Marketing ideas from an unusual source: Artists who don’t think about marketing

In my travels, I have discovered that good ideas for marketing and public relations can develop anywhere.

I recently attended the annual conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths this year in Boston. You are correct if you imagine that the SNAG conference at first doesn’t look like a typical gathering of lawyers, CPAs or other service professionals. It’s a crowd of creative individuals who see the world from a different perspective and express that viewpoint tangibly through their art. Ironically, despite the name, very few of them work in gold.

The purpose of this conference is similar to that of any conference of other professionals — share knowledge, learn new skills, network and hopefully close a few sales along the way. The conference includes a lot of student work and a juried student exhibit. There were sessions on business development as well as artist or “maker” demonstrations showing their own techniques.

These artists share another trait with many service professionals: They want to concentrate on their jobs and ignore the need to market, network with people who might buy their product or participate in what some consider the mundane task of business and sales development.

There are a couple of things the SNAG conference did that I approve of as a marketer, as well as from a personal perspective. First, they organize what they call gallery crawls – tours of museums, galleries and studios throughout the city, some with leaders to make sure you don’t get lost and others that are self-guided with a map and a train schedule.

And on the last day the artists sell their wares from tables set up throughout the conference. Customers who pay $50 for an early entrance fee have the first hour to visit everything and select their favorite pieces. It attracts the discerning collectors and creates some pressure to buy before the general public walks through the door.

The $50 table fee might not be something that can be transferred directly to law or financial services, but it might help us think about how to attract our most passionate customers in a way that benefits both parties. That’s why I look at different venues for ideas to inspire committed practitioners in any profession. No matter how we are employed, we all must continuously work at connecting with the rest of the world.

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