How to Market Yourself Like an Artist

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Musicians and actors seem to change their persona or stylistic choices almost overnight. One bad album release or a terrible film doesn’t appear to make or break their careers. It’s almost as if they reinvent themselves and try again — a complete “do-over.”

Fans’ willingness to go along with a new look or sound might have something to do with the way artists market their personal brands. They connect on an intimate level with listeners and movie audiences. Their storytelling transcends the physical being and creates a persona to whom nearly anyone can relate.

You don’t need to be a creative type to learn the marketing skills that help artists succeed in their businesses. Whether you’re looking for professional or personal inspiration, applying these methods can help you get ahead.

1. Reinvent yourself.

The entrepreneurial world clings to the belief that moving forward with relentless effort means you’re on the right track. Put another way: Motivation, tact, sleepless nights and maybe a little bit of luck mean your conviction will lead you from risk to reward. You’re free to relax only after you’ve reached the “safe point” (no longer having to choose between ramen and steak).

In truth, complacency is how the mighty fall. History bears this out. Titans of business have failed because they didn’t evolve with the market or their leaders simply didn’t understand how to reinvent themselves. (Toys R Us, anyone?)

Madonna has become known as the queen of reinvention. Since launching her first album in the summer of 1983, she’s undergone a near-constant evolution of her personal brand and self-expressionistic style. Decades later, she’s amassed hundreds of millions of dollars on tour. She’s the artist every female pop performer aspired to be. Those who study pop culture likely can hear a Madonna song and match it to a corresponding span of years on the nostalgia calendar.

Related: 12 Scientifically Proven Ways to Reinvent Yourself

Today’s audiences crave content and quickly lose interest — and businesses fail to move at the same speed. People get bored. Madonna and other artists aren’t afraid to take risks. In fact, she’s always used controversy to sell her brand. How can companies tap into that power?

Let’s assume you founded a social-media marketing consultancy, and interest in your business is starting to plummet due to intense competition in your space. If your primary competitor publishes a great article titled “3 Ways to Grow Your Business on Social Media Over the Next Year,” I encourage you to write a piece called “3 Ways That Social Media is Killing Your Productivity.” As long as you can substantiate your position and it serves a purpose in your marketing, use controversy to your benefit.

That example allows you to slowly begin marketing yourself as a solutions consultant for brands that struggle with time management. You might even use such an article to test audience interest in your intended direction. One well-written piece could be the catalyst you need to deviate from the crowd and go your own way.

2. Be real. Be personable.

If you want to connect with your clients and audience, be relatable — not perfect. The old adage “people want to do business with people” exists for a reason. Artists are no different. Try to imagine Jennifer Lawrence behaving like a prima donna on set. Can’t do it? She’s known to be extremely humble, down to earth and a bit quirky. Hugh Jackman, Chris Pratt and Ellen DeGeneres all have reputations for being genuinely pleasant to work with. People love them because they’re real.

Related: 5 Ways to Immediately Make Your Business More Personable

Follow any of those celebrities on social media, and you’ll see they’re just like you and me. You also should be willing to show parts of your personality and your business that customers don’t normally get a chance to see. For example, you might share outtakes from your latest commercial shoot or new business initiatives. Highlight your staff members and show appreciation for them on social media.

Get people involved in the processes that make your business run, and keep them engaged. Most of all, be responsive. Don’t give your clients corporate-drone speak. Take the real talk directly to them and have meaningful conversations with them. You’d be surprised how client feedback can influence your business’ direction and its growth trajectory, too.

3. Use the power of storytelling.

Companies finally are starting to understand the value of storytelling. Stories establish a purpose and help drive action. They help audiences relate to concepts that consumers otherwise not have understood or taken an interest in.

Jay-Z’s songs resonate with a broad range of listeners because they tell stories about starting from nothing — rags to riches. It doesn’t matter that a good share of his audience doesn’t share his personal experience of growing up in a pre-gentrification Brooklyn housing project and selling drugs to make his family’s rent. Entrepreneurs, though, do know what it feels like to be the underdog — misunderstood, tired, broke and working 24/7 for a chance at success.

Related: Classic Tales to Mirror When Telling Your Brand Story

The late Steve Jobs was a master at crafting and delivering keynote speeches. He created compelling theatrical performances that inspired people to act. What he sold was almost irrelevant. What mattered more was how he sold it. If Jobs had sold chairs instead of computing technology, I’ve no doubt he’d be able to spin a story around why his chairs fit your life. You’d inevitably buy his chair instead of someone else’s.

As you’re marketing your business, think of ways to show your audience why your story is relevant to theirs. Why should they care? How does it affect them? The ability to translate a common, core message across different circumstances is unmistakably powerful.

Related: Tell Your Startup’s Story and Captivate Your Audience. Here’s How.


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