My job as a branding strategist is to help my clients get really clear on what they are selling and then to help them find new customers and increase loyalty from existing customers. That is the bare bones mission of CYN WORKS.
I meet most of my clients through my interest in (okay, honestly, “obsession with”) fabric and sewing. I meet my clients through guilds, associations, classes, field trips, sewing groups, online critique groups, friends, and referrals. The thing I love most about CYN WORKS is that it enables me to interact with creative people on a very honest and personal level. We collaborate on the language and the images that define their service or product. Often, my clients become good friends, perhaps because we are enamored with the same ideas – creativity, invention, and mastery of a skill. We work really hard and we laugh a lot.
In our work, there is a real passion about pushing one’s personal boundaries. I insist that my clients use social media. There is usually a learning curve. The tools aren’t always intuitive, they’re crowded with tons of excess information, and using them feels like it takes time away from the business of running the business. On top of learning how to use the tools, my clients don’t always want to spend 3-5 hours a week of intense creative energy coming up with fresh ideas to talk about on their blog, Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In.
Tough, right? So here are the reasons to use it anyway. In fact, I’ll intersperse images/links to people who are social media studs/stars!
- It’s a bar without the late nights, dirty bathrooms, or hangovers.
- The object is to create a place for a dialog between you and someone you want a relationship with.
- Through social media, you may be talking to a prospective client, a curator, a collector, or maybe another artist or professional you’d like to collaborate with.
So with all the benefits, why do I still get drag from clients?
What I’m realizing is, there is a disconnect between people who have a natural affinity for social media and those who do not. People who have an affinity (like me) usually have histories of working in PR back in the old-school “press release / newspaper / beg-a-journalist-to-write-a-positive-sentence-about-your-company-and-its-products” era. My marketing team used to sweat over crafting the perfect 300-word press release, then call the local papers, mags & biz journals to convince the editors that our news was absolutely beneficial to the community and not simply self-serving.
We would spin any event – a sale, a new employee, a new product, a training seminar, helping a neighbor, a donation to a charity, participation in someone else’s charity – just to get some press coverage with our name in the paper. It was brutal. Sometimes it was humiliating. We’d spend hours to get a mention, and then the paper would misquote us or misspell a key participant’s name. Monday mornings at the office brought a sort of dread – what could have gone wrong? It seemed sometimes there was more planning for CYA than celebration.
Entrepreneurs who don’t have a natural affinity for social media are usually the folks who didn’t have to think about PR or advertising in their past careers. They usually worked in operations roles, focused on making the company fiscally sound, the product exceptional, and the growth scalable. These people are very often project- and finance-oriented. So when they start their own businesses, they’re not accustomed to having to create a new sales pitch every day.
- You have to be enthusiastic.
- You have to be fresh.
- Your message works best when it brings in an element of fun.
And social media has this modernist slant on commerce that you have to sell without selling. Yes, it’s okay to broadcast a very special offer to your very special customers. But if every message comes on sales pitch, your consumers are going to turn you off, unfollow you, and delete you from their Facebook favorites.
The tools are expanding exponentially and always changing. A new way of communicating is invented, tested, attracts participants, becomes oversaturated, and gets discarded as it is devoured by the next new thing. It’s exciting to figure out how to use these tools to share your business’s message with people who might help you grow!
In fact, an article I wrote about using social media to grow one’s art business was published in the most recent Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA) Journal. Want to read it? Download the PDF here!
And in the meantime, ask yourself:
- Am I using all of the tools available to help my business grow?
- Am I embracing social media or am I getting tripped up in hesitations of my own invention?
- If I don’t embrace social media, what methods will I use to get the publicity I need for my business?