“Your customer doesn’t care about your process.”
If you’ve taken any kind of marketing class with me, you’ve probably heard me say those words a time or two.
So you might be suddenly confused by my push to #endstudioshame and get artists and makers to reveal more of their real creative process. Which is why I want to clear up what I mean by these seemingly conflicting pieces of advice.
When I say, “your customer doesn’t care about your process” what I mean is that your customer doesn’t care when you say, “I’m almost finished kerfluffering the whojabs, final step is to atticate them to the catinose.”
Yes, I know those words are gibberish. But when you start spouting technical jargon, that’s what your customers hear.
Your customer doesn’t care about your process because they don’t understand. Those words are meaningless to them.
And contrary to what you might think, your customer doesn’t need to understand those words in order to buy and love your product. You just need to stop using them, because a confused customer (or worse, a customer who feels stupid) is one who is unlikely to buy.
But your customer does care that the creative process takes place.
Because it’s the existence of that creative process that differentiates your work from all the mass produced crap out there they could be buying instead.
When I started my business, Etsy was in it’s early days. And as I grew and started working with artists and makers through this site, I noticed a curious thing. In order to differentiate themselves from all the amateurs selling (often subpar) stuff on Etsy, artists and makers who were serious about their work started to fashion themselves as brands.
They created logos and wrote professional sounding about pages. They talked about their companies as we and tried to seem bigger than they were.
And while there’s nothing wrong with adding elements of professionalism and branding to your creative business (both things I’ve preached in the past) over the last few years, I’ve noticed that artists and makers may have swung the pendulum too far. In trying to sound like a brand, they’ve lost that individual spark that makes them who they are – an artist or maker with a singular vision and passion.
Couple this with the race to curate the perfect feed on Instagram, and you have artist and maker businesses that are completely devoid of the personality of the artist or maker behind them.
Not only that, but in styling themselves as a creative brand (and styling their images for Instagram) they’ve lost all sense of the authentic, artistic process behind the work.
#endstudioshame is part of my mission to help artists and makers find the middle ground. That place that acknowledges the creative process while also coming across as a serious professional. Where sharing your creative process intermixes freely with customer-focused marketing.
And since I know this is a hard balance to manage, I thought I’d give a few suggestions for how to share more of your creative process without turning your customer off with process:
1. Share your process, just don’t talk tech.
Whenever I teach artists and makers how to use Instagram, I always give the guideline “professional images, conversational copy.” But when it comes to sharing photos of your process, I’d say the guideline is more like “process images, conversational copy.” Instead of feeling like you need to share what the technical process is you’re dong, simply share what it is you’re making. So instead of saying, “finishing kerfufulling the shimshams today” you could say something like “excited to get into the studio and finish this batch of Alison necklaces today.” This kind of language gives your customer a reminder that you’re the one making the product, but now they’ve got something concrete they can understand and get excited about.
2. Mix images of finished work (and your work in use) with more raw images of the creative process.
If you were to look at my Instagram feed right now, it’s pretty heavy on images of my messy studio. That’s because I’m trying to nurture #endstudioshame from a tiny flame to a big movement. But you don’t have fill your feed with images of your messy, tiny, awkward, or non-existent studio. Instead, just pepper your regular feed (which is hopefully a mix of finished product, product details, and lifestyle images) with occasional real shots of your workspace or work in progress, to remind your customers that making and magic are happening.
3. Show yourself in your space.
Besides getting artists and makers to share more of their real workspaces without shame, my other mission is to get artists and makers to share more of themselves. (It’s why I created my class Market Your Selfie.) And it’s when you combine the two (images of your real creative process with images of yourself) that the real magic of connection happens.
Your product may be the best in the world (best being a relative term anyway) but the reality is that your customer isn’t just buying the product. They are buying you.
So while you don’t want to overwhelm them with technical details they can’t understand, you do want them to see you as a real, living, breathing human with a real, authentic, and often messy creative process.
So when it comes to your creative process, share away. And share the real, messy, unfiltered version of your creative process. Because I think we all benefit when you do. Just keep the technical talk to a minimum.