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Market Your Way to Top of Mind

The last couple of blogs have been centered around what Top of Mind really means, and why it matters to your creative business.  Core to our becoming Top of Mind in our niche is fulfilling a need, building relationships, and communication.  There it is, so go do it.  Off you go…

If only it were that simple.  Let’s talk today about finding some real world examples of how to do all three of those things, in a way that won’t break the bank, or suck every free moment of your life away. 

The important thing to remember is that you don’t have to master all of these ideas today.  You can take a stab at the parts that seem most important, and fill in the cracks as these practices become for comfortable and manageable.  But commit to the fact that this stuff is important to conquer, if only by taking small steps along the way.

Now I’m going to use examples from my creative niche, because they’re the ones I can think of.  Amend and adjust as you see fit for your circumstances.

The first step is fulfilling a perceived need.  Take your mailing list, and split folks into different categories based on what they need from you.  What problem do you solve in their lives?

That may seem creepy at first, because I don’t imagine that people have a need to buy my particular artwork.  Why do people seek you and your art?  If you’re a graphic designer, they may need you to refresh their website or create a logo for their business.  But other than to fill a blank wall over the couch, why would someone need my paintings?  When I go to see a movie, I don’t need a ridiculously large box of popcorn.  I don’t go for the popcorn, but I buy a box at every visit.  In my niche, it’s not the painting they’re coming for.  They’re coming for me.  They’re coming to see the other people who are coming for me.  They’re looking for an experience, a good time, or perhaps to learn something new.  Shopping at an art studio, a gallery, or attending an art opening is an experience like no other.  So the need is to become part of a more up-market club of like-minded artsy people who get together to see and be seen.  I need to create opportunities for that to happen.  I must have art openings at the studio, or invite them to attend other people’s openings with me.  Introduce them to my other collectors so that they have common friends, and someone to compete with for buying my art.  I need to have a subscription based membership option on my website, online shops, and on  People need to feel that they are VIPs, and have been acknowledged as being different, more special, than those who’ve never purchased from be before.  I know some of this may sound horrible, but it doesn’t have to be conniving at all.  It may sound like you’re taking advantage of people you know, but don’t forget, you are giving them what they’re looking for.  It’s why they come.

That leads us to the relationship-building component.  My customers buy from me because they know me, like me, and enjoy my work.  I need to provide ways for us to deepen that relationship, of opening myself up to them, and actively seeking ways to get to know them better.  Again, this could get creepy, and we’re not going to stalk anyone, or be that greasy suck-up who follows the wealthy around.  But the people who buy my art are buying into a sort of relationship with me.  They deserve and require more from me than do those people I’ve never met.  That can mean little things, like remembering a birthday, or sending a picture you found of them on your phone.  One artist I know insists upon installing his artwork in the buyers’ homes once they've purchased a piece.  That not only makes them feel special, and provides a lovely service, but it gets him into their house, to visit further, perhaps have a coffee and chat a bit.  Sometimes it might mean sending a referral for a book, or an event you saw on the calendar, just to let them know you were thinking about them.  Building those relationships are going to be the most important thing I can do to keep my small art business alive.  It can’t be creepy, and it can’t be too much… but whatever I can do to enhance those relationships I should be doing. Finally, and the tool for achieving the other two components, is communication.  I have to find regular, diverse and appropriate ways to communicate with my mailing list.  I can’t send a form letter to a client I know well, and I can’t presume to be best friends with someone I’ve not met.  But I’ve triaged my mailing list, and know the difference when communicating.  Whether by post, email, newsletters, gifts, vlogs, blogs, free courses, e-books, holiday cards, hand written notes, or live streaming events.  I have to offer regular and a variety of communications with my clients to keep me Top of Mind.

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