I never thought of myself as one of those old guys who’d talk about art like it’s the most interesting subject in the world. but, still, art intrigues me.
When i was a boy, i was under the misguided notion that i need to learn to draw very well to be happy in life.
i learned mostly from books. Public library had a great art section. I was there Thursday. And on saturday mornings, i was an artist. With charcoals and paint.
Regardless if i worked on paper, canvas, or clay…it seemed that there was always a pattern in how an artist creates.
And strangely enough, i recently found out that entrepreneurs who build a business from scratch use the same ‘artist’ pattern!
the first time i fell in love with charcoal, i had just learned about caricature. i would have been about 8 then. And none of it made sense to me.
But i found out i loved to draw faces.
i spent a lot of time creating life-like sketches of my family and friends. And if you search my house today, you’d find a few rare “light and shade” sketches of Michael Jackson, made by yours truly.
After years practicing the craft,
do you know what i found to be the hardest thing to draw in my portraits?
this thing would make or break a masterpiece. if i got it right, the rest of the portrait would look flawless. Life-like. Get it wrong and i may as well have drawn a caricature.
do you know what it is?
it’s the outline of the face. You gotta get the size and proportions just right. And it’s really the basis of the entire work.
but it wasn’t just creating the right shaped oval that’s hard…it’s drawing a clean curve…by hand.
Now if you’ve ever done any pencil or charcoal sketching before, you’ll know that nobody’s hand is steady enough to get the face shape perfect the first go.
so i learned this technique…
i’d start out by drawing anything resembling an oval with a light and brisk stroke of the charcoal. Then i’d go over it again.
This motion with each complete turn, became like a motor, just started.
as soon as i was rolling, i didn’t want to stop, for fear of disrupting the pattern.
So if i needed to idle, i’d just go around and around the old strokes.
Well if you look carefully, as i move my hand around that page, you’d see multiple tracks of charcoal on the canvas…side-by-side…so precisely spaced that they’re almost parallel to one another.
But each track, resembles one (failed) try from the artist’s hand.
And it appears with every stroke to somehow move the center of the oval. this way or that.
My hand would gain momentum and build speed as i… pushed, squashed, and contorted my trail of charcoal. i’d perfect and shape. Imitate the bulges created by the contours of the live face’s bones.
Eventually, when it was just right, and my hand was still in motion around the page…
i’d just subconsciously repeat the previous shape…the perfected contour i’d just drawn. And as its edges darken, little by little i’d pull from the canvas the portrait’s face.
As if it were always there, in the depths of the page.
Though i haven’t sketched in a very long time, my memories of it are vivid. And it ocurred to me that when i build a business online, i do it like i’m creating a piece of art…
most clients and students i’ve worked with, they don’t target their best prospect. in fact most of them don’t know who their target is at all. And they focus all their energy on perfecting a squiggly business.
The first stroke when starting a business is to identify whose needs you’re trying to solve.
In the spirit of broad strokes, i usually just take an educated guess at a very general audience who would most likely buy the product i’m advertising.
For example, i recently took on a project for a client who sells lead generation training to home business owners. When i noticed that much of the vocabulary used in their newsletters and products was geared toward network marketers…i didn’t want to have to rewrite everything, so i came up with a solution.
I knew the best prospects were network marketers, not home business owners. Sure the training could be used for anyone with a home business, but the vocabulary in both the existing marketing and products would potentially alienate the people who did not identify themselves as network marketers.
So to sell this product, i needed to advertise and attract people who:
- understand the network marketing vocabulary
- and want to solve a problem of getting leads.
I could have defined my prospect this way. But i didn’t. It’s far too specific and there is only a small pool of people who are searching specifically for my client’s solution.
Instead, i decided to split my criteria. My ideal prospect had to be searching for something that indicates a current interest in network marketing. So the tell-tale signs i’m looking for are words and phrases that may show they’ve:
- done network marketing in the past,
- been approached/educated about network marketing by a friend
- they’re doing network marketing right now
- or they’re seriously considering starting a network marketing business
i believed that as long as i was speaking with an audience represented by one of the above, they would at least be able to understand and identify with the network marketing jargon in the promotion material.
So in the worst case, i should still be able to make a few sales of my client’s lead generation solution as long as i’m talking to this broad group of people.
Another “broad” stroke.
Remember, we’re selling to people, not machines. And people search for their problem in different ways. Not all of them are saying “i need leads” and “i want money”. It’s not always that obvious.
I understand this because i’ve been doing it a long time. So i look for the HUMAN behind the search word. For example, here are a few keywords i decided to include in my client’s campaign…and more importantly, the reason why:
mlm ANYTHING => the use of abbreviation usually indicate this person has done mlm before
new mlm => the use of the word “new” shows they had done “old” mlm in the past
online network marketing => they’ve tried/know about regular network marketing, they want to know about the “online” one now…why?”
In the same way, i used this quick test to decide which keywords to EXCLUDE even tho they were seemingly “relevant”:
work from home => there’s no indication in this search that they want to find information about network marketing style work from home or something else like surveys and ebay.
best home business => they may be trying to get business ideas. home business doesn’t indicate knowledge of network marketing
home business opportunities => this isn’t necessarily a network marketer, they may be looking for other types of business opportunities
You see, each keyword is a clue. each keyword represents an individual’s voice asking for help. And my client’s solution may be what they need.Â In the next broad stroke, i want to know if this audience needs my client’s solution. Are they interested in generating leads?
This can only be really tested using an ad geared at the audience i chose earlier. You see, wanting leads isn’t necessarily a voiced problem, but almost everyone who does network marketing realises the value of a solution.
I usually run a single ad in response to all of those voices. Now this is NOT good practice in a refined account…because the right way to do it is to have custom ads to custom landing pages for each keyword. But that’s not something i could do this early on, until i’ve discovered the BASIC shape of the offer my target audience responds to.
This is still a work in progress. We just want to zero into the money. Broad strokes. Remember.
With the ad, i test the entire target audience as a whole. Do they SEEM to like my offer?
Do people click my ad?
are they opting into my squeeze page?
How long does it take to get a sale?
I continue in this fashion, chiseling away, refining the ad, the landing page, and the email funnel. All the while making money. Until a beautiful, flawless, machine of a business forms before my very eyes.
And the strangest thing happens when the work of art is unveiled.
When the artist finishes his charcoal sketch, it looks perfect. Where are all the mistakes and errors he’d made? They’re not here.
With his finger tips, he blurred them all away. They now form the shade around the cheek, the jaw, and the hair.
Every “mistake” you make while trying will blur away. And what should be left is a money-printing-machine. Mistakes absorbed. Now, a part of it.