Here is the second excerpt from my e-book The Business of Face Painting. I’ll be posting one a month for all of 2012. Of course, if you would like to get all the information included in my book right now you can find out how here.
The Business of Face Painting was published in September of 2009 and I am working on the final stages of the companion book The Art of Face Painting which we hope to have out sometime this year.
Marketing is a key part of having a successful business. I try to concentrate on my marketing efforts at the slower times of the year which for me are usually January and September, and keep on top of things throughout the year taking advantage of opportunities that arise. In my book I cover in detail the specifics of what I do to market my services and the tools that I use.
The following is an excerpt from Chapter Four of The Business of Face Painting.
MARKETING YOUR FACE PAINTING SERVICES
What is Marketing?
Marketing is the process of attracting the interest of potential customers in your face painting services.
The important word in this definition is “process” as marketing is a continual process involving research, promotion, sales and distribution of your services. To put it simply, marketing involves everything you do to get potential customers together with the service you are offering. What you do to accomplish this can change over time and with your interests.
Creating a marketing plan for your face painting business is part of the business planning process (there is that word again – it is a continual process!) To keep it relatively straightforward when you are starting out just concentrate on the basics:
- products and/or services
The goal of any marketing plan is to get and keep a growing list of satisfied customers. Creating and implementing a marketing plan, no matter how simple, will help you to keep your efforts focused on your end goals and increase your potential for success.
In Chapter Three the marketing plan was briefly noted as part of the business planning process. As it is so essential to the success of your new business endeavours I will spend this chapter going over the key marketing ideas that I have learned are the most important to face painters. I will also explain the tools and techniques that I have personally found to be most successful.
Your Marketing Plan
Take some time to write out your answers to the questions and any ideas you have – this does not have to be a narrative, just list in point form all the things that come to mind. I’ve made a template you can use to do this exercise and it is at the end of the chapter. Once you have made your notes you can summarize them and include it in your business plan.
Your product is your face painting services (or whatever services or products you choose to provide.) The key things you need to determine are: What are the features of your services? Describe your services. How do they differ from the competition’s services? What are your unique selling points – this means, what makes your services different or better? How will your services benefit your customers? What is the message that you want to communicate to your potential customers about your services?
How are you going to let your potential customers know about your face painting services? You will need to know who your target market is by determining who your potential customers are – I will cover this in detail further on. List all the ideas you have to promote and advertise your services and the options that are available to you in your area. This is everything from business cards, brochures, flyers, posters, direct mail, website, yellow pages, advertising, coupons, demonstrations, give-away items, email campaigns, directory listings, teaching a class, writing an article, getting in the paper, etc. List everything you can think of and then narrow it down to those that are either easy and/or free or within your budget.
In our business distribution consists of us attending the client’s location and delivering our services. You can be specific on your methods of transportation, necessary equipment such as a booth and furniture. Are there costs associated with delivery to the customer? This area also covers billing and payment for services provided. What are the terms and methods of payment? Do you offer credit? Do you provide any warranties or guarantees? Is there a system for customer feedback?
Setting your price was covered in detail in Chapter Two – Money Matters. You can charge anything you want but you need to be competitive and make a reasonable profit. Customers will not spend more than they have to and if you charge too much for your market area you will lose them to the competition. Use the Excel spreadsheet provided in Chapter Two to calculate your costs and help you to set a fair and reasonable rate for your services.
Once you have covered these four points include the information in your business plan or if you chose not to prepare a business plan, then put this together as a marketing plan.
Take all of the items you consider important and prioritize them, research the costs of those items you wish to use so you can budget accordingly, set a schedule for taking action and then check them off as you complete them.
Writing this all down will help you to stay on track and to monitor the success of your plan.
The rest of this chapter will address the specifics of marketing in the face painting industry based on my experience and what I find to be the most successful. Market areas can be very different so what worked excellently for me might not necessarily work as well in your area, or, something I found not worthwhile may prove to be your most successful tool! So do not be afraid to try out something to see if it will work for you.
Creating a Brand or Corporate Image
When you begin to market yourself you are creating a brand. You are creating a recognizable entity, a company, a service, that people will recognize as being professional, valuable, worth paying for and they will be willing to pass your name along to their friends and family.
When setting up yourself and your business, creating a brand is something that you probably didn’t think about. But just by producing some business cards you have started the process.
We are in a visual industry and what we do is represented by visual images – be it the child getting out of our chair with their face painted, or photos of our work in our portfolio, or our clothes and working set-up – it’s all visual. So do you not think our marketing should be visual as well?
Think about it… what are you marketing? Your artistic services. What is the best way to let people know what you do? Show them.
I know that for a lot of people starting out that the cost of full-colour marketing materials might seem to be more than you can afford but… can you afford to miss out on the work that better marketing materials will generate?
Everyone should take time to consider their business image before getting that first batch of business cards made. I know it is just a business card to get your phone number out there… but it is also an advertisement that people will have in their possession and possibly pass along to other people, thereby creating an image of your business.
If you are just starting out, or even if you are established in the industry, take a look at your marketing materials. Lay them all out at look at them… your business card, flyers, brochures, signs, displays, letterhead, posters, resumes, portfolios, business proposals, and your website too. Now, is there a “look” to your materials that sets them apart from another artist’s? Can you see a brand – meaning, is there a look to your materials that carries over from one to the other so that people can tell from a glance that it is from you? Do you have a slogan or tag line that appears on all your material that is associated with you? Do you use the same font on all your print material? Do you use the same colour paper? Do you have one image – a logo or photograph – that you use on all you material that is identified with you? Do you have a common design element in your materials, for example a black background with yellow print?
It may seem trivial but image counts in this industry as in any other; perhaps even more so. Taking the time when you are first starting out really can make a lot of difference later on. It is not hard, but you need to think about what the image is that you want to present and if that will cover all your endeavours if you choose to expand your business offerings at a future date.
Take some time to brainstorm ideas… where do you want to go with your business? Is your market going to be strictly face painting or only body painting, or both? Are you offering other make-up services? Do you do other forms of entertainment, balloons, hair, nails, etc.? Do you plan to, or even think there is a possibility that you might expand your services in the future?
Do you have a name for your business that identifies what it is that you do? Does the name you use have a good connotation? You have to decide on whether you want to name your business, if so you’ll need to find out whether you can register or copyright it if you decide to go that route. Do some research to make sure that you aren’t using a name that is already in use, particularly in your area, even if it is in another industry. You could decide to just use your own name (which I have done.) It is all totally up to you. But pick something that you will be happy with long term as once you’ve started the process of building your brand and reputation connected to that name, you may be stuck with it.
Get some good photos of what you do – really good photos. You don’t need a professional photographer but take some care when taking the photo, use a background that will be suitable for your print material design (my background is black on my print materials so I take all my photos against a black backdrop,) make sure it is in focus, clear and of a good subject. If you do different things have photos of samples of all of them. Then you need to examine them all… get family and friends, co-workers and fellow artists to help you. Narrow down which photo you think really illustrates who you are and what you and your business do. If you do many things then arrange to take a group photo showing everything or maybe create a collage; whatever you decide to do, be sure to pick a fantastic image that you will be happy with for a long time so you won’t have to redo your materials very often.
Or you could choose to go with a graphic logo to identify with your brand and image. This decision is all yours. But pick something that you can live with as you should not be changing it every year.
Once you’ve decided on what visual image you will be using on your materials then you need to produce those materials. When I first started I printed off my own business cards on my computer using photographic business card paper that is available at office supply stores. They seemed to be less costly than having colour cards printed. But when you consider the cost of ink/toner and the special paper they really weren’t. I give out cards like candy and having to re-print almost weekly was costing me a fortune in toner. So I went to a printer and had a full-colour business card produced and it cost me much less than doing it at home. The card is full-colour on one side and black print on the other. The printer’s designer helped fine tune my design and I am very happy with it and have carried the design over to my other marketing materials such as postcards, brochures, and use a modified version on my letterhead and display materials.
Once you’ve got your business card printed you have started your branding process. From this point on you will be recognized based on this image and that of your business practices and talent. It all ties together. But the printed material will be what most people will see and remember as they will have it in their possession long after the make-up is washed away. By using a visual image you are reinforcing to anyone looking at that business card that you are an artist, that you are a professional and that you do great work. You are establishing your brand in the market place and setting yourself apart from the rest which makes you more memorable and therefore more marketable, which leads to more work and business success.
So take that extra time to decide what you want people to think when they hear your name or see your business card and it will pay off for you in the long term.
© Shannon Fennell, 2009
with material from “Designs and Templates Volume 1” © November 2007
and “Designs and Templates Volume 2” © March 2008