Entries in marketing (9)

Tuesday
Jan112011

Why You Need A Blog

Photo by Genevieve RobertsonAs our next Social Media for Artists seminar draws closer and I’m spending time refining my notes I realized while I often talk about having a business blog, I’ve never really told you why I think it’s important. And I do think it’s important.

Writing a blog is a worthwhile investment for any small business, but especially art-based businesses. Why? Because your business is so much about who you are, what makes you different and what you can offer to the customer. Buying a piece of art is about experience and connection. A blog is a way for you to create a voice, share your personality and connect quickly and more personally. A blog is a way for you to stand out in the crowd by sharing the story that makes you unique. You are starting a conversation that both your peers and customers can join in on. All this allows you to build trust and become their friend. Wouldn’t you rather buy from or recommend a friend?

You may be saying that’s all great, but I still don’t know what I would have to say that would keep people interested. This is a tough question, but there is an answer it just requires a little thought and research.

Think of your target market, your ideal customer. What do they want (I mean besides that gorgeous necklace you just listed)? Do they want to know how you make your jewelry? Do they want a story behind their purchase? Are they striving to lead a sustainable life and looking for products that fit in?

If you can nail down a “want” of your target market and provide a resource for them, they will turn to you again and again. I’m assuming since you read this blog you read others. What makes you come back? You get something every time right? Maybe it’s a piece of knowledge, a break from your busy day, or a laugh that you can share. It might also be a voice that you can relate to or that feels friendly and familiar. Think of your blog as an added benefit for the customer, kind of like free shipping.

Now to take it one step further, besides the familiarity and trust that a blog provides it also gives you a presence on the web and puts you into the conversation. There’s a lot of strategy behind maximizing this potential, but basically if you’re a part of the conversation your target market will more readily flock to you than your competitors. The more visibility you have the easier it is for them to find you.

If it’s ever occurred to you to start a blog I highly recommend you do so. If you’re at loss for where to begin, start looking toward the blogs you already love as models. And of course a Lightbox SF Social Media for Artists workshop wouldn’t hurt either.

What some of your favorite blogs? What keeps you coming back to them?

Tuesday
Dec072010

We Are Live!

After many long weeks of writing, researching and editing the Social Media Strategy Workbook is here!

And with it comes our new services page. Now you can quickly book a consulting session or email support. You'll get a questionnaire to fill out that will give us a sense of where you are and what you're struggling with. Before you know it, within 24 hours to be exact, we'll contact you to set up an appointment to talk via phone or in-person if you're in San Francisco. It couldn't be easier.

However if you don't see exactly what you're looking for we're still happy to build custom packages. Just send us an email and we'll put together a plan that will help you reach your goals.

Tuesday
Nov022010

Are You Unique Enough?

Today I want to pose a question and ruminate a bit about Unique Selling Propositions (USP). You may have heard the term before or something similar, but basically it boils down to: What do you offer that makes your business stand out from all your competition?

The question I want to pose to all of you is one that Shelly and I are struggling with currently, is your USP enough? We’re pretty confident we’ve got a distinct difference from the rest of our competition, that is those that offer business advice to artists, and it stems directly from who we are and our varied experience in different careers. But we’re wondering if it’s enough, do we need more distinction in what’s becoming a more crowded market?

I’d like to pose the same question to you and I really want you to think about it. Do you do anything that no one else can or does? Do you offer a service or material that’s not currently out there? Is your design style so unique that no one else can come close? There are a few of you that may answer yes to one of those questions, but many of you won’t. Don’t despair!

A USP can be something as simple as how quickly you complete custom orders or the personalized service you give in your shop. It doesn’t have to be amazing new technology or even a product no one else has seen, but it needs to be something that people want to come back for.

Zappos is a great example of a business that had success with a focused USP. There were many places to buy shoes online, so many in fact that the only distinguishing factor between them seemed to be price. Zappos enters the scene and offers free shipping, no matter what, and free returns. Those two simple things made clicking that buy button so much easier for customers. Zappos had more than $1 billion in sales last year.

I do want to stress that your USP also doesn’t have to be about price; actually it’s often not. Think of it from the customer’s point of view. You’re looking for a new pair of shoes and you see two pairs almost identical, but one is almost twice the price of the other. Seems an easy choice right? You choose the cheaper one. But what if you knew the ones that were more expensive would also be so comfortable you could wear them all day, running errands, to work, and even out for a night on the town and your feet wouldn’t hurt. However, the cheaper ones, even though they looked the same from the outside would give you blisters by lunch. If the expensive shoes fit within your budget, wouldn’t you buy them?

A USP is almost always about perceived value, not straight up cost. There will always be someone wiling to do it cheaper. Instead put your focus on your customer's needs. They like things to be easy, they like to have experiences that make them feel special, and they generally buy because they want something, not because we need it.

I’ll leave you with a few things to think about to help you come up with or refine your own USP.

What are the benefits of your product or service?

What do you do that’s different from your competition?

Do you or can you solve a problem for your customers or within your industry?

Be specific. Give proof of your benefit.

Can you consistently deliver on this USP? I mean every single time you make a sale. If not you need to find another USP.

Photo by HolgaJen

Monday
Oct042010

Using Twitter and Facebook To Support Your Blog

In my last post I talked about finding a voice or theme for your blog. Those tips also work in developing a consistency to your Twitter and Facebook posts. However another strategy is to support your blog articles by getting your followers involved.

The typical use for Twitter and Facebook in conjunction with blogging is to tweet or post whenever you publish a new article. While this is a worthwhile strategy there is so much more you can do. Use Twitter and Facebook to get your readers involved and they’ll be much more invested in reading the full articles.

Try asking for suggestions for topics, area of focus, or have readers send in their burning questions or experiences that support your subject. Not only does this help your writing process, it also makes your articles more personal allowing your readers to relate.

Try sharing your research. As you work on each piece share links to a new website you found, a great image you stumbled across, or even just a great fact that you want to share. Use these kinds of posts to build up to or create a little suspense for the finished article. Think of it as a behind the scenes to your writing process.

You can also use contests and events to get your followers involved. Maybe you’re participating in a show and you have tickets to give away. Ask a trivia questions whose answer can be found in one of your recent blog posts. The first correct answer wins the tickets. Or maybe you’ve been working on a long series of linked articles, hold a question and answer session after last post via Twitter or Facebook.

I encourage you to be creative and use Twitter and Facebook in the social manner for which they were intended. Get your followers, readers and fans to interact with you. Give them a reason to check in with you over all the platforms you use by giving them different streams of content.

What are your favorite ways to use Twitter and Facebook?



Monday
Sep272010

Contributing to the Conversation – Finding Your Voice

Now that I’ve got you thinking about the conversation I want to you think about what you’re brining to it. This breaks down into two primary areas, your voice or style and your message or content. They overlap in many ways and definitely work together, but I feel thinking about them separately will help you define yours.

Let’s start with message or content. Successful blogging has an end game, a purpose or a goal. This also goes for posting on twitter or facebook. What sort of message do you want to share? Are you sharing tips about running an art-based business? Are you offering tutorials on DIY projects or styling? Or maybe it’s inspiration that you share, other artists that you love, images you stumble across, music that you listen to while you create. Pick something that resonates, that you feel inspired to talk about over and over again.

By creating an overarching theme for your writing and posting you not only create consistency for your readers and followers, but you also establish yourself as an authority in the area you’ve chosen. Just like in your art you want to be known for something.

Once you’ve figured out what you want to share with people, what your message is, then you need to focus on how you’re going to say it. Will you be funny, conversational, authoritative or informational? This voice or style should mirror or compliment the image of your business. If you make delicate metal jewelry with soft flowing shapes, most likely your tone won’t be short and quip or use a lot of slang. Your tone comes across in the words you choose, the phrasing of your sentences, and even the references you choose to link to.

Georgina Laidlaw wrote a great article with some tips on keeping a consistent voice over at problogger.net. And one of the best analogies about developing a voice is in Steve Kamb’s article “How to Blog Like Bond. James Bond.” on copyblogger.com.