Monday, November 12, 2012

"Hustle" aka "Marketing"


Living an independent, creative and free life requires a fair bit of what I call "hustle," which is known in the actual and real business world as "marketing." Now that may sound like a daunting concept to you, but think of it this way. Unless you know me, personally, my marketing has reached you. You've found me and you're reading this. Take a look at all the countries that people live in who read my blog. Impressive, isn't it?  All of these readers, including you my dear friend, can be attributed to my hustle regarding this blog.

*insert self-congratulatory pat on the back here*

The word "marketing" is one of those big, scary, business words that intimidate the sometimes shy, creative temperaments of artists like me. It's an intimidating word like "deficit," "revenue," "optimized," and "consultation clarity meeting." It's one of those words that, honestly, makes people like me run for the hills. "Ah! Scary professional thing! Don't understand! Too intimidating! Let the suit-wearing people deal with those words and just let me play with art and create nifty stuff!"

And that's fine, if you feel like that, when I use official-sounding business words. I used to feel exactly the same way. But I quickly learned that, right now, I can't afford a P.R. person or a savvy personal assistant or any other suit-type person to take care of the "fitting crazy little me into the actual, real world" duties. I'd either have to learn how to do them, myself, or be like Henry Darger who's impressive body of work was not discovered until after his death. In short, if you don't share your work with the world, honey, it's gonna take a long time for the world to recognize that you're doing anything, at all.

 One of Henry Darger's paintings

Personally, I'd like to be alive to hear when someone either likes or hates my creative projects, so that left me no choice but to tackle the big, bad, normally-reserved-for-people-in-ties jobs, myself.

Let me explain to you some concepts and what I mean.

Basically, no one knows that this little corner of the internet called "Visionary Bri" exists unless I go out and tell people that it's here. Every time I make a blog post, I visit a few key sites that I've found and post the link there so people can come and look around.

As I go about my daily life, I have stickers with my blog address on them that I won in a contest from PrintRunner and I hand out the stickers. My website is also on my business cards which I hand out, as well. If you don't know me and I happen to come across you, chances are good that either one of  both of these things will be given to you.

Any time you go out and actively tell people about what you're doing, letting them see your face and directing them to where they can see more about you or your product, is called "active marketing."Attending seminars, joining committees and rubbing elbows with like-minded people. In internet world, "(a)ctive marketing campaigns are designed to drive traffic to a site immediately. Often times, active campaigns are paid placements that only drive traffic so long as the ad is running and once completed, traffic begins to dwindle immediately."

"Passive marketing" is simpler, but some thought has to be put into it to maximize its efforts. Any billboard you see, any sign hung outside a business, any radio commercial you hear, any link you see is passive marketing. You make the initial effort to create a marketing plan (commercial, sign, etc.), but you don't have to be there every time someone sees it. In internet world, it is placing an "ad one single time that produce(s) sales for five continuous years. Customers stream in to your company saying they remembered the ad spot you ran years ago and they still felt compelled to work with you and your organization. Too good to be true, right?This is exactly what passive campaigns are designed to do."

Once you know 1) who you're trying to market to and 2) what would be the optimal venue for your advertising, marketing is pretty easy. It doesn't have to be a huge multi-million dollar campaign, but it certainly can be, if you have the money to throw at it (which I currently don't). Think Super Bowl commercials. So much money spent on one commercial and who in The United States can forget the donkey that wanted to be a Budweiser Clydesdale?

Once you understand the concepts, marketing is easy!

To start out, scope out the 'hood like a thief in the night. Start out right where you are, either at your computer or your home town. Start off with friends. If people know who you are, first, the chances of them being interested in what you're doing is higher. Do you know any local merchants who might let you put your business card or a flyer up in their store? Ask them about it. Always ask. The worst that they can say is "no."

You can search the internet to find communities of like-minded people and I'm always in favor of this because I can do it late at night without having to get out of bed!

Now, I am lucky enough to live in a town where there's a university and it's pretty sizable. People overlook universities, but they offer a substantial population of all kinds of people who would be interested in what you're doing. Plus, there's a new crop of them coming in every August, so take advantage of that if you can.

One of my marketing schemes that I came up with (and you can feel free to steal if you like) was my little marbled boxes. First, I cut the bottom off of a graham cracker box so that I had the bottom plus about 1 inch going up the sides. Then, I took some computer paper, took out my marbling kit and marbled some paper.

I then glued the marbled paper to the boxes with some plain white glue and affixed a little sign.

See the pretty marbled paper?

"Please Take One" finished Marbled Box with stickers

So, I made 2 of these little boxes. I put them in my purse and I hit the streets of my town. My first stop was my local university. I had to park The Visionary Van and walk for a bit, but it was okay. I used to attend this university back when I was younger, but it took some doing for me to find the "free for all" bulletin boards where you can post anything you want. Eventually, I did find one, though. I took two thumb tacks and stuck the box to the bulletin board at about eye level. Now, the little box sits there, waiting for people to find it.

Did people look at me funny, walking around a campus looking a bit confused on a Sunday. Yes and no, but I did spy some college boys checking me out, so I don't think my presence was entirely unwanted there. ;-)
I also took a box and put it in the local "when I was in school here, I spent more money here than I did on tuition" coffee shop. It's got a different name, now, and is under new ownership. But there was still a place for local people to put business cards and the like.

Marketing isn't all that hard, once you break it down. I encourage to come up with your own ideas to get your work out there in the public eye or steal mine. Maybe you won't be able to make a living off your creative work, yet, but it's better to give people an opportunity to be interested in you so that you can work on making a living at it.

Keep creating, my dears. Don't shy back from telling the world what you're up to and don't wait 'til it's "perfect." Get out there and show 'em what you're made of!

And please remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!

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