Last week we talked about the importance of knowing who is likely to buy your work and what it is your work does for them that makes them want it. The importance of really getting down and working out something that reflects both you and your work, helps you by giving you a strong understanding of your market and the beginning of a real tool to help you both stay focused and remain flexible in changing times.
The other main purpose of knowing your Who and What is the foundation it gives you when you actually start finding those folks who are gaga over your work. It is like having your own crib sheet handy at all times. Today we’re going to cover this in more depth as we talk about how you let people know you’ve the stuff they are looking for how you can be a beacon guiding their search.
So what does this have to do with the price of beer on Sunday? Well, it is the all important key stone to expanding your Who & What into a way of describing the problems you solve and who you solve them for. This what we call “Marketing Sytax” a concept made popular by Robert Middleton and Mark Silver. The concept consists of boiling down all of the information you have gathered thus far about your buyers, their problems and how you help them.
Have a message
Identify the problem your buyers face, you described this in your What descriptions.
“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware”
Or “I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style.”
Here’s the key and important part of this…a problem oriented statement whether it stays in your brain or you use it answer questions about your work will, 99.9% of the time if worded right lead the person you are talking to to ask a “how do you do that” kind of question. And that is where the the solution based followup comes in.
Focus on benefits when you followup so the statement above would look like this when benefits are added:
“I help young couples who are looking for unique locally handmade tableware. My pots are designed to make you smile when you dine and be great conversation starters when you entertain.”
“I help families who want to memorialize the key events in their lives but don’t want the standard portrait style. We create visual conversations of your families important events by capture you as you are and building a story of the event. By building a memory book families will always be able to relive the event through the conversations the memories stir”
As you can see this is a whole lot more thought provoking and curiosity generating than the simple Who and What and that is the goal…you want to engage people so they eventually identify or not identify as a member of your fan club. You can expand the statements above for use through out a conversation by including stories of how your work helped someone, or the effect your work had on their lives. For example, your painting might have just the right feel to a neglected room that it is now a favorite. Or your pots may have create such a fun entertaining experience that the couple bought a custom table set.
Hang with them
This stuff is important when you are out mixing with with potential fans, it you identify you as the one and only person who can solve their problem. I t does this by giving you a way to engage them as the nice person you are instead of the way that used car sales man in the polyester ‘70s vintage suite can’t even imagine.
Now that you are fully armed with the best tools you can start to really hone in on finding the best places the hang and hang with them. So what might these places be? Everybody likes to hang out with people who they identify with. Brainstorm all the places you think these potential fans might hang out for example:
On the internet
A jeweler who has identified young professional women could look for on-line forums where these women hang out. They could be everything from Mommy oriented forums to professional societies or clubs. Painters and potters identifying homeowners interested in redecorating might hang out in home improvement or decorating forums.
There are a lot of specialty blogs out there that might match up with your fan base or be aimed at helping them but don’t do so for what you have to offer. Finding those blogs and commenting on posts relevant to the problem you solve will go a long way towards driving potential fans your way and help establish you as the nice creative person you are.
Set up your blog in ways that let people learn about how you can solve their problems. For example, don’t just limit yourself to describing and showing your process show how your work can be used. So if you are a fiber artist and your work can be used for walls or table tops write about and post photos that show how your work can be used to solve decorating problems.
Teach a class
This may not appeal to all but it does work for finding potential fans and buyers. Most folks taking classes at art centers aren’t there to learn how to compete with you they just want to do something creative. Teaching them how to do that and including how they could use the work your are teaching them create will help them identify with you or at least spread the word to their friends.
Talk to groups
Talking to groups is not an easy thing, in fact I hate it, and it does work pretty much in the same way as teaching does because you are actually teaching folks about both your medium and your work and how your unique has helped others resolve their problems. So you might talk to ASID (association of interior designers) if you are a potter, painter, photographer or any type of artist producing work that can be used to improve the environments of home or office.
Quite often magazines are on the look out for articles that address problems and issues you may be intimately familiar with. It doesn’t hurt approaching them with a problem/solution based article like how hand made work is better than stuff bought at K-Mart.
Draw a map
Once have stirred interest you need to help these folks find your stuff AND buy it. No, I’m not talking about being a pest I’m talking about making the paths to buying your stuff obvious and easy find and follow. So here are some simple ways to do that:
put all of your contact information on your e-mail signature and include your statement we just talked about. Include links to your web site/blog, facebook, twitter etc.
Your biz card
First don’t print your own business cards unless you don’t want folks to really take your serious. Design the card to have two sides one that gives your basic contact information the other that has your problem/solution statement on it.
Design the page that shows only the work a customer is interested in to also show other items they might like, check out the way Amazon does this. Don’t give your customers to many options at one time generally anything more than three wil tend to freeze their brain causing them to wander of in a trance. Finally, put a clear call to action on your sales page like “buy now” or “click to purchase” or “learn more”. Your call to action should only give them two ways to go… buy or don’t buy.
The point of all of this is to light yourself up in such a way as to be a beacon for all those with a problem you solve better than anyone else. You don’t have to spend a lot if any money to do this here are some easy ways to get your marketing message out there.
Videos & photos
Put photos on your blog that illustrate how you solve the problems your fans face. You can turn those photos into slide shows and post them on your blog whenever you talk about that particular problem. You can also create a Youtube channel and link the videos on your blog to that channel. Flickr is a great place to show your work especially if you use their photostream which can be easily embedded into your blog. To see what this looks like check our featured artists.
Make it fun and make it reflect not only you but also the problem you solve.
In this day and age a web site is imperative and it needs to reflect you and who you work with. If you are thinking of using some freebee lame set up don’t even bother because you’ll waist your time. Blogs are the best format for getting and growing your visibility, there are a lot of options available. Remember… a blog is just a web site that has more flexibility and ease of use on your end than a static web site.
Images of work courtesy of Kristen Stein and Jane Campbell
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