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…

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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


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      By TheArtistsCenter

      Bill Weaver is an award winning photographer, visual artist and designer. Bill has worked as an artist, designer, teacher and photographer beginning at a very young age. His mother was a prolific painter and his father was an architect/engineer and inventor. Bill began photography at the ripe age of 8 when he successfully talked his father into letting him use one of his WWII “liberated” cameras from then on he has seldom put a camera down. He was recently informed by his 89 yr old father that the circa 1930 enlarger he used through college was still available! He also started drawing and painting at an early age using everything from watercolor to charcoal. He combined his visual awareness in graduate school where he first learned his love of design.

      Bill Created The after 15 years as a working clay artist and photographer led him to question the standard ways artists market their work. In 2004 along with 3 other artists, Brenna Busse, Erika Mock,and Frank Barr, he explored ways to educate the public about the value of hand made work and fine art. Brenna and Erika are contributing writers to The ARTISTScenter.
      He also can be found on his photography blog and his photography site

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