The secret to great marketing? YOU!

The challenge in marketing (which is just sharing your work with the world) is this: How can your art (and your message) stand out among all the zillions of distracting things on the Internet?

The answer is simple: you make the best thing you can and you show up and share it (consistently!) as authentically as you can.

In other words, you stand out by doing the thing only you can do: BE YOU.

This answer is so simple it’s almost unbelievable. I certainly thought it had to be harder, until I did one of the scariest things of my life.
Last summer, I taught a class for CreativeLIVE, which was streamed live on the Internet to thousands of students. By far my biggest live audience ever.

{Insert panic here}.

But you know what? It went great.

Not because I found the perfect words or because I finally found the perfect outfit or because my hair didn’t fall flat (it totally did) – but because I finally really, really grok something:

My only job is to Be Tara. Gretchen Rubin talks about this in Happiness Project. Her first rule of Adulthood (and her own happiness) is to Be Gretchen. Leonie, who has built a million dollar business on her art and smarts, insists that her only job is to Be Leonie.

I’ve read it all, I’ve heard it all, I thought I got it.

But then, when faced with the biggest audience of my professional life, I didn’t have any other choice. I could go on in a spiral of self-doubt and second-guessing. Or I could trust myself (and what every student and crew member told me) and know: I GOT THIS. I have done this and I can do it again.

My job is to show up, be present, listen to what students ask me and answer honestly.

Oh, I had already done the first part of the job: Write the best class I could possibly write, the most detailed workbook I could possible create, and practice until I felt comfortable talking about it in my sleep (been doing that for the last 5+ years!).

This is true for you, too.

You’ve already learned how to craft your product. You already know what you’re amazing at. You’ve made the product, opened the shop, taken the photos…and now you need to show up and Be You.

You need to Be You in your descriptions.
You need to Be You in your craft show applications.
You need to stop editing yourself, doubting yourself, and second-guessing if you’re good enough.

Show up. Without the internal critic, without the doubt, without the “I want you to think I’m awesome” filter.

The result: You will be awesome. You will be REAL. Your ideal customers will see that you know what they need and they will feel a laser beam of attraction to you and your work.

(Let’s be honest: another possible result is that you’ll stumble. You’ll make mistakes. But you know what? That’s going to happen anyhow! The more you worry about it and try to protect against it, the harder it’ll be for you to bounce back from it.)

Doubt it? Check out your most-favorite modern-day maker or artist. Read their platform and the comments. In 100% of the students I’ve worked with and superstars I’ve studied, the key to that customer connection is that they are themselves – in their writing, in their sales copy, in the way they share their world.

It’s not about being “raw” or “uncut” or “wildly inappropriate.”
It IS about not hiding, not doubting and not trying to look cooler/bigger/more fancy than you are.
It’s about saying: I make this and it’s awesome because I’ve worked hard to learn x, y, and z.
It’s about communicating, with honesty: “I know this will answer X problem in your life or fill this need1 because I have lived through/discovered/experimented/failed.”

How can you bring more of yourself into your marketing?

1. Get clear on what you love. Your work stands out when it’s a reflection of your unique filter on the world. When you bring your experiences, ideas, and creativity into your art, no one will be able to make something similar. The first step of doing this is to get clear about what you love and value…and then bring that, not just into your art, but into your marketing. Your blog posts, social media messages, and advertisements can be full of what you’re into. Whether that’s goofiness, geekery, or gardening, knowing that it matters to you is the first step of sharing it. And when you share your unique combinations of things you love, and it infuses your work and marketing, guess what? Your work will stand out, because no one is going to have the same weird combination that you do!

2. Show up and be you, consistently. A true connection with the real you is the most sustainable path to loyal customers. When people connect with you and your work and your story, they’ll remember you and your products, and come back again and again.
But in order to build that connection, you have to show up and prove yourself trustworthy and reliable. This means showing up on your chosen platforms (blog, newsletter, social media) regularly. You don’t need to use every tool, but you need to be consistent with the ones you do use.

3. Commit to connection. It matters more than how you look or how you sound. It matters more than what other people think. Decide that you’re going to prioritize it and that you’re not going to hide your true light behind a veneer of “professionalism” (which usually translates into boring and lackluster marketing). This is hard, because the truth is, you’re not going to appeal to everyone. But that’s okay! Your work will appeal to the people who love it and are willing to spend their money on it – those are the only people you need.

If you’re struggling with this or you’re constantly challenged by this – you are not alone. There’s no simple answer. It’s a lesson you’ll learn again and again and have to remember over and over. (At least, that’s how it has been for me.)

But for now, start with this:

How could you bring more of yourself into your shop right now? Could you change your descriptions to sound more like yourself? Could you add a sense of humor? What would make it more you?

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  1. This class has a workbook to help you identify this.


This post was written by Tara Swiger. Tara guides makers + artists in exploring their best business. She is the author of Market Yourself, a system for creating a marketing plan for sharing your handmade goodness.


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