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Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Does Your Elevator Speech Need a Lift?

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

 

I live in an area (Washington, DC) where the first question you often hear is, “What do you do?” While it may not always be the first question, at some point it usually comes up. And, I’m sure that’s not unusual in other parts of the country. People are just trying to get to know people they don’t already know.

Do you have an elevator speech? You know, that 30 to 60 seconds or so that explains what you do and will engage the person you are talking with into asking more questions. It’s supposed to be succinct so that you that you could really deliver it in a quick elevator trip.

The problem is that most elevator speeches are boring or long-winded or both. Haven’t you tuned out when someone launched into his or her corporate titles? I remember when I moved some years back, and my new neighbor said, “Hi, I’m Chuck. I’m an attorney.” Yikes! A real conversation starter.

Most of you are creatives and the idea of a set elevator speech is cringe-worthy. After all, elevator speeches can sound so canned and “markety.” Thing is that you have a business and you cannot grow that business if you don’t market.

Read more…

Kick-up Your Summer Revenue

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

summer-cash

This is the unofficial first week of the summer. For many people, this is the time to kick back and take it easy. You know the lazy, crazy days of summer! And, sure people do take vacations, but not all of them are gone every day all summer. So, you shouldn’t be either.

If you are trying to grow your business, taking it easy really isn’t an option. And, if you take advantage of the time many people do take it easy, your business will be ahead of the game.

Here are some ideas to kick-up your revenues this summer.

Read more…

5 Strategies to Grow Your Email List

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

build creative arts email list

 

Are you growing your email list? “What email list?” you ask. “I’ve got loads of followers on Facebook and Instagram. Who needs a list?”

You do! Without a list, your business will not produce profits on a consistent enough basis to sustain and grow your business. You might really just have a hobby and enjoy social media connecting. You need to look at building your list as building equity in your business. And, aim for quality over quantity.

And, yes, you may have a list of thousands of followers on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media site. Have you thought about who owns that list? It is not you. While none of us expect Facebook to disappear, if it does, your list goes with it.

How do you get started building a list? You likely already have the start of a list. You have probably built the list from online sales, from a class you taught last week in the shop, or from speaking or vending.

It is a way for people to get to know, like and trust you enough to spend money with you.

You may have a list of 10, 100, 1000 or more that you are trying to grow. It does not matter since we all started in the same place with zero subscribers to our list. Here are some strategies to consider.

1. Start with an email marketing platform. Think of this as your customer relationship management tool. Options include Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft, AWeber, Constant Contact, Mad Mimi, and countless others. (You do not want to use your Outlook email program.) Each of the options mentioned will have free trials or demos so you can become familiar with them. The difference is in the sophistication of the tool and what your needs are. The reason you want an email platform is that it allows people to opt themselves in and to opt themselves out. You may be able to segment your list and build a level of autoresponders.

2. Create a lead magnet. This would be a freebie that you give someone who visits your website in exchange for their email address. It is like the free taste that you get at the ice cream shop. It allows someone to try before they buy. This can take the form of an e-book, a pattern or a training video, for example. Do not get stuck on what you need to create, just create something of value for your potential customer. The freebie will drive people to learn more about you and your products.

3. Create an email marketing strategy. In its simplest form, you create content on your website, share it with the people on your list, continue to build a relationship with your list on a consistent basis, periodically send an offer to your list, always continuing to provide more value. People did not join your list to buy from you. They got on your list to get the value you have to offer. You need to be consistent in communicating with them, for example sending your newsletter once or twice a week on the same day. Remember that people join your list at various stages and you need to continually work to nurture the relationship with the value you offer.

4. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your business objectives. You need to identify a variety of themes that relate to your message and then come up with content topics for each. If your message has five key themes and you have five topics in each theme, you have a half year’s worth of content. Your strategy can include written, video and audio formats. Start to share your content in your newsletter, your blog and on social media, and engage with your peeps through your content.

5. Place an opt-in box on your website. You can do this in a variety of places. You definitely should have one on the home page. Do not send your visitors to another page with a link that says “Sign up for my newsletter here.” You can add one on the right column of pages on your website. You can add one at the end of your blog posts. And, you can add a pop-up box. I just added one. Sure people find them annoying, but they are effective, so do not discount adding one.

Building your email list does not happen overnight. These are some simple strategies to get you started. What is your most effective strategy to build your list? What questions do you have about building your list? Would you share it in the comments below or on our ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

 

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

 

 

 

Where’s your third place?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

ICAP community

Yesterday I went to the post office to pick up some Priority Mail envelopes and drop off a certified letter. In Laytonsville, population 353 at the last census, the post office is the center of the town activities and full of activity. I always see someone I know. Yesterday it was my dentist. I can meet new people, as I did yesterday when I learned about a local dog trainer. And I can find resources on the bulletin board. I left with two cards and a name of a third repair person I could call about some equipment that needs work.

I remember when I lived other places that there was always a place where locals congregated and you could learn all the news. When I lived in Connecticut, it was Luke’s Donut Shop. At our home in Saint Michaels, my husband would tell you it’s the local YMCA.

What is a “third place”? It’s that place where people gather other than work or home and feel a place of community. I’m sure you can think of places you know of, whether that’s the fictional Cheers of TV fame or the local coffee shop.

According to Ray Oldenburg, an urban sociologist who wrote The Great Good Place and Celebrating the Third Place, all third places have the following eight characteristics: neutral ground, a leveler, conversation is the main activity here, assessable and accommodating, has a the regulars, maintains a low profile, has a playful mood, and home away for home. The idea is that people are free to speak their thoughts and opinions freely.

It is easy to see the coffee shop or the local book store as the “third place.” I think it’s also easy to think about the local quilt or creative arts shop as the “third place,” even though it doesn’t technically meet all the eight characteristics. I think it’s about a sense of belonging, and I think that all creative arts and quilt shops foster that. Think about your experience at the local quilt shop and what made you feel like you were part of a community.

If you own or manage a creative retail shop, what are you doing to create that third place community feeling? Here are some of the ideas from shops I know or frequent.

  • Be welcoming. When customers come into your shop, greet them. Ask them what project they are working on. Nothing makes you want to come back like feeling welcome on the first visit.
  • Have a space set up where customers can congregate to look at quilting or art books and/or share their projects. I used to love to go to Borders Bookstore when it existed because I could find a chair to sit and look at a book.
  • Create special events. Look at other businesses outside the industry to see how they create events that draw customers in and make them feel welcome. We are all looking for an experience, a shared experience, so look for ways to create experiences. Disney is a great example here. Another example: in September I went with my neighborhood book club to an annual book club party hosted by author Lisa Scottoline at her home in Pennsylvania.
  • Look for ways to create shared connections. A monthly stash buster club or fabric club is an idea here.
  • Consider a monthly show and tell for your customers. This encourages them to engage with others.
  • Set up a gallery in your shop and showcase different artists. Have an opening reception with a talk from the artists.
  • Serve food. I don’t know a quilter who doesn’t like a beverage and a cookie. In the winter have some hot cider and gingersnaps. In the summer, lemonade and sugar cookies. Some of you may remember a shop called Patchwork and Pies in New York that was owned by Clara Travis. I loved the image of stopping in the quilt shop and picking up a slice of pie.
  • Run a book club that focuses on a particular artist’s work or designs.
  • Host a monthly “sit and stitch.”
  • Think about ways that you can offer your space to other uses in your community, e.g., let the local knitting club meet there, or depending on the size of your town, even an association that needs space for a small meeting. It’s about encouraging community.

I’m sure you can come up with other ideas. Remember that in creating the experiences that lead to your third place, you don’t have to do them for free. I think you can create a sense of community with a bit of exclusivity with a small fee. And, remember that you are never done. Creating your third place is ongoing.

If you are a shop owner, what you are doing to create a “third place”? And, as shoppers, what makes you designate someplace your third place?

Are You Waiting for “Enoughness?”

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

 

Are you waiting for enoughness_

 

Do you have some business or personal dreams that are putting off because you think you need to know more before you move forward? Maybe you think you need another art course, or maybe you need that extra marketing course. Or, your website could be better. Or, your design skills need to be better to enter that show. Or, you do not know as much as, or are as skilled as, someone else. Or, …

 

Recently, I caught up with a former coaching client and we chatted about what she was doing in her business. She was still talking about running the same online course. I asked what the problem was. She told me that she just did not know as much as some one else did on this topic. Meanwhile I have seen her share her expertise on countless online forums to great acclaim. It comes down to what I call “enoughness.” We think we are not enough, so we wait until we are. And, we keep waiting.

 

My client is not alone here. I have been there. I am someone who thrives on knowledge, and I am always searching to learn more. And, it is a good thing, except that it can put an obstacle in my path. It is easy to look for the next course to build my knowledge or skill level instead of taking action, albeit imperfect action. Here are some tips to move you forward:

 

1. Do not wait for everything to be perfect. It never will be. There will always be more to learn. The best time to start has already passed. The next best time is now.

2. Do not compare yourself with others. There will always be someone who is further along the path than you. And, remember there are others who not as far as you. You are only where you are and have to start from there. Any action you take at your current level moves you to the next level.

3. Commit and take a bold action. You have something to offer that no one else does. Others are waiting to start; do not follow that path.

 

This reminded me of a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes:

 

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out.

 

So what are you waiting for? You are definitely qualified to start. You are already enough!

Please share your thoughts below. I would love to hear them. You are also welcome to go to leave a comment on the ICAP Facebook or Google+ pages.

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?

Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

Seven Blogging Tips

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

 

Young woman working on laptop in loft apartment

Do you have a blog? Blogging can be fun and creative. It can add to your business growth and lets you connect with your tribe. I think that is the primary reason for blogging: building your community.  Blogging lets you create lasting relationships; and when people know, like and trust you, they are more likely to become your customers. Here are six tips for using your blog:

 

1. Provide information. This can be “how to” or just sharing the latest information on an upcoming show or exhibit. It should provide value for the readers. This helps to establishes you as an expert, the “go to” person on a topic. You can also make offers on your products or provide coupons, etc., but the primary goal should be to provide information.

 

2. Be consistent. Have you ever gone to someone’s website and checked out their blog, only to find the last time they blogged was three months ago? Gee, you wonder, are they still in business? Bloggers are more successful who keep a consistent schedule about blogging. Readers start to rely on you for specific information and will return to your blog for that type of information. Along with consistency comes frequent postings. The more often you post, the greater your readership, and in turn your business will grow. Of course, you have to figure out what works for you. In general, two to three times a week is a minimum.

 

3. Share yourself, your staff, other professionals. People want to know who they are doing business with. This is your chance to share something about yourself. Let your personality shine. Customers or potential customers also want to know the people that work with you. And, if you have friends who blog, take a turn blogging on each others’ pages. It will help each of you increase your audience.

 

4. Take advantage of technology to further readership of your ideas. You can connect your blog to Facebook and tweet about your blog. Many of our blog posts originate in this weekly e-zine. They then post to our blog and then to Facebook. I found it interesting that I often get comments on the blog or on Facebook from artists who originally read the material in the ezine. You can also post your blog on your Pinterest page and Instagram.

 

5. Participate in blog events. Here are a few ideas. Sponsor a blog contest. It could be as simple as asking for input on your latest quilt design, perhaps helping you name it. For a prize, you can offer a copy of the pattern. If you are a book author, create a blog hop. In this case, you find several other bloggers and ask them to review your book. They in turn ask for comments on the post and offer a copy of your book to a random commenter. Each blogger advertises the blogs where your book will be reviewed, so more people learn about other blogs. For the past few years, a group of designers I have worked with have created blog hops to increase their visibility — and it worked.

 

6. Remember that blogging is one part of a social media strategy for your business. Look for other ways you can connect with your customers, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and your e-zine (online newsletter).

 

7. Stuck for an idea where to start: take your customers on a tour of your studio or shop. I admit that I love to tour other quilters’ studios. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I created a lecture to share the studios I like and feature a studio in each issue of Create Inc. for the same reason. And, I love to see the shops I want to visit ahead of time, or maybe just put them on my wish list.

 

Please share your tips on blogging here below on our blog or go to our ICAP Fan Club Facebook page.

 

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WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

generating blog ideas

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

8604132817_f1de8475f3

To write or not to write.

One of the challenges my clients often have is blog writing, probably more specifically what to write about. I think it’s because more often than not, they feel more comfortable with the visual art than the written art. In fact, many of them do not want to blog at all. Today, though, blogging is important if we are to connect with our customers.

When faced with the blank blog page, many people don’t know where to start. I like to carry a small notebook or 3 x 5 card with me in case my muse strikes. How many times have you been out and about and something struck you, you thought you’d remember and, of course, you didn’t?

At home, I keep a 3 x 5 card on my desk for the same purpose. You might use Evernote or even a napkin at a restaurant, just something to catch that fleeting thought.

What exactly do I put on the note card? Here are some ideas that I use to get started:

Often it’s just a key phrase to remind myself of a topic. I might also overhear someone say something that strikes me. I might pick up a magazine at home or more often when I’m in a waiting room and some phrase strikes me. It might even be an article on a specific topic and that sets me in a direction. I’ve found ideas when I’ve been reading a novel. I’ve found ideas when I was caught up in Pinterest. I even got an idea during our ICAP Business Call this yesterday. Problem is, if I don’t take time to capture this idea, it’s gone, and I’m back at the beginning wondering what I’m going to write about.

Someone once asked me if was plagiarizing if I was using something I read somewhere else. I’m not stealing someone’s idea; I’m using it as a jumping off point for what I’m doing. I’m writing in my own voice and fitting the message to fit my brand.

The goal is to be inspired and inspiration is everywhere. If I’ve got this running of ideas and phrases, I’m never at a loss for inspiration.

Where do you get your blog inspiration?

photo credit: Blogger, after Vilhelm Hammershøi via photopin (license)

– – – – – – – – – –
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at http://www.creativeartsprofessional.com.

WANT TO SEE MORE ARTICLE LIKE THIS?

See the ICAP blog at http://www.creativeartsprofessionals.com/weblog/

Book Review: The Icarus Deception

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

The Icarus Deception

The Icarus Deception
Seth Godin
Portfolio Hardcover; $24.95

 

I recently listened to this book and found it full of some good reminders. You may remember the story of Icarus. Icarus and his father Daedalus, who made wings from feathers and wax, attempted to escape from Crete. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high where the sun’s heat would melt the wings or too low where the sea’s dampness would clog them. Ignoring the warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun, and the melting wax caused him to fall into the sea where he drowned. Godin takes the story and asks us to move out of our safety zone, he asks us to fly closer to the sun. He talks about the fact we are living in the connection age, rather than the industrial age. Creating connections is what creating art is about. And art is not just the traditional definition we might have. Art is what we do with passion, what anyone does with passion. A corporate business person who has passion in what he creates is an artist. A bus driver who connects with his passengers is an artist.  Godin encourages you to take a risk, to share your art, to connect. While parts of the book seemed repetitive and preachy to me and it did not always seem always seem cohesive, I thought it had some valuable nuggets.

What is your passion? I would love to hear about it below.

You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon  if you would like to learn more about the book.<br/.>

Can You Relate?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

word with dice on white background- marketingWhat is marketing? For years the American Marketing Association defined marketing as “the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, proton and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives.” Whew! Last July the AMA approved a change in its definition to “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Still a lot in that definition, though the rewrite seems to have left out the value for the organization.

For me, I have been defining marketing as “inviting people into your world where you can share your gifts to help them solve their problems.” If you do a good job, you are rewarded for it, both monetarily and in other ways. It is about creating a relationship with others to serve them. I was reminded of the value of relationship marketing this week.

At my home, we contracted with a company to do some work on our deck, replacing bad boards and re-staining the surface. We have had numerous problems with the company, whom I will call Company A. Company A actually subcontracted the job to Company B. Company B did the board replacement and subcontracted with Company C to do the actual staining. We did not realize we were contracting with so many companies.

Yesterday I had a conversation with R, the man who owns Company C. He came to the United States from Jamaica and was sharing his philosophy of marketing. (He told me he had been an entrepreneur for 14 years now.) What was most important for him was building a relationship with the customer. It was not about the money; it was about the relationship. He said that if he put the relationship first and went beyond doing his work, the rewards would follow. Watching his work and listening to his stories, I can see why he experiences the results he does.

I also read an interesting article in the New York Times over the weekend by Arthur C. Brooks titled “Love People, Not Pleasure.” It was about unhappiness and filling our empty spaces by loving things and using people. Adversely, the formula to happiness is to love people and use things.

That ties right into my, and Company C’s R, theory about marketing. It is about loving and serving people.

How do you define marketing? Leave a reply below.

Getting More Bang for Your Ad $

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

First, I think you do have to spend money on advertising. And, yes, your website is your biggest ad. So if you don’t have a website that should be at the top of your list. And, it needs to be more than your business card.

How much to spend will vary by each individual. I can give you a range that I have seen for marketing for small fiber-arts related businesses, and that’s 3% to 10% of your gross revenue. That’s for marketing, so it includes more than advertising. Marketing is your overall plan for promoting, pricing, and placement of your product, and advertising is part of the promotional strategy. The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that businesses that generate less than $5 million in revenue allocate between 7 and 8 percent of revenues for marketing. They base these on gross margins in the 10 to 12 percent range. The National Federation of Independent Business suggests that small businesses allocate between 2 and 5 percent of sales specifically for advertising. They don’t consider the whole marketing budget. You could take both guidelines and end up with 5% for advertising and another 2% for other marketing. Of course, the larger your business, the more funds you have to allocate. If you expect to spend 5% for advertising in your business that will gross $100,000 this year, be sure you’ve set aside or have access to $5,000 for ads.

Regardless of the amount you spend, be sure that your advertising includes a “call to action” or CTA. It is a waste of money if you don’t tell people what you want them to do as a result of reading your ad. It could be as simple asking them to go to your website to sign up for your newsletter and get your free irresistible offer. It could be letting them know about a sale you are having. The idea is that they will take action from seeing your ad.

Look for places to advertise where large numbers of your ideal clients, not just interested parties, hang out. For example, companies advertise in The Professional Quilter or at the Creative Arts Business Summit because they know that our members are professionals and have more influence with a larger audience of quilters. They are “connectors” and the advertiser gets more from the expenditure.

When crafting your ad, remember that people tend to read in a “Z,” starting at the top left, across the top, down to the bottom left and then across the bottom. Focus on benefits and put that at the top of your ad. You want your customer to realize that you are the solution to their problem. Once you have them looking at your ad, realizing that you are the answer, they will follow the “Z” to see your name and contact info at the bottom.

Last, track your results. You need to figure out which ads are working for you and which are not. Then make adjustments to your marketing and advertising strategy.

Please share your experiences on advertising spending below.

 

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