Let’s talk about being less passive in business
I had two things happen in the last few days that stood out to me as times where we are too passive.
One of them was in a mentoring session recently, I had an artist saying that she had contacted heaps of galleries, heaps of potential stockists to have her work there by email, but she hadn’t heard from them. And she felt like she was a failure. She felt like they didn’t want what she was selling, that they didn’t like her stuff, that, you know, she wasn’t good enough. And I was like, Honey, that’s, that’s not what’s happening here.
The other example, or the other thing that happened was more about my business, I had some interactions with a larger business. And some things were not going the way that I thought that they would. And I just assumed that they didn’t like me. But on reaching out to them, I realized that it was a technical problem.
So that got me thinking about how many of us are WAY too passive in business and I did an Instagram live video with five tips on how to be less passive in business and get more out of your marketing endeavors.
If you’re not a video person, a very lightly edited transcription is below.
Being less passive in business with May Michaels by Elle-May Michael
My 5 tips for creative business owners help you be less passive in business
TIP 1: ALWAYS FOLLOW UP
If you don’t get a response to something, do not assume that they saw it, assume that they didn’t. Because if you are sending an email with maybe a catalog, or you know, just reaching out to introduce yourself to a busy business owner, they very likely will not see it, or if they do see it, they may just quickly see it on their phone while they’re waiting for a meeting or something like that, and then completely forget about it.
I am very conscious that I do this all the time. And I have systems in place to make sure that I go back and check through any emails that I might have missed every single week, because I know that I have a very bad habit of checking my emails on the go and not having time to actually reply to them.
And sometimes, as a business owner, I do want to engage with someone but I just don’t have time, or I’m overwhelmed or it’s not the right moment. And I think to myself, I’ll get back to them later. And then I never do. I never do. Because if it’s not in my systems, then I’ll forget about it.
So help them help you! Always follow up.
TIP 2: DO YOUR RESEARCH AND HELP THEM HELP YOU!
A second tip is to make sure that if you are approaching a business for a collaboration to make sure it’s actually the right fit.
I get emails all the time from brands that are making their own products are sometimes not making their own products, saying “hello, here’s our catalog, we would love to stock in your store. Please let let us know if you’d like to place an order.”
And if they had done any research on my business, they would know that that is not how my business works. It is a rent a cube model. We don’t take any commission on sales. Everything has to be a handmade, we support artists. That’s what we do. And a quick look at the homepage on my website would make that very clear.
So when someone contacts me in this way I go, okay, they haven’t even researched, I’m not even going to engage right? Doing that little bit of research on a business, what they’re about what kind of products they have going in introducing yourself getting a feel for what’s there is not only going to make sure that you’re approaching the right businesses to collaborate.
But it’s also going to help you feel confident that you’re sorry that they aren’t helping you, but you’re helping them. And that’s not actually listed on my list of tips here. But I think it’s really important. You need to remember that you are helping them by providing a fantastic product and you need to feel confident in that yourself. Don’t approach people and expect them to help you. Right, because we’re all selfish. We’re all busy. Make it about them.
TIP 3: FOLLOW UP IN PERSON
Third tip, always follow up your cold inquiries with a face to face if you can. So that means that say you reach out to a boutique about having your jewellery stocked there. Don’t just send an email with your catalog… send the email and then go in the next day and say
“Hi! (insert appropriate small talk here) I sent an email yesterday with my catalog not sure if you saw it but I wanted to come and introduce myself is the correct person here. I really love this store. I think my jewellery would really fit And I just know that the type of customers that I usually sell to, would also like your merchandise!”. (And then you show them your socials as proof of concept)
So now; you’re making it about them that you’re showing them that you have considered what they do, because they get asked all the time for people to take their products, and that you are a real person, and you can have that genuine conversation while you’re there. Rather than just making it like a business transaction. It’s very rare to send out a cold inquiry and get a response back. So make it as organic and personal you can.
TIP 4: CONNECT WITH THEM FIRST ON SOCIAL
Before you consider sending a cold inquiry to a business, connect with them on social first. Follow them on social media, engage with all of their posts, respond to their stories, this will one help you make sure that they are the right fit, but it’ll help them get to know you.
I’ve talked a little bit about the know like trust sales funnel before on Instagram and I’ll write a post about it later. But this part of that funnel. You’re helping them get to know you, like you, and trust you. Interacting with them casually for a little while before you send your inquiry, they’re going to know who you are, when you actually reach out to them. And if they like you, they might want to work with you. So you can see how that will be more beneficial in the interaction.
TIP 5: DON’T MAKE PASSIVE SOCIAL MEDIA YOUR ONLY SALES CHANEL
Diversify your marketing strategy! Putting photos and reels and videos and things on social media is great, and we should all absolutely be doing it. But I think that creative businesses rely too much on this… there are so many other ways to get your products out there. B2B (business to business) is a fantastic way to do that. Because your invoices are going to be bigger, you’re going to be selling more at one time, and it takes less of your energy.
Social media should be about branding, it should be about connection, it should be about building community, it should be about finding opportunities, it should be about collecting a crew of people who all are in the same space as you and being able to kind of gauge that market and learn from it and interact with people and and have those one on one connections.
But if you can work out how to engage more in more business to business sales. So that might be trying to sell wholesale trying to get your products into shops on consignment, doing more exhibitions, getting your art into cafes, running workshops, for like if you’re a person that likes running workshops, trying to market yourself as someone to do them for team building exercises and market to corporates.
There’s so many different things that you can do, where you can implement more of the traditional marketing tools and methods that are a little bit tricky for one of a kind handmade business to consumer models.
I’m sure anyone reading this has the experience of looking up marketing advice online and feeling like “I can’t do this”.. because this is all made for Amazon style businesses, right? This is all made for people that are manufacturing overseas, and have a big budget to run Facebook ads and have 10,000 of one product to sell. There are ways to do those things. But it all starts in branding. And personally, I think there’s just a lot of untapped potential for creatives there that isn’t being met in the B2B space.
So there’s my 5 tips for being less passive in business.
I hope this has been helpful. I LOVE creating content and tips for creative business owners. I would LOVE to know, if you got this far… what you took from this. If you’ve tried any of these things, if you’ve had experiences where you’ve reached out to people and not gotten the response that you wanted, and what you’re going to do, what steps you’re going to do to be less passive in business.
The more feedback I get from you, the more I can tailor content to you. So head over to my instagram @may.michaels, find this video, and leave me a comment!
And, if you would like a hand going through your current business strategy, and think we might work well together, book a 1:1 mentoring session so we can get you being proactive and taking action in your creative business!