OK, the presentation is a bit tongue in cheek, but it’s true these are the things you SHOULDN’T be doing if you want your creative business to succeed. Below, you’ll find an introduction into how you can change the way you think about marketing and, instead of trying to do everything, doing one thing that works.
Grab the download and a single sheet marketing action plan here: Marketing for Creatives
‘Creatives’ are no different to any other business, large or small; all have difficulty marketing their wares to a buying audience. And, for all businesses the process is the same:
- Sell the things people want to buy
- Get in touch with them
- Persuade them to buy from you
It sounds simple when it’s put like that; but if it were that simple, we’d all be doing it, right?
The first hurdle to overcome is understanding the difference between marketing and sales. You’re not alone if you’re thinking ‘aren’t they the same thing?’ almost everyone does! But marketing resides in all three of the process above, whilst selling is exclusively in step 3. Sure, you can use the sale itself to help enhance your marketing, for instance reviews or ‘I’ve just bought … ‘ tweets, but marketing is a different engine altogether and it requires a slightly different shift in thinking that’s just perfect for creative minds.
Sell things people want to buy
Because this is about marketing, I’m going to assume that you’ve been at this for years and you know what people buy and what they don’t. I’m also going to assume that you only make what you know will sell; anything else you create you’re doing for your own pleasure or a gifts for family and friends. This stage of the marketing process is often called ‘Market Research‘ and its value is in preventing you wasting time, resources and money on things that don’t sell.
Persuade them to buy from you
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the sale. Is it the end of the cycle or does it just loop on round again? I’m very much of the opinion that it’s easier to sell something to someone who already knows and likes what you do than it is to convert someone new. A great example of this can be seen in loyal supermarket shoppers who only ever go to their favourite store; it’s not that they don’t know other stores have the same products which may even be cheaper, it’s that they like being there – after all it says a lot about who they are as well.
Get in touch with them
This is the lynch pin between making something and selling something. This is the bit where the seller meets the potential buyer and hopefully there is a resolution that pleases everyone. But what exactly does ‘finding the place people hang out’ actually mean?
Well, it’s made up of three steps – each one is vital for the others to be successful and they must be completed in order if you want to avoid wasting time and effort.
- Understand who your likely buyer or audience is going to be.
This is often harder than it seems, after all everyone is going to buy your work aren’t they? The reality is the opposite of this, only some people will buy your work, but the chances are they may have some common characteristics. These can include:
- Demographics like age, gender, family, culture or location
- Purpose like interior design or a gift
- Needs like garden or house renovation
So, the essential task is to break down what you know about your buyers because this tells you a lot about where you’re going to be able to connect with them. Of course, this doesn’t prevent you from selling to someone who is completely left-field, it’s just a process to make your marketing time, effort and budget stretch as far as it can. Pick ONE audience to work with – you’ll have fewer grey hairs at the end of the year if you do!
Of course, I mentioned buyer AND audience in the title because you don’t always need to sell to the end purchaser, you might use an intermediary such as a gallery instead. It’s equally important to understand though what links the galleries you currently sell through so you can find more of the same in the future.
- Find out where they hang out
If you’re looking for a consumer purchase the chances are you need to be in a different place than if you’re looking for an intermediary like a gallery owner.
So, the places that people hang out are many and varied and include online and offline. What about some of these as starting points now you know ‘who’ you’re targeting:
- Public craft fairs.
- Wholesale buyers fairs – the Spring Fair in Birmingham is one of the largest in the UK.
- Local galleries or bookshops.
- Book fairs, readings, the library or even book clubs.
- Twitter – look for hashtags such as #museumselfie #authorinterview, #artwatchers, #flockbn (crafters) or even #craftsposure.
- Facebook – find and follow pages for your particular creative pursuit such as UK Handmade Craft Pages or ArtsHub.
- LinkedIn – is great for finding professionals you want to connect with like critics, galleries, publishers or agents.
- Pintrest – is visual, crafty and female oriented and lends itself to anything with visual impact
- Reading materials like magazines, newspapers and newsletters.
- Artist and craft specific online networks such as Behance, Etsy, Artslant, Artbistro and Artist2Artist.
Of course, this is not a complete list – it’s simply a starting point you can add to.
Once you’ve found some suitable places online and offline then you need to work out what you’re going to do to connect with the people there.
It might be as simple as setting up a stall with your crafts and a few handy forms so people can leave their email address with you to find out when you have more in stock later.
You might need to think about photographing your work as you go along in stages and send it out on Twitter with an appropriate hashtag you’ve researched and know people follow.
You could create a portfolio on any of the artist’s networks to showcase the work you do.
But all these require regular, focused effort and that’s something only time provides.
Fortunately, by targeting just one group of people, who you’ve already researched instead of trying to cast your net wide means you can craft what you do to meet their need. It doesn’t stop other people from following, liking, sharing or even buying; but it does is make life easier for you.