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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.

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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.

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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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Profile: Christy DeKoning, artist

Christy DeKoning grew up in Sydney, Australia. With formal training in singing and classical ballet, Christy worked as a vocalist on the Vancouver music scene in the early 90’s, and then as a Certified Makeup Artist for several years before finally concentrating her career in Fine Arts.

In the past several years, Christy has completed over 200 commissioned watercolor portraits for clients worldwide. Christy now lives in Southwestern Ontario, Canada with her husband, two sons, two cats and a backyard full of squirrels (but no mice!).

Her artwork has been featured in ACEO Magazine, and on Boundless Gallery. You can also view Christy’s work at ArtFire, Flikr, Facebook and IndiePublic!

Christy started drawing portraits in graphite, and had painted in acrylic with not much success before trying my hand at watercolor – it’s been her favorite medium since, and now that she has a certain familiarity with it, a comfort level if you will, she is working at improving my techniques with watercolor instead of dabbling with other mediums.

She has always drawn people, for as long as she can remember. Eventually people started asking her to paint portraits of their

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houses, family members, pets…the business just grew from word-of-mouth.

Where does your inspiration come from?

My inspiration comes from several artists, mostly contemporary. Artis Lane has been a great source of inspiration for me. Margaret M. Martin was my first “favorite watercolor artist” because her paintings were so colorful and dynamic.

How has your art evolved over time?

I feel my portraits have become “cleaner” since I started using watercolor. I’ve learned how to use color in different ways, and now I can keep a portrait fresh and clean from the start to finish, whereas when I started – it got a little muddy from over-working or choosing the wrong colors.

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Marketing Monday: Courtship The Unlinear Way

Ok… now is the time to really, take a close look at this whole courtship thing and see how it works ….but first let’s revisit everything, briefly. Remember, the steps your buyers will be taking, first there is the sighting and the dance to get acquainted and check each other out and this will take however long it takes ’cause not everybody moves at the same pace. If that goes even slightly well  then you move on to that date, asking her to trust you enough to get in your car and go somewhere. If she trusts you she’ll get into the car and once again… these things take time. After all you are looking for movement to the final level which is the whole commitment, death do us part schtick, well not quite that much …but maybe ya never know.

A little twist of non-linearity

There is another little twist to this courtship thing and both of you do it, you just may not know it. If your goal is to reach the pinnacle of “death do us part” especially with someone who also believes in it. Then you’ll have some kind of a plan, idea, concept whatever stashed in the the wrinkles of your brain because while just any warm body might give you a bump in hormones that exhilaration will be gone sooner than…well you know its’ not a recipe for long term commitment. Asking for her hand in marriage after the first dance or whatever, will probably not work so well.

That’s why you know almost instinctively you gotta reveal some of your stuff, let her see what a wonderful person you are, before she even agrees to step into that car.

Knowing your part

So the point here for you dear artist is don’t jump on that person strolling into your booth right away or have a tantrum because she left empty handed…things take time ( you’ll hear a lot of that). That’s why it is not good to start with the first sight but instead take a look at that next level by having a vision in your mind both about you and who you want to attract. Why? Well while that person who left empty handed really only left empty handed she still had a notion in her mind about you. It is at this point that you need to know first if she is worth courting and second what your part in the process will be.

201_ask_show071208-copy1That’s why I’m starting here at the “next level” rather than the across the room sighting. See that instant in time when the trust kicks in and she decides to get in your car is important, ’cause if all you see is the rush of immediacy you’ll be stuck there forever and likely lose a lot of good sales in the process.

On needs and wants

So in order to get to that long term committed level you have to have a plan, a vision of who you are really looking for, who she is and what she holds dear. It only makes sense that you know first who would want your stuff and second what about your stuff they are drawn to, and why your stuff is important to them. Now is not the time to have an artistic identity crisis.

Think about what she considers important, what she might be needing, or even wanting and make sure your stuff equals her needs/wants. Does that mean being a slut… no not really, it just means that knowing what your stuff does for her helps you weed out the ones who really don’t care that much about your stuff to step into the car with you. And that saves you a lot of sweat and anxiety…trust me.

You can’t push the river

Remember, she got to the car door because you were giving her a look inside of you and your stuff, you were showing her that you had what she needed and wanted and she could take her time. She also agreed to go with you because you were prepared, you understood who she was and what she was looking for so you could start showing it to her at her own pace. You can’t overwhelm her because then she’ll get all resistant and annoyed…but you can acknowledge her pace and trickle in the stuff she needs to actually get into the car. Oh, and just in case you thought this was all about being altruistic and not taking yourself in to account…well that’s not really the idea. See, if you just keep giving and giving in order to get her to the car door, you’ll likely soon be getting all resentful and probably burned out…then what do you have?

Paying attention at this point is important because you have to know what balance looks like and when you are out of balance with yourself. So, pay attention to your resentment threshold ’cause that is when you can easily start the downhill slide.

139_ask_show071208-copyShow me the money!

Ok what’s this look like? Well, first of all the important thing is to keep in mind that you want to stay in front of them, you want to be enough in their mind that when they think of buying something like your stuff they automatically think of your stuff first. To do this, you will need to be in contact with your folks at the very least once a month but preferably weekly,and this can happen in many different ways. And you don’t have to go all overboard and start weekly only to burn out after the fourth week.  The key is pacing and consistency.

The key to it all

If you are going to build trust with those folks who are “thinkin’ or lookin’” you have to some way to contact them otherwise you may as well invent a time machine and go back to “them good old days”. The best and most efficient way to do so is to have and build a list…no bbbbuts this is your business, your livelihood we’re talkin’ ’bout here. That is unless you really never intended to support yourself with your art, in which case it doesn’t matter.

Remember

Those folks lingering around your stuff aren’t just passin’ time they are checking you out and deciding if they want to be apart of you and your stuff. Don’t worry if you pay attention to your intuition you’ll know when to make your move. The worse that can happen is they can say “no thanks” in which case you can just slip them a card with all your info on it for when they are looking for you. The best that can happen is they can say “I’d love to get your noozeletter”.

Two tools

Once again I’ll mention a blog as a major tool to help you stay in front of your folks. The other way is to put out an e-mail newsletter geared strictly to those who chose to check you out further. The important thing about both of these tools is:

You don’t have to be a Pulitzer writer to write a blog you just have to be you, because that’s what they are looking for. A noozletter can just be some brief announcements of up coming shows, or a review of show you were just in, or a highlight of current work….that’s all nothing more.

So why the focus on the internets thing? Well…

  • It’s free when compared to the cost of mailing post cards
  • You will have a higher open rate
  • You are always accessible so they can keep up with you at their pace something that wasn’t available back in the day.

The best benefit of all

You are probably wonderin’ by now what the real benefit of all this is. Well, it is the best of all and something you were never able to do before…really become customer focused by showing them you sincerely want to share your stuff with them and that you appreciate their support. That is how you will get them to that final “’til death do us part” stage

 

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Marketing Monday: anatomy of a courtship

You have your shows lined up or you have already started the routine of schlepping your stuff around the country. You may be hearing about how “nobody’s buying” and sales suck, and because you are an Artsyfartsy Biz person you decide to not let any of the rumors bother you.   Now is a good time to pay attention and recall your understanding of  the courtship between  you and your potential buyers.

It doesn’t mater if you are an artsy nomad or a gallery shower, the process is the same, and always involves courtship. If you can remember that far back you’ll remember that your current spouse, SO (significant other), partner or whatever he/she is to you, and you didn’t happen over night,there were stages that required certain things to be checked off before the next stage was OK to move on to.

The buying process is actually very much like courtship. Your goal in courtship is to ultimately end up in a long term relationship, maybe with that person you are eying across the room, and the only way for that to really happen is for you to make yourself visible to her. Right now she doesn’t know you from Adam…you’re just a stranger.

Ya wanna dance?

These first few steps of the courtship dance are all about getting her interest, you want to move her from far across the room to maybe a conversation where she can really see your coolness. Those folks wandering into your booth or gallery are doing the same thing…checking you out, seeing if there is something to connect with. This “check out” time can vary and may be longer for one of those strangers to decide to move to the next level. There are a lot of things that can happen here to push that stranger on or bring them closer. They may be:

  • Just there for entertainment or recreational shopping
  • They don’t dig your stuff
  • They dig your stuff
  • They are looking for specific color, shape, size to match something of a specific color shape or size
  • They are not sure you will be around
  • They know exactly what they want and maybe you fit that need
  • They need reassurance that you actually created the stuff they see
  • Not quite Strutting your stuff

Now if you have developed what we call your “who and what” meaning who your work best appeals to and what they are actually looking for that you can provide, those folks who see glimmers of themselves, will start to linger. Their lingering means there might be a potential connection. Your job at this point is to make sure your W&W are very,very visible and easily discovered so the lingerers can see you are who you are and your stuff is what they are looking for.

Remember

The important thing at this point is to make the goodness your stuff does clearly visible to those who are looking or might be looking your kind of goodness. The other thing to remember is that not every one will be totally and completely crazy about your stuff. Some my just come and go, others may buy something small never to be seen again and a fraction may buy something now and may potentially buy something later. Everyone will be doing the check out dance, circling and hovering until they think you might be the solution to their problems and not to repeat the obvious but your role here is to make what you have and the solutions it delivers not only visible but clearly obvious.

Movin’ it on up

So a few of those hovering folks decided to land and most probably bought something small or “affordable” because commitment to the next level of courtship comes in small steps.

As with the first part, a lot depends on you at this point. If you are an art fair gypsy those people hovering around and buying little things assume that you won’t be back and they will never see you again everrrr,  after the sale. So ask yourself, if you would drop a lot dough on something from some biz set up on a street? We know you’re good for it but they need some hand holding, just as your dance partner does if you are going get him to ask you out. Now,if you’re a gallery hanger the same would also be true because other than the opening, you won’t be eyeball to eyeball with folks.

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Talk,talk, talking

Back in the day most things stopped here for you, the purchase was made and that was it. Today you have tools available, that were never there before, to grow a relationship to the next level. This second level of courtship is probably one of the most important because it is not strictly about selling yourself, instead it is about conversation. And no it’s not talking about how great you are, it’s more like exposing more of yourself so your partner will show up at the next dance until she is willing to come with you. Only after you two have had regular contact will either feel good enough to move things up…and conversation is the best way for that occur.

There are two primary tools you as artsy fartsy folks have  the first is your blog. This is were many artsy fartsy types get hung up and all resistant because:

  • They can’t imagine having anything that anyone would want to hear;
  • They don’t see the value in just writing about what they are doing;
  • They would rather be “working” ;
  • They are afraid of the internets thing-a-ma- bobs;

The second is e-mail not spam but a way of letting your buyers know you are there, thanking them for trusting you and sharing things that can help them. you can use an e-mail newsletter to do this. It doesn’t have to be weekly, or monthly just enough to let them know you’re there, you’re thinking of them and you appreciate their business and support.

Also, there are other tools that can ease you into those scary waters, things like Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in all let you take baby steps.

Important thing!!!

Start engaging and talking ’cause that is the only way you’ll be able to move you and her to the next level and we know you want that. You need to remind them of your presence otherwise they WILL forget at this point.

There is one more thing about this level of the courtship and it has to do with trust…it is the moment when he trusts you enough to ask you out and you trust him enough to agree. Mark Silver calls this “The Sacred Moment” because it is the instant in time the trust becomes mutual. In selling stuff it is the time when you stop giving and your buyer engages her trust and starts giving by paying you for what you make or bring.

The deepening

OK, you’ve agreed to go out, the trust is building as you spend more time together. And, things like this don’t happen overnight, it takes time before the two of you reach the pinnacle of commitment. You both may continue “seeing other people” and slowly start to see how deep you connect with each other. The same is true for your relationship with your buyers, some may always want to “see other people” some may decide there is not a connection and some…may be committed forever.

The great thing about this level is that those who make it are truly committed to you, they see in you a reflection of part of themselves. The appreciate that you took time, you didn’t just put your stuff out there expecting them to plop huge chunks of dough on you just because you were there. This is where you really get to see that “if you build it, they will come” doesn’t really work unless we’re talking “love at first sight”.

The Lesson

So as you move into the show season remember that buying is a process and you play a major role in all parts of that process. People, the right people, want to buy your stuff but they need time, they need to ease into it and they need your hand to help them along the way, so:

  • Help them by making your message so visible they can really see it and decide to come closer to hear more.
  • Help them by talking by making the conversation about them, what they like, who they are, what problems they are trying to solve with art.
  • Help them by giving them value, by showing them how to use your stuff.
  • Help them by showing them you really are who you say you are.
  • Help them by showing them you understand the courtship process and give them choices to move at their own pace.
  • Help them by showing you care enough to stay in touch so ask them permission to send them e-mail updates.

We’ll be talking more courtship in the coming weeks but for now just know that truly buying isn’t something most folks take lightly especially now. And, they really do want to buy your stuff…your job is to help them see your value and hold their hand along the way.

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Marketing Monday: Still doing the same old stuff?

Recently a couple of things boinked me on the head (not literally!!) that helped me remember that I needed to remind folks of. See, now is the time especially for those nomadic artists out there to suck it up, kick those old asshabits right were it hurts ’cause you need to focus on doing things different. Because you are coming out of hibernation to a completely different world than was there when you entered you winter sleepy time.

Do you need….?

So, what were those boinky things? They are related to the season…spring in particular, when all those tinybizes that virtually closed their doors when the air started getting cold wake up, suddenly realizing they need bizness. Now, for them getting bizness is pretty simple…sit down with a computer (if they have one) find some “cool” clip art and some fancyschmancy letters. In a flash they have themselves a “flyer” that tells the world  just how wonderful they are and best of all how cheap they are. In another flash they ‘re on their way to the local copy center to have 10 gazillion copies made in bright fluorescent yellows and greens, ’cause they want to make sure they “stand out”.

What I just described was the first group I ran into in the past few weeks. They were mostly lawn care people who ride around neighborhoods from thaw to freeze keeping our patch of green looking freshly grazed. The other part of this group, are mostly college kids seeking their summer fortunes by painting anything that stands still for thirty seconds. Representatives of both  showed up on my door step in recent weeks, some pushed the ringy button to get my attention, others just stuck their fluorescent “flyers” in my door jam. Those I opened my door for greeted me with “do you need any painting or (substitute tree trimming, lawn care as well) ” as if that is going to make me jump right out and say “where do I sign?”

Awesomeness for pennies

Another group with similar world view are the small local retailers who suddenly realized the rest of the world is coming out of hibernation. Their response is not to much different than the door knockers and flyer leavers, they step up a notch by hiring “sign painters” to plaster their windows with ginormous letters spelling out SALE or CLEARANCE, some may think “long term” and sign up to “present” their wonderfullness on every local or neighborhood movie house screen around.

So what’s the point? Well, these “biznesses” were doing what they were told, for all of modern history, to do…tell people how wonderful you are, tell them how lucky they would be to have such awsomeness for such a low,low price. That’s it…no more, just awesomeness  for pennies. See, these folks are going to continue waking up every spring only to repeat the same old ritual and same old wonderings as to why they can’t “get bizness”. What little bizness they did grab was mostly luck with a little help from low price but mostly..just luck.

But I’m not a door knocker…

Well, artists as a whole are not much different, they just don’t knock on neighborhood doors. Awakening from their winter sleep, artsy nomads frantically start sending out applications to juried shows with little knowledge of whether the show was/is worth schlepping their stuff for several hundred miles to sit in the heat for two to three days. And, like the door ringers sales are pretty much random, depending mostly on someone “stumbling on” their booth.

Gallery artists can be more like door knockers if they aren’t careful because they can easily fall into the oldest law of all…harvesting and converting leads by cold calling not to far from the Fuller Brush guy of the ’40s and ’50s. The end result today is so different than those old sales hay days because the gallery owners really aren’t interested in being converted.

So as you come out hibernation don’t repeat the old “laws of selling” , instead approach this season from a different point of view at whatever pace suits your style just don’t repeat the same old habits because you’ll get the same old results. Here are a few things to get you started:

Artsy Nomads

  • Greet folks entering your booth and start a conversation…about them
  • Start collecting e-mail addresses and start using the ones you have
  • Talk to your potential buyers to find out the problem motivating them then offer a solution even if it is not you.
  • Use twitter, facebook and your blog to alert folks that you are coming their way
  • Stop applying to any and every show, do some research to see if the niche you serve is likely to be there and show up.

Gallery Hangers

  • Stop “cold calling” start visiting and studying each gallery you are interested in.
  • Develop and start following a set of criteria for visiting a gallery based on your values, vision and likelihood of your niche audience showing up and buying. If your work is western art don’t expect a gallery in an avante-garde neighborhood to work.
  • Have conversations with gallery owners find out about them, who they serve, their values and their criteria for showing.
  • Find galleries likely to display and promote your art in ways that respect its’ value as well as yours.

That’s it in a nutshell, remember “nothing changes, if nothing changes”.

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Marketing Monday: the thread that unites

 

mm logo w sign shadow Marketing Monday: the thread that unitesWe have talked until the cows came home about how all of your marketing JuJu is really based on what you want that ittybiz of yours to be when it grows up…so all I’m going to say here is revisit your vision. Just sit down or stand if you want, and and re-ask yourself the question “why am I thinking about doing this?” and “what do I want it to be?”  or iif you have already been on the front lines ask ” is my business attracting the type of custmers I like to deal with” or “what do I love and what do I hate about my biz?” that’s all just ruminate on that for a while.

Here are some possible reasons why you’re doing what you are doing:

  • Nothing else better to do
  • Easy money
  • Romance
  • Some side pocket money
  • You can’t imagine doing anything else
  • Afraid of looking like a FAILURE if you change direction

!Important!

Keep this question present in the back of your mind…

“what business am I in?”

and yes you are in business, you are wanting to have folks fork over money for your stuff….and that’s business by any definition.

OK lets us get back to the featured issue…

We’ve already established that marketing is about relationships and the keystone to creating those relationships is you and how you see your world. When your glasses are all clean and shinny you see the world clearly and when you see the world clearly the things you make reflect that shinny clarity sending out your invisible rays that tell the folks who have similar shinny glasses that you are alive and kicking and have something they should check out.

Here’s the catch though…

Without knowing how to communicate what you are all about to those folks you are trying to be visible to, you will be very… invisible. Even more important, you might just want to think a bit about how you communicate…what is your natural way of sayin’ what you do, what is your natural way of talking about your stuff, the stuff you do that gets you all hot and excited.

This is important because any other way of saying things will go over like a lead balloon. The key to creating relationships is communications…you have to know how to talk and how to listen, unless you have perfected the art of the grunt. Moreover, in the beginning stages of starting up that relationship it is best to listen and to ask and to make the conversation more about the other person…because that’s how you gather intel, so you can figure out if there’s a match. It’s also helpful in finding out how they see their world and if it is even close to what you see.

So, at this point you don’t want to be all “gimme,gimme look at me see how great I am” or sinking into the manipulative thing of convincing prospective custmers they should like you….that’s so old school. Instead, you want to be all about giving, giving them your ear, your energy, your empathy. When, done successfully the marketing relationship turns into a two way street, because your people now eagerly await the chance to bring more of your stuff into their lives and into the lives of their friends. If you’ve done your work and know your core this is the time for that core to get all sparkly, causing all who see it to shout ahhhs and ooohs and clap. And why this happens is because you haven’t made them feel that all transactiony you wanted was to get them to buy something from you.

So  think of what it is that you are saying with your work and in your words, what do you want it to be for folks who buy your stuff. Then once you have it use it to shape how you communicate.

 Marketing Monday: the thread that unites
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Artsyfartsy Biz Inspiration: Featured Artists

artsyfartsy_featured2

 

A few weeks ago we launched our Artsyfartsy Biz Award program and recognized five artists who have actively developed their art into a business. They have each followed their own intuition and instincts to make sure their art gets out into the world in a sustainable way…a way that allows them to be paid for doing what they love and provides value to their buyers. Their journeys have not been linear, or without slips, they have been moving steadily onward learning and growing as they went.

One, if not the,  biggest challenges for artists today is understanding the need to overcome their fear of “selling out”or worse for us geezers the shame instilled by the grand kids. I talked recently about this in an article emphasizing the importance of letting go of old limiting beliefs in order to follow the paths to success now opening up.

One of the key behavior traits of successful people is that they find models and they surround themselves with folks who live, believe and behave the way they would like to. That is why I not only started the award program but also why I am launching the Featured Artist program. Each artist is chosen because they represent the future of art and they do so in a way that allows them to inspire other artists who are trying to find their way in today’s market place. They don’t necessarily represent easy, pretty or neat…they do represent a dedication to their work, their hearts and their vision. They willingly meet the “messiness” of life accepting it for it is demonstrating that living a flat lined life is not an option.

Featured artists will be profiled, their work will be displayed in the image box above the right side bars of this blog, and they will be interviewed with the transcript posted as well. The entire interview will be posted over the course of a couple of weeks instead of all at once to make easier to read.  In addition, I’ll be using these artists periodically as resources for tele-classes, pod casts, and on-line panel discussions.

The current featured artists will come from the Artsyfartsy Biz winners while I add more to the pool. If you would like to nominate someone please feel free to do so by way of the form below or leaving the appropriate info in the comments section, also below.

 

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Worried about losing your creative mojo?

Are you afraid to commit to really incorporate business skills and tools because you might lose your creative mojo? Do you have trouble adding up 2+2 to get 4?  Have you shied away from thinking about business because it hurts your brain? Do you think in images and can never quite get things going in a strait line like figuring out what and where you want to go with your business? Are you resigned to being a starving artist?

You are not alone…creatives through out history have struggled with such questions, even more so since the time Descartes when linear left brain thinking became the accepted lens for viewing the world. The industrial revolution and the past century intensified the primacy of linear thought even more by holding science, math and other “hard” skills up as the standard for determining intelligence and cultural acceptability.

The result has been a heavy reliance on linear vision  produced generations of unimaginative people at the expense of those who were less linear. Consequently, little attention has been paid to discovering a more holistic integrated way of seeing and learning. In many ways this neural split has been a major factor of the general devaluation of creativity and art in particular. Leaving us, has with few exceptions,  left brain focused people who have difficulty “seeing” the world and right brain folks  who have problems adding.

Such are the issues that Lisa Sonora Bean takes on in her blog The Creative Entrepreneur and her book The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real. Lisa’s book and research serve as an example of how whole brain thinking can produce a sum greater than its parts.Her MBA focus was on finding ways to teach both creatives and linear types to fully develop their brain functions and in the process she turned the business development process on its head by giving us a way to approach the left brain world of business using the visual tools we are familiar with. But she didn’t stop there, she acknowledged the importance of spiritual development as the first step in building a business especially one based on creative processes so the first part of her book is devoted to to helping us uncover our hidden gifts.

mandala2 Worried about losing your creative mojo?

The four paths

The generally accepted way of starting to build any business is to have some idea as to where you want that business to go. Lisa has taken some of the current some of the current thinking in conscious business theories and added her own visual tools. Using the mandala, an archetypal symbol of unity and wholeness, as a model she combines left and right brain functions. Using graphics and multimedia graphic tools she shows us    the “sweet spot of unity” formed by the intersection of four paths:

Heart & meaning
This path helps us discover to follow our heart and creative dreams giving us a framework to examine if we are seeing “what we enjoy” at the expense other points of view.

Gifts & flow
We have been trained to suffer, that value is always determined by the amount of “hard work” and “sweat” involved in achieving what we set out to do. This pair shows us how suffering has no relationship to achievement and that “coming easy” is a true metric of being in the flow with our gifts.

Value & profitability
Shows us that creating a costumer centric business that creates and delivers value is crucial opening the door for getting paid for that value.

Skills & tools
Helps us see and use the business tools appropriate to our business and vital to our achieving success in the first two paths.

These four paths represent the ever spiraling journey of clarity we all seek when we are in creative flow with ourselves and our work. The “sweet spot” is simply the starting point which when refined starts us on a greater journey of healing and discovery. To help us along the way Lori includes “prompts” or questions throughout each part level of the spiral.

Beginning brain integration 

One of the overriding causes of artists failure in business is letting the fear of losing their creativity to left brain business mastery. Lisa debunks this argument with skill and her grasp of graphic tools, quite simply she  leads us through what she calls the “four Modes of Functioning” or more precisely “how we get things done. Becoming aware of the  functions of sensing, thinking, feeling and acting we can become aware of the presence of the constructive and destructive elements of each through graphically expressing their effect on us.

Joining the two sides
The tools Lisa set us up with are now ready and available for us to tackle the seemingly and frequently avoided challenge of strategic planning, branding, marketing and communicating our value. Once again she coaxes us to look at these left brain tasks using our right brain tools.

Magical results
The real value of this book is its magically imaginative way of giving users a way to move into whole brain living and eventually a more integrated view of the world.

Interestingly enough I can’t imagine a similar book written from the left brain view that could be even a smidgen as effective or close to providing as much fun!

Recommendation:

Don’t just buy it …use it!!! And better yet buy the book and attend one of her workshops, it will be time and money well spent…you deserve it!!

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Marketing Monday: be a profiler

 

mm logo w sign shadow Marketing Monday: be a profilerBefore you can really think about developing a relationship it might be a good idea to think seriously about who it is you want to relate to!! Remember when you were dating you probably didn’t say “I just want a man/woman” that is a pretty big pot to fish in. You most likely had some vision of who a potential date and eventually partner might be, so you may have made a list:

  • No nose picking
  • No spitting
  • Yes good looks
  • Yes likes the outdoors
  • Yes likes dogs
  • No doesn’t like hamsters
  • Eats with utensils

Old School v. New School

You get the idea…the same is true for folks you would like to become your best all time buyers. The old school way of doing this was to see these folks as “targets” to put labels on them and then treat everybody under a certain label the same. These “targets” found and analyzed in truly dehumanizing scientific ways.

Things are different now. Now you need to get to know who would be most likely to be a supportive, repeat word of mouth buyer/customer/promoter. You need to get all deep and really describe that person in terms that fit.

Before we start our profiling thing, you need to understand that your buyers have problems and they look to you for solutions. Now this is probably something you never imagined… I mean, what kind of problems would people have that buying your stuff could fix? Well, think about what you intended for your stuff when you made it. Was it whimsical? How about colorful? Could people wear it and what was it supposed to do when they put it on? Or, maybe they want something cheery to brighten up a dreary corner. These are all problems potential buyers have as they discover your stuff.

OK… the other thing this profile process is designed to do is to eliminate those grouchy,crabby, nick-knack, flea markety types who you want to bitch slap when they ask if “made all this stuff yourself?” Focusing on who you really want to invite into your special circle will pretty much inoculate you from having to deal with folks who just don’t work for you and in the process save you  a whole lot of grief, energy and time.

Two things…

There are basically two things to consider in this process the first is the observable touchable, describable things that mostly describe these folks. Like income, family size,married/unmarried,gender,age etc. These are the hard stats called demographics you can get from census info or any other collection of people related statistics. These help you get into the ballpark or may within a couple of blocks.

The next thing is not so obvious because it is all about how the group you are looking at  see’s themselves. Like “drives a BMW” or “rides a bike” ” is a hopeless romantic” ” is green”. While plenty of people drive BMWs or ride bikes it is the underlying intention that their behavior is based on that counts. So the guy who bikes to work everyday religiously because he doesn’t want to pollute has a different motivation than the one who does it for fitness. Likewise the BMW owner may be in love with the precision of “german engineering” and see her car as a work of art while her friend my see it as a rank indicator. These factors are known as Psychographics.

Case Study

mm rei 400x122 Marketing Monday: be a profilerThere are two outdoor oriented stores here in the Twin Cities, REI and Midwest Mountaineering, one is corporate big box type the other is locally owned and operated since the ’70s. While the both attract out door oriented people they each attract different customers all together. REI is focused on more consumer, casual outdoor folks while Midwest Mountaineering attracts the the more hard core climbers, kayakers, hikers and campers. People who are looking for knowledgeable staff who can help them select the best gear generally go to Midwest Mountaineering, those who are not so concerned about such things go to REI. The difference between the two is found lies mostly in the psychographic factors and not the demographic which is relatively the same.

Midwest Mountaineering does little advertising so it draws it’s customers by word of mouth and it’s reputation of having an expert staff. It started out of the garage of the owner who sold climbing gear in the ’60s and early ’70s so it has a strong and loyal following. While REI started similarly in Seattle it has evolved its’ focus to be more consumer oriented with a touch of price point attraction by way of its’ membership rebates. Midwest Mountaineering often sells the same gear but at higher price and it specializes in premium brand gear.

While there is some cross over it is not significant, both brands have a loyal base. So you can see while both pull from the same demographic their psychographic profile is pretty much opposite of the other. The point here is to think about the psychographic element at this time because it will likely be one of the key differentiators that make the difference between a loyal following and a not so loyal one.

The whole point of this profile thing is to come up with an identity, a “name” for that person who feels like you have known forever and who as a result buys your stuff and gets other like minded folks to buy it as well. When you “name” this profile you and she will recognize each other above the din off competitive noise and maybe run headlong into each others arms for ever and ever…well maybe not like that but you never know. I call these folks “get yours” because the really get you and identify with what bring to the world.

Finally, another way to look at building this profile is to use yourself and your values as filters. Think about what is important to you when you go out into the market looking for something, what factors matter when you are trying to make up your mind. Is it knowledge, is it that they look reputable, is it that they recognize you and seem to know what you are looking for?

Now go ahead and profile away…

 Marketing Monday: be a profiler
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