THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
That’s really what marketing is. Marketing is about making yourself memorable. So what did I do? I would make frequent appearances on the floor. My job was creating user interfaces for the traders to use. What’s funny is sometimes I feel like that’s still my job. When I’m creating online art classes, I feel like I’m creating a user interface for art students or for my coaching clients to use to learn the materials. It’s really like one joint user interface, but part of making a successful user interface is understanding your ideal customer.
It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place podcast, an art world insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.
Well hey there, my friend. It’s episode number 228 of The Inspiration Place podcast. I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration and author of the book Artpreneur. Going to get tired of hearing me say that. Today I have a solo episode for you. I am recording this up in the country. I think last time I recorded in the country I forgot to check the microphone and it might have been the camcorder microphone instead of the Yeti, at least I hope that’s the issue because it did not sound very good. I think the Yeti is… Well, I know the Yeti’s better than the camcorder but if it’s the audio is not quite as crisp is what you’re used to, it’s the microphone. My microphone in the city is better but I’m trying to let go these perfectionist tendencies to make everything so perfect because I just don’t have time for it. I really don’t. The choice between getting this done today versus waiting till I’m back in the city and doing it with my other microphone and getting it perfect… I don’t have the time so I hope you enjoy my imperfection. It’s like that Brené Brown, I’m going to embrace the gift of imperfection today.
What I wanted to share with you today is last night I went to a reunion of Wall Street of the people who I worked with in Wall Street. Somebody ran it from Salomon Brothers, it was a Woman of Salomon Brothers reunion. Why am I sharing this in an art podcast? Well, there were so many different things both in the conversations that I was having last night and also the way this get together was put together that I knew there were marketing lessons for you. Basically, the marketing lessons come from three places. One marketing lesson place that we’re going to talk about is what I suddenly came back to me from when I was on Wall Street when I was actually marketing, and I didn’t realize it because I was marketing myself, that that’s how I got ahead in my company, was things that I was doing that was marketing without even really realizing that’s what I was doing. I wanted to share those marketing lessons because they still matter now for all of us as artists, as entrepreneurs. That’s one focus that I’m going to be sharing with you.
The second focus that I want to be sharing with you is the way this whole party was put together. We were invited for a reunion. There were purses for sale on the tables and there was wine that was provided. I wanted to share with you this business model which I know is a successful business model, and it’s something that you should consider as artists in terms of creating your own marketing collateral. I may even bring on the woman who sells these purses as a guest in the future so she can really break down how this marketing model works. It’s a very successful one. It’s been used on me in the past and I saw it very much at play at this event. We’re going to talk about that as well.
The third thing that I want to talk about is really just… I want to talk about when you’re in conversations with people, how you’re presenting yourself, your elevator pitch and what is resonating with you. Then kind of like… I would say… We have one, two… Those three main areas and then I’m not quite sure where this fourth area goes but it is related. In terms of what’s working now on social media, I want to talk to you a pinch about that as well even though I’m not quite sure how it quite fits into any of these other three categories. But that will come up in our conversation today as well. All right, so let’s get started.
Okay. I wanted to share with you about this party I was invited to. It was in Brooklyn in an absolutely amazing brownstone, and just shout out to the hostess. God, I hope I get her name right. Tanya Ezekiel, who has written a book… I will link to the book in the show notes just as a gesture of gratitude for opening up her home for this party. Before we get there, let’s just talk about… Oh, and by the way, she had a lot of original artwork throughout. That would be another lesson, by the way, that we can talk about. Actually, why don’t we just talk about that now? The hostess had gorgeous decorating, beautiful light fixtures, furniture, and I was so happy to see that she had original artwork throughout her home. As we were leaving, I was complimenting the artwork that she had collected.
She knew by then that I was an artist, an artist business coach and she said to me, “Would you like to see the painting that I just collected on the fourth floor?” That will tell you how large her brownstone was. I was like, “Absolutely I do,” because I never turn down the opportunity to look at somebody’s art collection. So she took us on her elevator inside her brownstone apartment. We rode up to the fourth floor, which… The fourth floor was equally gorgeous as the rest of her brownstone. She had this beautiful, original, very large painting that was, she shared with me, aboriginal art. Her husband and one of her kids were on the fourth floor watching TV there. He had an Australian accent and I was like, “Oh, so you’re from Australia and that’s why you collect Australian and aboriginal art.” They go, “Yes.”
That is something that I talk about a lot in the podcast, is that people always collect art that has special meaning to them. The more you can talk about your own personality, your own values, where you’re from, the more likely you’re going to connect to a collector who those personal things matter to them because what this woman said to me isn’t, “I love this art because it’s blue or because it’s in oils or because it’s mixed media,” or because of any of the things that I see a lot of artists writing about on their website. She said, “I have this new aboriginal art piece. Got to see it.” She shared with me what her connection point was to the artwork. That is kind of an extra lesson [inaudible] put in there.
All right, so back to the party. I was a little bit intimidated as soon as we walked in because I actually only worked at Salomon Brothers a few years before I left to go work for the hedge fund. My friend who I was with, she actually worked at Salomon Brothers for 25 years and I thought she would know way more people at this party than me. She did know more people than me. It was very interesting, as soon as we walked in one of the hostesses, not the owner of the brownstone but one of the people whose names was on the invitation, it was the sister of the purse seller, she recognized me. It was one of those moments where I was a little embarrassed because I didn’t totally remember her. She looked kind of familiar but I wasn’t sure.
You know how sometimes people look familiar because it’s like a type? I remember that type of person who used to work on Wall Street, this very attractive, thin, beautifully dressed, that was a certain type of woman who worked on Wall Street back in the 90s when I was there. But she totally remembered me and she wasn’t bullshitting me either to sell purses, by the way. It wasn’t her purses for sale, but she did remember me. She was like, “Oh, I remember you because you always used to come on the trading floor.” I didn’t work on the trading floor, I worked in research. Victoria, my friend who came with me whose name is Victoria… She doesn’t mind if I use her first name. But my friend who came with me who worked for 25 years, she worked in research. She hardly ever came on the trading floor. I always made a point of coming onto the trading floor whether I was invited to or not.
What I was realizing is that the reason she remembered me and the reason that I did so well when I was working in that position is because coming onto the trading floor was part of my personal marketing. Part of my marketing. There was a few things that I did… And I didn’t do it the very first year I joined, by the way, when I joined the company. It took me at least a year to understand that I needed to be doing these things in order to grow in the company. The first few months I was there, I did a good job, they gave me a good bonus. A good bonus to me back then I think was $1500. It was enough to help me buy my wedding dress, basically. I was very grateful, but then the following year during my review I realized that they didn’t really know what it was that I had done. I had just assumed my doing a good job, that it was going to filter to the people and that they would know what I had done but they didn’t.
That was… I was there for a few months and then I was there a full year when they did my bonus review. Then the next year, I took a completely different approach and I did a couple of things. This is what made me memorable, and that’s really what marketing is. Marketing is about making yourself memorable. So what did I do? I would make frequent appearances on the floor. My job was creating user interfaces for the traders to use. What’s funny is sometimes I feel like that’s still my job. When I’m creating online art classes, I feel like I’m creating a user interface for art students or for my coaching clients to use to learn the materials. It’s really like one joint user interface, but part of making a successful user interface is understanding your ideal customer. My customers are the traders.
That’s what I understood without even really understanding what I was understanding in that second year. I was constantly on the trading floor, getting feedback from them about the things I was putting into these programs. I wasn’t waiting for the middle managers to tell me what it was that they needed. I went directly to the people who were using it. That is something that I tell you to do in your art marketing. I tell you go in person. Even if you don’t make as many art sales as you think you’re going to make, that’s not even the point. It’s market research. When you go into an art show and you’re in front of real human beings and they’re giving you feedback, you’re going to get the kind of feedback you would never get on social media.
First of all, they hardly ever see what we’re posting on social media anyway, but even when they do you’re not going to get the same kind of feedback that you do in person. The kind of feedback you get on social media, you’re either going to get the hearts, which mean nothing, the thumbs up or the emojis, which mean nothing, or the trolling, which also kind of means nothing. What you want to get is the kind, real life feedback from people who are either making a decision to purchase your art, your ceramics, whatever your product is, or not making a purchase and you find out why. Doing these in person shows, it’s market research.
What was I doing when I went on the floor? One, I was being visible. They could see me. Two, I was doing market research. The third thing that I did was that I started showing up. They had these meetings. I want to say they were Monday mornings at… No, they couldn’t possibly have been Monday mornings. I think they were Tuesday morning at 7:00 AM, which meant that I had to get on a train from my New Jersey… Because I lived in New Jersey back then. I had to get on a train at 6:00 AM in order to be in these meetings at 7:00 AM. I didn’t even understand what was going on in these meetings. I really didn’t. I would take notes. That’s a lie. It’s not like I was understanding nothing. I was understanding some of it, some of it was getting through to me, but, again, what’s the point? It’s visibility, market research and then people see me and it makes me memorable. This is why people remembered me.
Let me tell you, by the end of that following year they knew exactly who I was. I got a much bigger bonus and I got promoted. It was not because I was doing a better job that second year than I did the year before, although you could argue I was because of all the feedback I was getting, but a lot of it had to do with the marketing. Okay, there was one more thing that I did, one more thing that I did that matters to you. All right. I’m trying to think of what the analogy is of going to the meetings and it’s probably listening to other inputs, listening to podcasts, taking in content. Right now, one of the most important things I do is I network at conferences, I subscribe to magazines like Art in America so I have my finger on the pulse of different things. Even though not everything is meaningful, it makes me visible. It keeps my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the art world and it makes me memorable.
Okay, so try to pull all these marketing lessons from Wall Street to make them meaningful to you. By the way, none of this is in my book so you’re getting this here. Maybe it’ll be in my next book. Who knows? We’ll see. Writing that book was like being pregnant with an elephant. I’m not sure if I want to go through a 14 month pregnancy with an elephant again but we’ll see. All right, so there was a fourth thing that I did. I said the going on the trading floor, going to the meetings and… Oh, maybe there was only three things I did. Okay, so going to the meetings, being visible on the trading floor. The third thing that I did during that year that helped me get that bigger bonus and the promotion which is going to be something that’s meaningful to you is that because at the end of the year I realized they didn’t know what I was doing, I decided that I was going to update them.
I want to say I was doing this monthly, which sounds like a lot but it wasn’t. Every month I would write down what I’m working on and what I’ve accomplished, and I would give it to my boss and I would give it to my boss’s boss because I didn’t trust my boss. He’s the one who sexually harassed me inside the book that you’ll read about. I gave it to my boss, I gave it to my boss’s boss and so I gave it to a few people, the managing directors basically. This way I wasn’t waiting till the end of the year to tell them what I had done. I wasn’t waiting until they had that meeting that said, “This is what… Good job, Miriam, or bad job, Miriam, or meh.” I was informing them all along.
Now, what’s the marketing lesson for you? I’ll tell you. What do I tell you to do all the time? Send emails. Send emails. Tell them what you’re working on. Tell your collectors, “These are my works in progress. This is what I sold. I’m in a new gallery.” All these things, your collectors want to hear about them. Again, they want to ride that wave of success with you. You don’t have to wait till you’re at the finish line. They want to be part of that whole journey and share the success because they’re not paying attention to every single thing you’re posting on social media, so send emails.
Now, to write a memo once a week, that would’ve definitely have been excessive for what I’m talking about, but sending an email every week is not excessive for marketing. If you think about it in terms of compared to social media posts, if you only posted on social media 12 times a year… Not enough. Not enough. An email every week, not too much, definitely not bothering people. Okay, so those are the three lessons that I realized I was doing in terms of marketing myself. All this kind of came back to me when I ran into this woman who knew who I was who I couldn’t remember who she was at all, and that’s because I don’t think… She wasn’t a trader. I think she was in the sales team and I didn’t interact with the sales team as much as I did with the traders. That’s probably why she remembered me and I didn’t remember her.
Seeing a woman come onto the trading floor, people do notice that. It was definitely a male dominated place. They’re going to recognize women. And maybe I did know her back then. I feel bad that I don’t really remember her but, then again, I don’t remember what I ate for dinner yesterday, so… I can’t even remember when I take my vitamins. That has probably nothing to do with her. All right, so that was the big bucket that I wanted to share with you about… Bucket number one was kind of like what it was that… the marketing of myself in Wall Street and how that’s really the same thing as marketing yourself now as an artist. Wanted to share that with you.
Okay, so then I want to go to the second bucket here that I wanted to share with you. That was the business model of the party itself. I hadn’t really paid too much attention that purses were going to be for sale when I got the invitation. I got the invitation from my friend who actually never even made it to the party. She had forwarded it to Victoria and I. It was a reunion, we were asked to forward it to our friends. I want to say there were 40 people who had RSVP’d saying they were going to come and there were at least 30 people who showed up at this party. When we walked in the door, we were given a name tag and we were asked to verify our email address. Okay. There was not a big emphasis on the purses at the party. The purses were all around the room. There were different versions, there were different leathers that we could look at, but for the most part…
You’ve heard me say this on the podcast before, I’m not into purses. Right now I use my Kate Spade belt bag pretty much every single day, including this party. I wear the belt bag around my waist walking around New York, and when I enter a room so it doesn’t look I’m a snake who swallowed a rat I unhook my belt bag and then I rehook it and I wear the belt bag around my shoulder as if it was like a shoulder purse. I’m really not into purses. I don’t do that at a wedding, by the way. At a wedding I’ll bring a nicer bag. I’m just not into purses so I really wasn’t interested in that, but I was interested in trying to reverse-engineer the business model. The person who was the sister of the person who recognized me… I don’t believe she actually worked at Salomon Brothers. My recollection is that she was on Wall Street, she worked for Goldman Sachs not Salomon Brothers. Her sister worked for Salomon Brothers but her sister was the one who coordinated this reunion.
After she came around to us and was giving a little spiel about her purses, not a big spiel, a little spiel, I pulled her aside and I started asking her questions about the business model. I said, “So you’re going to follow up with us with the emails, aren’t you?” She said yes. I said, “Do you do these parties often?” She goes, “Yeah.” I go, “So this must be a successful business model for you.” She says, “Oh yeah.” She has a multimillion-dollar business. Multimillion-dollar business selling purses. She doesn’t design them herself. She has I think two lead designers working with her. Just to give her a shout-out… I didn’t bring to the country with me the name of the business but I will make sure that her purse business is in the show notes for you. This is episode 228 and we’ll put a link for that in there so you can check it out.
But she was explaining to me how the purses, they’re sustainable, there’s no waste, the beauty of it is that people can design them themselves. But here’s really what I want you to hear. Here’s really… Because I’m dancing around it but it may not be as obvious to you as it was to me, and if it isn’t don’t feel bad because it wasn’t obvious to most people. They were not pushing the purses at this party but here’s what they did: they had a reunion of high net worth women, women who had all worked on Wall Street. Well, in this particular case, all worked for Salomon Brothers which was a big Wall Street firm. The purpose was the reunion but the other purpose was getting together high-net-worth
individuals. She did have the purses on display. They were next to the sushi bar, they were next to the hummus bar. The food was beautiful, by the way. It was all… I think most of it was either vegan or kosher, which was perfect for me. I was so excited. I could eat anything I wanted at… Actually, it wasn’t all vegan because there was cheese there too, which I may or may not have eaten.
But anyway, the purses were on display but it’s not like a Tupperware party where we were sitting around the circle being pushed to buy things. There was no order form that got passed around. But I asked her, “You’re going to follow up with us afterwards, aren’t you?” And she said yeah, she is. I am not going to be one of the people buying the purses, however I am talking about her on the podcast which will probably help her more than me buying the one purse. But I did have the experience about six years ago when I became vegan… Now I’m not vegan anymore. I’m vegetarian, or a liar. I don’t know. What do you want to call me? I do eat cheese and fish so I’m not vegan anymore, but when I first became vegan, and I was strictly vegan for several years, I just attended or I went to go to a book party for Gabby Bernstein’s new book, The Universe Has Your Back. It wasn’t actually the book itself, it was for the cards that went with it.
This was a small party at ABC Carpet in New York City. This vegan food delivery service called Sakara catered the reception. To get into the book party… I think I paid to go to the book party because part of it was seeing Gabby Bernstein and then you got the card deck, but I had to sign in with my email address and I really liked having the vegan reception. A week later or a couple days later, I got an email from Sakara saying, “Hey, use your Gabby Bernstein take 15% off coupon code, THANKGABBY,” or whatever it was. Now six years later, I still get that vegan food delivery service.
Even if I was the only person who signed up for that to try out the vegan food delivery service that day, they made money from that party, and I probably wasn’t the only one. I may be the only one who’s still doing it but I bet there were a lot of other people who tried it out because there was an alignment between the ideal customers. Gabby I think herself is… I think she’s vegetarian or vegan, and all the people who came to this party were… A lot of them were Gabby wannabes to some level or another and so these were people who would be very willing to try out a vegan food delivery service. I was definitely one of those people. So yeah, this business model works. I want you to think about how could this business model work for you. How could you partner up with some sort of reunion for high net worth individuals?
There was one more thing she shared with me. One more thing. Her sister is part of a charity. I think it was… She had shared with me that 15% of the proceeds for the purses were going to this charity so that was going to be part of the marketing as well. Now, I’m recording this the day after the party. I have not received yet the followup emails but that is definitely one of the angles. It was interesting because I’m always telling you partner with a charity because people are more willing to spend money on themselves when they know it’s supporting a good cause. All right, so that was bucket number two that I said I wanted to share with you how I used to market myself on Wall Street. I wanted to share with you this business model of selling purses, which you can be able to apply to selling jewelry, pottery, artwork, anything.
Then the third thing I want to talk to you about was my elevator pitch. I remember when a few years ago, pre-COVID… I’m only starting to go back out in the world again and say what I’m doing. Pre-COVID, I was pretty much only an artist. When people would say to me, “What you do?” I’d say, “I’m an artist.” They were excited to talk to me about it. Now my elevator pitch, doing air quotes, it’s not… People just say, “What do you do?” But that’s what you… You’re supposed to give a pitch. I had been stumbling for a while and saying, “I’m an artist.” They say, “What kind of work do you do?” They weren’t really that interested in hearing about it, but that’s not because they’re not interested in artists. That’s because the way I was talking about it was not interesting enough.
Now I’ve started introducing myself as, “I coach artists. I’m an artist business coach.” People are very excited to hear that. It’s not because artist business coach is more exciting than being an artist, it’s because that’s what I’m most excited about. The answer isn’t really how to give a perfect elevator pitch or what even it is that you’re saying, but I do want you to go back and listen to the podcast episode I did with Anna Tsui about using your personal genius to find flow in your marketing and your sales. That’s exactly what she talks about. She talks about it’s your enthusiasm that is going to sell your art and tapping into that. Whether it’s your enthusiasm to sell what it is that you’re doing or your enthusiasm about your art, that is what you need to be talking about. That was something that I was like, “Okay, I really wanted to share that with you.”
Then remember I said there was a fourth thing I wanted to share with you. This is when I was talking to people about the book. Right now, my book as we’re speaking, it’s trending on Amazon in three categories. One, entertainment, which yes, it belongs in entertainment because the other books that are in that category are music business books and theater business books so art business books… I do include examples of music and how to make it as a musician in this book so definitely belongs in that. The second category, though, is workplace culture. When I first saw that on Amazon, I… And I had said to my publisher, “Hey, shouldn’t this book be in the creativity category?” Then they told me they have no control over which categories it shows up in. I think it’s based on the content of the book.
So why is my book showing up in workplace culture? Well, chapter two of the book is about workplace culture because… Here is something I was sharing last night and the women there were like, “Oh my gosh. What you just said, I want everyone to hear.” So I want to share it with you right now. When I was talking about the book, I was telling them about the book because I said, “I just wrote a book and chapter two is about our friends.” Friends are in air quotes, meaning the people who were famous at Salomon Brothers and the hedge fund that I worked for. I said, “Yeah, but this is why I put that in the book because so many people…” By people I mostly mean women. I don’t see men having the same hesitancy that I see women have. My publisher wanted me to make this book for everybody but women, I am mostly speaking to you just so you know.
All right. Yeah, guys, this book is for you too but this is the Great Resignation. All those people who quit their jobs, most of them were men. Why is that? Why is that? We are so afraid of taking risks. And not just women, all people are afraid of taking risks because we’re scared of the tigers outside of the cave, but what we forget is there are snakes inside the cave. That’s what chapter two is really about. That’s why I included chapter two in my book about the workplace culture because this is something that wasn’t just specific to me. It’s something that’s an experience that most women in corporate America experience, and things haven’t really changed in 30 years. I think maybe some things may be a little more subtle now than they used to be. I mean, what I experienced was very overt sexism in the workplace and sexual harassment so I think things are a little more underground. Maybe they don’t say all the same words they do anymore, but it’s still there.
Anyway, workplace culture. Now here, as I said, there was going to be another little piece to it that doesn’t quite fit into those three buckets, but I was going to tell you what’s working right now on Instagram. What I noticed is that my reels that were highly polished, that were perfect… That’s why I’m trying to record this right now and being less perfect, not writing everything out, not worrying about if I’m rambling, not worried about if I digress and I include something else. All my reels…. My last past eight reels as of the recording today… I’m recording this… I don’t even know what day it is. Okay, I’m recording this September 30th. I know you’re not going to get this for a whole month, but at that time the reel that I recorded when I saw that my book was trending on Amazon and all I did was…
Without a lot of makeup I just did a selfie video, “Oh my God, I’m so excited. This is so crazy. You guys see this?” Then I flip the camera and I took a little film of showing where my book was ranked on Amazon. I was so excited. That one got more views than the eight previous reels that were all highly polished and took hours to develop. That one, it took me a few minutes. There you go. So when are you being overperfect? I know I do it all the time. Perfectionism is probably my frenemy. It’s frenemy. It’s my little wobbly. I hold onto it but really it’s not helping me because people really prefer when I’m less perfect, when I’m more authentic, when I show up, when I’m real, maybe I’m not using the best microphone. It’s okay because you know what’s more important? It’s what we have to say to the world. This was important for me to know and I think it’s important for you to know as well.
All right, my friend. I’m going to remind you my book is for sale on Amazon, at Barnes & Nobles and indie bookshops. It doesn’t matter where you order it from. You can even hop into your local bookstore and ask them to place an order for you. Once you order it, you can take your order number, head on over to schulmanart.com/book. I am working on a vanity URL. I’m not sure if it’s going to be ready in time for this podcast episode. Doesn’t matter, it all takes you to the same place. You can see all my book order bonuses. Enter your name, email and your order number and you’ll get my book bonuses. Thank you for being a part of my world. I am so grateful to you. I truly am. All right, my friend. That’s it for today. I’ll see you at the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.
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