Networking & Marketing for Artists, Artisans & Designers

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Maya Moon Designs Bags

My friend and client, Maya of Maya Moon Designs, makes seriously stunning handmade leather handbags. I mean she MAKES them, from concept to design to sewing every stitch of the piping on every one of her pieces of practical fashion art. I am blown away regularly by her ideas and creativity. Her gifts are way outside of my own strengths. And every time I carry one of my Maya Moon creations, I feel lighter, happier and way cooler than I usually do (fashion coolness not being one of my more glowing strengths.)

Maya and I have spent a good deal of time discussing how she might answer the oft-asked question, “So, what do you do?” Of course, Maya has the great advantage of wearing her artwork on her arm everywhere she goes, so she can say, “I make handbags” then hold up the stunner of a bag hanging on her arm to speak for itself. This works well – people always get excited, always want to know more, and it is not uncommon for the early beginnings of an actual sale transaction to occur right there in that conversation. Marketing her handbags is pretty easy when she is at a party or networking event (or in the grocery store, really.)

Many of us aren't so lucky as to wear our art/service/products on our arm wherever we go. This means, we have to figure out how to explain our art in a way that makes a distinction from other artists, expresses the goodness that we bring to our Right Clients, and says very specifically who would most benefit from our wares. Marketing our art requires more descriptive and planned communication.

If you answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with “I'm a jewelry designer” guess what will happen… ? Probably nothing. Maybe they'll ask what kind of jewelry, if they are intrigued or if they want to extend the conversation. Or, maybe they will nod and place you in the gigantic category of “jewelry designers” ranging from bead jewelers to precious metals to a designer for a mall retailer. In that case, are they going to send friends your way to check out your wares? Or leap on the chance to see the goods themselves? Probably not.

So, what do you say?

Do your best to include at least these three things in your Party Pitch (this is what I call your answer to the question “So, what do you do?”:

  • What you solve
  • For whom you solve it
  • What it's like to experience your work (some call this part your Unique Selling Proposition. I sort of mean that but more on that later.)

The answers to these questions aren't always direct in your Party Pitch, but they are there in the message. The point is – a person knows how to refer someone to you (including themselves) who would enjoy your product or service.

Here are some examples:

I design and handcraft precious metal and natural stone organic style jewelry for men and women.

solve: the desire for natural beauty enhancement
for whom: men and women (if it were just women, you don't have to mention it since jewelry is most often for women.)
the experience: natural, organic, handcrafted… possible assumptions about the experience: down-to-earth, warm, human, egalitarian

I make hand-dyed vibrant nature-themed silk scarves for women which are sold nationally in small boutiques

solve: desire for self-expression of love of nature through wearable art
for whom: women
the experience: high-end quality, one-of-a-kind ownership

I photograph and frame unexpected details of nature, such as closeups of birds feeding their young, for a child's bedroom, play areas and classrooms.

solve: need and desire for children to experience moments of nature
for whom: parents, caregivers and educators
the experience: kid-centered, unique/unusual (unexpected details of nature), nature-loving

And if you're thinking you wouldn't feel comfortable saying all of that in answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”, you're not alone. The other huge part of having a great, natural Party Pitch is getting used to saying it. Practice, practice, practice… and let variations flow naturally, too…

Just don't go back to that useless one that tells them nothing about who you are and the brilliance you bring to the world. Okay?