Suddenly Marketing

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Category: Marketing (Page 1 of 12)

How to Charge More (And, Have Happier Customers)

“Just Some Paintings”

I read an amazing story on Forbes last week.


On Saturday, October 12th, an artist set up a modest booth on the outskirts of New York’s Central Parkto sell a collection of black and white “spray” paintings, priced at $60 apiece.

Nothing amazing yet.

The artist sat beside his wares for four hours before making his first sale.

Again, nothing amazing. Street artists often spend entire days without a single sale.

Finally, a woman bought a couple of small canvases, but only after bargaining for a 50% discount. A little while later, a woman visiting from New Zealand purchased a piece. And at 5:30, just before closing, a man chose four paintings. He said he was decorating his new house and “just needed something for the walls.”

Total take for the day: $420


Now, the amazing part:

The “artist” (actually a stand-in) who spent the day on the streets of the Big Apple, was actually hawking the paintings of the world-renowned graffiti artist, political activist, film maker, and painter known only as Banksy. Banksy’s works regularly sell for tens of thousands at auction, often for hundreds of thousands, and in some cases for over a million dollars apiece.

And yet the hundreds of passersby who saw his paintings priced at $60 did not see value in his work.



Because there was no emotional context …

They didn’t have any connection to the work. It didn’t represent anything. They did not have any personal feelings about the art or the artist. The paintings were just paintings.


… and there wasn’t any social context …

There were no social cues to help people understand the work or its value. There was no “buzz” or activity – no conversation around the paintings or the artist.


… and, the physical context told the wrong story.

They weren’t seeing Banksy’s canvases alongside expensive and rare works at Sotheby’s or Bonham’s. They were seeing them in a street vendor’s booth. Based on their perception of “street art,” they assumed what they were seeing was not valuable.



Because they didn’t have any emotional, social, or physical context, Bansky’s art DIDN’T MEAN ANYTHING to the busy people walking down the street.


And that’s the crux of the thing.

It’s meaning that makes it possible for Bansky to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s meaning that makes his customers happy to pay those prices.

It’s meaning that makes his authentic work more valuable than another artist’s, even if – on the surface – they look very similar.


Banksy has brand.


And Bansky’s brand is made of stories – the story of the artist as activist, the stories of celebrity purchases of Banksy pieces, and the story of his unknown identity – shrouded in creative mystery like a paint can-wielding vigilante for the people.


As important as these Bansky-centric stories are the stories of the people who interact with and buy Banksy’s art:



If you think brand doesn’t matter. If you think it’s a “nice-to-have.” If you think a brand is just your name and logo.

Think again.


Brand is often the only thing that makes a real difference in your customer’s mind.


And the brand that tells the best story, wins.

The story of your product’s purpose

The story of your product’s creation

The story of your company’s mission


Even more important, you need to give your customers the chance to become part of your brand story as they:

  • Discover your product
  • Purchase your product
  • Use your product
  • Share your product


Each touch point, every aspect of the experience, is a chance to create a new story and strengthen your brand.



Don’t think this only applies to artists either.

We buy with our hearts at least as often as they buy with our heads. In fact, human nature makes us much more apt to make a decision based on emotions and justify it with logic after the fact.

Brands are what tap into emotions:

  • I choose where to buy my milk and produce based on the emotional need to feel a connection to my community and a sense of responsibility to the planet (even though I can buy less expensive, organic products at the local chain market).
  • I buy my lattes at a local, indie coffee shop because their fair trade values are in line with my values. I want to be part of what they’re doing.
  • I buy books at an indie bookstore (even though I can get them from Amazon cheaper and faster) because I believe in what the Jabberwocky brand stands for – independence, service, community, and the power of small business.
  • I buy Apple products even though many of my peers and colleagues swear by their Android devices because I believe in the Apple brand’s dedication to creativity, uniqueness, and “the crazy ones.”


People buy all kinds of things based on emotional connections to a brand: cars, clothes, notebooks, airline tickets, insurance, pet food, and on and on. Businesses also buy for emotional reasons. (After all, businesses are made up of people.)


Your brand is what you stand for.

It’s what puts your product into context for your customers.

It’s what gives your product meaning in the hearts of your customers.


Without that meaning, your product is “just another product” – nothing special, nothing worth the extra money, nothing to write home about.

With meaning, your product is a must-have, a way for people to be part of something bigger than themselves, a way for people to express their own values, something to get excited about, something to talk about.


So …

What story are you telling?

What do you stand for?

What does your brand mean to your customers?

Your Marketing Needs to Make Me FEEL Something

Widsom for marketers as well as artists.

You’re at a social event with a friend when someone you’ve met before walks in. You can’t remember this person’s name, where you met, what you did together, or what you talked about. Despite this total lack of recall about the concrete elements of your meeting, you have a feeling that you’d prefer a root canal to interacting with this person again.

Or, maybe you’re cruising your Facebook newsfeed and the profile picture of an online acquaintance catches your eye. You’ve never met in person, and you’ve only had a few casual social exchanges, but seeing this person’s face makes you smile. You’re not sure why (you’re not even sure how the two of you crossed paths in the first place), but now you’ve stopped scanning so you can read this person’s post.

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

–        Maya Angelou

I do not know in what context writer and poet Maya Angelou originally uttered that now ubiquitous quote, but I doubt it was anything to do with marketing. Still, her words ring true and marketers of all kinds should take heed.

In my post “Is your business the marrying kind or a one night stand?” I shared a personal, real life example of how the dramatically different ways two big brands (AT&T and Verizon) made me feel changed my relationships with those brands. Forever.

I have chosen restaurants, yoga instructors, sandwich shops, books, hotels, hosting companies, laptops, phones, apparel, notebooks and all kinds of other products and services based on the brand’s (whether corporate or personal) ability to make me feel good. Conversely, I have withheld my business from brands that make me feel bad.


How do you make your customers feel?

  • Smart? Valued? Respected?
  • Stupid? Taken for granted? Frustrated?
  • Joyful? Proud? Hopeful? Creative? Happy?
  • Afraid? Ashamed? Angry? Bored? Sad?

It’s a really important question.

In a Marketing Rut? Stop Taking Yourself for Granted.

Ever get that same old-same old feeling?

Strip away all the jargon, technology, and fancy tactics and marketing is just you telling stories about the thing you do. Hopefully, you’re so passionate and excited about what you do that you are animated and engaging when you share your work. Best case, your enthusiasm is catching, inspiring people to join your conversation, get involved with your project, or buy something.

But, what happens when you’re feeling a little burnt out?

Even if you love your work and your business, there will be times when you just can’t muster your usual zeal. Sometimes it’s just a day, but other times that day stretches into a week, or a month, or a quarter. The day-to-day grind gets to you, or business is so good that you’re totally overwhelmed with putting out fires, or maybe you’re up against a new (and daunting) competitor and the fight is taking the wind out of your sails (and your sales).

Whatever the case, we all hit the marketing wall now and again. The honeymoon is over and there’s nothing left to say. Ideas for blog posts dry up. Tweets lack wit. The sales pitch feels hollow. It’s times like these when you might start to doubt yourself. You might start to question your skills, your purpose, even your right to be here.

Don’t worry. This isn’t the end.


You put a lot of energy into your business and your work. You invest your time, your creativity, and your patience. It’s no wonder that every once in a while you’re going to run out of steam. Give yourself a break. Ditch the guilt of “should,” and instead find a way to rekindle the romance:


Step 1: Plan for rainy days with a highlight reel.

Whenever someone sends you a thank you note, gushes about something you did on Twitter, or gives you any other kind of moral support or accolade, save it! Whenever you have a particularly good day – you nailed a presentation or wrote a winning proposal or hit a homerun on the first try – make a note in a special “rock star moments” document. Then, when you feel like you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, read through your “fan mail” and relive your professional “highs.” I promise you’ll feel better.


Step 2: Look from the outside in to gain perspective.

If you’re lacking inspiration, try reaching out to friends and colleagues for a pep talk. They can see your strengths and gifts more easily than you can. I bet they will be more than happy to point them out to you and remind you about just how fabulous you are.


Step 3: Revisit your “why.”

Finally, take a trip down memory lane. Think back and remember why you started doing what you do in the first place. There was passion there, right? You had purpose? You felt inspired? Go back to that point in time and recall exactly what motivated you. Explore your “origin story” – the story of how you began this journey.



All of this is just to help you stop taking yourself – and your work – for granted. What you do is important. It matters. Though it may seem old hat to you, though it may seem like something “anyone could do” or something that’s been done before, it’s not.

A marketing rut is nothing more than a loss of faith in your own value and uniqueness. To get out of it, all you need to do is recapture your enthusiasm and excitement. Once you do that, you’ll find you have plenty to share … and that’s really what marketing is all about.

So, stop taking yourself for granted and get out there and have some fun with your marketing.

The world is waiting to hear your story, go tell it.

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