You require Online Marketing to reach and gain new customers. However, your creative expression and authenticity are not on the line, they are all compatible.
How so? Well, do you know what the best thing is that Online Marketing has to offer? It grants you many possibilities. That may sound like a lack of clarity, but it really means that there is a type or channel of marketing out there that suits you. And this is important because you need marketing.
Online Marketing makes you visible on the internet, it creates awareness of your art and it helps you acquire customers.
Depending on what galleries you work with, you may not have to pay too much attention to it. However, doing it yourself (or because you must) allows you to be free to shape your personal brand as you wish and to become more successful with your profession.
By experience, however, I can imagine what your priority is: the actual creative part of your profession. Here, you can express yourself fully and be truly authentic. Marketing, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. This is what you are thinking, isn’t it?
In this article, I want to show you that there is no requirement for Online Marketing to feel commercial or inauthentic. Online Marketing can and should be authentic.
There is also no need for you to acquire customers by cold calling or similar techniques or to sacrifice some of your valuable time.
1. This Is Because There Is No Need for You to Use All Marketing Channels and Types.
Really. You don’t. Just imagine that you signed up for all the Social Media channels that are out there. You start by searching for blog posts on the internet to learn how you make use of them. While doing so, you will find various posts with many different ideas, for example concerning the posting times both by hour and frequency.
Of course, you feel pressured. Whether it is images for Pinterest or videos for YouTube, every format will bring its very own challenges into play. Some of them you may overcome more easily than others.
Now, what happens, if you have nothing to say at all? You may ponder for an hour and then give up or you publish something that you are not very fond of. And you only do it because you feel like you have to do it. The time for your creative projects is lost and your followers notice right away that something is off.
Afterwards, you put Social Media aside and you decide that you should proceed with the development of your website. For this, you have bought numerous Udemy courses, which you watch and generate heaps of notes from. Those courses tell you how you can build your website and blog. They also tell you how to do SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how to integrate E-Mail and Affiliate Marketing.
I am only guessing here, but you are overwhelmed by now, aren’t you?
By the way, it is always a good idea to first familiarize yourself with the platform you are using. For ARTMO, I have already written a beginner’s guide that helps you do that.
2. Take One Step After Another.
Online Marketing is work and even though there is a lot of information on the internet, no one can actually tell you when your specific target group is active and how much they want to read or see every day. You have to try it out yourself. Therefore, you better start where you feel comfortable. This applies to your timings as well as to the marketing types and channels you choose.
In my article about social networks and online marketplaces for artists, I have already pointed out that a small selection is often better.
Please be aware that you do not have to use any marketing type or channel that you do not want to use.
First, you require a website. This is not negotiable because your website is both the starting point for your profession online and the target point for your customers. Blog, newsletter or shop you can add later on, too.
For example, you could start with a Twitter account that is publically viewable to post your news before you offer a newsletter. You may also use ARTMO as your shop instead of adding one to your website with WooCommerce.
Then you should choose 1 to 3 networks that you run in combination with your website. The first step is to look at your own needs: What media do you like the most? If you feel comfortable with videos, then YouTube or VIMEO may be the right choice for you. If you are an avid reader, you may look into building a blog and a newsletter or using Social Media such as Twitter and LinkedIn. If images are pretty much the only thing you can live with, then you would turn towards Instagram or Pinterest.
The second step is to compare your needs to the needs of your target group. It would be a waste of time to create your profile on a platform that your target group does not frequent.
3. But What Is It That Makes Marketing Necessary?
Alright. You know now that you don’t need everything and that you can choose whatever marketing channels and types that suit you and your target group best.
I’ll ask anyway: Why do you need marketing? For you, it is all about your creative projects. You want your artworks to be acknowledged without the dependency on a popular name. You don’t like that potential customers are usually drawn to high follower and like counts. Why should that be of importance? You may also feel like marketing is making you act against your own values.
Unfortunately, revenue doesn’t appear out of nowhere and the market is saturated and chaotic. For you to sell your art, however, it is important that potential customers know of you and your artworks. Online Marketing gives you the chance to stand out from the crowds within the chaotic market and to become visible to potential customers.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to change or act differently in order to stand out. You are not alone with your dislike for blatant advertising and notorious phrases. Let this dislike be your guiding light because it shows you what you should avoid imitating.
4. Is Marketing All About Advertising?
When you hear the term “advertising,” you probably think of the commercial breaks on TV, the posters at bus stops or the banners on web pages. You may also think that this is marketing.
Although advertising is a part of marketing, marketing itself includes much more than that. You can even split it into four different marketing instruments: product politics, price politics, communication politics and sales politics. Advertising belongs to communication politics. This is where you get into contact with your customers. Online Marketing then narrows the corresponding activities down to the internet.
Especially when it comes to communication, is it important to know your customers well. This way, you can use a little psychology to speak to their emotions. Every marketing expert knows that buying decisions are made by emotions; especially happiness is highly profitable. You can probably see now why advertisements display prime examples of happy people in perfect environments. Of course, this appears inauthentic.
And, of course, you would think that advertising looks like that (and marketing as well). But you know exactly that no one lives a perfect life. Even worse: You can assume that everyone knows it. Every fibre of your being resists the idea of feigning bliss like that. How could you feel comfortable with this? Isn’t there a way to prevent your own Online Marketing from becoming inauthentic?
5. Authenticity in Marketing: Is It Really Possible?
Let’s first be fair and ask yourself: Would you want to buy from pessimistic people who have no confidence in their work or themselves? Or who do not have anything to say about their so-called passion?
What if those people are like that in reality? What else would be authentic? Well, the key lies in the slight difference between private and personal.
Let’s say that you are in a bad mood because nothing works out well today. You may have forgotten to buy coffee, you may have stepped into dog poop or you may suffer from a broken heart. I get it. All of those examples can influence your professional life, BUT they are private.
You must not forget that your website as well as your public profiles are meant to communicate your profession. Yes, you can have a bad day or you may need some time to become satisfied with your artwork. However, it is your creative work that is your true passion, no matter the circumstances. You are supposed to convey that passion to your customers; the pride when you have completed an artwork and the challenges that you have mastered.
If your artwork was born out of hardship and challenges or if it bears witness to it, it is not a downgrade and surely no reason for lamentation. In German, we have something called as “Herzblut,” whose direct translation would be the blood of the heart. It is the perception of the deepest creative passion there is. As such, “Herzblut” is personal because it mints your profession.
If you communicate authentically, you automatically attract your dream customers. This gives rise to a network that you love to interact with. More people will become aware of you and will be inspired by your passion.
By the way, completing your profile on ARTMO does not only enable you to upload your artworks or to write articles. It is also a great way to present yourself to the community and to build a foundation to engage with them.
6. Why Is Marketing That Customer-Centric?
You surely know that it is important in marketing to know the needs of your customers. You want to appeal to them and make them aware of you. The question is to what extent the customer centricity limits your expressive freedom.
Don’t worry: Although your customers are of importance, they do not define the core of your profession. You do. As a creative professional, you cannot always bend to whatever trend. And you shouldn’t. Why would you start drawing caricatures of characters from the new marvel movies, if you are an abstract painter?
You own a very personal style, which makes your art highly subjective.
This is why you don’t start with your customers to build your personal brand. You start with yourself. And this is your chance to be authentic and to appeal to your customers because of that. If you feel comfortable, your customers will, too. And believe me when I tell you that your customers are sensitive by nature.
This sensitivity is a challenge in itself. Why? Although your authenticity and your expressive freedom are quite necessary for the success of your work, your customers have desires and interests as well. This can be the format you are using to address them (such as video or text) or they may have questions about you and your work they seek to be answered. Therefore, you should inform yourself about your target group before you start publishing your contents.
Think of a way that contributes to both sides.
But note that it is not an option to hide in the fear of making mistakes.
7. For Your Online Marketing to Be Successful, You Need to Show Yourself.
I know that many creative professionals feel uncomfortable to advertise their work, no matter how authentic they are allowed to be (or even because of that).
So I will not fool you. It takes courage to show yourself and to talk about your work and yourself. If you have met people in the past that laughed off your work because it is “breadless art,” then it probably is even harder on you.
But please be aware that there are many people out there who would like to see and buy your artworks. You can reach them with Online Marketing. You must also know that you will never be able to get all people excited for you. This is why you only address those who do get excited. Those are your dream customers.
Ultimately, this only works, if you show yourself. Luckily for you, there are marketing types out there that are less intrusive. Whichever you choose may ease the burden on you.
By the way, selling your art necessitates you to make them available. Have you tried uploading your artworks to ARTMO?
8. Inbound Marketing Types, for Example, Are Less Intrusive.
Instead of going to your customers as it is with Outbound Marketing, Inbound Marketing lets them come to you. There is Content Marketing, for example, that can be added to the field of Inbound Marketing in many ways. Here, you create useful and interesting contents for your target group. They may search for them via search engines such as Google and they find your contents because you optimized them for their needs and for search engines (SEO).
Social Media, too, lets you publish contents of value. They then can be found through your activities on the platform or through hashtags (#). If you add E-Mail Marketing to your mix, it is also the customers that come to you. By entering your newsletter on their own, they allow you to send them e-mails.
Finally, all of your online activities lead to your website. Here, you have enough space and customization opportunities to win your customers over. In your way. That is Website Marketing.
As you can see, you don’t need to be the loudest person in the room to be heard.
9. It Is Your Communication That Is Crucial.
Online Marketing is all about the right kind of communication that works both for you and your target group. You may have previously thought that communication in marketing solely refers to you talking about yourself and your offers. In this chapter, I would like to refute this idea. Good marketing enters into a dialog with your customers.
You address your customers directly, you lead them to the information you provide and you show them that you understand them. They want to recognize their own thoughts and feelings within your communication. They want to be included. What benefits do your customers gain from your work? What does your art have to do with them?
The way you communicate determines whether you stand out from the crowd and whether you build trust. Using the dialog, you can reach your customers on a personal level, which allows them to feel your authenticity. This is where they decide whether to believe your words or not.
But don’t think that words are the only means of communication. Images (of your artworks and yourself), videos (including body language and voice), colors and the organization of your contents communicate with potential customers as well. You even communicate with them, if you don’t say or do something.
Communication plays a crucial role in how you are perceived by your potential customers and if they become aware of you at all. You should also define early where, to whom and what you communicate. Since there are so many possibilities in Online Marketing, the decision is not always easy. I have to admit that. However, all those possibilities also help you because they ensure that there are types and channels of marketing that suit you for sure.
Try to limit your channels and methods to build your online presence following your own rhythm. Stay true to yourself and find out where your boundaries are; regarding your target group, your time and your comfort zone.
Your Online Marketing can and should be authentic!
Some while ago, I read something very true on LinkedIn. I will shortly summarize it to you from memory: Your customers either come to you because you do something specific or they come to you simply because you don’t do it.
In what way and to what extent you display your authenticity determines what customers come to you. Make sure they are your dream customers!
11. A Few Final Words
I hope that this article has shown you how Online Marketing can support your goals and values as an artist. Of course, this is but a simple scratch on the surface.
If you want to learn more about Online Marketing, you are very welcome to join the Online Art Marketing group on ARTMO. Here, both marketers and artists write about their knowledge and findings to help (fellow) artists make the most out of their professions.
Let’s read each other soon!
This is the official translation of the article “Authentisches Online-Marketing für Kreativschaffende” on LinkedIn by Naomi Oelker.
Article submitted on May 30, 2021.