In today’s post we’re going to talk about what marketing is, what it isn’t, and get the perspective we need to understand how to better market your own creative business.
Over the next three weeks, we’ll talk about:
- How traffic is like electricity for your business
- How to use content to drive traffic to your business
- How to successfully use partnerships to reach more people than you could on your own
Again, be sure to become a member
to learn the actionable principles you can use to take control of your business and get the results you want.
Today we need to lay the foundation for what we’re discussing this month: Marketing.
I’m going to take some cues from the master of marketing himself, Seth Godin.
If you haven’t read any of Seth’s books on marketing, I would start with This Is Marketing and Unleashing the Ideavirus.
Seth describes marketing this way:
Marketing is storytelling, an act with the goal of making change happen
Your goal is to help people become the people they seek to be.
Seth is historically great at giving us the big picture, but often (i.e. basically always) avoids getting into the weeds as to how to implement this awesome thing he just said.
There’s a lot to unpack in just that definition. I’d urge you to read it again and write down what ideas it sparks in your mind.
Here are three questions that can help you think about how to implement marketing:
1. What change are you seeking to make?
2. Who are you trying to change / who is it for?
3. What promise are you making in exchange for their time, money, etc.?
Let’s dive into each one so we can extract as much action as we can from those questions:
What change are you seeking to make?
First, you can even think in terms of what kind of change are you seeking to make with your art, your product, your service?
Do you change people’s status? Help change their emotional state? Do you help them make more money? Do you change their beliefs?
Depending on what you do - artist, writer, musician, filmmaker, designer, etc - the change you seek to make could be one, many, or none of these things.
You’ve got to know what it is though. Without it, you’re not doing marketing, you’re just talking. Or posting. Without any desire to affect change in others.
Take some time before moving on to the next step to understand the change you’re seeking to make in the world.
Once you understand what kind of change you seek to make, then you can start looking at who, specifically, you seek to change.
Who are you trying to change, aka Who Is It For?
With that change in mind, you can now focus in on exactly who your work is for.
Without this understanding, you end up thinking that your work is somehow, magically, for everyone.
Now, the biggest companies on the planet have what, 2.7 billion users? That’s how many people use Facebook.
What about Apple?
1.4 billion people.
If you compare that to how many people are living on the planet today, only about 2.5% of the planet use Netflix.
While impressive, it helps us to debunk the idea that your work is for “everybody”.
Rather, we need to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and define what Seth calls the Minimum Viable Audience.
How small an audience could you get away with?
To answer that question, do some simple math.
How much do you want to make
how much you charge for your work.
If you want to make $100k next year, and you sell your work for $10 each, you need to sell 10,000 copies. If you only sold a few hundred this year, then that’s a fairly tall order that’s going to take some massive changes to the way you run your business to hit that number.
Or, you could add some other options. Maybe you sell your products for $10, but add a service that you can charge $500 for.
Now your “average order value” is $255. You only need about 400 sales or clients to hit your $100k goal.
Maybe you even add one more tier. A higher end product or service that costs $2,500. Now your average order value is $1,000, so you only need 100 of the right mix of products and services to hit your goal.
See how this can start changing your approach?
You don’t need to reach “everybody”. You need to reach enough people to get 100 clients and customers.
That becomes much more doable.
And it’s not just to make it easy. I don’t want you to feel like I’m saying this because I don’t think you can sell 10,000 of something, but rather to give you a new perspective of what a resilient, profitable creative business can look like.
So, what’s your minimum viable audience?
Who are you seeking to change?
Then we can look at what we say to them to help them “get it”.
What promise are you making them?
In order to become a client or customer, the people you’re reaching are going to give you their money, their time, their attention, or some combination of the three.
What do they get in return?
An album? Some photos? A marketing video? A book?
Well, you can get those anywhere, right?
When you add in the promise, it becomes something they can only get from you, because you’re the one making the promise.
Take this newsletter for example. You can sign up for any of what are probably a million different newsletters right now.
So why this one?
The promise I’m making is that I’m going to help artists, creatives, and small business owners get control of their business by teaching one principle every single week that they can directly apply in their creative lives.
All of a sudden I’m no longer one newsletter in a million, but one in maybe a few hundred that are seeking to make a similar change.
But as soon as you add the product (a newsletter), a promise, and a person, that’s when you become one of a kind.
My experience over 15 years as a creative professional has given me experience that no one else has. I’ve worked in film, television, music, art, and photography.
I have deep, intimate knowledge with running a business, starting a business, growing a business. Working with clients and customers. Creating and selling products and services. Growing to a six-figure business. Teaching and coaching. The mindset that helps creatives go from aspiring to professional.
All of those things combined means I have a monopoly. I’m the only one with this product, seeking to make this change, and able to make these promises.
Pretty cool, right?
The promise you’re making isn’t just a thought exercise to come up with something catchy or cool.
It’s to help you stand out from the crowd and create something truly unique, that only you can make.
And it helps you tell people about it because of how truly unique it is.
Next week and through the rest of the month we’ll dive into how to tell people.
For today, reread this issue of the newsletter, do the work to figure out what your answers to these three questions are, and then take a good look at your business and how you can apply these answers to your creative life.
See you next week.
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