Over the weekend I met my friend Jamie at a local coffee shop. We hadn’t seen each other for a while and had a great time catching up. After about half an hour, we were joined by Caitlin, one of Jamie’s friends. Some years back Jamie had been sitting next to me on a train ride while I had a coaching call with a client. She knew Caitlin was struggling with her business and asked if I would spend time talking with her about those struggles.
Caitlin had started her business a year ago. She felt a calling to help young women in our town improve their circumstances. She knew that I worked with creatives to help them build their businesses and wondered if what I did could translate to her. The thing is that how I help artists — whether they are fiber artists, jewelers, or writers — is exactly how I helped Caitlin. This is an abbreviated version of what I shared during our conversation.
Know what you have to offer that is unique.
Everyone has a unique message to share based on their life circumstances and experiences. I once heard someone say “make your mess your message.” It’s so true. Your unique perspective is what you have to share, whether it’s really that messy or not. No one else has been where you’ve been. Look what brought you to where you are and how you can share that with the people you want to serve. Take time to come up with six to 12 core messages that you can share based on your experiences and beliefs. An example might be, “Making art and making money are not mutually exclusive.” Another might be, “We are all naturally creative and our creativity just needs to be reawakened.”
Know who your audience is and where you can find them in large numbers.
If you want to have a business, you need to have customers. Your task is to define them first. You can’t find them without knowing who they are. A general statement just doesn’t work. In Caitlin’s example, saying young women doesn’t go far enough. She needs to know more about their age, their financial situation, their pain points. The clearer you are on your customer, the better. You will be able to market to the right person, and the right person will buy from you.
You also needs to know where your customers hang out in large numbers. This could be online, offline, or both. You know your customer is likely on social media, but do you know what platform? Some of that will depend on age or interest. For example, people with arts interest are likely hanging out on Instagram or Pinterest. Business-minded folks are on Linked In. Lots of people are on Facebook. Younger people are on snapchat or twitter. You don’t want to waste your time and resources chasing someone who is not your customer.
Go where the audience is and deliver the message.
Your goal now is to get in front of your audience and let them know who you are. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. How do you connect with them? You can do this with a blog, an email newsletter, posts and comments on social media. You can do this with networking in person. You can do this with phone calls or letters. You can also do this with advertising.
Whether or not these methods work depends on how good a job you’ve done defining your customer, finding him or her, and delivering your core message. Before you launch into the latest and greatest marketing tactic, take time to go back to the basics.
It’s your turn!
What do you offer that is unique, who is your audience, and where are they hanging out?