Monday, February 14, 2011

This is Not a Customer-Free Zone or why "other" people may be the whole point of our business - Marketing This Thing - Part I

Sometimes it is easy to confuse the things we need to do to make our art and the things we need to do to make a business with our art.

Making a business with our art sometimes requires a shift in our thinking from "what do I want to create?" to "how can I use my creativity to provide what people want to buy?" -

both questions are part of the making experience, but forgetting to transition that thing that you just have to make

(and I totally get that "have to" gut feeling of creation and do not want anyone to ever, ever lose it)

into something people want to buy can create a kind of customer-free zone where other people -

who I would argue are the entire point of our business (not the point of our making, of course, but the entire point of our business) in the first place - get lost.

(and we don't want them to wander off into a WalMart)

We can totally make things and never give any thought to selling them and I would agree that the most genius art is created in a customer-free zone, but not the most genius businesses.

If we are making our makings into a business we should already have a good sense of ourselves and what it is we love to do and need to do and what it is that we do really, really well.

If not, we need to take a step backwards and give ourselves some time to focus on this- this is a process after all, a marathon not a sprint, and although everything these days feels like it is going 1000 miles per hour - it really isn't - there are some things that will always take time and be worth putting the time into.

Our work must come from our heart and our soul and be truly unique and our own

(this stuff is hard or everyone would be doing it)

but to turn our makings into a business we need to focus outside of ourselves a bit or we may be left searching for some kind of marketing miracle to sell it for us.

I think if we have to spend alot of time figuring out how to convince people to buy our stuff something has probably gone wrong somewhere along the way.

This week I will be focused on marketing this creative venture of ours - and by marketing I do not mean some kind of uptown version of "selling" - it is much more personal and radical and important than that!!

Marketing is really about aligning our business and our brand and 'our world' with the stuff outside ourself, the living breathing two legged stuff - those other people in the world.

This is absolutely NOT a matter of trying to "please" all of the people all of the time, but targeting partnering with the people

(I hate the word "targeting" because it sounds like our customers are plastic ducks lined up in a shooting arcade and it is our goal to knock their heads off and we really, really want to win the 4 foot teddy bear for little Morgan or Megan or Melissa and it's every man for himself)

that we can connect with most powerfully and match their needs with our own creative skills - this big old internet has actually created a world hungry for the very real and personal skills that only us small maker companies can provide.

In fact the vastness of the internet demands that we not please everyone. It requires us to find our niche. And, if you don't have a whole boatload of people who would never, ever buy your stuff then you don't have one.

Staying true to ourselves while keeping an eye or an eyeball or at least an eyelash on what people want to buy is totally do-able!

Wednesday - Part II of Marketing This Thing - Why Listening is Just As Important As Talking (and why our 'target' market may be avoiding us)

* mini alphabet letters by lovemaestore

a little Monday morning inspiration from the fresh prince:

some stuff I am taking with me:

1. greatness is in all of us
2. when other guys are sleeping, I am working
when other guys are eating, I am working
3. I am not afraid to die on a treadmill
4. your life will become better by making other people's lives better
5. you don't say, I am going to make the perfect wall- you say I am going to lay this brick as perfectly as I can and pretty soon you have a wall

Here's to a day/week/lifetime of wall-making everyone!


Sherry said...

At first, because I am slow, I thought you meant Lance Armstong. But I knew, you knew he is mine.

On the same wave length, for sure, Cat.

Are we the only people that think this way? That's ok, it will make ruling the world so much easier. :)


eNVe said...

You're such a fountain of business wisdom, Cat! Thank you again for sharing it. :)

Bean said...

Such a great post Cat! This has been on my mind a lot lately. Love your description of marketing. It's so necessary to communicate about my products but so hard not to feel like we're doing something manipulative/uncool/sleazy when we market our work. I like your take on it much better

Nic Hohn said...

what an incredibly powerful post....loved it!

Anonymous said...

Lay one brick at a time... I love that, because it's so true.

we have all these dreams and expectations of what we might become, but we have to remind ourselves that it happens little by little.. and all we can do is lay those bricks each day, the best we know how.

thanks for sharing this, I loved it! ♥