Finding my art again.
What’s happened? 20 years after graduating in art and design and working as a graphic designer and more recently a digital marketing / brand manager, I’ve rekindled my artistic side. I bought some watercolours, got deeply inspired and suddenly had a moment of realisation.
I’ve always lived with a certain approval requirement to claim a status. How arrogant to declare myself an artist? I grew up studying Constable, Dali, Mondrian, Escher, Scarfe, Bacon to name a few. They are artists.
“Are you an artist?”
“Me?, no, I just paint for fun”.
“Would you consider selling your art?, I’d like to buy a piece”
“Err, yes, that’d be amazing”
“So you are an artist”
My inspiration actually started last October 2018. The Inktober challenge to be exact. A 1 inch square piece posted everyday along with thousands around the world. I loved the concept. The biggest shift for me was the sudden way I felt I had found my ‘style’. The element every student craves which develops for some in 3 years has taken me 20.
Building the website and aligning digital marketing around the theme was the easy(ier) bit. When it’s your own money you’re ever so more prudent in analytical analysis. I’ve had more views of my art from Texas than London.
Freelance experience earlier in my career seems a mile away from the challenges and opportunities available now with social communication so vast. It’s a strange feeling watching and reading discussions around my artwork from people I’ve never met, seeing displayed on other websites that I’ve never visited. It’s amazing!
This might all seem very ‘entry level’ in such an accepted world of sharing, reposting, commenting and screenshotting (is that a word now?), however when’s it’s your art, it’s much more personal.
Social media, the channel that engulfs us with opinion, thought, varying degrees of nonsense, best practice, worst practice, average practice, sales talk, click bait or meaningless give-away competitions to siphon our personal data. It’s a river that flows fast.
People strive to become a social captain or an ‘influencer’.
Building a strategy to get a defined ‘return’ is a is a major headache for most. My experience and the context to this post is primarily based within the b2b commercial sector and more specifically the KBB sector in which I’ve worked in for 10+ years. It’s been slow to adopt digital. No objections there.
KBBDaily reports that the market sees customers update kitchens every 13 years. This figure rings true also in the bathroom sector and echoes the slow integration of digitally inspired innovation into the product itself compared to the FMCG tech inspired products we update monthly.
Large KBB manufacturers/retailers online digital objectives/goals are, and have always been, typically measured by more high level behaviour and analytical funnels:
- Brochure downloads
- White paper views
- Product samples
- Technical help
- Customer advice
- Reseller forwarding
- Measurement/specification tools
- Instruction guides/data sheets
- Event marketing
Whilst I’d never suggest that you avoid developing a base strategy without some core KPI’s to measure, Its clear that many and larger outfits tend to miss out on ‘being social’. The ‘being human’ aspect gets lost.
Numbers without relationship.
Too often I see a reliance in social media marketing on the basic numbers. ie. how many followers do we have this month? A question you hear/ask regularly? Follower count can only ever be a general stat unless the absolute campaign objective is to gain followers.
What I’ve seen through 10 years of marketing and social media campaign management is the unwritten rule that, as a brand manager immersed in every marketing outreach channel, the relationship - the ‘being social’ element is absolutely crucial.
- Like your customers activity - if you genuinely like it.
- Comment regularly if your comment is genuine.
- If you have a network of followers using/building with your product then let them know your thoughts on their work. You’ll be amazed who else reads your comments and remembers your brand.
- Ask for their feedback on your products. Empower their status and gain valuable product insight - ever so valuable for any future NPD projects.
Be the brand that communicates as a person because your competition likely won’t. Certainly in the b2b kbb sector there exists a massive gap in skills as traditional marketeers still rule and, to quote Seth Godin’s tremendous book, Linchpin, don’t invest in ‘emotional labour’. There is a ‘safeness’ to rely on the ‘cogs’ of analytics. The new digital generation customer wants to trust people who live and breathe the brand for all its good and not so good points.
Personas work both ways
Constructing a ‘tree’ of persona and comms channels is traditional and very common practice in most marketing teams. The construction and kbb market is a fine example
- The consumer (split across varying age groups)
- The Sales Director
- The QS
- The Architect
- The Retailer
- The Specifier
Social media is no exception and with the increasing depth of link tagging and schema markup its incredibly powerful and helps define both comms delivery type.
Note: All your customers and suppliers have labelled your brand in exactly the same way!
The cold call. The freelancers last weapon. The key to initial success, in my experience. Don’t make it cold. Warm it up first.
So way back I designed a series websites for a wide-ranging base of clients that have no obvious correlation. A good few of these jobs came about with an informed cold call. Even the most basic of research warms it up (still surprising how rare this technique is) …simply, learn 2/3 core objectives that the site is trying to deliver or obtain. Real niche sectors help (less competition and more nitty-gritty under the bonnet). Once you’ve got this info you can make the call and actually discuss an aspect of the website that the ‘potential’ client can relate to. This is the refreshing alternative to simply telling them everything you can do. I’d bore myself. (note: this won’t be a long blog post).
Better still, and more fun. Target sectors that interest you. Hobbies, sport etc.
Lastly, look for typos. I spotted a typo in a future clients brochure. I gave them a ring, I spoke to reception, who passed me to the Marketing Manager. We discussed the typo (with thanks), the conversation lead to lunch (what I did as a freelancer - gotta get this in!) and 4 months later a website and a new brochure.
If work is slow, do some warm calls.