Marketing is an ever-present part of your life if you own your own business. You need to do it most when you are too busy with other clients. If you wait until you aren’t busy, it’s too late.
Marketing means making your business known to potential clients. The more your name is in front of the right audience at the right time, the more likely clients will see it. Notice I did not say, “The more money you will make.” Having a potential client see your work and selling your work are two separate steps.
You can have a billboard visible to 10,000 people a day, but if those 10,000 people don’t need your product or service, you won’t make a dime. You need to have a product or service that fills as need as well as the people who need it. And even then, it takes a while for the connection to spark.
If a jacket is on sale and you buy it just because the price is right, but it matches nothing in your closet and you don’t like it, you will never wear it, no matter how little you paid for it. If the jacket fits well and you like it and it goes with half your wardrobe, you will see the need, and buy it, even if it’s not on sale.
Marketing it about seeing the exact need and filling it.
I get a fair number of calls from people who have “excellent marketing opportunities” for me. They generally involve me doing something for free–donating a piece of my art or offering free life- or creativity coaching.
After they describe in glowing terms how my art will be showcased or my writing will be read, I ask, “how is this a marketing opportunity for me?”
“Well, your work will be seen by important people! That’s like money in the bank!” they say, a touch annoyed that I’m so slow witted as to question this wonderful opportunity.
“Actually, having your work seen is not like money in the bank, or I’d have a lot more money in the bank,” I reply. A marketing opportunity puts my product in front of people who need the service and who are willing to pay for it. Everyone at this event can love my artwork, but if none of them is in the market for art, it is not a good marketing opportunity.
The same is true of people who ask me to write for them for half my fee, because “it will put your name in front of many important people. If one person pays half my regular rate, and someone discovers how much (or little) that person paid for my services, they will not be happy if I quote them a much higher price. They will want the same deal the first person got. That isn’t an opportunity for me.
Getting clients means more than having my work seen. It means having my work noticed and wanting something similar. If that doesn’t happen at this event, I won’t get any business.
“Well, what do you want?” the pitch person asks.
“I want the mailing list for your organization,” I’ll say, if I think the group contains potential clients.
This is met with a gasp of horror. “I can’t do that, that’s giving you contact to my group.” That always makes me smile, as access is exactly what was promised as a great marketing opportunity. Focusing on the definition of access usually throws cold water on their enthusiasm.
A marketing opportunity is only an opportunity if you, the business owner, see it as one. Giving away your product or service because you want to do a good deed is worthwhile. Having a fleeting second in front of a crowd is not marketing and not an opportunity. It’s charity. (And not very tax deductible charity if you are an artist–just the cost of your supplies, not the value of the work or your time.) And charity has a big place in my work. But it’s not marketing.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com Bowls: Handmade paper by Quinn McDonald. (c)2007, All rights reserved.