How to use your story to stand out in the crowd
Something that was stressed to me over and over in my business classes was the importance of every business (especially small businesses) having a “USP”, a unique selling point/proposition.
In working with artists, I’ve realized that a lot of them have never really thought about themselves in that jargon-y business sense. They might think “I make art. Here it is. Please love it.” or “I make art, I want/need income, I like to eat, let me just throw myself out there and see what happens”.
However, it’s imperative that you, as an artist, do think about your USP and take time to figure it out. If someone is walking down a row in artist alley at a convention, or along a row of vendors at a street fair, what will make them stop at your table?
Obviously, a welcoming smile and a nice display help, but something about your art and merchandise, and how you feel about it, needs to be there too.
What the heck is a USP?
USP basically stand for Unique Selling Point or Unique Selling Proposition.
In other words, if you made a new bike to sell, what makes it different? Why should people buy yours instead of any other bike out there? What reason makes you or your bike more worth supporting to them (other than you sending out psychic “pick me” messages)?
As an artist, do I need to worry about the business/entrepreneur lingo? Do I need a USP?
In short, YES. While what you call it is less important, having a solid picture of your identity as a unique artist is vital! There has to be a way for you to stand out and differentiate from others.
Remember, people aren’t just buying products, they are buying YOU.
You need to stand out and NOT be like everyone else. Don’t try to serve every customer and fan, or just any customer and fan. Have a niche or specialty.
Let’s play with an example. You have high quality art shirts you are screen printing by hand. Someone else is using a mass production printer – therefore they not only have more stock, they can offer it cheaper. So what is going to draw people to you? Is it the quality? How about the fact that it IS done by hand? The personal touch that you put into all of your work is a great part of your USP.
A quote that I love is this:
“In the absence of a meaningful difference, the cheapest brand may be regarded as the best choice. Lack of differentiation turns brands into commodities and marketing messages into white noise. But a meaningful difference can spark consumer interest and fuel demand for a brand, even when that brand carries a significant price premium.” ~Nigel Hollis
As a creative, there are a lot of factors that can help you stand out – the medium you use, your style, your approach to work and life, your processes, your message, your beliefs, the experience and interaction you provide your fans and customers…the list goes on.
This all ties in also with your “why” for doing what you do. Your backstory is huge, and sharing it will help people connect to you.
How do I figure this USP thing out?
It’s basically time to sit down and do some introspection and brainstorming. Think about it as writing your art business story. It’s not just business, it’s personal.
Here are some specific questions to think about and answer. Take your time and make some personal discoveries!
- What makes you unique from other artists?
- What is your why?
- What other hobbies do you pursue? How do they tie in with your art?
- What do you want to do? Where are you going?
- What are your core values?
- What are your passions?
After you’ve taken time to figure out all this information, you’re going to turn it into your story.
Crafting your story
So you now have some answers, how do you turn it into a story? Take what you’ve got already, and use this story structure to help piece it together:
- Who I am
- Where I was (vulnerability, pain points, problems – what were you doing when you decided to do what you do now)
- What I was looking for (share your vision)
- What I found
- Call to action (how they can follow you, where to find you on social, where to see you in person or a link to where they can get your goods online)
Now you have a story (which includes your USP) that can be put onto your website “About Me” page, cut down and put into your bios on social media, and shared with others.