Every artist who wants to sell their work needs to understand what marketing is and isn’t. Judging from the questions I’ve received, it is a total mystery to most people. I hope to be able to dispel some myths and ideas and help you to understand the basics to so you can devise a plan for your business without losing some of the mystery that marketing offers.
Marketing is not easily defined, because it is multifaceted and is used differently by many companies. The simplest explanation I can give you:
Marketing is an effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs. It is a process of creating and communicating value, understanding your customers and their needs, teaching the customer what the differences are between your product and your competitors, and developing a demand for your products.
My intent is to not overwhelm you. It is a huge subject. I will try to keep discussion to those simple concepts that apply to artists.
Selling is the effort to devise tricks and techniques to get people to buy a product.
Marketing supports sales by providing communication, creative work, research, product development, and marketing strategies to name a few services.
There are no formulas or right way to create a marketing plan. Most of you work alone or have a partner. So, marketing and selling must go hand in hand. Yet, they are two separate sets of strategies.
This graphic depicts the different aspects of marketing. It is close to a traditional marketing model. However, as the individual business person you will be wearing all these hats and make decisions about how much time, effort and/or money you will put into each segment. I will address each one of these along our marketing journey.
Marketing is dynamic and changes as customer needs, wants and the marketplace changes. When I first started in marketing there were the four Ps of marketing– Product, Price, Promotion and Place. Today there are at least six.
Price– the price you determine based on materials, time, distribution and other costs plus desired profit margin
Promotion – What methods you use to promote your work and the places you will feature it. This has been called the “face” of marketing because it determines how your potential customers will perceive you and your products.
Placement – Where and when you will present your work for sale
Positioning – Each artist should have a unique selling position for their products to distinguish them from competitors. It is a promise to the consumer to provide a particular benefit. For example, M&Ms — Melt in your mouth not in your hands.
PR/Publicity – How you tell people about you and your work using public media
People –For artists, it is your network of friends, family, colleagues, customers and you as a person and artist. This is particularly important when using social media.
Customers are key. Marketers spend a lot of time getting to know their customers– who they are, their age, where they live, what type of lifestyles they have, how they behave in the marketplace, what they like or dislike, the avenues of communication they use, the places they shop, how they shop and their buying preferences. They use this information to formulate their strategies on how to approach the customer. This is obvious in the commercials on TV, magazine and newspaper ads or radio commercials. Or even the ads on social media. Information is constantly being collected to be able to target the consumer. This is another big subject we’ll address later.
Who is your customer?
While these pictures represent stereotypes, they are meant to get you to think more about who your customers are. It may be a combination of types of people depending on what you are selling. For example, fingerless mitts will likely appeal to a younger person who likes to text. For someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the cold, but enjoys handmade articles a nice heavy woolen scarf may be what they want. An art scarf may be purchased by a socialite or fashionista.
Food for thought: While you are pondering your customers, think about yourself and how you relate to your customers.
We’ll continue our marketing journey soon. I’m looking forward to your comments and insights.