Fundamentals of Marketing explained to artists #1 : Positioning

Hey!

I propose you to discover marketing basics over one letter every 2 weeks as I publish the first 4 episodes from my newsletter Not Art Fundamentals here.

Fear not young padawans, nothing crazy, it will be an introduction for artists. I'll make it as easy to understand as I can ;). If it’s not, feel free to reply telling me what wasn’t clear.

Here's the plan:

  • Ep01: Positioning, be at the right place, at the right time
  • Ep02: Diagnosis and the power of knowing your audience =D
  • Ep03: Application to Artists: Are we selling our Art?
  • Ep04: It’s simple but not easy.

There will be a couple of exercises, and a gift to reassure you in the fourth letter. I hope it will.

Q: I am not getting any traction on social media. Is my art really bad?

We pour all our heart and passion into our art. We work on the final touches and finally, after many, many hours of work, post it over Instagram...and it flops. No one cares about it. It ends up sinking in the unending flow of pictures, feeding the algorithm.

It can be heartbreaking to see so much effort go to “waste”. It makes us lose confidence in our skills and in ourselves.

I’m not one to tell you what to do with your social media. I’m far from knowledgeable about the question and if you check my follow count: it speaks for itself. I don’t care much.

What I can speak about is how marketers approach it. Give you another point of view that can help you understand that, No, your art is pretty cool actually!

“Bad” is a subjective concept.

How do you define “bad”? Bad only exists when compared to something else like “good” or “meh”.

Moreover, it doesn’t make sense in a business world. Everything can be sold, irrelevant to quality. If you doubt this, I raise you... the Pet Rock! (I love this)

https://www.petrock.com/

BEHOLD! 20 bucks for a pet...rock. Would you say it’s a good, or a bad rock?

Apparently, people think it’s good. It’s even featured in the next Minions movie (2022).

I’m sure you know artists nailing the insta-game. From your perspective, their art is “bad”, perhaps low effort. From their buyers’, the story is wildly different. What we see as not good enough, they can appreciate it for an experience no other art piece can bring to them.

You might be wondering why, what do they have, that you don’t.

Let’s take a look at your art, not from an artist perspective, but from a buyer one. When a product doesn’t succeed, it can be the consequence of a few factors:

  • a wrong positioning.
  • a poor quality product.
  • a failed communication over the product.

From our point of view, we tend to measure ourselves through skills alone. Those skills often translate in the usual artist narrative as our products. We then sell a “poor quality product”. But again, this is our own measurement unit.

We fail to take into account our positioning: (are we in the right place, at the right time?) and communication (we copy our peers instead of asking our audience).

Selling a product is not a matter of putting stuff out there that we “think” might work. It’s first about listening to people and understanding what’s important to them. What are their measurement units?

Let’s illustrate it with a painting I did 2 years ago.

From an artist perspective, I’m sure you’ll find way more mistakes but here are a few:

  • Volumes are not so great (the belt doesn’t follow the body)
  • Painting is meh, way too many brushstrokes
  • I do have a couple of tangents
  • Composition wise...Not the greatest.

One post got 8 upvotes, the other one went over 3000. The difference? One was in front of the right group of people, the other one, not so much. Both posted in fans communities, so the fanart factor does not matter here.

Quality of your art is subjective. Putting it in front of people valuing it, using their own units of quality is called “Positioning” in marketing. And it is a crucial and fundamental concept.

Only when you have your positioning , can you decide on the relevance of promotional tools such as:

  • SEO,
  • building a website,
  • Having a portfolio on Artstation,
  • Getting a presence on TikTok but not on Twitter,
  • Reaching out to local events, weddings, who knows.
  • You can even know how much to price for your services!

Those decisions, you don't have to make them all. Whether you chose them or not depends on your positioning.

Your art is not bad, it might just not be in the right place, at the right time.

Define what you want and why you need it:

  • Social media are tools to help you reach a goal. What is your goal?
  • Why do you need traction on Social media in the first place?
  • What does “bad” mean to you?

Sources:

Petrock:
https://www.petrock.com/

Kaleigh Moore on Positioning:
https://www.everyonehatesmarketers.com/podcast/position-freelance-marketing
Her website that I find really well positioned:
https://www.kaleighmoore.com/

Definition of Quality:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quality

Definition of Positioning:
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/definition/positioning

Different by Young Me Moon (her book, but this is a good write up by Bill Taylor)
https://hbr.org/2010/05/why-being-different-makes-all

You! (or more precisely, 15 independant artists, board games creators and publishers, Art directors. Thank you so so much for accepting my 45min interview!)

And you? What’s your positioning?

Send an email or DM if you learned something or just want to discuss about this topic!

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