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Popping Out

Marketing yourself is just as important as selling your product.

I survived my first Art Pop Up! I had my small paintings on display for sale at a local cozy bakery spot for about 3 months. And with 3 more days left on my wall space residency, and no sales, I knew that I needed to take action.

Most artists are notoriously introverted of which I am one. While I do like people and connecting, I get recharged by spending time alone. Funny thing, though. All my marketing research is telling me that people buy from people they know, like and trust. How are people going to get to know me, if I'm not making enough effort to go where the people are?

Not only that, my goal word for 2022 and now into 2023 is 'connect.' Yes, I want people to see my Art and connect with it, but I also want to connect with the people who connect with my Art. I even want to connect with those who don't. In the latter case, I need to figure out why. All data is useful.

The fizzle of my Meet the Artist event loomed in my memory. Would this be a repeat performance? I reflected on what I had done wrong. First, I had not been intentionally present. I hadn't set up a table with signs or even introduced myself to the customers. Instead, like a pre-teen at a middle school dance, I had just sat in the corner and conversed with the dude who was the closest. How were they going to distinguish me from all of the other customers? How were they going to know that I had something to offer? I had to break through the normal with the novel. People were there to fill their bellies with tasty sandwiches and bakery treats while engaging in pleasant conversation with their companions. Buying Art--especially from the Artist--was not on their radar.

This time, I had a plan. Marketing yourself is just as important as selling your product. I magnified my presence by setting up a table. I covered it in a hot pink cloth cover. I displayed my price list in a picture frame on the table along with some of my small, round canvases on easels. I bought a weighted bouquet of helium balloons--a gold star along with hot pink, baby pink and black balloons which mirrored my business color palette. Like before, I wore my white business tee featuring my logo and my black blazer--my uniform. I looked the part, now I had to talk the part.

This was the challenge. At first, I was sitting behind the table knowing that the curated pops of color would surely catch their eye and draw them over. When this didn't happen, I immediately pivoted. Moving from behind the table, I waited for the customers to order and then I sauntered over and said, "Hey, I'm Sheryl the Artist whose work has been on display for the last 3 months (I turned and motioned over towards the wall). This is my last weekend here, and I wanted to come out and meet the people. What's your name?" Then after they told me their name and I asked them a relevant question related to them or art, I ended with, "If you don't mind, before you leave today, could you step over to my table and sign up for my email list?" Most people said, "Sure." I don't know if this was the right thing to say from a business standpoint, but it was from my heart. From this new place just outside my comfort zone, I learned these three things:

First, most people will take the time to talk with you if they aren't in a hurry. Most people are kind and will at least listen to what you have to say. You usually have a window of about 2 minutes. Longer if you discover a commonality or an unusual point which requires elaboration.

Second, people like what they like and that's okay. This one young lady who was kind enough to come over admitted that she didn't do bright colors. This was an interesting revelation that led to a somewhat longer exchange. Other customers shared that they preferred a different subject matter/style of Art. No sales but I learned a lot. More data.

Third, everyone has a story and boy, are they interesting!

Getting beyond yourself allows you to not only experience humanity and appreciate the colorful range of living, but I realized that I could also reveal things about myself in this friendly exchange. It opened up my mind to different possibilities and ways of being and it was kind of enjoyable.

Overall, I discovered that while putting myself out there is not always easy to do, it's key to my growth as a business owner and as a person. I'm looking forward to other opportunities to learn, connect and be inspired by the people I love to paint.

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