What is Marketing?
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.
Product – the items you make to sell
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.
22 thoughts on “What is Marketing?”
Marilyn, Very wise to start with an overall view of marketing, taking us back to the basics and going forward. I, for one, have a lot to learn! Liking how you included the roving as part of your design! And looking forward to your next post!
Thanks Cathy. I think people will get a better grasp if I offer small bits of information as we go and give them time to think about how it relates to their business.
Thanks Marilyn – I look forward to hearing more.
I do think that the statement “Selling is the effort to devise tricks and techniques to get people to buy a product.” is a little unusual. I don’t think you are “tricking” customers into buying anything. But perhaps that statement is quoted from somewhere? I think of selling as solving customer’s problems and satisfying their needs/wants.
I think generally that the statement is right because a good salesperson can convince a customer (with tricks and techniques) to buy something that is not actually needed.
I work in a library and we use a bookshop ‘trick’ to increase our book issues. By placing a book you want to promote ‘face out’ and not on the shelf with just the spine showing, you can guarantee that a customer will pick the book up.
That’s a good point. One example I can think of is a grocery store advertises a product at a very low price to draw people to the store. It’s called a loss leader. Most everyone is familiar with stores doing that, but may not be familiar with the reason, result or even what it’s called. I’m sure we all have examples. We get a flyer in the mail (developed by marketing) for a clothing sale with a coupon or discount. When we go into the store and try something on, the salesperson may tell us we look terrific in it or suggest something more flattering. Either way their goal is to make a sale. Yes, it will help satisfy the customers need or wants. Selling and marketing are definitely intertwined at many levels. 🙂
Ruth, the definition was taken from a combination of a book and a website. Perhaps tricks is a strong word. Your definition of selling is what the marketing role is in the corporate world. Sales people seek out the target customer market, introduce them to the product and use their own techniques to convince the customer to buy the product. Of course, that is very simplified. My husband has been in sales for 40 years. My son is a salesman also. It sometimes takes them years to develop relationships before the sale. Of course, they are not In retail. As a small business person, an artist must learn to do both. Perhaps tricks was referring to sales strategies which is how I took it.
Thank you Marilyn. That’s a very clear introduction to what promises to be an informative and interesting series of blog posts.
I like the roving graphic and it clearly demonstrates why artists can struggle to find pure creative time.
Thanks Lyn. I needed to use something fiber enthusiasts could relate to, hence the roving graphics. I didn’t want it to be too boring. 🙂
Thank you for this, you have made it easy to follow and food for thought, I was thinking that the areas you have highlighted on the rovings (great image) could each be part of a mind map and that way it could grow and be added to and be unique to each individual artists way of working. I like how you have made it so clear, because for me this whole process can be overwhelming. Again thanks Marilyn 🙂
You’re welcome Carole. I’m glad you found it helpful. A mind map. I haven’t done one of them for a long time, but some people may find it would work for them. I hope as we go through these concepts people will design their own plan for marketing taking what they learn and applying it to their businesses.
Thank you for the clarity of the article and look forward to hearing more. Marketing to me is a minefield. 🙂
Thanks Judith. It’s a big one which is why we’ll try to take it a step at a time. 🙂
Great introduction Marilyn, thank you for walking us through such an important topic. Do you feel we should be aiming at a single customer demographic or is it better to cast your net wider to maximise your number of potential customers, or does that just create a confusing image to your customers?
Thanks Teri! I think if you were doing just one type of product you would probably want to keep your target market smaller. However, since you are producing a number of different types of products it’s better to keep a broader customer base until a time you may decide to specialize. Having a wider audience gives you more creative freedom. Judging from the diverse types of products you produce, keeping a wider audience is to your advantage. It won’t confuse the customer unless you don’t deliver on that promise you make whether is quality, creativity, innovation, etc. Have you noticed a trend in your sales and customer types?
Nice introduction Marilyn. I am looking forward to reading more.
Thanks Ann! Stay tuned…
This is really useful, Marilyn, thanks 🙂
I had the same thought as Ruth about the tricks. I think that’s one reason I find marketing myself difficult, as much as I know what I’m offering would barely cover costs, let alone pay a fraction of a living wage if any of it ever sold, I can’t help feeling that all the things involved in getting people to buy is akin to a dodgy used car salesman 🙂
I liked Ruth’s Marketplace Mondays series, but it didn’t apply to me at the time, so I probably didn’t absorb much, but if I re-read along with yours, maybe I’ll sell more than 3 things a year!
Thanks Zed! I’m not a sales person either, but understanding the basics of marketing hopefully we can help our products sell themselves without having to feel like a dodgy used car salesman. 🙂 I plan to go back to Ruth’s series and draw some things from there because I don’t have retail marketing or sales experience. There is a lot of good information there I hope I can tie to the marketing series. I plan to post some questions on the forum relating to the marketing series so we can keep the discussion going.
That’s good because I’ll probably have a ton of questions 🙂
Great post, Marilyn! I waited until I could sit down properly and read it through – well worth it 🙂 I will share this on my FB page, I think a lot of people would benefit from this…
Thanks Leonor. I’m continuing a discussion on the forum under business. I’d love to have your input.
I’ll pop by, thanks!