The other day I was obsessing over you. Ok. To clarify, I was obsessing over the stuff you could do that big businesses do to be successful. Now, I know I tend to be a little over zealous about you becoming a billionaire artist, but I did my research and at least you’ll be reminded of practices you may not be using yet. It’s sort of a free micro business mini course. No college credits though (sorry).
Bigger businesses attribute their success to two things:
>> outstanding product or service and
>> outstanding customer relationships.
People need relationships for support. We’re simply better together and your micro business is no different. In fact, relationships are paramount to your success. That’s because you have less human power, resources and money than larger businesses do (which is totally unfair if you ask me and is there someone we can talk to about that?).
Either way, focusing on getting you lots of love from fans and customers is time well spent because the more people we can get to love you, the better you’ll do. And the best way to get more love is by being more lovable (I know, genius, right?).
So, today we’ll focus on moving your business relationships into the ‘friend zone’. The ‘business friend zone’ that is, which is a scoatch different from the “I’ll pick you up in the desert when your car breaks down” kind of ‘friend zone’.
Here are 6 ways to melt the ice with fans and turn them into business friends.
Your Offline Charm:
Knowing how you make people feel is like analyzing the user experience (or UX) on a website. The only difference is it’s not technical, not conducted online and not based on website performance. Well, anyway, knowing how you make your fans and customers feel is the same as knowing their real-life user experience (which I call RLUX). In other words, RLUX is all aspects of a fan’s or customer’s (offline) interactions with you and your business. And you don’t need long lectures with flow charts to learn how to figure it out. The most important thing you need to know is your “likability” factor.
Studies have found that people are most likable if they’re trustworthy, honest, warm, and kind (hmmmm…. not a big shocker). In addition, extraversion, intelligence and a sense of humor carry quite a bit of weight as well (still not a surprise…. honestly, why do they even study this stuff?).
So, really, just a quick review of, “The Likability Factor” by Tim Sanders, or this ‘likability’ checklist I created for you from the four personality traits in his book might be all you need to see if there’s anything you should improve on.
Your Online Charm:Remember, you’re the cherry on top of your business ice cream. Capitalize on that charming personality of yours (which is totally not unusual for friends of mine like you to have) and everyone’s bound to love you.
Your online business charm can be created using a more methodical and planned approach. Since it’s not something that has to happen in real time, you’ve got the luxury of crafting emails and posts with thoughtful exactness (highly recommended).
This is where you polish up your art brand like the shiny new penny it is (shiny being the key word here). Avoid brand blah-ness at all cost. If it doesn’t entertain, surprise, or engage, then spice it up or kick it to the curb. A sense of humor, honesty and brevity are a few good places to start.
Takeaway: In order to shine in front of fans or customers, use your amazing people skills to capture hearts. And fix that hitch in your (online) giddy up by sprinkling posts and emails with a bit of your dashing personality (After all, that’s what caused us to be friends in the first place).
Sending a handwritten note or card is one uber quick way to a customer’s heart. The nice thing is it’s fast and you don’t have to be a great writer. Short and sweet is the best seller here.
Now, I realize you’re no super human (super hero, yes, but super human will just make your friends jealous, whereas super hero keeps you anonymous – so, let’s stick with that). I wouldn’t expect you to do this for everyone or in every situation, but at least it can be added to your list of super hero business strategies.
Oh, and be sure to write down to whom you’ve sent them and when. This cuts out duplication (FYI, I hate using ‘whom’ even when I know I should because it sounds so stuffy and English, of which I’m neither, but I try my best to follow grammar rules. So, please bare with me.). If anything, your growing list should make you feel good. In turn, you’ll be happier, which in turn will make you nicer, which in turn will get you more friends aaaaaand BINGO! You’ve got more love.
Takeaway: There’s practically no situation where a handwritten ‘thank you’ isn’t appropriate. Hand writing one to fans or customers now and again isn’t just polite, it’s a best business practice that’ll possibly turn your next customer into a biz BFF.
Another way to make business friends is to keep them in the loop with super duper short stories that you share online. Five or 10 second stories that connect people to your art life, but don’t overwhelm them with noise, are perfect.
Different from your brand story that acts as an anchor for your business, the ultra short story is a buoy. These buoys guide fans through your social network waters. They keep them interested and on course with memorable, relatable snippets.
So, why not just post a sentence or two each day? Why go to the trouble of crafting little stories too?
I’m not saying simple statement posts aren’t useful and even necessary. In fact, they’re great for sharing quick thoughts or info about your art. But they don’t leave much to the imagination. What we’ve got to do is mix it up to keep you getting the attention you need. Making all your posts like this, “Headed to a performance at the convention center at 3 p.m.” is horrible (I’m sorry if we’re going to get into our first fight over me calling your posting practices horrible, but I’m your friend and real friends tell you how it is. It’s for your own good.).
Conversely, pint-sized stories constructed with a little pizzazz can highlight your art life and spur engagement while breaking up the monotony. It’s one way to spice things up in your business relationships because NO one wants to be in a boring relationship. Nuff said.
Here’s an example I wrote (I’m not a photographer, but you get the idea):
Here are 18 short stories from Twitter that you can check out.
Takeaway: Keep fans involved by posting ultra short stories online regularly. You’ll increase engagement and interest without being too noisy or boring.
A government stimulus package is a tax rebate (partial refund for paying too much) or incentive (payment to encourage greater future investment) given to stimulate the economy.
In other words, ‘the man’ gives us back some of our money (aka an urban myth) or taxes us less if we meet certain criteria. This is done in hopes we’ll put that money back into the economy. You can do the same with a brand stimulus package.
A brand stimulus package is a sales rebate (partial refund in the form of a credit) or incentive (in the form of a ‘buy more, save more” sale or loyalty program) given to stimulate the purchase of artwork or tickets to performances.
The ideas are endless. Run sales campaigns around special events or holidays, give discounts for grouped items or performances, etc… (I asked your mom and she said it’s ok for you to play with the big boys).
Takeaway: Inspire spending with a brand stimulus package. It’s ok to act like the government or big biz and offer credit, deals or rewards for loyalty.
Mr. Emerson’s famous quote, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”, implies we need to make the first move. So, I have a tip that shouldn’t trigger your fear of rejection (unless you screw it up, and if you do I promise not to say, “I told you so”.)
One way to make friends is with the ‘freebie’ (I don’t know where the ‘bie’ comes from, but the teacher in me would like you to focus on the root word, ‘free’). In today’s blog post, Freebie means – it doesn’t cost your fans or customers anything and they don’t have to do anything for you in return either. Except maybe give you more love which is the whole idea.
Clearly, this tip isn’t one I suggest if you’re low on funds, but if you do decide to use it, you’ll need to do three things:
Note: Be sure to give something of value. The idea is for people to love your “billet de faveur”, not throw it in the trash behind your back (Totally rude, I know. So, let’s make sure it’s something MARRRRvelous.).
Takeaway: Give something of value to customers or fans at no charge. It’s a clear sign that you appreciate them and want to be business friends.
Hosting a gathering tells others you’re open and welcoming. There’s social proof to back up it’s importance with popular networks like Meetups.com. The science behind ‘gathering’ supports the idea that people get together with others who have similar interests because they have a desire to:
Use this method by being a solo host or by co-hosting with other local artists in your genre. Consider offering a class or lively conversation/debate. Co-hosting is also a great way to draw on a broader fan base while offering a richer experience.
Takeaway: Host a gathering for fans or customers. This gives them a venue to share their excitement or thoughts about your work or genre. Or gives them access to exclusive expert tips and inside information on your art style, medium or methods.
There are lots of ways to make friends in business. Some may cost a smidge of your time and a few bucks, but simply put, any small, sincere effort made on your part can turn people into your best brand advocates which is time and money well spent, my favorite entrepreneur.
by Paula Soito
1 Baumeister & Leary. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497-529.
2 Sprecher & Regan (2002). Liking some things (in some people) more than others: Partner preferences in romantic relationships and friendships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 19, 463-481.
3 Cottrell, Neuberg, & Li (2007).What do people desire in others? A sociotunctional perspective on the importance of different valued characteristics. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 208-231.