Internet Marketing, Selling Artwork online, Social Media, Keywords
Mike Johnson and I had a chance to connect at the J&M Café recently for coffee and a great chat. We talked of many things but, as is our wont, we eventually turned to how we can help our clients better market themselves both in the physical world and online. We were exploring the role of Social Media in promoting businesses, and had something of a revelation: Social Media turns corporate walls transparent.
We all tend to think of companies as monolithic behemoths, faceless messages written by committees spewing from loudspeakers. Of course, corporations are made up of people, just like you and me. People make the policies, people make the decisions, in the end people are what make things happen whether good or bad.
As every kid with a lemonade stand knows, you sell more lemonade to friends, neighbors, and relatives than to strangers. The same is true for cars, hardware, computers… everything! That's the goal of branding: create a more positive feeling for your product or service, create a desire for a customer to return to you because they have a connection, to make friends of your clients.
Marketing is changing in the 21st century. We consumers are resisting having irrelevant messages pushed at us and we have the tools to significantly reduce that outbound marketing. We want to seek out information and products and we want to have a more personal interaction with those we patronize. We want to see, talk to, and really get to know "the man behind the curtain." We talk to our digital friends about the service we get, product quality, problems we had with companies. If a business wants to survive in the new world, it must engage. It must pull down the curtain and engage their clients on a personal level. They must turn their walls to glass so we can see the humanity of the organization.
As business owners and advisors, we have the tools to accomplish this - with more arriving every day. Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn (*) provide us the ability to connect and interact with our community as well as tools to monitor what's being said about us and proactively join those conversations. The biggest obstacles aren't technological ones, but rather mindset limitations. The successful companies of the past were the ones that were able to adapt to changes as they presented themselves. The winners of tomorrow will be the ones that best adapt to the changes of today.
So what's the takeaway?
- Not only do you need to start a social media program for your company, you need to make it part of the company's DNA.
- You need to learn to recognize and react to the little trends of today, because they will be the rules of the game tomorrow, and finally:
- Your operation needs to reveal the humanity within. It needs to tear down the curtains and install glass walls. Make more connections, make more friends, sell more lemonade!
*Google+ may eventually open up to businesses, but as of now we've been shut out.
I was prompted to write this post by my artist friend Clara Berta. Altho we’ve never had the occasion to meet in person, we’ve become friends via Facebook and twitter. Clara asked if I had a recommendation about where to sell her wonderful work online and it got me thinking, how do I answer that question? Bear with me while I digress a bit…
Several good friends have recently had books published by major publishers and it has been interesting to observe the process. One of the most fascinating aspects is how little promotion the publisher actually does on the author’s behalf. In fact, to a large extent, it is left to the author to promote their work, sometimes consuming their entire advance in promotion costs. As I reflected on this I realized that there is a lesson to be gleaned from that experience for artists and photographers… actually anyone who markets a product on the Web.
The short answer to Clara’s question is that, if all the technical aspects are in order- Payment types accepted, fulfillment matters, reporting, etc.- it doesn’t matter where your work is sold. The key to being successful online is bringing people to your product, The more people the more likely one or more of them will be interested in buying it. Ultimately, the responsibility for transporting them to your work falls to you. Here are some tips to making that journey easier:
Create an online community that you can announce new work to. The primary Social Media services are, of course, twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. How much weight you put on each, depends on the nature of your work or product.
Create a video based on your new work. It doesn’t have to be long- 2 minutes max- and tell your audience what your motivations were in planning and executing your artwork. If you can, film yourself in the process of creation and include a little of it in the video. If you work from photos, you could show where your inspiration came from. And, of course, show the final piece and tell people where they can find it for sale. Put it up on your own branded YouTube channel (it’s free, remember)
Create an opt-in email list for newsletters and targeted promotions.
Create a Blog post specifically for that piece. Embed your YouTube video. Include a still shot of the final piece, and write your post optimizing for a specific word or group of words. These are called KeyWords. Be very specific. If you’ve done a painting of a group of horses running, you might try optimizing on the word artwork, but a little research with Google’s Keyword Tool, will quickly show that there are about 2 million searches on artwork but there are also 141 million sites results. That’s your competition. Your chances of getting anywhere near the first page of search results (where +94% of people stop looking) are remote at best, and additionally the term is so broad that of the few that actually make it to your site thru search engines, will probably not be purchasers. How about painting of horses? That’s actually not bad, about 4500 searches there and only 33,000 page results… better but still unlikely that you will rise above the din. What about painting of horses running? 390 searches and under 5000 competitors. A much friendlier scenario. This is what is called a “long tail keyword.” I know, you’re saying “Why don’t I want to be seen by millions of people?” Popular keywords (like painting, or horses) can bring lots of traffic if you happen to be on page one, but it is unfiltered visitors. They may be looking to buy or they may be just looking for pretty pictures. The longer the keyword tail the more “qualified” the visitor is. If your painting is of horses running in a pasture in Walla Walla, Washington, and the visitor finds you by searching for paintings of horses running in a pasture in Walla Walla Washington, chances are pretty good you are going to make a sale. This takes some practice and tweaking, but it is well worthwhile. Make sure you make it clear where they can buy your piece!
Use that social media network to promote your blog post and the location of your work. Post a photo on Facebook and include the link in the caption. Same with Flickr, and twitpic. Spread the word with twitter by linking to your blog and all the other places you’ve created content.
Finally, it’s perfectly OK to feature past blog posts later. Let’s say you decide to go through this process once a week. After a couple months, you will have quite a few posts that feature your work, go ahead and promote them again to reintroduce the work to you previous contacts and to show the breadth of your abilities to new additions to your network.
To sum up: Pick a service that can do what you need in terms of the technical nuts and bolts of online sales then take the initiative to create and execute a promotional strategy to drive interested potential customers to that site.
If you need help in creating that strategy, be sure to give us a call or email. We’re happy to help!