Are you struggling with how to market your business with your art? Do you feel like you can’t decide which direction to go because you’re not sure what to market first? And in the midst of this, are you feeling like every time you turn around you see another artist- or bigger company- offering something similar to your work but doing it better?
First, let me assure you, you are not alone. This is a very common conundrum many small businesses have- especially artists- when it comes to differentiating yourself from other artists in your particular marketplace. This requires us to think vertically about the kind of offers we have and what makes those offers absolutely unique, rather than horizontally, which leads to overwhelm, feeling spread too thin, and not being able to give our most ideal clients exactly what they both need and want from our work.
Just last week I was sitting across the table from a very talented photographer who is working with me to build her business in the next 12 months. We had just worked hard the week before to identify her Vision and Mission statements, both of which are not only powerful and world changing, but unbelievably exciting, as she is passionate about helping other women “see themselves”. I was looking forward to looking at her new website, which she was going to have finished that week. I couldn’t wait to see the stunning images she had chosen for her homepage to match her newly formed Vision statement. I knew it was going to be beautifully clear, unique and masterful, and I was bursting with anticipation.
When she sat down she said, “so I found one of my competitors who is actually kind of a big company, and saw that they’re doing almost the same thing as me, so I decided to broaden my offers a bit.”
Then she pulled up her site, and on her homepage was a stock image of a camera and a lengthy mission statement that was a muddled-down version from the clear, focused one she had the week before.
When she saw the look on my face- I was now ready to burst with some kind of response that had the word “NOOOOOO!!” in it- she quickly said, “well I think I need to go through this process first, with broader offers, to figure out where I need to go next.” I then firmly began to shake my head, because I couldn’t have been more certain I was right about this one.
She smiled and sat back for a moment to graciously let me say me peace (I probably looked insanely tense holding back my words). I looked at her and without constraint let these words fly out of my mouth, “I know you need to work through the process of putting together a website- believe me, I know what an arduous process it is. But when it comes to your offers, and what you lead with, I know I’m right about this: you never want to compromise your own vision based on a comparison of your work to others- no matter who they are! Even if Lady Gaga decided to start taking the same kind of photographs of women and set up shop right next to your studio, you still need to stay true to your vision and lead with it because that’s what people will see when they see you. It’s the only way you can build a business that is fulfilling, profitable and built to last. Otherwise, you might as well just sell widgets.”You never want to compromise your own vision based on a comparison of your work to others- no matter who they are! - Alexis Fedor Click To Tweet
She thought about this and said, “well I just thought they have much more money and so many more clients than me that I would need to broaden my offers to make sure I cover all my bases.”
The fact of the matter is that when you base your offers on comparing yourself to your fellow artists, you move away from your source of inspiration, motivation, and integrity. There is room for everyone to create whatever makes sense to their creative process and share it with the world right alongside those who are creating what seems like a similar piece.
The reason this works (and it does- think about all the designers who create handbags for women with identical shapes, but different labels, and you buy one based on the feeling you get from one particular label) is because people resonate with your why first, then your work. Your work is a representation of the purpose you have behind creating it- that one purpose you have that drives you to get up in the morning and create the work you do.People resonate with your why first, then your work. Click To Tweet
So when you shy away from your why you make it difficult for anyone to understand your vision, to see your mission and to know on an intuitive level why your work is right for them. You give up your power and strength in that compromise, which is the opposite of what true marketing is.
Marketing with heart is sharing your greatest gifts with those who both need and want them the most.
Thankfully she felt the same and realized marketing takes a reverse perspective- one that requires us to stand by our purpose so those who need what we create can find us, no matter what.
I believe artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world. Help me prove my belief by taking action and sharing a theme that is integral to your art in the comments below or on Instagram using #artistsinbusiness and tag me: @alexisfedorpics!