- by Barney Davey
Don’t wait to get found. Go out and find new customers!
On the hunt to find new customers, artists and picture framers face similar challenges. Both groups offer products and services aimed at discretionary income. Neither are near the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Success comes from targeting people with money to spend on luxury items.
Luxury is a broad term.
Some might consider a $20,000 Rolex as the top of the line. Still, other buyers considering a purchase of this rather nondescript timepiece, an Audemars Piguet Jules Grand Complications mechanical-hand-wind men’s Watch (Certified Pre-owned) at only $127,000, might consider a Rolex as an entry level product in the world of expensive consumer goods.
And, those buyers could be topped with a purchase of a Patek Philippe – Sky Moon Tourbillon watch at a mere $5 – $6 million. The good news is your target audience doesn’t start with those who can afford a Rolex. What you are looking for are those people who are in the top 20% of the US household income. This segment makes at least $100,000 or more annually. And, consists of 25 million households.
If more than $100,000 income sounds intimidating because you earn less, it’s okay to feel that way. In fact, it’s normal. Remember, it’s just a number. They are just people. What’s less than okay is if you now understand the situation – that is recognize you have some misgivings for whatever reasons about marketing to people with more money than you – but you don’t do anything about it. If your attitude about business includes harboring negative or fearful perceptions towards your ability to find new customers who have disposable income, you probably are sabotaging your sales and your career.
If you learn nothing else by reading this post today, remember this, “Never sell or market with what’s in your pocket!” You can’t project your feelings about money or lack of it get in the way of marketing your business and making sales. Don’t judge people by the income they make. There are terrific, kind, wealthy people, and there are broke jerks. Develop a pricing policy that shows you and your work are above the mass market. Demonstrate how you create and deliver a unique “class” product or service.
Think it through.
You might have heard about the HENRYs market. HENRY is an acronym for High-earner, not rich yet. These 22.5 million US households earn between $100,000 to $250,000 annually. The rung above them is the top 2%. They are known as the ultra-affluent market. The 2.5 million ultra-affluent households have an annual income greater than $250.000 and beyond.
You don’t have to be like them to sell to them. You just need to create products worthy of the prices you can and should charge for them. But, don’t stop there. Market your products and services as having the class they deserve. You are worthy, so is what you do and what you make. For some, it takes a reversal of thinking to learn to feel and see things this way. But, that’s all it is… perception. You are the primary driver behind your brand. You set the standards. You control the message. It’s not about snobbery and riches. It’s about quality and value.
It starts at the top with you.
When we are talking about your livelihood, and the health and wealth of your family and your business and your legacy, it’s critical you carry the proper attitude about the value and quality of your work. Believe in it and your faith and confidence will pass on to others including family, friends, buyers, employees and vendors. And, each one of them can make a difference for you – mini-brand ambassadors for you. Never forget. It starts with you.
The one-of-a-kind, custom or handmade aspect is part of your unique advantage.
Stop to think about that for a minute. How many items in your home are originals? How many custom-made products do you own? The answer is very few. I know without you telling me. A substantial part of your message and your marketing strategy starts with you are setting fair prices for what the buyer is getting, which is original, unique, custom-made work. The distinction is there are very businesses that operate making original works. We are all inundated with mass produced products.
I think artists and picture framers forget about this or fail to capitalize on the importance and marketability of the status of the work they produce. It’s common knowledge to you, and you may inadvertently be taking what you do for granted. If that’s the case, it’s time to change the tune.
This situation is where artists and frame shops are alike.
Artists and picture framers both create hand-made custom, one-of-a-kind items. Yes, you can sell prints. It’s a good idea to do so, I believe. But, there will always only be one original. There is no “original” available of mass-produced products. Are you starting to see how just this distinction alone puts you as an artist or frame shop owner in a unique category as an original yourself?
Big box retailing and the internet have both put a hurt on many small businesses. For sure, artists, art galleries, and picture frame shops have all felt the pain. I felt it too when my job at my beloved Decor magazine and DECOR Expo tradeshows both went under from the pressure. But, you’re reading this, and you’re still standing. You survived the worst of times and are positioned to make the best of things to come.
Assess your career and accomplishments and be proud.
Now is the time to step back and look at what you do and what you have done. You may need to reinvigorate yourself in your mind. Retool how you envision who you are and the value of what you do. You provide an authentic artistic vision and artisanal craftsmanship that will connect with buyers and delight them with original work.
There are those who seek the very best. There are those who seek high-quality originals. There are those who love art and artists and strive to support them. These are the people you want to know and to serve. If someone is of a mindset to go to a Michaels store for low-end framing, they aren’t your buyer. Don’t despair. They will never know what they missed, or their budget keeps them from learning. Be happy for them and for you, too. Move on.
There is a strong indie spirit going on right now. There is a yearning for authenticity. This trend feeds right into your power and positioning. People are downsizing not to save money, but to reallocate how they spend it. These buyers may want less stuff, but they want the right stuff. You have the right stuff. You just need to connect with them so they can know you do.
A thin slice goes a long way.
You only need a tiny sliver of the 25 million households comprised of HENRYs and the ultra-affluent to make a prosperous career. Here are some ideas to help you find new customers among them and set your art and your business apart from the masses.
Care about service.
Make shopping with you an experience. Give attention and respect to your customers. Treating others well cannot be overdone. Make excellent service essential.
Tell your story.
The power of storytelling is incredible. A good story wins every time there is a decision. More importantly, a good story is how word-of-mouth marketing starts. It is the strongest and most influential method of marketing – and it’s free! As Bernadette Jiwa says,
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy how you make them feel. What’s your story?”
This story writing is hard to do. I recall a resume writer I hired years ago. She amazed me. The pointed questions she asked, and the fascinating facts she uncovered were things I would have never thought to include. You need someone like that to help you with your story. You are too close to it to be effective. Hire a resume writer, one who works one-on-one. Or hire a writer who will plumb your history for valuable, insightful, compelling tidbits about your life and your accomplishments.
Your target audience is educated. Two-thirds have a college degree or more. They are used to making smart, informed decisions. It’s true they may buy on emotion, but they justify it with logic. Give them reasons to support the logic.
Fine-tune your pricing.
Use the Goldilocks Theory of pricing. Not too high. Not too low. Just right. You never want to own either the priciest or least expensive home on the block. Know your competition, their pricing strategy, and their story. Study the market and aim your prices for the “sweet spot.”
Pick your prospects.
The wisest thing you can do to market your business is to select your prospects. You’ve learned reading the above about the HENRYs and the 2% part of the US population. Unlike previous generations, you don’t have to use mass marketing techniques to find buyers. Remember, we are only looking to connect with hundreds, not thousands or millions of prospects.
You can develop a customer persona and use the internet and social media to locate your top prospects. It is not too complicated to learn useful details about these people. And, you can use your information to reach out and connect with them. Getting and staying in touch with your top prospects has never been easier.
The information and suggestions here are a pathway for you.
I encourage you to give these thoughts careful consideration. There are no mysterious methods you need to know to do these things. Just need to believe it’s possible and start taking action.