As an artist you have a total right to create completely for yourself. In fact truly resonant creative products (music, writing, acting, craft, painting, dance, whatever it is) generally come from a place of complete authenticity and disregard for who wants them. But if you want to reach an audience, connect with a market and turn your art into something that generates revenue then at some point you’re probably going to have to do one of two things – get lucky or get real!
If you’re in the get real camp then at the very, very least you need to ask yourself 2 questions about every single product or service you have up for grabs. Who wants it and why. Amazingly lots of creatives totally bypass this process and then wonder why they fail to make consistent sales, reach audiences or connect with others. Creativity and its byproducts is such a spiritual and ethereal process that grounding it into day to day boxes like products and markets seems completely irrelevant. But if you are invested in bringing your creative output to the world outside your studio, loungeroom, laptop or imagination you may want to read on and answer these 2 key questions.
1. Who is your market?
No matter how fantastic your product, your market is not ever, ever “everyone”. Even if what you do has huge mass appeal your market is not ever, ever “everyone”. Even if you are the very best at what you do and LOTS of people love what you have on offer, your market is still not ever, ever “everyone”. Got that one!? Not ever, ever everyone!
I was trying to trick myself on this one the other day, test myself if I could find any singular item for which the answer is everyone and I came up with nothing. Toilets? That for sure right? We all gotta go. Nup. Firstly “Toilet” is not a single product. It’s a group of products and as such has a group of diverse markets. Composting for the hippies, squat for Asia, cheap and probably plastic sistern for the budget conscious, ceramic for the mid range, self flushing for germ phobes, designer for the fashion conscious, bidets for the euros and those crazy shell toilet seats for the exuberant or for the telly addicts the T-Elliot rear facing (pictured above!).
So you have to work out who the market is for every single product you have to sell. Say you’re a painter then your products might be, postcards, prints, limited edition prints, framed, stretched, commissioned works. Every size and variable makes that product something different and every market in turn different. Different budgets, values, sensibilities, genders, age, ethnicity etc etc. You need to know who wants what you’ve got inside and out. One of the ways you can narrow this down and then find your hook to reel them in is point #2.
2. What problem are people solving with your product?
What pain point is your product talking to? What problem does your product solve for people? By working this out you can work out how to hook in your customer. Here are a few examples of products people who have done my workshops have had and the kinds of problems these products solve –
Product – Hand Made Ceramicware for Cafes
For Who – Elite Higher End Café Owner, Urban and high tourist areas
Problem – How do I make my café stand out?
Solutions offered – Status of the café lifted, exclusive oppulant atmosphere created through hand crafted and bespoke goods, interior design enhanced, café positioned as a higher end product, rich customers flowing in, positive reviews flowing out, instagram and social media talking point created.
Product – $20 Photo prints of local landmarks in a coastal town
For Who – Tourist at a local market, mainly female in 30s from the city
Problem – I want this holiday to last forever.
Solution offered – A beautiful reminder of the holiday experience, an ongoing connection with the emotions felt at that landmark, a talking piece to share stories and the experience with others.
Product – A Teen Choir
For who – Musical teens, mainly girls 12-15 years.
Problem – Desire to be in Glee
Solution Offered – Learn how to sing glee-style songs really well, connect with other glee-ish teens, performing glee style at concerts and showcases.
Once you have identified the problems your customers face and how your product is the perfect solution, make sure every bit of marketing copy and materials you create hook into this.
So if you’re having troubles connecting with audiences or making sales take a step back and answer these questions about your products.