Yesterday I was out at the bookstore combing for new information. I happened across a book titled Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.
None of these are new insights, but here’s what I felt were the most important:
Lesson 1: Don’t follow anyone else’s path
Everyone wants a map to show them the way to success. Guess what? There is no map. Everyone is different. We all have our own experiences and know different people. Because of this, what path has worked for one person won’t work for another. There might be similarities, but no two will ever be the same.
My friend gave me a great quote that also relates to this: If you don’t like the path your on, start paving another.
Make your own way! No one ever said it would be easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Everyone would be following you. And no one would ever have the success you have because you’ve scaled the wall with your own work. So don’t wait for anyone else to make your way for you. Let your passion drive you forward and give you the courage to do whatever it takes to succeed.
What are you 3 times better at than anyone else? Dan Miller frequently says that you only have to be 10% better than your competition to be successful at it. It’s what makes you different. This book also asks what you are 3 times worse at than your competition. As the book states, if you answer “nothing” to these questions, you’re not working hard enough (or as I thought when I read it, you’re not truthfully evaluating yourself).
Lesson 2: Be yourself.
This flows back to the first lesson. If you’re making your own path and you’ve done an honest evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses, you can’t help but to be yourself. It comes naturally.
We live in a day and age where anyone can find information about you pretty quickly with a simple Internet search. What will they find? Make sure that what they find is what you want them to see and the easiest way to do that is to be yourself. Be transparent. Show your passions for what you do. Follow your own story.
Lesson 3: Experiment
Try things out. How will you know if a marketing idea will work out or not if you don’t try it out? How will you know if you’ll sell more art or not by using Twitter if you don’t come up with a marketing plan involving Twitter and do it? How will you know if you can sell on eBay if you don’t give it an honest effort? I’ve been following a conversation on LinkedIn recently about whether or not to put prices on a website and there have been good arguments on both sides of the issue. But it all comes back to what will work for you.
Again, this goes back to forging a path. Twitter, eBay, website, gallery sales, etc. You will never know what works for you until you try the option and evaluate it.
Lesson 4: Create exclusive programs for your most loyal followers
If you’ve been selling art for awhile, you know that people quickly fall into one of three categories — people who don’t care what you do, people who like one piece and want to have it, and people who love everything you do. Should these people be treated equally? I say, “no.” I could waste my breath trying to convince someone who doesn’t like my art as to why they should change their mind. Lost cause. Move on. Remember the old selling adage of “Some will, some won’t. Next!” Go on to the next person who shows an interest in owning one of your pieces. These people you can nurture into becoming true fans. Of course, the true fans are the people who love everything you do. These people should be your friends. You should treat them differently. They are you A-list. What can you do to let them know they are special? This can’t be an act. You can’t be faking your appreciation just to make sales. So, I’ll say it again, these people should be your friends. Treat them as such even if you don’t know them that well. They trust you. They want to know you. Go back to the lesson of being yourself, then treat your A-list in a way that is uniquely you.
Lesson 5: Keep track
I’ve heard that Seth Godin has recently started telling his Twitter followers to not keep track of their numbers — that the amount of followers is irrelevant to how the followers should be treated. I disagree. Or, maybe it just doesn’t matter when you have more followers than you can manage anyway, when you already have a stable tribe that will support you no matter what. But if you are not yet at that level of success, you’ve got to keep track of how you’re doing. How else will you know if your experiments are working or not. You can’t manage your numbers and evaluate what you need to be doing differently if you can’t measure them.
Make a simple spreadsheet that keeps track of your numbers for your blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and where ever else you are involved in a social network. Record your new numbers monthly. What is your growth? Is something not working — can it be cut now or should you wait to unplug it just to make sure it won’t work soon? You can’t do everything, so you’ve got to know what you do well to know what else to release. Set a goal for your growth too, say like 5% per month, so you focus on creating this growth. Measure it, manage it, set your new goals, and get to work. There, that’s your map. The only one you get and the only one you need.
Lesson 6: Do what you love
How many times have I already stated this on my blog? Do what you love. If it’s not your passion, if it doesn’t fill your every breath with excitement, why are you doing it? While making more money might make your life easier (at least in the short run), it doesn’t mean that it will increase your happiness. Happiness is an inside job. It comes from, guess what, being yourself. Only you can make yourself happy. That’s why it’s so important to do what you love. If you add that to a plan, you can make money. Once again, no one ever said it was easy. Or maybe it really is that easy. Many books have been written about how your perceptions create your reality. So if you believe it can be easy to create your own success doing what you love, it is. My drawing teacher always said, “Nothing is harder than anything else. Some things just take more time.” Can you become a doctor? Yes, just go to medical school and do well in your classes until you graduate. Can you become a writer? Yes, just sit down for as many days as it takes you to write and edit a book. Can you become a successful artist? Yes, just keep learning your craft and working your marketing plan and measuring the numbers until you are at your own level of defined success. But rooted at the heart of all these is the belief that you can do it combined with the passion that makes you love to proceed with the work it takes to get there.
You’ll always know the next step you need to take unless you start looking for the magic pill or the trick that will jump you immediately to success. We’ve all heard stories about people that come into a windfall of money either by inheritance or winning the lottery and then are broke (or dead) within five years. They aren’t prepared for their sudden wealth. You’ve got to build up, to prepare for success. The pinnacle of a pyramid does no good without its foundation. No one becomes a doctor by just taking the last year of medical school classes. There is no quick road to success and that’s why it’s important you follow your passion to sustain you through growing your success.
The book closes with a quote from Walt Disney — “All dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” What are you going do now?