Posts Tagged ‘Arizona Kidney Foundation’

Creative Business

November 28, 2012

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.
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.

Embracing Technology

May 25, 2011

3 years ago, I received a Sony eReader as a gift.  If you also follow my Travel Queen blog, you know I am a frequent traveler.  An avid reader, I read books when I travel and I read fast so I go through a lot of material in the course of a trip.

I embraced my digital book as a way to lighten my load.  The ability to carry dozens of books with me in a compact, lightweight format was heaven!

Now the Amazon Kindle,  Barnes & Noble Nook and the iPad  have emerged.  As an early adopter of this technology, I’m both very aware of how it has changed my personal buying habits and how the industry – specifically the retailers – are – and are NOT adapting to these changes.

In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, I read yet another article about how Barnes & Noble is putting focus on digital books.  Yet NO ONE is addressing the issues – and the opportunities I see in the rise of digital books.

Issue:  I no longer buy actual paper and ink books.  My digital library of books contains nearly 300 books so I am still reading and still buying – just not actual books and not in bookstores.

I still visit bookstores.  I like to browse bookstores.  However, my eReader has made stores into 3D catalogs for me.  I see books I’d like to read and instead of taking them to the counter, I take a photo of them on my cell phone and buy them later on my home computer from the Sony eReader store.  No one yet offers me a way to buy a ebook for my reader from them while in their store.

A shopper in an airport bookstore read dust jackets and scanned text.  Then pulled out their Kindle and ordered the book from Amazon in Kindle format as they put the actual book back on the shelf!

As a former retailer, I realize this is unfair to the bookstores, but despite all the “focus” on digital books, no retailer has offered me a way to easily buy my ebooks while in their stores.  The end result will no doubt be more and more bookstores going the way of Borders.

The exception to my “no actual books” rule is an author signed book.  The  books in my home fall into this category.  In these situations, I keep and display the signed copy but actually read a digital version.  The purchase of the actual book was part of the experience of meeting a favorite author or to support an author friend such as Tess Hardwick with her new book, Riversong.

Author signings have also been the cornerstone of the Arizona Kidney Foundation annual luncheon since Erma Bombeck started the event over 30 years ago.  My sister and I regularly attend and signed books have been a staple of our holiday gift giving.

At the luncheon last November, the lines  waiting to get their books signed were the shortest we had ever seen.  The reason, so many of their family and friends who they usually buy books for now read only in digital format.  

Those of us in line chatted about solutions such as a gift card showing a picture of the book and author with a blank area for signing and then a code for a prepaid download of the book the recipient could use.  Starbucks offers something similar with their free song downloads.

Technology can radically change any business – even YOUR business.  The younger or more affluent your target customer is, the more likely they will have embraced new technology.  Is there a way your customers would rather buy your goods or services than what you currently offer?  Is there a way for you to adapt your model to meet their needs?  Just as creative minds have designed the new technology – those of us who want to stay in business have to be creative in how to embrace it!

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