|Forum topic by Mark A. DeCou||posted 2441 days ago||2125 views||2 times favorited||55 replies|
2441 days ago
Update from 12-15-2007:
Skim Readers: I am learning in my computer-based writings, that folks seem to “skim” read, not fully comprehending what I am saying, as they miss details moving quickly down the screen. I haven’t figured out how to stop this, other than to write in shorter sentences, fewer paragraphs, and say nothing extra. I haven’t learned how to do that yet, so in this particular topic, I promise you, that if you skim read, you will get a mixed-understanding of what the discussion is about.
Ok, the word “Image” is hanging people up. I understand, we have all been over-promised and under-delivered on almost anything we buy these days.
Note: I’m not talking about “you,” but the other folks that do “it.” The ones we all hate.
Today, we are convinced wrongly of quality by a “brand”, or “logo”, or sponsorship, etc., and so the word “Image” just isn’t a good word for me to use. I am convinced of that for sure now. So, from now on, please subsitute the word “Image” for my new word “Presence” in all of the text and comments that follow.
My goal here was to make folks think of who they were as professionals, people, and workers. In my wildest dreams I never imagined that one word would push so many people to think that I was describing the promotion of some characteristic of something they are not. You know who told me what was collectible, special, and unique about who I am and what I sell? Customers. Some of them I didn’t even have to ask, just listen. Others, I have asked. After collecting a list of those things, I started to see patterns of the Truth, and learned what my Presence was in the marketplace.
I spent most of my professional life from College until 1997 doing full time marketing and sales work and project management. I learned woodworking as a child from my dad who never sold much of anything. He likes to keep it and give it away. So, I learned marketing in my career first working for major corporations, before I decided to go back to woodworking, and changed careers. I’ve actually spent more time marketing for a living than I have woodworking, so the two life experiences working together have been a help to me. I also love people, even the bad and goofy ones. We all have hang-ups and hang-ins, and fears, and worries, and phobia, and faiths, and it is this “uniqueness” that is our “Presence.”
What is it that makes you unique? That is what I’m trying to get folks to think about.
I did a bad job of communicating that simply by selecting one over used, term…..”Image.” Not any longer, I can learn some things too, and this is another one to add to the long list.
So, here is my new working Definition for this discussion:
Presence: What others know of you, about you, and talk about when discussing you. This is not just your product…but the Truth about you, your business, and your product
If you don’t like some of things people say about you, then only you can change your Presence, by changing those characteristics.
Note: nothing in this new working definition is to be construed as developing a Presence on the basis of a farce, or a made up thing. “You are what you make, and who you are.” in other words. Now, just tell folks that in your marketing materials.
If you are best known for your work, show lots of photos, good photos.
If are you just plain a good looking person and you think people will buy from you on that basis, use your mugshot. That’s what Realtors and Insurance Salespeople do…......which by the way, is something I can’t understand, after looking at all of the photos on their business cards. There is an exception or two, but the rest of us can’t get work on our mug shots.
It just happened again to me. I was able to get a large Steak Knife commission project because my name was thrown out to the client by another artist working on the project, after a bad snooty woodworker pooped on them. Good for me, bad for him. If this referring artist that gave out my name felt that I would also poop on them, my name would not have been offered as a substitute. Make sense?
Some some folks I have met just like to be seen as hard-to-handle, or grumpy, or eccentric. If that sells for you, run with it. But, if it isn’t working, try to change your character, see a shrink, or do something to make a life change. See, it is Truth that you are selling, not a falsehood.
I actually hear more bad about other people than I do good. It is that sort of world, and folks talk most about their bad experiences with people. So, take that in consideration, when you are deciding what you want people to talk about…...when they discuss “you.”
If you are good enough at your work, or make things that are already collectible, I think you can be about as bad toward people as you want to be. But, it won’t be those characteristics that others discuss when your name comes up. It will be the bad stuff.
Quality; I Can’t Stand it Any Longer:
What one person things is awesome quality, another of us will look at as amatuer. The definition is about as archaic as it could be. It used to mean, “best I can do.” But, today, it means something else, or nothing at all.
So, when you are describing your work, realize that when you use the term “quality” nobody else knows what you mean by that. So, tell them what you mean, and not try to wrap it up in a single word, that doesn’t mean anything anymore.
I remember being paid to write a new website and brochure for a client once. My question was, “What can I say about your company that makes it unique in the marketplace….the thing that is true about you, that customers are looking for.”
His answer was, “We have great people, quality work, integrity, and fair pricing.”
I say, “Yawn.”
Everyone says that. What is special? Not what you made up, or what you aspire to be, but what is actually right now, this moment, that is special about what you do. If there is nothing, then work on that. If there is something, then run with that, market it, tell it, show it, describe it. Since, then I have never based my marketing help on the person’s own interpretation of what they think is important, or quality. I observe, and figure out what I think is important, and then communicate that to them, and help them communicate that to others.
So, I’m not using the term Image anylonger, the new term I will try is “Presence”.
Once you understand your own presence, and what people like in you, and your work, then you can use that Truth in all your marketing materials, logos, website, business cards, etc., should communicate what that truthful special thing is about you.
Ok, and example, If you use a handplane often in your work, use it in you logo. If you don’t, it isn’t appropriate. See the difference? What happens if someone wants to show up and see your hand planes you use, and you can’t find them, or they are rusted? Message clear? Good.
Please stop telling everyone that you make “Quality” woodworking. Everyone says that. I have yet to meet someone that says, “oh, I just make crap, and people buy it… it’s a great racket.”
Whew, I feel better and can now go back to work
————————————————————————————————————————————————————— And Now back to our Original Text:
For quite some time now, I have been working hard to develop an “image” of myself and my work to communicate with people.
By this definition, I mean that the “Image” is what others will remember about me, after they have either seen my work, been told about me, read something about me, or have met me personally.
In short, I think it all has to go together, whatever avenue they were introduced to me. And, “what” they remember about me is my “Image”.
It is this “Image” consciousness that motivates me to accept commissions for the type of projects I build, live where I live, etc.
This morning, as I was reading through the Business Card debate on the other Forum Topic and I noticed that I worked there at developing the concept of an “image” in my writing.
Also, I have quite a few woodworking friends now that are wanting to jump full time into woodworking, others that want to stay afloat now that they have jumped, and others that want to do different types of work than they have been doing in the past.
I have noticed that in my writings and opinion sharing with these folks, that I also use the terminolgoy, “Developing an Image”.
So, I decided to make it the focus of a forum topic, and see what the other professionals are doing in this regard.
If you have developed and managed an “Image” before, please share your concept and how it is working for you, with the rest of us wannabees. If this is a new concept to you, then share your thoughts also.
-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com