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Finding the Best Route for You: Marketing Yourself - Part One

Marketing. I’ve heard it called a ‘dark art’. One thing’s for sure: it’s the difference between a hobby and a successful business. No-one will invest in a business without a clear brand identity, market position and marketing strategy. Branding, publicity, promotions, advertising, sponsorship, partnerships, endorsement, social media, networking, search engine optimisation, website analytics, sampling, events…this list could go on and on. Marketing is ingrained in everything we do these days and the opportunities are endless. We spoke to artists and creative industry insiders about the marketing opportunities which are potential game changers…

Describing words designed solely to market a product are now part of our everyday language. Words like vintage, retro, organic, bespoke, tailor-made, luxury, superfood, artisan, handmade, eco-friendly….they’re not really descriptions. They’re marketing speak. So how do we get our retro furniture, handmade candles or bespoke jewellery out there to our target market? It’s all in the method…

“You don’t have to do everything at once! Focus on one area at a time that relates to one of your goals, get the ground work in place and do it well before you think about moving on to your next idea,”

advises Nikki Halliwell, Digital Marketing Executive at music distribution and marketing company Horus Music, adding “Just because something worked for someone else doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.”

This is the crux of a good marketing strategy – identify which methods are right for your brand and then execute them thoroughly before moving onto the next one. Over the next few months I’ll be exploring a range of marketing avenues, including publicity, websites and local community engagement. It’s worth considering which feel right for you right now and then focusing on one or two at a time.

Graphic and Product Designer Anna Lisovskaya, of studio Fox & Co and workshop My Workspace, is with me on this one when she says: “Sales, marketing, brand identity, networking, funding…they are all intrinsically connected and all form your business. With time certain elements become naturally more important than others. I evaluate each aspect based on what I am doing or what my target is and prioritise them accordingly.”

In an earlier blog I banged on about how important it is to identify your target market – or markets – and target them specifically in a way that’s relevant to them. Over to Nikki again: “You can break your audience up into segments and use different tactics that help you achieve the same goal if you know that some like one thing but others respond better to another method.

Take the time to understand your audience and find what they are genuinely interested in and then use that in your marketing.

Doing this will save you time and effort in the long run, and although it may be time consuming to begin with, it will ultimately pay off for you.”

There is no such thing as one mass market which responds to everything. Every market has its own niche marketing strategy – what works for yummy mummies does not work for teenage boys. The grandparents who like to talk to an artist at a local fayre are not devouring the same social media feeds as single, ambitious 20 somethings.

I can share a personal experience here from my days as Publicity Manager at ITV. One thing I always hammer home to clients now is that nothing is more damaging and difficult to put right than wrong positioning to the wrong target market. Disappointing people with perceived mis-selling is poison to marketing yourself. Case in point: The Palace. This was an ITV1 drama about a fictional royal family. The production company positioned it as a UK West Wing. So we told the press it was a UK West Wing. It wasn’t. It was Footballers Wives with tiaras. A very, very difference audience. The audience and press were outraged. The series died a death. The point? We should have said it was Footballers Wives with tiaras. I’d bet my house on the fact that if we had, it would have been a cult hit.

Zakera Kali, Design Coach & Consultant for Insight Consultancy suggests it’s about doing your homework in order to communicate your purpose with purpose.

“I use design-thinking methodology, so my focus is on identifying the key problems your product or service is solving and getting to know the users’ problems through research,”

she reveals. “It ensures you provide a sustainable product or solution. Once I know the target audience and what their needs and wants are, I explore the right channels to communicate with them.”

Taking a personalised approach to your marketing means ensuring your methods reflect your ethos, values and personality. Charlie Hinesh, founder of ID1/ The Print Design Co, says:

There are so many ingenious ways to market your company. But some methods can be suitable to some companies, whereas some can be useless to others. It’s crucial to explore ideas that compliment your company’s ethos and personality to really stand out of the crowd.”

Getting it right for you is when the magic happens. As Ellyn Phillips of Studio 79 sums up nicely: “Marketing can be very difficult but when it hits the button, it’s worth its weight in gold.”

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