In the not so “timeless” marketing book from Al Ries and Jack Trout, called the “22 Immutable Laws of Marketing”, there is a passage in the very first chapter that made me giggle out loud. I hadn’t read the book in over 20 years.

It’s not the book I remembered! The book, originally released in the early 1990’s, was considered a must-read for anyone in marketing and advertising. So I give them a pass considering how different marketing is today with online being central to everything we do as consumers.

In the very first chapter, “The Law of Leadership”, they point out the value of being the first. For example, they say that being the first “lite” beer “still keeps Miller Lite top-of-mind after all these years”. (Not true today by the way.)

Then, they discuss two business “Firsts” that they predicted would fail despite their “Law of Leadership” rule. This is where it got really interesting. Example number one was USA Today. As they stated at the time, it “is the first national newspaper, but…has already lost $800 million and never had a profitable year.”

Go figure! It’s surviving quite well – internationally now!

Example number two I had to google. It’s called Frosty Paws and they predicted that this “first ice cream for dogs is unlikely to make it.”  But their reasoning surprised me. “The dogs love it, but the owners are the ones who buy the groceries, and they think that dogs don’t need an ice cream of their own.”

Nestle – yes, the conglomerate of yummy foods – apparently saw an opportunity, bought out the company and it’s still going strong today.

I am guessing neither one owned a dog or they would have known their logic was off the mark. The deal with marketing anything is knowing your target market. In this case, dog owners. I am sure they would never have imagined a Petco or predicted it would fail, too.

So they missed some clues. However, what I gained by that first chapter is what I know is the core of good marketing: understanding your target market. You must work at learning what motivates someone to buy ANY product.

Remember my article about the pet rock? No? Oh…you must go read it then come back here and finish this article.

Next: Answer These Three Questions – Who, What, and Why?

WHO is your target audience?

Who will most likely want to buy your art? Oh yes… I know… this is a broken record from the marketing industry. We marketing nerds push this concept endlessly. And yet so many people ignore this vital step in creating their branding and product offers. You can’t offer whatever you think “most people” will like or you will offer bland and “heartless” art.

For example, if you want to create 2-D art, stick to that and don’t try to also do clothing to your same clients. These are two completely different buyers. Of course, you may have some of your art collectors who want to buy your clothing and vice versa. However, you should create a separate website for both and a separate marketing plan for both.

Many marketers will add (and I am of this school) that you should further isolate your product within your genre. If you want to do pet portraits, then do pet portraits. If you want to do landscapes, then do landscapes. If you want to do scarves and wraps, to scarves and wraps and leave the purses to someone else.

The idea is simple: when people think about you, you want them to associate you with a specific product. The more specific, the more likely you are to get referrals and other buzz and the very niche client base that will grow with more determination and distinction. The more honed in you are with your line of goods, the more you can develop a loyal following.

I would even advocate that if you do pet portraits – you might want to specialize in a specific species – or maybe two or three. You will be known for your specialty.

For example, what if you specialized in only reptiles. That would be a pretty darn enticing site for reptile lovers, right? Why would they consider commissioning a portrait of their boa constrictor from just any old pet portrait person if they could get someone like you with your specialty background and (apparently) like-minded appreciation of reptiles?

And just think: you could target your advertising to reptile organizations, and others who trade in all things reptilian! This is truly niche marketing and the benefits are enormous.

WHAT is the problem you solve?

Okay… the idea of solving a “problem” might be a problem word for an artist, but think about it for a minute: you do solve a problem! Art is extremely important in people’s lives.

As Artists, we must never think that our creations are only luxuries or extravagances. Click To Tweet

We fulfill a very important niche in people’s lives. We enrich their daily experiences. We bring artful moments to them whenever they come into contact with their art purchase. Be it set of hand-made coffee cups or an original oil painting, there is a NEED for works of art – for original and made-by-hand and heart art.

I totally believe, and I want you to join me in believing, that art purchases are essential purchases. When you believe that, your marketing to your target audience will have the foundation you need to attract sales of your work. When you believe that your art changes lives, you can reach out confidently and fan the flames of desire to anyone who is subscribing to your emails or landing on your website.

For those who make functional art, you can concentrate on the ways that your artful objects will be uniquely useful additions to art collectors. For example, if you make hand blown glass vases, you might point out that you have an extra heavy base to hold large tropical flowers without the worry of tipping. Make sure your descriptions include problems you are solving.

WHY should they purchase from you?

Why you? Why is your art the best choice? Do you offer free shipping? Do you use repurposed items? Do you have something distinctive about your art that makes you stand out from others?

Do you guarantee satisfaction and offer a money back policy of some kind? Have you won awards? Do you have testimonials or reviews to share? Why are you a good choice?

Even something as simple as adding in a set of instructions and all the needed hardware to install your art on a wall might be that special thing that puts you in a category of excellence. Or maybe you offer gift wrapping, include detailed care instructions, or so many other small things that add up to a sense of relief, trust, and ease of purchasing and ownership.

It’s all a bull’s eye when you give it some thought.

When you fully answer the “Who, What, and Why’s” that surround your art, your buyers will be much more likely to take out that credit card and make a purchase.

So just remember: Every moment of feedback you experience in art fairs or other in-person situations are opportunities to understand the Who, What and Why’s that set you apart. That feedback is invaluable. Knowing exactly who buys, what they want to buy, and why you are the right choice gives you the information you need to hone your offers and market with greater assurance and success.

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