In this post I want to share some of the most common misconceptions that I hear from my creative clients or when I speak at workshops.
These are 6 common myths that can stop you from being more successful in presenting and marketing yourself.
If you believe these myths then you will miss out on the opportunities of great marketing.
Myth number 1: ‘Everybody is a client’
Many creatives don’t really know where to start with marketing and assume that everybody can be their client.
Imagine that I am staying in the middle of a market square and shout out: “I am looking for a husband. Anyone will do!”
If you would hear me you would have a giggle, and think I am a little desperate (or worse!).
But in fact … That’s what many new creative businesses do who are new to marketing! Shout loudly on twitter or facebook to ‘look at my website now’, ‘to buy my jewellery here’ and so on.
It doesn’t work.
When you are starting to sell you need to become more discerning. Like finding a boyfriend or husband you might ask some friends to set you up for blind dates, you might join salsa dancing or art history classes to find like-minded people.
It’s the same with promoting and selling your creative products or services.
Identify the people who are most likely interested in your bold and colourful jewellery or retro graphic design print.
Who are they?
What job have they got (very likely creative, communications, law or marketing)?
What do they surround themselves with?
Are they furnishing their Victorian terrace house in Walthamstow or looking for gorgeous blankets and hand-made ceramics for their second house near the beach in Devon?
Do they read Crafts Magazine, Living Etc., Mollie Makes, Grand Designs? The Telegraph or The Guardian?
Do they buy online at 11pm when the kids are in bed, or do they love spending time visiting galleries and indie shops?
The more you know about your specific potential clients the easier it gets to attract them (through the right products in the right colour and style, with fabulous images and styling that stand out on overcrowded online market places like Etsy), build your relationship (with your #nofilter Instagram photographs, your invites to the best craft fairs), get sales.
And get them coming back for more and more (and invite their friends too)!
Knowing your niche is one of the most important business decisions you can make on your path to success.
Myth number 2: ‘If it’s brilliant they will come’
You make the best work you can.
That’s a given: without a good product you won’t be selling much.
But … that’s only the starting point!
People won’t know that you are creating fabulous scarves in your studio day-in-day-out … if you don’t tell them.
People won’t know that you are the best retro letterpress designer in Sheffield for wedding and business stationery, unless … you tell them.
People won’t know that your earthenware glazed mugs and vessels are gorgeous, unless you approach the gallery owners who would love your work or exhibit at the craft fairs that matter.
‘Marketing is telling people what you do, over and over.
There are many different ways of telling people, but you do have to tell them.’
Good work doesn’t necessarily speak for itself.
Doing great work is only the first step.
The next one is telling people who might be interested about it.
Myth number 3: ‘But I am waiting to be discovered’
I work regularly with very talented craft and design graduates (many from the top art schools in London) who still believe that they will ‘be discovered’. That idea that gallery owners are looking out for you. That you don’t want to be ‘too known’.
It isn’t very cool to get out there, is it?
So you start waiting to be discovered.
Waiting for many many years …
Many years after graduating …
That’s a long time!
Stop waiting! Start getting out there!
Especially if you are from a top art college in London!
(It’s a bit like the woman who dreams about the day that the prince in shining armour will come to rescue her from her cottage in the woods … it’s a fairy tale!).
I know that you were hoping that setting up your own career or business would be much easier.
But nobody promised you that life would be easy, did they?
All those successful designers, makers and artists out there all worked incredibly hard to make that happen! Ask any successful designer about how they got started and you can learn from their stories and wisdom.
Don’t believe in that myth of ‘overnight success’ (another marketing myth!).
Stop waiting! Dust yourself off. Stop being so harsh on yourself.
Start being really creative and find like-minded people to work with or for.
Start finding your special place in the creative world where you can succeed!
Myth number 4: ‘If I have to market myself I am failing’
This one is closely related to myths 2 and 3.
You might believe that pointing out your achievements is being overly self-promotional and selfish.
(And that’s not what we do. Especially not if we are polite ladies.)
But in fact it’s YOU who is being selfish: without telling people about what you do, very few people will get to know about your talents and work, enjoy your work or get touched by it. And the impact you will make in the world will be very small.
It’s YOU who will miss out if you assume that other people will know about your fabulous work – without having to tell them.
People are too busy with their own lives to really know what you are up to, what you are thinking or doing.
Sorry, but most of us can’t mind read (yet).
If you start to share your work, your stories, your concerns, your insights, your solutions, your wisdom, your take-on-the-world … then you can start communicating with your audience, get influenced, start to co-create.
And better, more innovative and creative work will be a result.
Myth number 5: ‘The more I tweet/blog/shout, the more sales I will get’
On the opposite site of being quiet and keeping to yourself is that many creatives think that marketing is about more and more, about being loud, about shouting, about spending loads of time on social media.
Many new creatives didn’t learn about marketing (not a topic at many art schools, is it?), and get a little scared or nervous about what to do or say. They often overdo it (a little), and in fact scare their potential clients away!
Also, when I ask clients about what they (honestly!) think about marketing and selling then they often say things like: ‘selling out’, sleaziness, advertising, the worst excesses of second hand car dealers, …
But I believe that selling creative products and services isn’t about more and more, and louder and louder.
It’s about authentically showing who you are, what you are about as a creative and connecting with the right clients for you, in a way that works for you AND your clients.
If you are a quieter or shyer person then you can still be a great sales person for your work! If you manage to access your quiet passion and energy, your authentic and quietly confident voice, and connect with like-minded clients then you will be a marketing star.
If you are a very social person then you might love the chatting at craft fairs, doing public speaking at major events or get involved with online communities on twitter and facebook.
If you don’t like or can’t network (because you have got a family) then join the club! I don’t like networking either! (Want networking tips? Click on the red text!)
There are loads of different ways to contact with your potential audience and clients.
You need to find a way that works for you. And that works for your clients too.
Myth number 6: ‘Marketing is advertising, and I don’t have the money for that’
Advertising is one of the most visible marketing tools, from TV ads to newspapers and online banners.
But advertising is only one of the many marketing tools that you can use.
In fact … advertising is one of the worst performing marketing tools for small creative businesses!
Because advertising is aimed at a very big mass market. It’s a mass market medium.
Most creative business are small and we are not looking to reach a mass market but a niche market.
We are trying to build a personal relationship with our clients.
So advertising is very ineffective for most small creative businesses!
So what to do instead?
The two most effective marketing tools to use for small creative businesses are:
- Direct contact: research your potential clients and then contact them directly in the most suitable way: at a trade show, by phone, an intro email or a nice package in the post.
- Referrals: if somebody else recommends you then your chances of getting the work are far greater. And introductions often can open doors!
Marketing creative products and services is very personal: it’s about building (long term) relationships, often 1-2-1. Really getting to understand what you do well and what your talents are, getting to know your clients really deeply, creating products and solutions that they want and love to buy, and finding and approaching your dream clients in the best possible way.
You will need to be more proactive, otherwise you risk to become a starving creative.
But it doesn’t need to be that way …
want to learn from me about real life marketing that works for creatives?
- Need some help to boost your knowledge about marketing yourself and your creative work.
- Want to learn what marketing techniques are most effective to get more clients and sales.
- Want to overcome some of your resentment, anxiety or worries around presenting yourself confidently.
- Want practical, no-nonsense, focused and personal advice, so that you can hit the ground running.
This is a 6-week online programme that uniquely combines online workshops, with group coaching and individual coaching from me. You will create your own marketing plan and goals (with my help) and will get into action for 28 days to DO your own marketing. It’s a full on programme, and only committed creatives can apply!