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Marketing Monday: Off-line Tactics

 

 

2day we’re going take a break from twits & upd8s and take a look at the other part of your marketing strategy…how to develop an off line strategy that compliments and supports your on-line efforts.There are three key elements to this strategy:

  • Your list
  • Your list
  • Your list

In the past we relied solely on one time mailings of our show schedule or post card to those on our mailing list frequently with little or no results. I know from my own experience how ineffective single  direct mailings were while at the same time helping me feel like I was “doing something”.  However, now that we have a very interactive Internet it is possible to combine off-line and on-line tactics to produce an effective strategy for drawing followers to both your blog and your booth by using a combination of off-line and on-line lists. This next series is designed to help you understand and develop such a strategy.

For an artist the foundation of this strategy is building a list of relevant people, people who like art, will probably buy it and are willing to give you information that will keep you connected. The question has always been how to get that information in a way that is not intrusive or intimidating and time consuming especially during a busy show.There are two basic ways to get that information for artists:

  1. Gather it at shows or galleries
  2. Gather it through an opt in on your web site/blog

To work well you will need the following basic information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Zip
  • E-mail

You will also need to have a Privacy policy  prominently placed on your list.

Later in this series we will address how you can use this information in your marketing.

How to build a list and not offend your buyers

Regardless of whether you are meeting people at a gallery opening or an art fair the process can be intimidating and awkward…remember the most important thing that can help you is that you are in the early stages of building a relationship. It is also about giving them the the opportunity to decide if indeed they want to connect with you.

Be a greeter
If you are at a gallery opening welcome visitors in be gracious then let them wander.
At an art fair do the same mingle with your visitors be approachable, listen and observe to find clues about them and their interest.

Make the conversation about them
At an opening or an art fair reach out to visitors find out their interests, why they are at the opening, look for common threads that could connect the two of you. Once you find those threads find out the problem they are looking to solve by visiting you. Everyone has a problem looking for a solution all you need to do is uncover the problem then solve it. Your visitor may be looking for a painting that works in a certain space or something that will connect to them spiritually. Your job is to show them how your work will help them.Ask them what drew them to visit your booth or gallery show. Listen to find if they resonate with your vision, if they do you then share some of yourself, describe in personal terms what you are saying with your work.

Give them a reason to connect with you

  • Tell them about your blog, and newsletter if you have one (and your should).
  • Have an example to show them and tell them how you protect privacy…show them your privacy policy
  • But most of all tell them why you want to stay connected with them and how doing so will help them, it could be subscriber only promotions, or preshow visits etc.
  • Don’t push..approach the subject like you would do someone you just met and thought you might like.

Make it easy and give them the choice
If after you have chatted with them and they still are not sure give them a card or other promo material with ALL of your contact information on prominently displayed.  Here are some more ways.

  • Add a place on receipts for their e-mail address
  • Have all of your contact info on your receipt
  • Provide a way for them to visualize your work in their home, have a hand out or some info on a hang tag
  • Tell them you will want to follow up with them to help them find the best location or use for your work.
  • Send them a thank you note when the buy and direct them to your blog
  • Send them home with something extra that says you want to stay connected and how important they are to you

Finally, remember that the average person/consumer needs to see something from you 7-9 times before they actually buy, at least that was the old way based on random sales. You greatly reduce that by building a relationship.

 Marketing Monday: Off line Tactics

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Featured Blogs…something new

 

Over the past few weeks I have been working on creating ways to feature Artists and their blogs in a way that encourages them to grow. Two of the ways I have come up with are

  • Adding a feature blog
  • Holding contests built around learning

However, I have been stewing about the “How” details wanting to make it “just right” before I launched it. As all to often happens when we get stuck “chasing our tails” something unexpected shows up to snap us out of our endless chase.

Well, that something happened recently when I exceeded 400 Twitter followers. The person who put me over the mark was so elated that I visited her blog. I came away inspired about her dedication to supporting what I have come to call “Open Source Art” the everyday efforts of ordinary folks to touch their creativity. I decided then and there that I would start my Featured Blog with her and continue it whenever I came across an art blog that supported and furthered not only the act of creation but also recognized the need to honor it.

At his point I have no set criteria for deciding but I will be looking at basic things like:

  • Design
  • Content
  • Connectedness
  • Purpose

What a featured blog gets

Each Featured blog will receive:

  • A feature article -The article will feature my impressions of the blog and why I picked it.
  • A bookmark on Digg,StumbleUpon,Reddit and any others they would like
  • A tweet – sent out when the article is published plus  special #followfriday listing and addition to the #featuredartblog listing
  • A custom widget – A widget similar to the one now at the top of the second sidebar column that will be dedicated to their posts. The widget will be placed in circulation within the WidgetBox gallery which will give the blog wider circulation.
  • A link from this site – An inbound link to help build credibility and readers
  • Other surprises – A grab bag of unknown (even to me) things that may be added.

Nominating a blog

I have been assembling a list of blogs to feature I also want to give others the ability to nominate blogs. For now the simplest way to nominate is to use the comment form below, enter the following basic info

  • Blog’s name
  • A link to the blog using its’ URL (the http:// web address)
  • Owner/Author’s name
  • Brief description of why you think the blog should be featured.
 Featured Blogs...something new

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Featured Blog: Inspiration Flirtation

 

inspirtion 400x323 Featured Blog: Inspiration Flirtation

Today is the first of our Featured Blogs, to read more about the What,Why and Hows check out the description page. Today’s first came to me by suprise as many things often do. The Blog was started by Christina (Tina) Wessels and her blog is about Inspiration and how many of us flirt with our creativity but never really hookup with it. But it is more than just about “almost” it is about naming and honoring the creative seed that resides in all of us, the little urgings and longings  we have learned to hide because we don’t want to offend, it is to summarize Garrison Keillor our faithfulness to “suffering”.

On her little part of the web Tina is doing her part to pull aside the curtain of suffering, and offering instead, encouragement,support and recognition each critical in coaxing us out of our repressed state. I found in Tina’s effort a recognition of the seed of the change we are all experiencing it is the seed of giving, of growing and leading and more than anything else the courage to take the step into a place of uncertainty and unfamiliarity.

The more people we can awaken, the more eyes we can open the more people there will be who learn the value of art in their lives and the more they will open to their own gifts.

This is what I read on Tina’s blog…

Working in a cubicle by day… a crafter/artist/mommy by night I have always felt the need to create and share my creations with others. Artists are everywhere I look. Artists are my neighbors. Artists live under the same roof with me and give me goodnight kisses. My mother is a great artist. Artists are my “business partners”. Some people are artists and I don’t even know it, some are artists and THEY don’t even know it. Some artists even make me cupcakes! BUT… I don’t always get to see the art behind the daily artist. Enter Inspiration Flirtation…

About Inspiration Flirtation… A How to:

  • Why Inspiration Flirtation? Artists are everywhere I look. Artists are my neighbors. Artists live under the same roof with me and give me goodnight kisses. My mother is a great artist. Artists are my “business partners”. Some people are artists and I don’t even know it, some are artists and THEY don’t even know it. Some artists even make me cupcakes! BUT… I don’t always get to see the art behind the daily artist. Enter Inspiration Flirtation…
  • How do I participate? Each week a “seed” of inspiration will be planted here. Flirt with it as you will, let it inspire you, then create something. Paint, sketch, write a haiku, dance, finger paint, take a photograph, write a short story, free form crochet. Do what it is that you are inspired to do. Post it on your blog or a static page on the internet (that you can direct us to in one simple link). Leave your link in the form of a comment on that week’s post (please link to your actual posting (a static page) as opposed to your blog’s main page). If there is a story behind your piece we would love to hear about it. That’s it. Now flirt! (Feel free to link to a past work that you have done as long as it relates to that week’s seed.)
  • If you are linking to a photo sharing site (such as Picasa or Flickr): make sure that the photo that you link to is in a public album which contains only photos that you want others to see. Making an album just for Inspiration Flirtation viewers might be one way to do this! If you are unsure of what others can see we recommend logging out of your site and entering as if you are a guest. Look around and see what others might see!
  • Starting your own blog is easy to do… go to www.blogger.com to start flirting!
  • Will your humor me and accept my ideas for future inspirations? Of course, feel free to email your ideas for future inspirations to mamawess@gmail.com . In fact, we may even invite future “guest artists” to submit ideas and content to host their own weekly Inspiration!
  • Can I be notified of new posts? Of course! To be notified of new posts or comments/creations you can subscribe at the bottom of this page. Or send an email to be placed on a mailing list.
  • How else can I get involved? Do you have an art related product that you would like to have reviewed, promoted and blogged about?! Contact me. Spread the word: Tell your friends about the blog and encourage them to participate. Do you have a special skill that you are willing share with the class? Tell us about it! A feature post may be in your future! Do you have a piece that is not related to our weekly seeds that you would like to share with the group? Contact me to have your piece added to the “Art for Art’s Sake” section. We will host contests/giveaways between weekly posts… stay tuned for more!

At some point I will be doing audio interviews with Featured Bloggers but until I get there what follows are Tina’s answers to some simple questions:

About Your Artinspiration 2 Featured Blog: Inspiration Flirtation

How long have you been making art? I have been making art since I was in elementary school. My art was always chosen for the public school system’s art show!!! But then again when you are in elementary school I think they pick every kid! LOL

Why do you make art? I think I make art mostly to share with others. I make a lot of “practical” art… knitting, crochet, beaded jewelry wearable stuff. I love to make pieces that I can show people “inadvertantly”…

What is your vision. what drives you? I am “driven” by trying new things. I think I have a new craft/medium/hobby every week! It must be “driving” my husband nuts by now but he is so, so supportive. I envision myself someday no longer sitting behind a desk for 40 hours a week but rather sitting on the floor surrounded by yarn, paper, crayons, pencils, paintbrushes, wool roving. I’m envisioning much of these scraps in my hair and giant cup of coffee in my hand as well.

About Your Blog

banner Featured Blog: Inspiration FlirtationWhat motivated you start a blog? I’m really not sure. I love art and so stumbled upon a few art inspiration blogs. At the same time I also realized (by speaking with friends at a newish job) that I am surrounded by people who are artists in some sense of the word. I wanted to try to help inspire them and help bring some more creativity out of them. So I thought to myself “Self, you can do this too! You can get you friends and family to participate and then make some connections, and this thing could take over the world (wide web)!” :)

Who is your audience? I try to speak to everyday people who may or may not be artists. Some of them are artists and they just don’t know it yet! They just need a little coaxing. Right now I think I have a whopping 11 followers! Some from overseas! That is very exciting to me!
What is the purpose of your blog? I want to try to get everyone to see the possibilities by taking everyday thoughts, ideas, and objects and trying to get people to see some kind of inspiration within that idea and within themselves.
How frequently do you write? When I started (just a few weeks ago) I intended to write once a week when I put up the weekly “flirt”. I thought maybe I would add a post here and there with some of my rantings when the mood struck. But now I find myself wanting to blog every day!!! My fear in that is that the inspirations will get lost in the shuffle so I try to make sure there is always a link to the current inspiration!

 Featured Blog: Inspiration Flirtation

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Authentically Human

 

Small Businesses 2

Image by Angela Radulescu via Flickr

What is authenticity? Is it being honest? is it really being personable? Is it defined by interaction or presence?

Artists I would argue are considered authentic because of their presence, because the nature of their work is honest and because they are human. But they can’t survive by just showing up…they have to engage also. And therein lies the crux of the answer. Starbucks or GM can have signs all over their stores advertising how much they care about me and my decisions. But it means nothing if the GM sales person spends more time trying to upsell me than finding out what I truly want, or the barista doesn’t bother to know that I regularly show up and more importantly what I buy.

This is why small businesses, particularly  one to two person businesses will be the leaders of the coming shifts and again why artists can be in that group leading the way. We have all the prerequisites, all we have to do is recognize and use them. Because of our face-to-face interactions with our buyers we have a chance to model authenticity, to set the standards and show how successful being authentically human can make us.

And…because of our rather nomadic manner of conducting business we also can show that using today’s tools can only enhance authenticity. If we can show that we can develop and maintain authentic relationships with our followers despite geographic barriers we will have knocked down the barriers that so many have used to justify their reluctance to engage. So remember it is your humanness that draws buyers to your booth or gallery and makes them willing to buy without selling. Also remember that your humanness is the sum total of who you are and authentically letting that out is the best way to stand out in the crowd. If your work doesn’t express who you are, your gallery doesn’t show your passion or you leave the real you at home,  potential buyers will see stear clear of you and most importantly your buyers will turn into non-buyers.

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 Authentically Human

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A Different Look at Creativity IV: Home Depot & Getting Started

The last parts of this series looked at the needs of creatives and tried to match those needs with the tools available. The goal of all of this was to  set out a basic palette of available choices to provide a little background. Everyone does this whether they know it or not when they encounter something new much like a person who wants to build something does to understand how to join two or more parts together….they know there are tools out there to put things together but they don’t know what does what. Imagine knowing you want to join two pieces of wood but you have never seen a hammer or even worse a nail. A visit to Home Depot could be very confusing without the basic knowledge of tools.

This article is a transition from describing the tools and how they meet a need to learning how this knowledge alone is not enough to walk into Home Depot with. Unless you know you need a drill or a hammer just walking into Home Depot and buying whatever strikes your fancy will not help you build a house unless you know that

  1. you want to build a house and
  2. you know or at least have some idea as to what kind

But even this won’t help you until you know more details like

  • What does it look like
  • how big does it need to be
  • how many rooms
  • where is it to be located…

The list can and should go on until you have a clear idea of what it is you want to build. Once you have clarity and focus you can then go into Home Depot and KNOW pretty much what you need to buy, both in materials and tools. Basically, you need to have a goal then broad strategies for meeting that goal then ground level tactics for implementing strategies that will get you to your goal.

So what does this have to do with this series? Well, knowing that Twitter is cool doesn’t help you if connecting many different people in a collaborative way is not something you need. The same goes for Facebook or for that matter a blog, if your goal/s do not depend on what the tool does best then fooling around with it because it is cool will be a huge time suck. So for the purposes of this series I am just going assume you are all small businesses that are based on creating, making or producing art and you have a limited knowledge of capabilities of the internternet and also know that you need to connect better with your buyers.

I am skipping the entire branding process and developing a marketing plan for brevity. What follows is basic strategic information to give you a starting point for your journey.

First things First

The very first thing you can do is to start listening, both in person and on-line. In person talk to your buyers, find out what is important to them, what makes them tick, why they come to art shows or buy art. Find out what problems they are facing what makes them happy what they look forward to, how they live. Then you will be in a position to say to them ” You know I think you might like this doll, if you hang it over your desk it can help you stay focused and centered” or ” you might really like this pot, it is designed to make serving soup easy and drip free”.

While you are engaging your buyers in person spend some time on-line. Find blogs written by artists or other creatives and also read other genres, use that “google thing” and search for subjects that interest you or might interest your buyers. Next go to Twitter.com and search around subjects like, art, visual art, or whatever might be related to your medium, better yet open a twitter account (it’s free) start following some of the people you find interesting. Take note of what they have to say keep in mind …there is no right way here you are trying to find out information and get your feet wet.

Introducing….

Let’s meet Sarah. She is a self described ” luddite”  who until recently has seen little benefit in marketing and in many cases felt that it was cheapening her art. She has avoided the internet for a variety of reasons most of which have to do with not knowing how it can help her. Recently she has realized that she indeed was in business and if she didn’t make a living from her art her ability to share it with others would decline. Last we talked I suggested that she begin “listening” to the web in  a number of ways.

“So..Sarah how are you doing? Have you started ‘listening’ as I suggested last time we talked?”

“Ya” she said, “I had my doubts at first, but then I found some amazing artists who shared their ideas and their work on their blogs and…they didn’t seem to spend hours trying to write the perfect article! I am not sure I can do that. I also found  the more I poked around the more ideas I got…which I wasn’t expecting at all. But now I am even more confused and slightly overwhelmed…where do I begin? I feel like I have way to much to learn and not enough time to learn it.”

“Well” I said,”the best way to get over that sense of confusion and being overwhelmed is to first stop judging yourself and second take little steps towards your goal and be ready to change course if need be. So with that said let’s get going. When we first met you said you wanted to connect with your buyers more  on a personal level…you wanted to make a human connection that brought them into your life… within limits I know! You also wanted a way to keep them abreast of what shows you were going to be in and what you were making.”

“That’s right” she said, ” So how do I get started, what should I do first? What is going to be the best use of my time? And the easiest and quickest”!

“Well, you are in luck because now the easiest and quickest way to begin is through a blog.”

“Why is that? I thought I needed a web site…how will a blog do what I need?” She  said.

“That’s why I said you’re in luck! You see, web sites are static, the content on them seldom changes and when you need to change it, you need a tech person unless you know web design. The other problem with web sites is they don’t get indexed often by search engines since most search engine’s criteria is how often the content changes. So… now the business community from Microsoft to your neighborhood cafe have begun blogging.”

“But if I use a blog won’t I have to write something everyday? I don’t have time to do that…and I don’t know what I’d write about. I get writer’s block even thinking of it! And how will that help me do what I want to do…get closer to my buyers?” Sarah said in frustration.

“First you only need to write when you have something to say which can be everyday or once a week. And you don’t have to write a novel each time you sit down at your computer. When I started my first blog as a photographer I only posted when I had photographs and when I had something to say about an event or a shoot. My blog was a place for potential clients to not only see my work but also my process and approach by reading about the session or event or whatever I had shot. The beauty was that clients could comment on what they saw and read giving me the chance to have a conversation with them. You see a blog is the first step to laying the foundation of a potential two way conversation.

A blog gives you the opportunity to continually show how valuable you are to your readers/buyers. By opening up and being transparent to your potential buyers you open the door for them to get to know you and most importantly know whether they have anything in common with you. It is the first step in separating out your best buyers.”

” Ahhh!!” she said, “the fog is beginning to lift. I think there may be some possibilities here. So how do I get started with a blog? Like, where do I go to set one up? Do I need to know code or are there  simple ways for a Luddite like me to get started?”

“At this point I would strongly recommend the simplest way possible. You have a few choices depending on budget etc. You can go free using services like Blogger or Typepad but free has some limitations which we can cover later. Another free option is to use WordPress and host your own blog but this might require some help from a tech person. Our time is running out now so here are a couple of resources for you and an assignment. For next time spend some time looking through blogger and blogspot sites, check out what they provide given your needs. Also go here to see how simple it all can be…

Become a blogger and watch the free videos,

 

To begin learning about social media  check Chris Brogen out.

Coming next: More converstions with Sarah and possibly a couple of her friends. We’ll be talking in more detail about blogs and some basic social media strategies.

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