No, Marketing is Not Marketing
Avoiding bad advice from well-meaning art marketing coaches
There is a dangerous myth about art marketing out in the world. I’ve covered it briefly when discussing The Original Sin of Art Marketing, which is thinking that the art business is just like any other business. It’s not. In business the customer comes first, but in art the customer comes last.
Most marketers, who come from the business world, don’t understand this concept. And even many marketers who come from the art world don’t understand it. Only someone who has sold art truly understands the vastness of this difference. Choose your gurus wisely. Have they actually sold art before?
You’ve heard the phrase, “marketing is marketing.” Unfortunately, it’s a lie. There are many types of marketing:
Direct response marketing
Luxury product marketing
Lowest price product marketing
And those are just a few off the top of my head!
Does Walmart market the same way that Louis Vuitton does?
Does your average newsletter provider market the same way that Amazon does?
Should you market your Art the same way Amazon markets tennis shoes?
Obviously, the answer to these questions is “no!”
If it’s obvious however, why have you most likely been expected to think about the following things by marketing people?
Why have you been asked to “think through the persona of your ideal customer?”
How many times have you heard, “What problem does your art solve for your client?”
Have you ever been asked to identify your “Blue Ocean?”
Have you been offered an “Art Marketing ‘formula’?”
There are a lot of marketers, from the wrong types of backgrounds, out there who are well intentioned and want to “help artists.” Unfortunately, they aren’t always helping because now we have a situation that we call the "Marketing Advice Firehose".
The Marketing Advice Firehose is the overwhelming deluge of advice (both right and wrong) artists receive about how to market their art (from people who don’t know how to market and sell art).
It can be overwhelming to the point of being almost paralyzing. There are lots of well-meaning people with a marketing background, who are eager to advise artists on how to market and sell art. I applaud the fact they want to help artists, but it leads to a big problem.
This problem is what I call the "Marketing Guru Myth."
The myth goes something like this, "Marketing is marketing. And I know how to market shoes on Amazon/information products/software/medical devices. So I can do some good and teach artists how to market art!"
So, let me say clearly:
You can't market Art like you market other products.
You can't market Art like you market shoes on Amazon.
You can't market Art like you market information products.
You can't market Art like you market software.
And you can't market Art like you market medical devices.
Art marketing is unique to, well, Art. And, although it does share similarities to marketing other types of luxury goods, it is still unique. I say this as a former gallery owner whose gallery sold millions of dollars of art.
The Marketing Guru Myth leads to some dubious advice for artists.
For example, just think how many artists subject their brand new site visitors, who are eager simply to look at beautiful art, to invasive and in-your-face newsletter signup popups before the visitor has even seen one piece of art.
That's the exact opposite of how one should treat a valued customer who may be purchasing an expensive, discretionary luxury good. Why do people recommend artists do that?
Because the newsletter popup tactic works well when you sell information products. And that is what most marketing gurus sell. And unfortunately some of them are falling into the "Marketing Guru Myth" of thinking what works for information products will work for selling art.
Here's another pervasive myth: How many times have you been overwhelmed while a marketing expert tells you that you need to put time and effort into optimizing your sites for search engines in a process called "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO)?
SEO works great when you're selling Nike sneakers on an eCommerce platform. But putting much effort into SEO, with a few rare exceptions, is a waste of time for most artists.
In the past, I've covered the "SEO Myth" extensively over the years and kind of become known as the "anti-SEO" guy. But that's because I know what activities work for marketing art and, for the most part, SEO isn't one of them.
"Some things do not make sense to push algorithmically, and some leads have very little value. I don't think SEO is a real solution for most live artists. SEO doesn't really get too many people talking about you." - SEO Guru, Aaron Wall
But, guess what SEO works really well for? Information Products. And many people recommending artists spend time on SEO are selling courses, videos and white papers to artists. So they naturally recommend what works for them. However, it's a myth.
The Marketing Guru Myth.
So what DOES work in marketing art?
That’s what we cover in the paid version (and sometimes free version) of this newsletter. In addition, we’ve developed an entire set of eBooks, videos, articles and a community for artists who are ready to come home and market their art in a comfortable, holistic, non-coercive and, most importantly, human-first way. We call our method The Way of the Bold Brush.
Or, if you simply want the newsletter versions of The Way of the Bold Brush, upgrade your Sovereign Artist membership to paid below.
BoldBrush Founder & Art Fanatic