Are your attempts to sell your fluid art products and services not working like they used to? Marketing today has changed. Now marketing is both complex and intuitive, transparent and relational, mobile accessible and data driven, integrated with others and yet personally connected.
Sounds so complicated, doesn’t it? Well here are 5 Ps to make it understandable and accessible to everyone. This article is chock-full of ideas, but don’t feel like you need to implement all of them. As you read, a few will jump out at you and those are the few you could decide to start with this week! Later you can add a few more if you like. Keep it simple.
1st P: PEOPLE
Who are your people?
Choosing your ideal client means knowing their demographics and psychographics. These are the people who you would love to work with and who would gladly pay you. You need to more fully understand who they are and why they come to you.
The fastest way is to reach your “low hanging fruit.” These are the people that already know, like, and trust you. To really grow, you will need to expand that circle. It will be an effort, like the work of setting up an expansion-ladder to get to the higher, harder to reach fruit at the top of the tree!
Since I teach and sell fluid art, and I teach teachers how to teach internationally in an online membership program, most of my examples are going to be about getting students to your class. However, the 5 Principles will work for selling art and other products and services too. Most folks skip the first 4 Ps and go right to Promotion. This is a mistake!
I have long since accepted that everybody is not my people! Everybody isn’t attracted to me to be their teacher. I only want the specific people that can learn from me in my program. This is true of you too. You have a segment or niche people that is ideal for you.
For example, many class leaders feel they can teach anyone, they feel like they can assist their students with all kinds of problems, and they teach what they’re in the mood to teach rather than focusing on solving their clients most want and would benefit from.
Well maybe it is true that you can help everyone— but unfortunately, you cannot market to everyone.
But if you try to market to everyone, people won’t be able to tell if what you’re promoting will help them, because you’re speaking in generalizations instead of specifics. When we do that, folks don’t buy. The way you get to know your ideal client is by knowing their psychographics more so than their demographics.
This drastically affects how you market online and offline. Is your ideal client an active member of the country club? If so then make sure that you participate in country club activities as much as possible. The idea is to see the world through your client’s eyes. What do those eyes see? What mailers does she look at? What weekly activities does she go to?
Are you starting to see the big picture of how knowing your People directly affects how you Promote?
Another important issue is making sure you’re consciously choosing your ideal client vs. just considering who you currently attract. We all start out going after that aforementioned easy low hanging fruit. The immature give up after they get all those people and pout, make excuses, and feel they are the victim and nothing good happens to them for long. Now it’s time to mature— and get an extension ladder!
Make no mistake the part that is being extended and stretched is you! We do this by gaining new skills and having a positive community to hold us accountable to reach our goals.
I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but in marketing, the fewer types of people you focus on the more you attract. The more narrowly focused you are regarding the person you want to attract will result in a larger number of people in your classes. I’ve coached many teachers that resist this concept and feel like they are going to lose students this way— but it’s not true.
2nd P: PROBLEMS
What are problems your people have that can be solved through your business journey?
Primary: they want art on their walls or to learn how to do fluid art. But there is also what we call “Secondary Gains” this is often the hidden reasons why people not only try your class but especially why they keep coming back. These secondary motivators are responsible for our ultimate business success. A great resource for discovering yours is what your students write on their class surveys. Also, consider what they say when they are recommending your class to a friend?
Your student has problems they will gladly pay you to help them solve through your offerings and class. But it can’t just be any problem— it must be very specific pain points that would drive them to want to work with you.
Can’t think of any “problems” you solve? Oh, you are about to re-think your business! Even if you’re creating a “themed” class based on a certain technique like colander pour or angle wing pour, you still need to solve a problem in your class, or it won’t sell.
Even if that problem is something as simple as finding a peaceful space for them to unwind and do self-care and indulge their creativity.
In any business, no matter what you’re selling, the best way to sell is to actually stop trying to sell it. Instead, focus on creating ways of solving your ideal student’s problems. People will price shop for an art and crafts class because they’re a dime a dozen, but if you specialize in solving specific problems that your ideal student suffers from— they won’t price shop. They’ll see the value in what you have to offer and buy.
Once you understand who your ideal student is, that puts you in the perfect position for identifying what their top 5 problems are— ones you can solve through your classes. If you don’t understand what they’re challenged by in their life then your website text, social media posts, and emails will reflect your lack of understanding, and you won’t attract the following you want. After all, people don’t follow leaders they don’t have faith in.
How do you help your ideal student feel like you get them? The key is to use their language to express those thoughts! That means staying away from your “artist speak” or “technical mumbo jumbo.” Instead what are the kinds of thoughts that keep our potential fluid art students like up at night? Use those words and feelings in your marketing.
Now can you see why it’s so critical to know your people and understand their problems if you want to profit?
3rd P: POSITIONING
How do you Position marketing your solutions to your People’s Problems?
Marketing is a holistic, multi-step process of getting people interested in how you can help them through your products and services so you make the money you deserve while making a difference in the world.
Now one of the biggest mistakes we see in our teacher’s community is when our class leaders create their class, retreats, programs, products and services based on what they’re in the mood to teach. Rather than focusing in on what their ideal student’s top concerns are, creating solutions around those issues and addressing them in your student’s words.
We aren’t really serving anyone if we’re only thinking about creating a fun class at a place we want to go to or selling a workshop series that covers material that’s interesting to us— but not necessarily relevant to what our students need most.
I think this example will help: when I first created The FUNdamentals of Fluid Art live and online course I explored all of the issues that our students had and then built my program around solving those issues. I created a long list of all the concerns and problems my tribe was struggling with. But to sell my program I also had to educate my students on the issues they had but didn’t even know they had them yet. Issues I knew existed but they weren’t aware of – for example:
- Need for a creative outlet
- Art is therapy
- Desire for freedom to explore creatively
- Need for an understanding and accepting class environment
- Laughter and to be set at ease
And two years ago I started thinking about you! Yes, you the teachers of fluid art.
What are your problems? What solutions do you need? Yes, you are all different, but in the whole pile of needs, there are some common experiences too.
Some of you have strengths in how to structure your classes but don’t feel comfortable doing your sales and marketing. So the first content I provided was both example lesson learning plans and tons of options for marketing.
Still others of you are charismatic and draw people to you and don’t need to work hard to have your classes full— but are frustrated by a business structure, accounting, and legal concerns such as MOUs.
So some teachers go from financial feast to famine and need solutions for making business income more steady. Some have been doing this for a while and others don’t know where to start.
So your students might come in with problems that can be addressed and represented differently. In the totality of what you offer can address and provide many solutions.
So going back to the example I mentioned a minute ago, in our webinars, one of the subjects we talk about is legal contracts and paperwork such as MOUs as it pertains to teaching class. It’s a problem that’s quite serious, but most class leaders have never heard about it— never knew what it is or how it affects them. We educate our community on it; which they’re grateful for and this immediately positions us as experts. By sharing this information, we’re actually highlighting not only the problems they know they have (like filling classes or properly pricing their class) but we’re also pointing out other problems that need to be solved that they didn’t even realize they had.
We actually do this process for every program, product, and class we create in our business. As you do this you’ll be surprised how many different products and programs you come up with when you list out, in your ideal client’s words, every problem they have that you can solve. Also, you’ll be servicing your community in a much more effective way which they’ll appreciate!
4th P: PLANNING
Attracting your tribe, building your list, and keeping them interested in following you so they get to know, like, and trust you enough to come on a class needs to be strategically planned out! It’s time to figure out what kind of journey you’re taking your students on step-by-step. For example, in the teachers mentoring program we have a 5 Step Pathway each fluid art teachers is on marked with certain milestones to accomplish. You can do this too.
Most class leaders don’t plan out their marketing strategically, which ends up failing come class promotion time. They end up doing hodge-podge marketing which doesn’t get them the sales they’re hoping for.
There are many ways to get people on your email list. For example, you can create a freebie and promote that— it could be a how-to ebook, audio, a video course, a checklist, a quiz, a webinar or even a daily challenge. And because you already know your ideal students’ top struggles, challenges, and pain points from your work on the first 3 Ps— you will create a freebie that addresses one of their top concerns.
A big mistake I see teachers make is thinking that they don’t want to give away their best knowledge. Say you are doing a paint pouring demo but you are not sharing how it’s done or you answer questions with, “That’s a secret you’ll just have to pay to come to my class.” Obviously, you will be frustrating the person asking, but you also are missing out on the opportunity to be generous and show off your expertise!
Then follow up with a couple of emails sharing more about the pain point you addressed in your freebie. Also share your own ‘hero’s journey’ of how you overcame obstacles so they can get to know you personally. Or maybe you offer them a low-commitment product or class that you created that specifically addresses that pain point you’ve been educating them on in your emails.
5th P: Promoting
It’s finally time to use the first 4 Ps to Promote!
Do you have two to three specific promotional strategies and actions that you do regularly and confidently all year long? Are you using a promotional calendar that you follow? If not, you’re all over the place with your promoting, your marketing will be inconsistent, and you’ll keep losing traction in your business.
You have to get and keep in front of your ideal students! This is the part of the marketing equation that most folks try to focus on but inevitably do poorly because they haven’t bothered working on their people, problems, positioning, and planning first.
So, what I notice is that folks either get caught up in “ADHD marketing” meaning that you’re all over the place doing a little bit of this and that (and a lot of nothing) or “emotional motivated marketing” where they do “when I feel like it marketing,” taking action here and there with no consistency or strategy. And admittingly, I’ve been guilty of that myself!
Like you, I just get busy and even if I think I’m going to remember to do my marketing tasks, I actually don’t end up remembering. We recently bought a new house and moved. I still have boxes all over my house! I’m systematically unpacking one box at a time. Have you ever needed something that you can’t find, and you remember the last time you saw it you said to yourself, “I’m going to put this here in this special place so I don’t forget” but now you have forgotten where that special place was?
Like unpacking after a move, unpacking our marketing actions can get just as lost if we don’t have a written down system and plan. It’s human nature to think we will remember because it’s important to us at the time. Later, other things take “emotional priority” and feel we must focus on them instead. That’s why New Year’s Resolutions can actually be pretty great! When done correctly we back up to see the big picture of what should take priority for the year. We can follow this plan for the year— even on the days we don’t feel like doing it.
You have to have systems to hold yourself accountable for what gets done in your business. Otherwise, if you’re not consistent, you’ll have trouble selling your services and your income will suffer. In addition to the practical system of a Promotional Calendar, we also need a community to hold us personally accountable to stay motivated!
What happens if we don’t? Well, every time you stop promoting, you’ll actually lose traction in your business and so when you finally take action to start up, you’ve got to get your momentum going all over again— which is exhausting. It’s easier to keep steady momentum going then to stop, start, forget… and then have to ramp up again. I tend to lose my focus and forget what I wanted to send out as it relates to what I sent out last.
Our strategy is to choose a couple of promotional activities that we do over and over again. For example, I like webinars a lot and I use them to sell our products and classes too. I also love Facebook Live and free challenges like we’re doing January 21-25! It’s fun and we get to teach and serve our community while growing our list and reach.
Of course, all that goes on our promotional calendar so it doesn’t sneak up on us all of a sudden! We also love writing posts and putting it out on social media and we email it to our community. We believe in repurposing our content so we don’t stress ourselves out.
I was so uncomfortable with doing Facebook Live and webinars or video when I first started using these mediums— I had to keep awkwardly practicing just like anyone else. And it’s not about being perfect; it’s about failing, learning, and eventually feeling relaxed and about giving great content to your community, sharing from the heart, serving and solving problems. Progress not perfection, and instead focus on having fun and serving your community.
Who knows? You might prefer podcasting, speaking from the stage, doing joint ventures on a regular basis or even having your own Instagram TV that you do weekly. It doesn’t matter what you choose, any of these platforms will be effective as long as you actually do them regularly and follow through.
As an aside: this article started 25 pages long with 10K words, too big! So ¾ of it had to go. But you can still experience what was cut away by participating in an exciting 5 Day Challenge that starts on Tuesday, January 21st to Saturday, 25th, 2020. This interactive experience will have real life examples and homework assignments each day that you can choose to post on the special Facebook Group to give and receive feedback from others! And it’s free! Enroll here! But hurry space is limited and the doors close soon.
Casey Cole Corbin has been selling and teaching fluid art for years. He offers coaching if you would like to learn how to climb up the 5 Steps Success Path to becoming a profitable fluid art teaching business owner through his membership program. You can also join his free Teachers group and if you want to learn to sell your fluid art join his free What’s Selling group. You can also join his free training group.