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Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

 

mm logo w sign Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

Back in the PI (pre-internet) era if you wanted to learn how your market thought, how they made their buying decisions and what they bought you really had little in the way of accurate research tools to draw on. You could set up a focus group and have folks tell you what you wanted to hear, you could crunch numbers based on sales of different things you sold, you could guess. There were also the usual mathematical formulas that could tell you the probability that someone would by one thing over another thing of yours. And then again you could guess or not and just decide you’ll convince your market they need your stuff.

Enter CIE 2.0

Now that we are in the CIE 2.0 (Common Internet Era 2.0) we can pretty much eliminate  guess work because now we have the tools to seed our questions to our very own peeps and sit back and listen to what they have to tell us. We can basically ask our peeps what they want and listen to their answers all the time fine tuning our stuff so that it really, really gives our peeps what they want and of course in turn gives us money to continue to give them more and improved stuff.

While the fine art of listening has always been a much coveted skill by sales folks most of the time that fine art ended at the sale. All those clues about what we wanted well… never made it to those cigar smokin’ honchos in the upper levels of the corporate high rise, the current state of our auto industry is a good example.

Now though, we have tools that not only allow us to listen to our peeps but also are contributing to a greater decentralizing force in the biz world. So those biznesses that don’t listen and don’ t decentralize by listening to their buyers will soon be going bye-bye and I doubt you want to be one of those.

Now that we are in the CIE 2.0 we as solo-business folks have the tools to engage with our peeps at much more intimate level .

But, but, but…..

So does this mean that artists must surrender to the whims and taste of the lowest common denominator? Are you thinking I don’t need some stinkin buyer to tell me how to make my art!! Well…not really! You can still make your own art stuff, that reflects your inner vision and  now you have to guess a little less and in cases a lot less and that my friend will help you really focus on what works so you can sell a lot of what works so that that special creation you’ve been working on can wait for it’s perfect buyer.

And no I’m not talking about producing 50 bazillion trinkets of the same thing with minor changes just to sell one cool thing. I’m talking about making and selling lots of different things that still fit your vision, still reflect who you are and what you have to say because you have taken the time to listen to what your folks are telling you. They aren’t dictating your creativity they’re just saying “I love your stuff, but what you have shown me won’t work where I need it”  and they may go on to say ” if you had more of this or more of that, or this in more colors etc. I would be more than willing to fill that empty purple wall with your stuff”

You could learn all this stuff by just setting up a few listening posts to hear conversations about the kind of stuff you do. Here are a few ways to do it:

Social Mention

This site is kind of a searchable aggregation of feeds floating around the inter-tubes. Enter a search term like “tin glazed pottery” and you can find out the who, where and what that was spoken in blogs, microblogs,social bookmarks, comments,video and audio.

Google alerts

This free  service by google allows you to set up custom search terms so that anytime google runs across one of those terms you get an e-mail alerting you. So if you wanted know how frequently folks mentioned your particular style of metal sculpture all you have to do is enter the terms related to it and sit back and wait. This is really a good thing to find out who talks about you and where your name shows up.

Tweetbeep.com

Works a lot like Google Alert but is set up for twitter, and just as simple to set up as Google alerts.

Search.twitter

This tool really lets you hone in on your market by giving the ability to set up very specific search terms and  include geographic details as well. So if our metal lady wants to know who is talking about plasma cutting, 3/4″ steel and using rivets to join pieces in east timbuktu she can enter those terms with the location and receive e-mails every time someone from east Timbuktu mentions her process.

Backtype.com

This service drills down to a whole new level..blog comments. After seting up your profile you can see who is talking about you in comments on other blogs and what they are saying. Pretty cool….!

Boardtracker.com

This little ditty opens a whole new search avenue that of on-line discussion boards. Enter your search terms like before and click “search” besides searching forum threads you can also search tags…pretty cool in a geeky sort of way.

So there ya have it.

Remember…..

these are tools for intel gathering and they aren’t by any means secret sauces. They will give some indication as to whether that quad sided, riveted and welded two tone oxidized thing-a-ma-bob will have a snow balls chance in hell of selling…and that’s good because you can then not waste your precious gift on something that won’t get a chance to live in someone else’s house.

Instead you can figure out if a triple sided unoxidized thing might be in demand. Maybe someone, somewhere has talked about always wanting one of those things and suddenly more and more peeps are wondering if somebody has ever made one. You may find out that in East Timbuktu folks are rumbling about a lack of that thing you want to make so now you can make it and head off to East Timbuktu to market it or if E.Timbuktu has an art fair you can set about getting in and then using your conversation channels start to buzz-up the fact that you and only you will be bringing that much coveted and very valuable thing-ama-jig.

 Marketing Monday: doing your due diligence

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Marketing Monday: four important easy things

 

mm logo w sign Marketing Monday: four important easy things

Instead of a big long thing today I’m going to share a collection of small things…things I’ve learned, thought about, stumbled over, avoided and always had a kernal of an article in them. And trust me they all fit together….

No! I won’t do it…

One of my children was particularly stubborn about what she would or would not eat and frequentlyvegie2 Marketing Monday: four important easy things would pick something to call “nasty” and promptly refuse to eat it. After trying everything one particularly cranky  day I hit on an idea…. I simply said “you don’t have to eat this and I don’t want to hear anymore “nasty”. She soon realized the reverse logic I was applying and decided she would rather eat the “nasty stuff” and continue to call it nasty than not eat it and not be able to call it “nasty”.

Over the last several decades I have worked with many many small businesses around the country  and almost universally heard ” I don’t have time to market” and yet would continue to complain about having no buyers…my answer to them was the same as to my children “Fine don’t take the time to put yourself out there and don’t come complaining to me about no buyers”. See their real issue was fear about something or other around actually promoting themselves, a fear I might add that is pretty universal and one that drives small business owners into hiding out doing “real work”.

At one point, I had a couple of clients who were “really ready” to “jump in and do what it takes” to get their businesses to the  “next level”. Something I might ad I was pretty excited about, however, as soon as we got to the nitty gritty of things they suddenly started becoming “to busy”. Turns out being busy was a detraction because it gave them the feeling of “doing something productive” which means that they didn’t see doing things that would actually bring in more customers as being “productive”. Don’t worry I’m not going to get all Psyche 101 here…the point is they preferred to stay where they were and just complain.

So the next time you find yourself saying I don’t have time to waste on Facebook, or twitter, or blogging step back and take a long look at what you ARE spending time on and just how much it is contributing to your biz. You see, we have a strange definition of what productive actually means, for most it means “nose to the grind stone” sufferingly “hard” work, especially if that “hard work” is something we “know” how to do.

So….go ahead and keep up the “hard work” but don’t complain when those who do the
“easy stuff” start leaving you behind. The real “hard work” is stepping up and letting yourself learn and succeed.

eyes Marketing Monday: four important easy thingsDude! Don’t make my eyes hurt…

One of the things I used to do as an Urban Designer was work with communities, neighborhoods and cities on issues around aesthetics, visual decision making, and human scale. A key point of focus was always a perceptive clash between businesses “need” to advertise their presence, their need to be found and the greater need for visual continuity within the community. If you have ever driven down a strip in anywhere USA you know what I’m talking about…that is called “visual clutter” which in turn virtually eliminates the very thing it is trying to accomplish…give you a chance to see what you are looking for.

What you were experiencing was the result of the business community feeling that they had to display everything at one time in the hopes that a few moving at 40mph could discover where they were headed. In essence they were ignoring one of the cardinal rules of visual decision making…”Don’t make my eyes hurt” so because they wanted to make sure you saw everything they ended up not letting you see what you indeed wanted to see.

This same principle applies especially to folks one would least expect….artists. I visit lots of artist web sites and go to lots of art fairs and I am continually shocked, yes shocked by all the noise. If you are in the art business and have lots of blinking lights and buttons and badges running up and down your blog/website over a bright pink background, with big yellow swirlies and flowers you might want to step back and re-think about the business you are in.

If you are in the business of art as in making my eyes feel good about what you have and giving my eyes the chance to find what it is I may be looking for then please, please, please don’t make my eyes hurt. Instead, get down to the basics of what you are about and soothingly invite my eyes in to explore the beauty of your creation. This applies to all those places you have your stuff whether on the web or at an art fair be kind to my eyes so they can see what you have.

Are you for real…

Really?….are you an accidental artist, or one who has a passion for creating and wants to do everything possible to sell your work? So what are you doing to be taken seriously? And by seriously, I mean not being seen as a “flea market ” vendor but rather someone who has something of great value to offer to us. Because, in my travels on and off-line, I see very few, who actually give the impression that they will be around for the duration… as in not just dabbling.

This is not a criticism, but rather an observation, if you are going to be an artist… then be one!  Think of it this way…would you let a surgeon who was not passionately dedicated to your welfare cut you open? I thought so…now answer this: Why are you cheating your buyers out your value? And…it really doesn’t matter if you do it part time as long as you do it with heart and passion and show me the value. I could give a rip how much or hard you work, all I want is that good stuff that comes out of you.

So, how does this passion show up? Well, to start with especially you art fair artists, in the way you present your work to a jury. This goes back a little, to the not making my eyes hurt thing above, I have sat on many juries for many different creative things and I have to say no one got my votes if they made my eyes hurt or my lips curl. Jurors want to, not only see your work, they also want to see if you care about your work so much that they as jurors should to.

So please, please, don’t use that dirty old blanket as a backdrop, clean you camera lens and especially make sure those slides don’t have an goobers on them. Also, don’t show me a 1970’s Kodachrome slide that has aged well.

Showing me you care about your stuff shows me as a buyer you care about me, it shows me you will be around for a while.  If you’re going to be around for a while, I might be more inclined to buy something now and next time bring my friends. But if your booth looks like it belongs in Afghanistan or upper Kurzacstan I doubt I’ll

  • buy now and/or
  • come back to buy more since I don’t get the message that you’ll be around.

Oh and one more thing don’t give me one of those inkjet printed cards ’cause they are just so cheezy, and cheezy is not what I’m looking for in an artist.

artist2 Marketing Monday: four important easy thingsPull your head out of your art…

Ok…I get it your work is special and you want me to really know how special it is. In fact you want me to think it is so special that you don’t let me touch it or at least you make it hard for me to feel its realness. And when I ask about it you stand there all stiff and start talking about your glaze ingredients, or your mark making, or all the various things you do to or on your work to make it art. But ya know what? I don’t care! I don’t care that you stuck that little pot in the far lower corner of your reverse gas combined wood fire kiln and reductio fired it till the flame was pink then threw in some magic dust. I just don’t care.

What I do care about is what drove you to do all that… where did it come from, why did you make it. Because that is the core of its origin, that thing came from you not your kiln, your paint mixture or whatever magic formula you mixed up. It came from some place deep inside you, a voice that told you to mix up that magic dust the way only you can. That my friend, is what I want to know because that makes your stuff the real deal, and that is something I can collect, because no one else can mix up that magic dust like you do. Kinda like Michalangelo or DaVinci despite a lack of trying nobody has been bee able to  really copy them.

Finally, like I’ve said before many times don’t make your stuff hard for me to access, tell me or better let me discover how it will give value to me and everyday life. Will it make me laugh? Make me remember? Make me cry? Help me heal or any combination there of? How will it fit in my life and make some part better than it is now? That’s it that’s all I want to know… more than anything else.

Can you guess what the common thread was? Let me know in a comment…

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Marketing Monday: Ewwww I have to do THAT?

 

marketing monday tun2 Marketing Monday: Ewwww I have to do THAT?

“I’m an artist and not a sleaze bag, my art sells itself!!” is the answer I often get when I talk to other artists about what they do to help people buy their work. And yes… I’m talking about that super-repulsive extra gross word, which I can’t even mention here except to say it starts with an “M”. The mere mention of it often causes artists to turn up their noses in collective disgust.

A few things

First of all

your “gift” didn’t come by way of divine intervention and it didn’t give you a direct link to the big guy and in the process make you all powerful and all knowing. So step away from the high horse.

Second…

what is it  exactly that you do when you are desperately trying to figure out how to design you booth, hang your art in a gallery, design that brochure or business card, take super cool photos of your stuff…what exactly is that you are doing. Don’t say “Ewww” because you are doing that gross thing that starts with an “M” .

Third…

do you really expect those pots of yours to jump off the shelf and actively engage in an intelligent conversation with that person who is hovering over them? Or… what about that abstract painting hanging on that minimalist wall? Last I checked pots don’t talk and not everybody has a well lit minimalist white wall to mount an exhibition. Also, most people live in houses or work in offices with all kinds of stuff on the walls that are painted all sorts of colors of the rainbow. And right now they are trying to figure out if that pot or that painting will fit in with their other stuff.

So… what to do?

Well…you could hide out in your studio or behind that curtain in the back of your booth and throw your voice so your stuff can talk. Or even better you could do the old talking fish routine only with your stuff, like make your stuff talk when it is touched!!

Or… if you do want to help your people find you, figure out what you have, decide they want your stuff and that your stuff will bring them everlasting happiness. You might, As Havi Brooks puts it,  have to figure something else out, something less gross and ewwifing to call what you instinctively do. In linguistic circles that’s called “re-framing” kind of like putting a different frame on that piece hanging on the wall that suddenly looks like is built into the wall.

Sit down and write out…

what it is you do when you are trying to get folks to see and buy your stuff…go ahead write it out. Once you have it committed to paper then give it a name. Havi calls her “M” word process “biggification”. I call it artsyphartzy bizafying  because  it is all about putting art to work or better yet being artsyfartzy about all those things you do to be seen and having fun doing it. By doing so, I have re-framed the process away from that of the Mad Men and the slick backed hair, polyester clothed guy who tried to convince me to buy his super duper chicken chopper, dinner maker automatic thing. As a result I have taken the convincing, and posturing and other faky stuff out of the process,putting the focus back on artfully making yourself visible with no need for polyester or slick hair.

For me, the definition is simply the act of doing what I need to

  • find the folks who like what I do
  • give them help in applying/ using what I do
  • supporting them in a non-judgmental way as they learn what I have to teach and
  • inject some fun and creativity into the equation.

Whatever you do  making it fun and playful will likely make it more flavorful to you and help you shift your brain from total grossness to naming however you do what you do which is basically helping people feel good.

If you can do this, then making all those things you do to help your people discover and own your stuff will actually start to feel like fun instead of mucking around knee deep in a swamp. This is a process I call “pulling your head out of your art” and I’ll be talking more about it  later. See, as soon as you get all intellectual about what you have just made that thing that came from your heart and your hands becomes an object.

Oh… and about that other word that starts with an “S”

This is the snake oil word or commonly known as( Awwkkk) “sales” …yuk there I said it!
Well, once you have defined your “M” word frame, this stinky word disappears because you know you don’t have to convince nobody, no-how that your stuff is the greatest since sliced bread…because they already know it. How great is that?

One more thing

General George Patton was able to out maneuver and beat Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during the tank battles of North Africa because he studied Rommel for years…and, as he studied him, he adapted Rommels tactics to fit his own style. Notice I said “his own style” , or what worked for him… He didn’t become Rommel he took what worked improved upon it and tailored it to fit his style. If he hadn’t done that, the out come in North Africa would likely have been different.

So what’s the point?

Well if you really want to get your stuff to your people then it is a good idea to study the enemy’s tactics and build something new that fits you just right…it is just another type of intel to collect, that’s all. You can’t become a slime bag by osmosis! So hold your nose and pick a book or two, keep your mind open and see what you can use.

Just remember…the whole point of all this is to totally make yourself visible so that those folks who are out there looking for someone who makes stuff like you can find you and experience the joy your stuff brings.


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Marketing Monday: a 21st Century strategy for artists

Historically, the process of selling goods and services fell generally into what came to be called the Sales Funnel Model. In this model businesses offered their goods and services through advertising campaigns that were largely aimed at the constant stream of potential buyers…this was a mass sales approach. Businesses would “catch” potential buyers as they stumbled into the wide mouth of their sales funnel…it was basically a mass approach to selling. Once inside the funnel buyers were pitched on the  benefits of the businesses product using a wide range of persuasive techniques. This approach was the “law” of the sales world for decades, it was practiced by everybody from the Fullerbrush man of the ’30s to the ’50s to car and appliance sales of today. Because of the negative emotions associates with the words sales and marketing many small businesses found reasons to either not market or to camouflage their methods.

The Artists’ Funnel

Many artists  have failed to market primarily because of the stigma associated with the word. Instead, they have favored delegating that task to show or gallery venues…often with less than stellar results because the shows and galleries have been using an adaptation of the sales funnel approach. The graphic below shows how that model looks and illustrates the result which is a reliance on random sales.

funnel1 Marketing Monday: a 21st Century strategy for artists

The top level of the graphic illustrates the flow of potential buyers in the market, some of those buyers may “fall” into the funnel either by accident or intention as a result of the venue’s marketing efforts. As these potential buyers pass through the funnel some may choose to leave causing the actual number of potential buyers “falling” out of the funnel to be less than those that entered.

From this reduced stream of “falls” through the funnel a ‘flow” of potential buyers is created. At this level are the artist funnels doing the same thing the venue funnel is doing…trying to “catch” a large number of potential buyers in hopes that a few will buy.
Some artists have larger numbers of “falls” into their funnel and some fewer, in any event the sales that do occur are mostly the result of chance. The graphic illustrates that  artists’ final sales numbers in terms of dollars don’t necessarily reflect the volume of potential buyers “falling” into the funnel mostly because the artists sales are not based on conscious action on their part.

The fundamental flaw of the funnel model is that it is not far from using a roulette wheel to make sales. There is no strategy to proactively attract or engage potential buyers by using the values, and metaphors that drove the products’ creation.

The rise of communications tools, and an unwillingness to participate in persuasion based selling consumers have changed all this, as I have mentioned in earlier articles. More engagement is now and will be more and more expected. Following the old way will pretty much guarantee failure for 21st Century businesses. Artists are positioned well for this change because most if not all of our sales are made face to face and the energy we put into our work in most cases reflects our values, style and metaphors. After sifting through all the possibilities I have come up with an artist focused strategy consisting of two models that can be used separately or in concert. The first is The Attraction Model and the second is The Network Model.

Using Attraction

The Attraction Model is illustrated below and is built around sending the “scent” of your style, values and metaphors out into the world to attract those who are attracted by them. For this model to work you as an artist must do more than set your work onto shelves or gallery pedestals, you must

  • Be clear the values you instill in your work,
  • Your style must be evident
  • You must be conscious of the metaphors and stories your work tells.

attraction3 Marketing Monday: a 21st Century strategy for artists

Once you are clear about all of these you must now make sure that your work is displayed in a manner that enhances your “scent” and reinforces its story. You also need to make sure that the “scent” is attached to everything that touches your market. The more you do this the more you will attract dedicated buyers who naturally see the value of your work and more importantly be driven by price because the value is already evident. If your scent is strong enough you will also attract potential buyers who may be just newly aware of their resonance with your values, style and metaphors.

The Connection Factor

The second strategy, The Network Strategy, is more proactive and is built on you developing relationships with your buyers in all the venues your work shows up. This model requires you to engage your buyers in each venue by starting conversations and then inviting them to your network. On a broad level this strategy can be one way on your part, with you using your channels to stay in touch with each network. So if you are an Art Fair artist going to Cherry Creek you can start early using your blog to share what you will be bringing, and using Twitter, e-mail and Facebook to reach your Cherry Creek network. Using this approach you can not only keep your network informed you can also get feedback from them so you can more precisely predict what they might buy. You can also keep them informed as to your booth location, arrival time, special network only sales etc.

network3 Marketing Monday: a 21st Century strategy for artists

I hope you can see that the motive behind these two strategies is to eliminate or greatly reduce the Funnel effects randomness and help you have more predictable sales.

 Marketing Monday: a 21st Century strategy for artists

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Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

paper_typing_torn-400x171 Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

After you have  a clear vision of your art business the next step is to build your basecamp, your mothership  your blog. I am not going into detail here on the mechanics of building and using a blog, that subject has been more than adequately covered by others many whom I have mentioned in previous posts. What I am going to do is discuss why a blog is the most important part of your marketing strategy,  how to go about finding the right platform, and how to use your blog as a customer magnet and grow it into the command post for your networking strategies.

Why a blog

I won’t go into the history and evolution of blogging except to say that using a blog to create web presence has far surpassed the use of static web pages. So here are a few reasons why you should build a blog.

  • Usability – Instead of requiring a PhD in computer science blogging platforms allow pretty much anyone to easily build a web presence and keep it current, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
  • Visibility – By making it easy to keep a site current blogs allow the most Luddite among us to gain high visibility in the search engine world. It is no longer necessary to have a fancy schmancy developer cast a spell on your site to attract search engines, the mere act of posting regular content on a blog does this beyond the needs of most users.
  • Connection and Interactivity – Blogging allows businesses to talk with their customers instead at their customers. For artists a blog allows you to share your process, and work regularly making your readers feel more connected and hence more likely to buy from you because they “know” you. Your blog can be used as a way to gain insight into your buyers and their needs by allowing for two way conversations.

Choose your platform

  • For non-Geeks – For those who just want the basics, who don’t care about the back-end vs the front-end and just want to get moving. The simplest way to get started is to use a free service like Blogger, TypePad, or WordPress.com. These services provide easy set up, don’t require having a web host or your own domain name and most importantly, they are already optimized for search engines. Setting up an account and building your blog can be done in little time and if you ever want to move to self-hosted WordPress you can do so with little sweat. The downside of service hosted blogs is that you have no control over your content should their servers go down and they can change the backend, the place where you actually write and place your content, without notice. Services are also not particualarly easy when it comes to linking your blog up to your network.
  • For Geeks – For those of us who like to tweak and tinker there is but one choice…a self hosted WordPress blog. However, even non-geeks willing to hire a tech person to take care of some of the tweaking and tinkering, can use this free platform. Once set up the WordPress platform offers the most flexibility for publishing your content, whether it be images or video of your work or simply a couple hundred words talking about what you are making. WordPress also makes it extremely easy to connect your blog to Facebook and twitter.

Creating your content

  • Know why you are blogging – This is simple for artists your purpose should be to build and maintain a connection and on gong conversations with your network of buyers and potential buyers.
    Focus your content – More than anything else your ability to focus your content by giving your readers a reason to return, refer and to show up in your booth or gallery to buy. So your content should make your readers want to learn about you and your work do this by writing about what your work means to you, why you like working in the medium you are working in, and how that work reflects your values and vision. No it doesn’t have to deep navel gazing into the meaning of your work but it does need to express your passion which in turn reflects the value your work delivers to those who buy it.
  • Engage your followers – Invite your followers to participate by giving the chance to comment, you will be surprised how positive your readers will feel about your work and how much they honestly want to help you. Feature certain customers and let them describe how your work has added to their lives.

Make it a home

  • Have sections and categories – Build specific parts of your blog that specialize in different types of information think of them as rooms and fill them with the furnature that will make them a comfortable place for your network to visit.
  • Design it like your home – Design you blog so that it is not only comfortable and easy to navigate but also reflects you and who you are. Design it to reflect the way you like to entertain and live.
  • Showcase – Use it as a way to show your buyers all the ways your work can improve their lives and their homes or offices. Incorporate photos and testimonials of people who have your work and let them do the work for you.
  • Make it inviting – Combine all of the above to make your blog intersting, and unique the kind of place your readers and network will feel comfortable and most importantly want to come back to over and over.

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twitter3 Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

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