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“Artful Business” and an Artist with a Day Job

Artful Business by Greg StoneAfter years of being an artist with day job, I’m very good at compartmentalizing my artistic way of thinking (create things of no earthly use, excessive day dreaming, love of the hopelessly esoteric) from my day job way of thinking (just the facts, top down, no data=invalid idea=unbillable). Funny thing, though, as I continue to pursue both tracks, the difference between them blur and overlap in ways useful to each.  

“Artful Business, 50 Lessons from Creative Geniuses” by Greg Stone, former journalist and head of Stone Communications, has a sweet little book connecting fifty works of art and advertising imagery to classic questions about client engagement with product/ service design as well as how brand value is communicated.  

While being useful in clearing away creative blocks, Stone’s book is most helpful as a thought starter and as a list of questions to benchmark your product design and communications.

One idea in the book is the value of leaving the right things out. Stone reminds us that Michelangelo removed all the marble that wasn’t La Pietà. An idea applicable to determining the difference between benefits and features of your offering and communications.  

But like many things in business, the opposite also applies. Stone brings together two different images of Victor Hugo, one by Honorè Daumier, the other a self-portrait. Daumier’s enlargement on Hugo’s forehead accurately matches Hugo’s actual forehead; a possible reflection on Hugo’s superior intellect . These images are used to consider the value of responsibly overstating our point.  A marketer might apply this thinking when designing communication about brand promise through a customer journey map.

Stone’s “Artful Business” is most welcome to us artists with a day job and by extension, our clients.  It’s reassuring that what we know as artists can be useful, even vitally necessary to many aspects of business development and marketing for our clients.  Perhaps now we can begin lowering the walls of our compartmentalized lives.

Hiring Your First Dedicated Marketing Professional

You’ve taken your business as far as you can with a DIY marketing approach and it’s time to consider hiring your first dedicated marketing person.  Here are a few things to consider.

Work with a marketing consulting or hire a full time marketing directorMarketing Consultant

If you’re not quite ready to take the leap of hiring a full time marketing director, you can work with Marketing Consultant.  This consultant would do everything a full time marketing director would do but in a stage-gated manner that aligns with the business goals and marketing plan as your resources become available.  A marketing consultant can provide expertise and structure to your DIY marketing efforts.  They can also build the marketing and business development capabilities of your team.


Hire a Marketing Director

Hiring a full time Marketing Director, if resources allow, is ideal.  This person will take over where you left off, ensuring that the marketing and branding strategies and activities align with your business plan.  This allows you and your team to focus on serving your clients. Your newly hired Marketing Director will be one of the best hires you can make.

No matter how you decide, it is important to have an overall marketing plan that aligns with your overall business plan to guide the decisions of you team and your consultant or newly hired marketing director.

A Baker Decides, Continue Alone or Find a Partner

While this story refers to B2C businesses, the issues raised are similar in a B2B scenario. Some of the issues are hiring vs. partnering, complementary offerings, and appetite for managing the partnership, among many others.

display of baked breadEstelle

I really enjoy being in the bakery business, but how many baked goods can my friends & family consume? I love working by myself, following my own vision. I also thrive in the “zone” as I move from task to task, baking, coming up with new recipes, chatting with clients & dabbling in marketing. The flexibility is also helpful.  I’ll hire a couple of people to help out.  This appeals to my not-so-inner control fiend.  Keeping the bakery small for now suits me fine.

Estelle & Cheryl

Display of baked goods with cups of coffeeI really enjoy being in the bakery business, but my friends & family have heard enough about me. Plus, it's all on me; baking, new products, manage the store, marketing, accounting.  I’ve missed a couple of good opportunities for lack of time, capacity, and energy.

I met Cheryl, the owner of a coffee house the next block over.  After many discussions over my cookies & her coffee,  we’ve decided to establish a partnership. We each bring a successful business to the table and our products complement each other. We worked with a lawyer to get the legal stuff in place. Our combined business is doing great in both locations. We hired a few people to do the things we don’t like to do, like marketing & accounting. We’re enjoying our ability to focus on the fun parts of running our business.  How cool is it to make a great living doing what we love as new best friends!
As you can see from the two scenarios, many small businesses are started by passionate, energetic people who try to do everything themselves.  Some thrive in that environment. Others will want to partner with someone.

In both cases, another question to consider is that just because you can do your own non-product/service related work, should you?  You started your business without marketing help & took it as far as you can while doing your own marketing (or other service you happen to be able to do).  However, what got you where you are now, probably won’t get you where you’d like to go next.  As you rightly focus on your offering, turning the marketing over to someone else (either full time or on a project by project basis) will help you do so effectively, no matter if you decide to continue on your own or take on a partner.