.

        Third, all this craziness can also lead to no marketing at all “because it costs money” or to becoming one of those salesmany types always telling your buyers how cheap your stuff is. Most artsyfartsy types I know would rather stick a fork in their eyes than give away free hot dogs in order to sell their stuff. So they quietly sneak back to their studio to continue on thei happy journey of denial.

        So what is the artsyfartsy biz offer?

        129_ask_show071208-copyWell at first glance it doesn’t look like much but if you take a second look it changes the standard bizmodel by adding a little heart, which makes sure that all eyes focus on more than just that do-dad. The artsyfartsy bizmodel starts the following chain of events for your buyer:

        • Her problem is happily solved
        • She is now a happy buyer
        • A happy buyer buys more of your stuff
        • She happily brings her friends to buy your stuff

          When your focus is on happy buyers by understanding what problem your stuff solves, who it works for and what it is that makes them happy you change as well. Your focus shifts from “getting” to delivering. Or, what do you really need to make sure you can deliver the goods to keep those buyers happy and make them want to tell every other person like them how wonderful you are.

          Now the money

          At this point you may be starting to see the light that dollars are most important when they are looked at from the point of view of delivering the results you want to deliver. Say you want to be the one who makes art that makes people think or takes them to another place. Being focused on making sure your stuff actually does make people think or does take them off to dreamland will make it a lot easier to

          • Keep the sales process tuned into the relationship part of the sale
          • Almost guarantee that eyes won’t be looking anything else like price or the corner of the kiln you stuck that pot.

            The magic of it all

            Yes, it is magical, when you as an artsyfartsy biz owner changes your point of view. It’s almost like you just got new glasses, because you can now start to see your business as an organic whole and just a bunch of weird pieces that you can’t figure out how to work. Pieces are just pieces they may each have something they can do but alone they can only do that one thing.  So the marketing piece only does the marketing and can’t do it all that well on its own, and if it is joined by the the delivery part ( the part that is focused on happy campers) the two can support each other,

            Now, you’ll be able to not only learn what problem your stuff solves you’ll also know how to make sure the folks with that problem know you are the one who can make them happy because you have the solution! Having the solution helps those newbies to your stuff be happy and tell others like them about how happy you made them.
            In the end you sell more stuff or higher end stuff not because of its price but instead because of the solution it offers, because of the results the folks who buy your stuff experience.

            Finally, you start to see that your artsyfartsy biz is not selling stuff, it is selling particular solutions to problems your vision has seen as important for a certain group of people. Because that do-dad is not just a do-dad it is the sum total of your vision, your values. Your experience and everything else you have run across in life that brought you to this point. Without any of that you wouldn’t be able to see the problem in need of solution, you would’t be able to see how you have the answer or who has that problem.

             

            Related posts:

            1. Marketing Monday: The Artsyfatsy biz model What exactly is a business model and why is it…
            2. Marketing Monday: The Holy Grail Just so you can understand how this approach to sales…
            3. Marketing Monday: how to use the Y-Factor Have you ever wondered how you could steer more buyers…

             


             

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            Profile: Kristen Stein, artist

            Kristen Stein is a Contemporary Artist living in the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania. Kristen’s works are currently available on a variety of online venues, or through her websites StudioArtworks.com and KristensCreations.com. Kristen’s paintings are in public and private collections within Australia, Canada, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Japan, the United Kingdom, and throughout the continental United States.

            Her art was featured in a special 2002 calendar in tribute to September 11th. Her cubist work appeared in promotional logos for the Ferndale Fine Art Show and appeared on the cover of the Allied Social Science Association’s annual meetings. Her whimsical art appeared on the cover of the Bulldog Club of Greater Seattle’s 2002 Specialty Show.

            Her painting “The Birth of Venus 2002″ won first place in a themed contest held by the emerging artists group “ESR@”.

            Her painting “The Jazz Club” appeared on the American Economic Associations Annual Meetings in January 2008.

            Kristen is the author/illustrator of the “The Vegetarian Lion” and the author of “Kristen Stein Contemporary Paintings”. She is also the illustrator of “Stacey McDuver’s House”. Kristen’s work will appear at the Straube Art Center during the Winter Fine Art Show in January – February 2009.

            stein1Kristen Stein featured artist the artistscenter

            Online

            Etsy Online Shop
            Blog
            Twitter
            Facebook
            Artist Website

            Current Exhibitions in Pennsylvania:

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            Comcast Center, Philadelphia
            Square Peg Artery, Philadelphia
            Mew Gallery, Philadelphia
            Curiousity Shoppe, Philadelphia
            Moderne Life Interiors, Jenkintown
            Catcha Break Café, Abington
            Zero Gravity Dance Studios, Elkins Park
            Picasso Restaurant, Media

            Upcoming :

            Heritage Art Gallery, June 2009(Ohio)
            Island Time Gallery, June 2009 (Ohio)
            Bambi Gallery , June 2009 (PA)
            Arts in the Park June 2009 (PA)
            Mendez Homes September 2009 (PA)

             
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            Christy DeKoning on vision, sales and advice

             

            Featured interview artist logo

            tryptichWhat is your vision for your art?

            To create something uniquely beautiful that captures a moment in a person’s life.

            What do you see your working doing for those who buy it?

            It makes the buyers very happy to see their loved ones presented in a way that is entirely different than what they might expect from an oil artist or a photographer. To keep it simple, it makes people smile.

            What has been the reaction to  making your work available in non-traditional ways, like mugs, jewelry etc?

            I haven’t committed a lot of time to novelty items, but the feedback I’ve received about my glass tile pendants has been very positive.

            Where do most of your sales come from?

            Etsy, followed by ArtFire and Boundless Gallery, then local (I’m a member of an Artist cooperative gallery called ARTspace in Chatham)

            What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

            Be confident in yourself and your work, and don’t underestimate the value of your time, effort, specific skillset and knowledge.

            dyptich

            What advice would you give to other artists?

            Never stop learning, and never miss an opportunity. If an opportunity is presented to you, take it, learn from it, and use it to grow. Then try to “give back” whenever possible – join user groups, forums, share your work through demonstrations, critique other’s work if you have the knowledge to be helpful, and above all, try to remain open to rejection. It happens to all of us, and we learn from it. That’s the hardest part – don’t give up if someone says no.

            dyptych2

             

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            Marketing Monday: The Artsyfatsy biz model

             

            marketing monday banner

            What exactly is a business model and why is it important? In a nutshell your business model is how intend to do business, note the emphasis is on the DO as opposed to PLAN. Most small bizes don’t really need a written business plan, since a well developed model is much more pragmatic. Once you graduate to a bazillion employees and offices all over the universe then you might want to think about a Biz model, but for now…not so much. Generally a business model goes like this:

            The Vanilla Biz Model

            • The offer…what kind of stuff do you have to sell
            • Who are you trying to sell that stuff to
            • How do you let folks know you have the stuff they want and how do they get it
            • What kind of relationship do you want to have with folks who buy and or have your stuff
            • What do you need to do pull all of this off
            • Where’s the money going to come from and how is it going to get to your sweaty hands
            • How much is all this going to cost to pull off so you can move out your Aunt Martha’s basement.

            The ArtsyFartsy Biz needs

            Realistically the model needs to be customized for artsyfartsy bizs just a little to take our funkiness into account. So a funkified artsyfartsy biz model will likely need to take things like this into account:

            You sell in a lot of different places,

            Generally, artists sell at art fairs, galleries, on-line or wholesale through wholesale shows. So you don’t really have the advantage of those using the retail/wholesale models…always being in the same place. This means your market research may be more or less challenging.

            You make the stuff you sell

            This may seem obvious the fact that you make the stuff you sell makes a difference because YOU are directly involved, the work not only comes out of you it takes your time as well. You can’t outsource it and truly be able to say it is yours, at least right now.

            What you make is a small line of products

            You may make one off stuff or you may design a line of things all made from the same material or in the same way. For example ceramic tableware, or jewelry similarly designed but with different functions, or a series of prints that can be hung separately but would be better together.

            You carry a small inventory of one type of thing or several similar things

            The inventory you are able to carry is limited by space in your studio garage or storage unit and the amount of schlepping you are able to do. It is also limited by the time it actually takes to make because even tho you would like to always be making it you have to sell it to keep making space for new stuff. You walk a fine line between maintaining your inventory and keeping up with sales.

            You are limited (or at least have been) to ways of talking to your buyers

            You may still feel limited in the ways you can talk to and court buyers. Even though the internet has created many new ways to find, connect with and develop buyers you still have limitations that other businesses don’t have.

            You are subject to random acts of one time sales

            If you haven’t adapted to the opportunities available through the internet and other avenues you will continue to be limited in terms of predictable income. And even if you do understand the opportunities, unpredictable sales will still be a factor in your business. The only way to reduce the effect of random sales is to both diversity your sales channels and step up your marketing efforts to create a loyal following of ready buyers.

            Next week we will take a detailed look at the first part of your art business model… the offer to help you understand just what it is you are selling. The following weeks we’ll cover each of the elements of the business model paying special attention to the needs of the artsyfartsy biz.

             

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            2. Marketing Monday: The Offer The real buyers, the ones who will come back again…
            3. Marketing Monday: getting and using intelligence Now that you have taken the leap into the world…

             


             

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            Marketing Monday: The Holy Grail

             

            Over the past few weeks I’ve talked about the customer courtship part of marketing, how knowing your perfect buyer can help them find you, how knowing that your stuffs solves important issues for them and finally how they can become your evangelists. What we didn’t talk about is the meat, the holy grail of all this effort…THE SALE.

            WARNING:

            We aren’t talking about the sleaze bag process we all have expereinced that left us ready to lose it in the nearest waste basket.

            Just because I want your stuff doesn’t make you better

            We are talking about an altogether new way of looking the process…a way that builds on what we know of that perfect someone, and leapfrogs over the old and assumed way of doing things. This way when added to what we already know helps us create an even stronger following of people ready to buy our stuff because it is based on connection, trust and equality.

            Just so you can  understand how this approach to sales is different we as artisyfartsy types have to understand what makes our artsyfartsyness so important that we are so special from other biznesses. Especially those kind that sell stuff in real buildings with things like shelves and even music. Just because we sell stuff, we could easily say we’re like those guys who have buildings so let’s just copy them and bam be on our way. Well…hold on. I’ll be brief just because you sell stuff, doesn’t mean you can use the “retail model” there are many differences… here is a quickie list, summary….whatever of what makes you Ms artsyfartsy so special:

              • You sell in a lot of different places, like a tent in a street or like in some artsyfartsy gallery;
              • You make the stuff you sell and you put a lot of blood sweat and tears into making it all ust right;
              • You make is a small line of products which may or may not be different each time you make whatever it is you make.
              • You carry a small inventory, sometimes all different but all mostly made do one or two things special
              • You are limited (or at least have been) to ways of talking to your buyers
              • You are subject to random acts of one time sales

            And this is important why? Well without knowing this you’l most likely keep doin’ what you’ve  been doing and getting the same results. It is also important because you need to know how different you are so you can develop a sales process that really fits your business and those folks who want your stuff. Finally it is important because it is the culmination of all your marketing going’s on…everything builds on everything else to get here.

            There is a process

            The form of this process is the outcome of how you did or did not design your business to work or in MBAese your business model. The model is not something you build from a kit it represents how all the cogs and wheels in that thing called a business work, what they need, how often they need it etc. Here is an abreviated one that fits most artist’s businesses.. It is made up of:

              • The offer…what kind of stuff do you have to sell
              • Who are you trying to sell that stuff to
              • How do you let folks know you have the stuff they want and how do they get it
              • What kind of relationship do you want to have with folks who buy and or have your stuff
              • What do you need to do pull all of this off
              • Where’s the money going to come from and how is it going to get to your sweaty hands
              • How much is all this going to cost to pull off so you can move out your Aunt Martha’s basement.

            OK…you already kinda know this stuff, but at this stage we need to go a little deeper and take a look at some of the things within the sales phase you as an artist need to pay attention to.

            They aren’t the enemy

            Before we go any further though let’s clarify or better yet debunk a myth we artists have tended to hold near a dear, actually, other ittybizes  problably also feel the same way. When we make a sale we tend to look at it as a victory…yayyyy somebody bought our stuff!!! They actually gave me real money for something I made! Ya know what that’s really not what happened…what really happened was that superific most wonderful person didn’t take pity on you nor did she engage in battle with you. What did happen was she had a need (remember we talked about this awhile ago) and you were there with the right thing that would meet that need. So there was no victory, no need to cheer…she had a problem and you were there with your stuff to solve it for her. That sounds  more equal to me.

            This sale thing couldn’t happen like this without all that sweat leading up to this very moment. Because by doing the work we as artists are acknowledging our needs as well…we do need to buy more supplies, food and oh there is that little thing called  a place to sleep also. Unfortunately, there is often an ugly,nasty thing that gets in the way…it’s called by any number of names…but we’ll call it guilt for now. We feel guilty about needing to make a living wage by making our stuff. Well…I have three words for that right now…Get Over It!!! Until you do, you will always have an unbalanced interaction with your buyers and in the process you’ll likely be seen as someone who you are not and in the process not really be taken seriously as someone who makes wonderful stuff that comes magically out of his heart.

            Now that we have all of this clear, over the next several weeks we’re going to look a little more closely at this so called  “artsyfartsy business model” outlined above and how it plays into this act of the play. Next week we’ll talk more about why you as an artist are so special to have a different business model and we’ll look at what the first part of that is and how fits into your offer, and a secret method for finding out just how to price your stuff. We’ll also talk about some other secrets that have to do with being smart about raising prices and how fries are very important.
            Until then look over the bizmodel framework above and see if you can fit your biz to it.

             

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            Christy DeKoning on Marketing Art

             

            Featured interview artist logo

            paris-christy-copy
            Tell us about your marketing journey… How did you start? When did you discover that you needed to market?

            It’s funny, but marketing seems to have come naturally to me. I used to work in offices as a marketing/creative assistant, so when I decided that I was ready to work at portraits on a full-time basis, it seemed logical to start talking to people online about it. I joined Etsy and that really got the ball rolling. My work tends to market itself, because people love to show off paintings of their family members to their friends, which in turn leads to more business for me – marketing is almost secondary to “word-of-mouth” advertising, which is my number one source of commissions.

            Do you have a marketing plan,strategy if so please summarize?

            No. I just wake up in the morning and decide if I’m going to paint first, blog first, or “twitter” away my morning.

            Do you use Social media online alone or do you combine it with off-line efforts?

            I have very little off-line marketing – 90% of my clients are international, which all comes from online marketing. I try to stay involved with my community as much as possible, so a certain amount of time is spent at local art shows, but I rely on social media for most of my connections.

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            One of the things Christy has in common with the other artists to be featured here is her willingness to offer non-traditional ways for her clients to enjoy her work. She tastefully incorporates her work into post cards, jewelry, greeting cards and other accessories.  In doing so she and the other artists show an understanding of the client/customer courtship process I have talked about. These low cost alternatives give her buyers a chance to experience how she treats buyers and in the process increase their trust which in the end may lead to larger purchases. Additionally, she can offer the accesserories as upsells or as complimentary gift to big ticket buyers or collectors.

            Another example of both trust building and understanding the client courtship model is Christy’s willingness to share her process. Scattered through out her blog are numerous examples of mini-tutorials demonstrating her creative process. Some may worry that doing such a thing is tantamount to giving away state secrets but research has shown just the opposite. Artists, like Christy know the difference between style and technique, they know that no amount of “secrets” can give another person the ability to copy her style, her work will always be identifiable. More than sharing techniques her tutorials ofer a window into her creative journey and in the process build trust and adds another layer of uniqueness for her potential clients.

            tutorialTo see the marketing styles mentioned above check out Christy’s Blog, Artfire store and Etsy Store just click the links below:

            etsylogo

            Accessories

            Original Paintings

            Main Shop

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            Blog

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            Marketing Monday: 8 Ways to Turn Fans Into Missionaries

             

            So people have said they luv your work and they know a lot of folks who would luv it also but your studio doors aren’t coming unhinged by hoards of adoring fans from “what’s her name”. What’s that all about? “What’s her name” said she was going to send her neighbor your way but that was last year and nobody showed up saying “what’s her name” sent them.

            143_ask_show071208-copy1You have now arrived at your goal of gathering raving fans, buyers all gaga over your work and leave happy as clams after they bought something from you. The truth is times are tough now and you need more raving fans. That ’s what this level is all about basically, getting and keeping raving fans. But you know what? Not all of those folks dancing away with your stuff are really going to remember saying “I’ve gotta tell my neighbor to get over here”. That’s the part no one tells you, because the sales process really doesn’t stop here, this stage is all about helping those folks bring some more folks like them who will being more and more.

            Remember

            Everything you have done so far not only counts, but also is what got you to this point in the first place, so you can use it to help your buyers help you.

            If we go back to the studio doors not coming unhinged, there are some key things you need to look at to determine why and to help you make sure those doors do come unhinged. You set yourself up by getting your Who & What down pat ( at least for now) so that when you do see that special potential raving fan buyer, you can recognize her and you know what you need to do to court her on the way to this point. So here are some key things help you:

            1. But they said they would they would send some of their kindred spirits my way.

            Well take it easy, take a deep breath before you get all panicy. Here’s the deal… Life happens, people today have a lot on their plate we all have places to go and things to do and the list just keeps getting longer by the day, so cut them some slack.

            Besides just life happening these days they may also be a little dazed and confused, see you might not be making it very clear as to the who, what, where and how to send their neighbors your way. The whole process is clear as mud to them so they throw up their hands and give up or…

            They don’t know you as well as you think and your customer courtship process was not really all that clear so they  feel just a little reluctant  to send their BFF (best friend foreverrr)  your way. What if you bombard that BFF with e-mails, pitches and all the other yuk things that she thinks you might do? If that happens her BFF won’t be so BFF and her BFF is more important to her than you.

            2. But I gave her your name and info…

            Ok…let’s turn things upside down and look at it from the BFF’s point of view, because it’s pretty much the same as your fan’s. The full plate syndrome still applies here so that BFF may just never get around to showing up.

            Then there’s the totally confused state of figuring out whether she (the BFF) really will like your stuff, and she doesn’t have a chance of finding out, because her friend (your fan) didn’t have anything to give her to help her find you.  Your fan had no cards, no brochure, nothing to help remember you and she wasn’t asked for her info either…so her BFF is left to hope she’ll run across you sometime somewhere and we know how likely that is….right?

            Finally there’s the same scary part of what you might do if she decides to hunt you down and actually buy something. She really only wants to buy one thing right now if at all until she sees if you are going to stalk her like that car sales person did…you  never know! So what to do????? When in doubt don’t panic just….

            3. Go back to your W&W

            319_ask_show071208-copyNeedless to say, if you have done all the work needed in the earlier levels you’d be sitting pretty good right now. You’ll have a really good picture in your mind as to who that perfect raving fan is and what makes them tick. You’ll also know what you have that can not only make their lives better and easier but you’ll also have a really, really good idea as to what it is about your stuff that can help them live happy as clams.

            If you haven’t done this or only done it partly, spend some time here its important and it will help keep you from changing your address to a card board box…yes its that important!!

            4. Keep fillin’ the holes

            Well…sorta. Not all of your raving fans are going to be interested in raving about you for the reasons  mentioned above and many more. The good news is, those who do hang on, are doing so because they really, really like you and your stuff so much they want to be your missionaries. Oh…there is a catch, some of those wanna be missionaries may not have ever bought anything from you, they may have seen it, or heard about it from one of their friends and they just knew and your challenge is to find them!!!

            After everything shakes out you’ll have a bunch of tightly knit raving fans who own and know how your stuff makes their lives run oh so smoothly. But they aren’t enough… you’ll need to go back and take a look at that group of folks you think might go nuts over your stuff (your target market) and look again at where theyhang out and who they hang out with, along with what they do and the problems they might have. Then, you need to start letting these folks know you’ve got stuff that will make their lives better than they ever imagined…you need to keep filling the holes so you can make up for those folks who luv your stuff but may only buy something once a decade.

            6. Focus and sharpen

            Remember earlier, when we talked about confusion and uncertainty and systems and processes that weren’t exactly clear? Well now is when you get to make the necessary adjustments, so those folks you’ve been losing stop falling through the cracks. Again, if you have really dialed in your Who and What, this stage will be a lot easier, because you freed “what’s her name” to tell her BFF all about you without worrying about you being a jerk or forgetting who exactly you were and what exactly you did that she luved so much. See, “what’s her name” knows how you work, and she knew all along the way what the next step was, that is after all why she is now your missionary. She also is on your list and gets regular e-mails, which seem like you are talking directly to her. She also has the cool card you gave her, that had all your info on it and purty pitchure of your stuff.

            Wait a minute, remember,  you’ll need to keep developing new fans if you want to keep making your stuff. So you need to make sure that the path you took “what’s her name” along is out there for all those other potential fans to see. So go ahead and describe it on your web site, put it on a brochure, turn it into a tag line and put it on you biz card, and talk to the folks hovering over your work, about it. Also, as you are bring folks along keep them informed as to what to expect. Focusing should include:

            • Describing how you work with customers,
            • How they can find you
            • The steps they will experience along the way to buying your stuff.

            Now, its not necessary to give everyone a step by step, blow by blow description of what and how they just want to know you won’t be a jerk.

            7. Make it easypeasy

            If you want to keep making your stuff and not have to move into your parent’s  basement, your potential fans need to know how important it is to you that they tell their neighbors, friends, and family just how great your stuff is. And they have to know HOW to tell them to. There are a couple of very important things to keep in mind when doing this:

            • Don’t spring it on them 2 years after they bought something and well before you learned all this important stuff. They just might not like that… since you never mentioned it before.
            • Set up a good and easy system to help them help you. Think of it as a guide to helping them see through your eyes, so they can very easily recognize your perfect buyers. Make this “guide” reflect you, so if you’re really creative dream up a format that they will really enjoy and maybe give to folks they think would like your stuff. Above all…don’t be dull and boring! Include the guide in your newsletter, put it on your web site, include it with all your sales, most importantly make it easy to use and make your perfect buyer profile really, really, really clear. Eliminate all the worry and confusion that would be there without it.

            129_ask_show071208-copy8. Knock their socks off

            Most people have learned to have very low expectations of most businesses since the ’50s, when everything was made smooth and efficient and impersonal. And most businesses live up to those expectations. So besides all the other stuff suggested one of the best and easiest ways to get raving fans is to impress the $#@* out of them with your thoughtfulness. We’re not talking about giving the farm away here, just the little things that show you appreciate them. So you can knock their socks off by:

            • Sending them a hand written thank you card
            • Remembering their birthday ( you’ll obviously have to ask them first);
            • Featuring them in one of your newsletter or blog posts;
            • Holding their hand as you guide them along the path to buying your stuff;
            • Remembering that they are there and they want to know you care about them, keep up with you;

             

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            “Peoplewatch” your way to your perfect buyer

             

            So the show season is almost in full swing and you are beginning to shlep your stuff hither and yon to all corners of this country. If you are a gallery shower you might be shlepping or you may just be busy cold calling local galleries. Either way now is the time to start thinking about some very important stuff…like where is this artsyfartsy biz of yours going and how can you not starve.

            143_ask_show071208-copy

            Now is the perfect time to start paying attention to those mysterious folks who buy that stuff you make. While you are on the road start to look closely at who these people really are? We call that, getting to know your target market, demographic or audience, but for now we’ll just refer to them as those nice people who buy your stuff and keep you from starving.

            So what has to happen to get the ball rolling so we don’t end up in a card board home? Well, those nice folks

            • Have to find us
            • They have to like us
            • They have to have some dough to hand to us

            Getting to know them…

            But that’s just the beginning… so get up and talk to some of those folks milling around your stuff. Treat’em like long lost friends especially the ones who have some of your stuff in there hands. Talk to them about their day, their lives, their families, where they live. When they are gone write some notes about them… what do they have in common.

            • Are they moms or grannies?
            • Are they mostly looking for gifts?
            • Are they young couples looking for handmade wedding gifts

            This is the best excuse to people watch! My favorite way to do this is to try to guess people’s stories and try to figure how that story helps them decide what they buy, or where they go etc. When I was doing the art fair circuit I often myself doing this when someone entered my booth. An important key to this working is to pay attention to your intuition, most of us can feel the energy from people and can often Know if we have something in common. So…

            • What is that lady with the sun hat and water bottle slung across her neck likely to buy or not?
            • What’s up with that mom all tangled up in kids … is she looking to pamper herself?
            • Do you think that bored guy with his wife is going to buy anything that doesn’t have horsepower as a key feature?Or is he secretly looking for her birthday present?

            What’s their story?

            Now, after you have spent the second day observing and taking copious notes try to summarize what you have learned, are there any trends?

            • Where do the people live, in the city, the country or…?
            • What do they tend to do for a living and how much green do they bring in?
            • Are they parents with young kids?
            • Are they childless couples?

            These are the things you need to know to get a feel for who your ideal customer might be. Knowing this helps you know what is important to them, how they think, and what they might need of yours so you can spend your time in your studio focused on making the stuff that they are most likely to buy. And having stuff that the right people can’t resist will be one step closer to not starving.

            Finally, once you have a good collection of characteristics, peronality, values etc. give this collection an form…name her. After you have named her then write a story about her, what does her life look like, what does she do with her time, what does she think, who are her friends, where does she hang out? Giving her form helps you visualize her so you can easily see her when she walks into your booth, gallery or shows up on your web site.

             

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            14 ways to come home empty handed

            Regardless of how or where you sell you stuff you may be unconsciously causing folks to move on down the road. Because, even though they really want to buy your stuff there is something getting in the way, so they leave your booth, your gallery or your web site. Well what’s the big whoop about that?  Turns out a lot, because you are not only losing that one sale you are likely also losing any other potential sales from that customer just because of that one bad experience. But it doesn’t stop here that person who really, really wanted to buy that thing-ama-jig from you is more than likely going to tell her friends about her experience so you’ll also lose them as potential customers.

            So what follows is a brief list of some of the things you might be doing  that could be losing sales for you.

            no_seller2

            1. Hide from customers, look bored, read a book.

            If you are not willing to get out and meet your buyers they will likely think:

            • You are not friendly and who wants to buy from an unfriendly person;
            • You are bored in which case they will wonder why you are there in the first place;
            • You are independently wealthy and don’t need their money so they’ll just go elsewhere with it;

            2. Have a secret automatic reject button

            You may not know it but you might have a couple of automatic rejection buttons hanging out somewhere. These are things about you,about your booth, your gallery, etc. that  are invisible to you but serve as automatic barriers to people doing business with you.

            It could be:

            • The smell of that funny meat you are secretly cooking behind your booth;
            • The gallery you are in may be in the second under basement right next to the boilers and steam pipes, and you thought it looked “artsy”;
            • Your stuff is scattered helter skelter all over your booth creating a confusing mess
            • Your kid may be playing Lil’ Wayne’s latest and gettin’ down with some kool dudes clearly disinviting potential buyers

            3. Only offer buyers one way to buy your stuff

            No way are you going to give those credit card companies any of your money because you want to keep every cent. Or maybe you just take cash because you don’t want to take the risk of a bad check.

            4. No seal of approval

            There is no evidence that you are anything more than an itinerant street seller and hence no indication that you are trustworthy or that you care. This  really mostly applies to web sales since there are still a lot of folks afraid of giving their personal info out over the inter-tubes.

            glas_ped5. No way for them to know if your stuff works for them

            There is no way for them try that sweater on of if there is there is no mirror. While that superly exquisitly glazed Raku vase looks all artsy on its museum white pedestal it does nothing for those folks who want help imageing it in their front hall.

            6. Your prices are not obvious

            Somewhere you heard that the secret to selling was not to have your prices showing well that only half way worked for the guys of Glenn Gary Glenn Ross.

            7. The benefits of  your stuff  is clear as mud.

            That potential buyer has no way of knowing if that funky painting or green pot will work in her house, so she move on. A simple description if you’re selling on-line, will do. If you’re in person let her see that the dress will great with her funky shoes.

            hold_down_booth8. Your booth, gallery or web site is not inviting or comfortable

            You booth or gallery could be to hot, to windy, to noisy or to smelly and who wants to be in that kind situation?
            Your web site is confusing with blinking lights and cutsy stuff that does nothing more than distract your buyers from purchasing…that stuff went out soon after the internets were discovered.

            9. Not easy for people to communicate with you

            There is nothing obvious that says “here’s how you can contact me”, so your buyers take that to mean you hang out in a card board box somewhere.

            10. The benefits of what you’re selling are not clear

            The thing, the what your stuff does for potential buyers, is no where to be seen… so they move on to something that they can see benefits them because it is easier that way. If you know your perfect customer, you’ll be able to describe all the muti-faceted things your stuff does, because she just wants to know it is right for her.

            11. There are no clear logical reasons to buy your stuff

            What ever the reason is that people should buy your your stuff  is missing, and so they move on to the next guy who can tell them that his what’s it will give them eternal happiness making their lives infinitely easier and more enjoyable.

            12. No evidence that other folks liked your stuff

            There are no pictures of raving fans describing the wonders of working with you and using your stuff. They need to know that others loved and adored your stuff and thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread…so let them see already!

            13. Have more than one call to action (especially internet sellers)

            Your sales page on your web site has a bazillion different choices for your buyers to make so many that they just get all glassy eyed and leave with out buying

            14. See your customers as the enemy

            Everything is locked up, with triple case hardened pad locks and chains connected to you ankles…ain’t nobody going to steal your stuff!! Oh and you don’t answer no stinkin’ questions either!!

            Before you go into automatic freak-out mode, you need to realize that some of these things may be workable for you. The deal is you need to find them and decide if the consequence is acceptable. So you may hate talking to customers the result maybe fewer sales and that can be OK as long as you know it and accept it. You may feel shy about tooting your own horn even just a little bit, the result may be fewer folks knowing about your stuff…again that’s OK as long as you are willing to live with the results.

            So how do you find out if you have a secret mine field causing you to lose sales? The easiest and best ways are to ask people, especially if you are selling on line. Put a survey on your site with just a few questions, if possible have as part of your shopping cart check out system. Another really good way is  to bribe some of your friends to be secret shoppers making very clear you want to know about their entire experience especially the hang ups and glitches.

             

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            Marketing Monday: Back to the Future

            Since we are doing this the sensible way and getting all  of our ducks in a row before we  even crack the ballroom door we need to shift the time -space continuum and put you there with your new found outlook. If you just went ahead and blasted your way into that room obsessed with finding somebody anybody to dance with you may or may not have had the results we envisioned when we took a time jumped to get you all fixed up and ready to go. You likely would have been working from the Fonz’s playbook and started strutting you stuff like peacock, and we know you really aren’t a peacock.

            Continuing to operate as if you are a peacock will really only guarantee that you attract people who like peacocks and we know how that story ends. So its really best to ditch the feathers and just be yourself because that’s what’s going to get you the best result. See, to really have the best longest lasting results you have to be real and you have to know that vision of who it is you are looking for right there in front of you. In fact, without being to whoowhooey, if you name that person, and can describe that person it is very easy to move to calling up that person’s presence. In other words, if you keep her in your mind when you enter that ballroom she’ll know you’re there and turn her head just to confirm it.

            Who,What….no where

            Let’s take this back to reality now and translate it into you actually sitting at a show, hosting an opening, or describing your latest creation on your blog. When you know and can recognize that special just right customer you’re more able to talk to them as if you have known them forever. And that my friend, is the best ice break ever because what you have done is acknowledge who they are, in the process you’re opening the door and welcoming them in to get more acquainted. They are more likely to join you if you know their name and in turn know what they need. In marketing language the process you have just initiated is called (drum role please) your “who & What”, which is you naming who “gets” your art and why your art is for them.

            So…for example, as a painter  your W&W might be: “I bring color into people’s lives by creating bright and energetic landscapes using a mix of acrylics, and other mediums.”  Or as a photographer mine is ” I help people capture their life stories through visual conversations”.

            Keep in mind not everyone will hear you or recognize you, it may take several encounters before you are recognized as having what they want. Remember the dance… it took her several looks before she wanted to see what it was like to dance with you. You had her attention and in order to keep her attention you have to make the time with her about her  because she wants to check you out at her pace. Is this starting to sound familiar? It should because you are building trust here right now, but it goes beyond just trust. She wants to know if what you have to offer is worth her time and energy, if not she’ll just move on.

            Support, Patience and Grace

            At this stage you only want her to be open to the possibilities of a relationship with you, like going on an actual date, that’s all…no marriage,no moving in together, just a date. Don’t forget though that you do have an ultimate goal of her becoming your SO (significant other) and for that to happen, she has to feel that its’ in her best interest to get to know you better. Until she knows this, she will move at her own pace and may likely become resistant because you are ultimately wanting her to move out of her comfort zone.

            In real world terms this part of the courtship is about support, patience, and grace. Your customers need to know that you support them in their time and space by patiently and gracefully understanding their need to move at their own pace. Once, they feel the warmth of your support they will start to be more open to recognizing the common outlooks the two of you share which in turn make them more agreeable to a relationship.

            Where’s Waldo

            We have come a long way but we’re not done yet. Yes, your time spent on the W&W was extremely helpful and eye opening but you still have to tweek things a little more. Even though you know their names, you really have to find out more about them as people so you can find them and they can find you. The ways to for this to happen are limited because success hinges on communication, and visibility. You have to know where they hang out and what language they speak so you can not only be visible to them but also, heard.

            As an artist one of the best ways to be both visible and heard is to have a place that can serve to spread your word and that place now is a blog, coupled with social media tools like Facebook and twitter. You can also add, teaching workshops, giving talks to community groups about art both activities will build your credibility as someone to do business with because you are giving value with minimal investment on their part.
            Sometimes straight but usually Crooked

            Crooked or straight you’ll still get there

            Finally, it is important for you to understand that the sales/buying process is not necessarily linear and it doesn’t move at any preset pace. Even more important you need to understand that before anyone can decide to join your tribe, give you permission to send them stuff, they need to trust you. This is the point  where you work on building that trust so they can see your value enough to agree to move closer to being one of your loyal fans.

            If you take anything away from this it should be the importance of letting go of any attachments to time tables, sequences or out comes. By doing so you will be free to  let the notion of your perfect customer complete with their needs, develop organically, which in the end will lead to a more solid mutually supportive relationship.

             

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            Robin Pedrero: Lessons & Advice For Artists

            What are the most important lessons you have learned about being an artist and selling your work?

            I have learned to value my art and time. To not let negative talk infect my work or attitude. I weed toxic people, places and elements out of my life. Stay positive. Build a good comfortable relationship with how money is exchanged for your art. Know how to handle a business transaction, handle it professionally and keep accurate records consistently. I know that it is ok that not everyone will like my art or want my art.

            What advice would you give to other artists?

            Have integrity, balance, keep learning, follow positive examples, become a role mode, take courage, thicken your skin for reviews and critiques, and breathe. Don’t be too desperate for the sale.  Oh and protect your health, making art can be hazardous. It is a gift to make art, stay well so you can share it.

            mysterious-without-explanation-web1-copy1

            Let’s finish up with more about the relationship between  musical rhythm and tempo  the rhythm and tempo in visual art.

            Rhythm is also a visual tempo or beat within the artwork itself. Rhythm is an art principle. Artists create visual rhythm by repeating art elements and patterns. The repetition of elements adds balance and harmony to artwork. Alternating lights and darks gives a sense of rhythm. The shapes, colors, lights and darks are the instruments an artist uses to give rhythm to their creations. Rhythm is a principle of design with regular repetition of elements that produce the look and feel of movement. It can be achieved through the careful placement of repeated components which invite the viewer’s eye to jump rapidly or glide smoothly from one to the next. Rhythm is important to composition and harmony in a work of art. Elements can carry their own separate rhythms; color rhythms, line rhythms, and form rhythms.

            Let’s look at some possible rhythms; the most common type, visually could be dark light – dark light – dark light or insert another element like a shape, line or color. There are alternating rhythms. Progressive rhythms occur when there is a gradual increase or decrease in the size, number, color, or some other quality of the elements repeated. Rhythms can flow and also be random. “Rhythm is as necessary in a picture as pigment; it is as much a part of painting as of music.” (Walter J. Phillips) My motto as I mentor is “Pay Attention” by that I call you to do what we as artists do, in our job we take time to look, really experience the moment in the present with all of your senses. Can you feel the rhythm?

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