Creative Business

Many artists have not yet realized they are also a business.  If you are in a creative field and want to be more than a starving artist, its important to know how to woo and keep customers.

Every year the Women’s Board of the Arizona Kidney Foundation  hosts an Authors Luncheon.  A thousand women (my sister and I included) fill the ballroom at the Biltmore in Scottsdale.  Each of the invited authors has about 10 minutes to speak.  Both before and after the lunch, a bookstore is open to sell books and the authors are available to sign them.

Could you maximize the opportunity described if presented?  Would you be comfortable talking about what you do for 10 minutes?  Sharing what inspires you?  Amusing stories of your struggle?  Most artists not in one of the performing arts,  find these interactions challenging.

Just as you can perfect your craft, you can perfect your interpersonal skills too.  Enlist a friend or pay a  speaking coach to help you if needed.  Whether at a podium in a ballroom, a gallery during a showing or at a dinner party- sharing these tidbits is the secret to wooing customers.

Most of us would love to be able do to what you do but God gave us all different talents.  Let us peak behind the curtain of your world and we will enthusiastically sing your praises. In the business world that’s word of mouth advertising and nothing is more powerful.

That is true whether the word is positive or negative.  Three years ago, one of my favorite authors was featured at the charity luncheon. I was so excited!  While getting my armful of books signed as holiday gifts for family and friends I gushed that I really loved his work and  looked forward to each new adventure.

His response?  “What do you want written in these?”. No acknowledgement of my comments and a “didn’t want to be bothered” tone. I was so disillusioned and, while I still read his work, I wait for paperbacks rather than buying hard covers as soon as they come out.  I don’t give his books as gifts and don’t recommend his books to friends who ask what I’m reading.  It also makes me a little sad each time.
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Contrast that with Brad Thor at this year’s event.  I gushed, talked too fast,too much and generally made a fool of myself.  His response? He listened, laughed, talked, posed for a picture with me and most important – he thanked me!  How many people do you think saw the picture and heard the story?  Friends have been texting, emailing and posting that they picked up a copy of his new book, Black List and are loving it!

Authors, painters – artists of all types,  practice simply make eye contact, smiling and saying “thank you” when we compliment your work. Once you master that, feel free to add “People like you make it possible for me to do what I love.” Acknowledging the valuable role your customer plays is a sure way to earn their loyalty and their referrals which will allow you to  do what you love for many years to come.

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2 Responses to “Creative Business”

  1. victoria blachly Says:

    Such a good point! We are all looking for that human connection. Just yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Oregon’s first woman governor, Barbara Roberts, at a book reading of her new memoir (http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/up-capitol-steps). Although there was a long line, she had each person sit next to her while she signed their book and focused her attention and her respect on each individual. Fantastic.

  2. Wilma Says:

    This is so important. We never know when people will recognize us. We need to be ready when a fan gushes and wants to interact with us. One day, one of my readers jumped up on an elliptical trainer next to me at the gym. “Are you the blogger?” she asked. Not only, did I look like crap, but I could barely breathe. I talked to her anyway, and she has been a very supportive fan, referring my work to friends and talking to me on several other occasions. Word of mouth and an author’s personality are the best advertising.

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