I’m typing these lines with a whiff of melancholia since this is my LAST post for Mark’s blog.
I’ve been writing articles here for eight freaking years ( that makes it 80 years in internet years).
It’s been a looong journey of learning and adapting. I’m grateful for this opportunity but before I leave I want to share three lessons that helped me sustain my creative digital business during this pandemic.
I hope you can extract some juicy value from them!
Connecting to emotional cues
Yesterday, I visited my cousin at her weekend bungalow where she was negotiating with a craftsman about fixing her flat roof. They eased into chitchat, where my cousin revealed that her beloved pug had recently died.
The craftsman blurted out: “Ugh, I hate dogs.”
For about 10 minutes, they argued. The clueless craftsman kept repeating how much he hated dogs. My cousin’s emotional state continued to deteriorate.
The argument climaxed into a no-deal situation where the tension probably could have stuffed the hole on the roof.
Perhaps the craftsman should have read my post about emotional cues and taking the heat out of a customer conflict. But the point is, he ignored his (potential) client’s current need (sympathy) and reacted on instinct.
A simple “I’m sorry,” could have sufficed.
While still coping with the pandemic, a lot of us are operating in a mode based on incredible stress.
Almost anything can be a trigger for conflict.
This makes it the perfect training time to up your tactical empathy and improve client communication by:
– Focusing on your client’s (emotional) needs. Reading their emotional state and reacting adequately can go a long way.
– Upping the kindness by keeping in mind that the client might be mentally/financially impacted by the pandemic.
– Especially during the e-mail connection with a client, I read between the lines and add encouraging words which I didn’t do before the pandemic.
– Being less “salesy” and respecting you might not be the best fit. Which means you can recommend someone else and elevate someone in your network!
The creator matters as much as the content
Maybe even more.
In a recent post, Mark Schaefer revealed how his personal brand had saved him. At first, the pandemic crashed into his business:
He lost book sales. Speaking events were canceled. Mark was a teacher without students.
But thanks to the effort he had put into his career, the consistent creation and sharing of valuable content, he recovered. And even returned with a financial splash.
While my results aren’t as impressive, I also didn’t lose (m)any clients over the past months.
New clients come because of personal referrals or recommendations on relevant websites where I’m listed and recommended.
Offline clients keep buying my artwork because they enjoy my cartoon style as much as my presence. It’s emotionally pleasing to buy from creators that you connect with.
What are some factors that can make the creator as important as their content/product?
– You are trustworthy. Clients know they can count on you to deliver. You’re communicating clearly and earnestly, especially if problems arise.
– You bring a unique element. There’s a tiny but popular bakery near my cousin’s place which is always crowded. It’s no surprise why. The owner is an upbeat older woman with a sparkly personality and quick wit. She sells her baked goods with so much passion and humor you just want to point at pastries and hear her talk.
– You’re pleasant to deal with. Throughout the years, I have learned that clients often pick you even if you’re just ‘good-enough’ but pleasant to work with. Opposed to the ‘best’ who are challenging during negotiations and fail at empathy.
I’ve watched a recent report on German national TV about the death of central small town business districts due to the pandemic.
Some shop owners being interviewed refused to accept the new reality and insisted customers were coming back eventually.
Perhaps they will, but perhaps the crisis is permanently conditioning customers to prefer online buying over physical shopping?
Point is, some of these owners refused to accept change which happens in EVERY industry.
If you want to future-proof yourself, you can:
– Read relevant and well-researched near-future novels. e.g. books by Eliot Peper.
– Consume sites dealing with innovation and future trends, such as futurism complement your core skills.
– Complement your skillset but learning a major ability increasing your value. For example, creatives who are skilled at writing AND drawing are quite rare.
I’m curious about your recommendations as well. What new or even old strategies do you use now to help your business thrive during the pandemic?
Goodbye for now. Thank you for the generous support you’ve given me over these many years of publishing on Mark’s blog. I hope you’ll continue to stay in touch with me!
Written by: Mars Dorian – Mark Schaefer