Kind of! I’ve been dancing around even talking directly about marketing on this podcast for a while, because I know the response so many of us creatives – especially of the introvert variety – kind of loathe the word.
We don’t want to think about marketing – we want to focus on DOING the creating! Can’t we be so good they can’t ignore us? So good that our dream client will just stumble across us, and throw cash at us to keep doing what we’re doing?
The problem with this fuzzy thinking, is that it actually results in lower self confidence.
For instance: let’s say you are a jewellery designer. You love your work, and you’ve sold some pieces to friends and family. You’ve even listed a few items on Etsy. No sales yet, but that’s fine. It’s just a matter of time, right?
Oh and forget social media – Facebook is evil and Instagram is just for self-obsessed posers. You’re an authentic artist. You’re better off continuing to make your jewellery, and eventually, they’ll find you…
But it’s been over a year now and this is really starting to feel… depressing. It’s 3 a.m. and you go for a scroll through Instagram. How does that jewellery designer have so many followers? Oh wow her website is slick. Is she charging that much? Her work is sold WHERE? How can she be doing so well, getting all those commissions and reviews… her work isn’t even as good as yours?
And then, the self-doubt kicks in. The inner critic, as it’s otherwise known. The voice that whispers: “It’s because her work IS better than yours. You just don’t have it in you. You’ll never be that good and you’ll never catch up. You might as well just throw in the towel.”
OK: I’ll stop there, I’m starting to upset myself… But this is just an example of the kind of story I hear all the time from my fellow creative innies. This rampant self-doubt, comparisonitis, that results in procrastination and ultimately, quitting – is really common. And I’m sick of it, dammit!
The truth is: it isn’t your work or WORTH that are in need of an overhaul. It’s your marketing strategy.
Oh and before you hit stop or delete on this podcast, I promise you I won’t try and get you to do anything I wouldn’t do. This is the marketing strategy I’ve found after floundering with extroverted approaches and sales techniques that leave me feeling like I need a shower.
I’ll remind you of one of my favourite quotes:
“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.”
Now this is where my own personality type and preferences come into play: I’ve shaped this approach to suit my love for questions and experiments.
Oh and don’t get me confused for a scientific type: sciences were not my strong point at school: my reasoning behind this experimental approach is more to do with my anxiety.
The pressure that we put on ourselves when we undertake a big marketing strategy that some expert who promises to make us 6-figures with their tried-and-true method, is…actually very terrifying. I’ve tried this enough times to know.
We end up feeling like we have ONE SHOT. And if you’re making a serious investment in time, money or energy (which you likely will be with their strategies) you do only have one shot.
I don’t deal well under that kind of pressure. I crack, I cut corners, I self sabotage and ultimately, fail.
But with this approach, this experimental approach, you can’t fail.
You can’t fail because you’re running mini experiments, asking questions, testing hypotheses, and tweaking and retesting, making no BIG sacrifices or investments, just taking baby steps, and seeing how it goes.
Sounds a bit less stressful, right?
I recommend this for pretty much any creative introvert who already has made a start at selling either their services (design, illustration, copywriting) or their products (jewellery, art, crafts) online.
You’ve tried or dabbled in a bit of marketing: you might have a website or online store, you might have one or more social media profiles, you might even have an email list.
But you’ve stalled. You’re frustrated and fed up.
In any case, whether you do this now or in the future, I recommend doing it regularly. Why? Well, we all get a little stale around the edges from time to time, and I recently had my own refresh, using this very strategy.
Just because something was working, doesn’t mean it will continue to forever. You learn more about your Superfans, or your ideal customer or client, and you adjust accordingly to serve them better.
This is the fun bit. Pick a quiet, comfy spot that you won’t be interrupted in. Ideally, you’ll block out some time on your calendar to go through this. Sunday afternoon, Tuesday morning – whatever time you know you can get an hour or two to sit, think, and write.
Don’t worry about implementing as you go through, you’ll carve out little pockets of time for each step, so that you won’t feel overwhelmed as you go.
Why bother? What if this is just another freakin’ marketer harping on about what worked for them, and assuming you’re the same?
Kind of. I am telling you this because it works for me, and from what I gather, a lot of people listening have a lot in common with me.
But hold up: I’m just giving you the questions you need in order to find what works for you. The point of this isn’t to give you a precise strategy that worked for me, whether it’s Instagram, Youtube or anything like that: it’s to give you the tools (the questions) I use to find my own marketing strategy.
Plus! Ideas for running your own experiments in order to find the precise steps – like setting up an email list or getting a guest blog post spot – that will actually work. You’ll know they work because, you ran the experiment!
OK I think we’re clear, let’s dive in. We’ll start with the six questions you want to ask yourself, which you may feel like you’re guessing at now. Or maybe you think you know, but you have no proof that they’re working for you.
So after the questions, we’ll go through the experiment process, that helps you get more certainty on your answers.
Superfan is just a term I like to use because it’s fun, but also it reminds me that these people aren’t just anyone who will give you money – these are the people who truly appreciate what you’re doing and are in it for the long run.
They’re the people Kevin Kelly describes in his article 1000 True Fans.
Without getting really clear on who you’re creating for, you really can’t reach them. If I think I’m helping everyone in the UK, I might think I need to go and get an advertisement in the Sun, our most popular tabloid newspaper.
However, this is probably a waste of time, because even if I could shell out for that, the majority of readers would have no interest in what I’m offering. But, if I went to Molly Makes or another artsy crafty magazine, I’d likely get way more bang for my buck.
i also dive into depth on how to find your Superfan in my book, The Creative Introvert, but for now, I just want to get to grips with the importance of starting with the Superfan, and have a think about who might that be for you.
Regardless of what you’re offering in terms of a service or a product, you’re creating change.
It could be the change from stress to relief, when someone who is desperately looking for a gift for their friend finds your homemade cactus earrings.
Or it could be helping a client change their clunky, outdated website into one they feel good about showcasing.
The point is you’re finding the feeling you create when someone finds you and what you do.
This is the thing or things you create. What do you do?
If you love drawing monkeys, is that the final product you offer your Superfan? A drawing of a monkey?
OR are you solving their problem by offering a monkey on a t-shirt? Are you uploading your monkey design to a site like Redbubble who do print on demand, reducing any overheads, or are you going to a local screenprinter because that’s what your Superfan would want?
Have a think, and be prepared to change things up.
Agh, the money question. This is totally individual and if I had to guess, I’d say the majority of you aren’t charging enough for your creative work (particularly the service-based businesses) I will never recommend charging something you aren’t comfortable with.
I’m all for letting your Superfan determine your price point, and if that isn’t sustainable for you (for example, if you do make a physical product and can barely cover costs) then I recommend supplementing your income with something else that is cost-efficient.
Again, I go into pricing in more depth in my book. For now, just come up with your best guess or whatever you’re currently charging – and run the experiment later to find out.
This is where the marketing part really kicks in. Start by brainstorming: what are all the different possibilities? Hint: Blogging, Guest blogging, Podcasts, Being a guest on podcasts, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, local press, magazines, workshops, email, universities, Meetup groups…
People are in a lot of places! More importantly, where are you people?
Ditch your own opinions on these outlets for a second, and consider where your Superfans are at.
That’s exactly where you’ll reach them.
This is more to do with your actual selling strategy, which is sort of a whole other podcast but worth thinking about here.
In some cases, particularly with products, you’ll want to be thinking about guarantees – do you offer a refund policy and is it clear and simple?
If it’s a service, how can you make the process as easy and delightful as possible for the client?
Have a think about what makes something a no-brainer for you, and how you might be able to offer the same sense of ‘HELL YES.’
Now we have the questions, we run our experiment.
You’ve already done this if you started to answer those questions, even in your head. The point is just to give your best guess at the answers to those questions. That’s your first hypothesis.
For example, you think your Superfan is new mums age 25-35, who want to get back into exercise gently. You offer post-natal yoga classes in your local community centre. You think they’ll pay $10 for a class, and with 3 attendees, that ensures you make a profit. You think you can reach them by flyering in the local cafe you’ve seen some potential Superfans at, and setting up a Facebook page. You’ll continue to post ideas and short helpful videos on Facebook, and share them on other community Facebook pages your Superfans might hang out at.
You can go into more depth of course, but effectively that’s all your hypothesis is.
Your method is the steps you’ll take to find out whether you’re right about your Superfan.
This might be going to a coffee shop you know these mums hang out, and starting a conversation with them.
OK – that’s not very introvert friendly, I’ll admit. So is there another approach you’re willing to try?
Maybe it’s joining a Facebook group for young mums, and going from there.
The aim is to get some real solid evidence that this particular group is looking for a solution you can offer. Are they even interested in getting back into exercise, or is it super low on their priority list? Would they pay $10 a week or a discount at $50 for a 6 week course? This is where you find out.
The best part of this approach is that it gives you a self-imposed deadline. It’s much harder to procrastinate when you know you have a looming date in your calendar to figure out the answer to this question.
Give yourself a set period of time, like 2 weeks, and get it in your calendar!
What came of your experiment? Reflect on what you learned. Maybe you found out that your hypothesis was correct, these new mums are ready and raring to go, and would be willing to jump at your post-natal yoga classes.
Or, you found that this demographic was not what you thought, and you go back to step 1 – coming up with another, more appropriate Superfan.
This is an overview of the exact way I work with myself and other creative introverts to get unstuck in their business challenges. It really is amazing what you can find out and how much time, money and energy you save when you just run through one experiment, let alone follow up experiments.
Of course you can take what I’ve suggested in this podcast (and I’ve listed it all in full at thecreativeintrovert.com/marketing and go through it on your own, and I have no doubt you’ll rock it. But if you’d like to go through the steps and run an experiment with me and some fellow creative innies, I’ve set up an email challenge where you can do just that.
This podcast is made possible only by means of my generous supporters on Patreon. Thank you! Supporting the Creative Introvert podcast also gets you lots of goodies, from a Monthly Ask Me Anything to a copy of my new BOOK, The Creative Introvert: How to Build a Business You Love on Your Terms. Hitting milestones also funds future projects, and ideas guided by you, my supporters.
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