TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 239 Humane Marketing with Sarah Santacroce and Miriam Schulman

THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST

Sarah Santacroce:
When you come out from the corporate world. Maybe like it happened to you as well. You come from the corporate world and then you’re like, “I’m just going to be an artist now or an entrepreneur.” You have been hiding behind the corporate America brand for all these years. You don’t really know who you are and what you’re going to sell. So, that’s really first what you need to figure out, and I think a lot of us are just not used to selling ourselves, and that’s what we do, even if it is your art that you’re actually selling. You’re selling a piece of you because you created that art.

Speaker 2:
It’s the Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to the Inspiration Place podcast, an art world inside a 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.

Miriam Schulman:
Well, hello there, passion maker. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 239 of the Inspiration Place podcast. I am so grateful that you’re here. Today, we’re talking all about humane marketing, but before we get there, we are in the final countdown for the book launch of Artpreneur. We’re in January, and good news, we did secure a place to have our book launch party.

Everyone is invited. If you can drag your ass to New York City, it’s going to be in this really great gallery on the Lower East Side. It’s the Thomas Nickles Project. They feature Cuban artists. So, that will be January 31st from 6:30 to 8:30. I hope you can make it, and if not, you can toast us virtually. Don’t forget that there’s a ton of book bonus goodies available to you when you head on over to artpreneurbook.com. I don’t want you to miss out on them. Now on with the show.

Over a decade of running a successful LinkedIn consulting business, inspiring a yearning in her to create a global movement that encourages people to bring more empathy and kindness to business and marketing. As a hippie turned biz coach, she has written two books, hosts the Humane Marketing Podcast and works with heart-centered entrepreneurs to question their assumptions when it comes to marketing and give them permission to market their business their way, the gentle way.

She shares a fresh perspective and doesn’t shy away from calling things out that no longer work for many of us when it comes to the current marketing model. Her clients sometimes refer to her as the female Seth Godin, or sometimes we refer to Seth Godin as the female Santacroce. Please welcome to the Inspiration Place, Sarah Santacroce. Well, hello there. Welcome to the show.

Sarah Santacroce:
Thank you, Miriam. What a great intro. Thanks so much for having me. It’s amazing to hang out with you. I feel like I’m hanging out with you in your studio because I see these paintings in the background and it’s like, yay, we get to hang out.

Miriam Schulman:
You are in my studio and where am I? Am I in Switzerland?

Sarah Santacroce:
Yes, exactly, you are.

Miriam Schulman:
I’m in New York City.

Sarah Santacroce:
Right.

Miriam Schulman:
Super cool. There was something I was going to ask you about right before I hit record, and now I’m like, “Oh yeah, what was that small talk bit?” Oh, you had to change the name of your book. Oh my gosh, what a tragedy.

Sarah Santacroce:
It’s a tragedy that I laugh about now. You know how when you’re on your knees in the bathroom and crying people tell you, “Oh, there’s going to be a silver lining, don’t worry. You’ll see the silver lining.” And you’re like, “What?” And, now I do still see the silver lining. I feel like it’s had to happen. So, what happened is two weeks after publishing the book under the name, The Gentle Marketing Revolution, I got a cease and desist letter telling me that Gentle Marketing has just been trademarked two weeks prior to the book launch. And so, it was going to be either getting myself into a legal battle or coming up with another solution. And I’m like, “I’m talking about gentle marketing, is this really what I need to get myself into, negative energy, non gentleness?” And so, I took the other route and started over.

Miriam Schulman:
You can’t go after someone’s book title. You do know that, right?

Sarah Santacroce:
Yeah.

Miriam Schulman:
[inaudible] the name of your program as well, and you wanted to keep-

Sarah Santacroce:
It is, everything. Everything I had built over the two last two years, it was the program, it was basically the big idea, and so what I realized after feeling really self-pity for myself, I realized, “Well, nothing has really changed. It’s just a term. The content is still there. It’s still my IP, it’s still my idea. So, I just need to find another term for it.”

Miriam Schulman:
Which is? Tell us.

Sarah Santacroce:
So, the book I republished under the name Marketing Like We’re Human, and what I’m using for my website, and the big idea is humane marketing, and the reason I really feel better about that now it’s because it’s bigger. I had to grow into that person, and it’s bigger, it’s more in the zeitgeist, it’s more inclusive because what I sometimes heard from man is like, “That whole gentle thing, it doesn’t really resonate.” And so, now humane just means everybody. So, I feel good about it.

Miriam Schulman:
I like humane much better. So, when I was writing my book and I had chose Artpreneur, basically the day before we sent in the book proposal with my agent, we’re like, “What should we call this book?”

Sarah Santacroce:
No, wow.

Miriam Schulman:
And then after we signed the contract and I’m really deep into it, I found out there was an artist who has a program called Artpreneur Academy or something like that. I’m probably giving my competitor advertising, but that’s okay. I went to the publisher, I was like, “Is this a problem?” He’s like, “Not for you.” Okay, cool.

Sarah Santacroce:
Moving on, awesome.

Miriam Schulman:
So, let’s get into this because there’s a lot of things I want to talk about, but before we get there, this is all about not having false scarcity. Am I right, not being too pushy with sales and being more authentic and personable? Would you say that would be the gist of it?

Sarah Santacroce:
Basically, so it comes from this place of me growing up in this online marketing world. I started my first business in 2006, 2007. We lived in California at the time, in the middle of the social media buzz and boom, and with being exposed to all these online marketing people and just learning the trade of online marketing, how it’s been taught over the last decade or so. So, that’s how I grew my LinkedIn consulting business, and then every year feeling a little bit more yucky, a little bit more like, “Is this really me?” You mentioned the hippie business coach. So, I grew up in a hippie commune over here in Switzerland in the 80s, and so that renegade part of me more and more just didn’t feel good with some of the techniques that are being taught as this is just how you have to build a business.

This is just how you have to do marketing. And so, eventually just sitting on a therapist chair and saying, “Look, either I have to stop doing this or I come up with a different way.” And, that’s where this idea of the gentle business revolution was born. I’m like, “We need a different way for entrepreneurs,” and I think especially for your audience with this right brain creative aspect to it. We need a different way to do marketing and not just cookie cutter approaches. So yes, it has to do with the scarcity. Yes, it has to do with the urgency, but I’m not saying let’s throw all of these concepts in the garbage. I’m saying let’s look at what they’re meant for and let’s use them in a different way with more empathy and kindness. That’s what I’m saying.

Miriam Schulman:
What would you say would be the number one thing that’s wrong with traditional marketing? What was it that led you to that therapist chair with your marketing?

Sarah Santacroce:
Right, I would say that right now two things. The first thing I noticed when I started to research this is that everybody was feeling anxious with either being the one who has to market their business or being exposed and being the consumer or the client from being exposed to certain kinds of marketing. It created anxiety, and I think that’s just wrong. We have enough problems in this world already. Why can’t we find a way to do business, to make profit, to make money in a more humane way where we still sell and we still do business, but in a very different way?

So, that’s one thing, and the other thing is I really feel that some of these marketing concepts, they’re just really outdated because what’s happened in the last five years globally, but then I’m also very much thinking about the US, what happen with your past president, all of these things that we’ve evolved so much over the last five years. Humanity has consciously evolved so much, and marketing has stayed the same. We’re still treating customers as if they were not the smart human beings that they are. That’s what I feel like is wrong.

Miriam Schulman:
I want to give an example. I saw recently somebody who is also promoting a book like I am, and they created a course, a free course to go along with the book like I am. And one of my friends said, “Did you see that she sent out an email saying you can’t get this course, last chance to get the course?” For whatever the price of the book was, I’m going to change it just because I don’t want to give away who this is.

Sarah Santacroce:
Right.

Miriam Schulman:
[inaudible] dollars and she’s like, “I don’t understand. It’s promoting the book.” I said, “Well, she’s probably using Frank Kern.” And for those who don’t know, Frank Kern would probably be the king of the bro marketers that I’m guessing that you’re talking about the type of marketing with a lot of false scarcity involved, and it’s like, “Come on, the book is always available. Why are you pretending like it’s going away?” Unless this is a bonus that’s going away, which I don’t think it is, so we’re doing this doors closing on this course. So, it was weird for me to see that.

Sarah Santacroce:
Exactly, and the weirdness of it is luring people into that, that there is no transparency about the offer. If there actually was something, like you said, if the program goes away or something, and being very clear about that, there’s nothing wrong with using some urgency because urgency, what it does, it helps people make a decision. And so, it’s natural to want to help people make a decision because that’s our job. If we feel like we are offering something of value, then as marketers, we want to help people make these buying decisions, but there’s a good way to do it and there’s a wrong way to do it.

Miriam Schulman:
And, now I want to give an example that I noticed recently of where urgency really helped. So, what I’m going to give an example of, so I live in New York City and there’s a lot of what we call boutique exercise gyms. So, I don’t know that this is all over the country or all over the world, but it’s definitely in the New York area where there’ll be an exercise place that only offers spin classes or [inaudible] classes or Pilates classes, and there are three places in my neighborhood that I like. Two of them are two different kinds of Pilates, and one was a spin class. And the one spin cycle class, you could only sign up for the classes for the week on Mondays for that week, and a different Pilates class, you can only sign up for the classes on Tuesday for the week. And the third one, you can sign up whenever you want. One of them went out of business. Can you guess which one just went out of business?

Sarah Santacroce:
The one where you cannot always sign up, right?

Miriam Schulman:
And, I’m not surprised because I found myself not signing up for it.

Sarah Santacroce:
Right.

Miriam Schulman:
[inaudible] call back, oh, I can do it whenever I want, and that sense of urgency like, “Oh, there’s only 10 Pilates reformers. I better sign up on Monday if I want to make sure I get my spot with the teacher that I like,” that sense of urgency really worked with me, but it wasn’t about the false… They weren’t creating my manufacturing false urgency, but they were creating something that was actually giving me a benefit of being able to reserve with a class ahead of time, and the you can sign up whenever you want to any time created a situation where people just didn’t feel they needed to sign up at all.

Sarah Santacroce:
It’s really interesting because now of course that I have this title of humane marketing, I feel like, “Oh, I need to do everything in a humane way.” And so, what I’m currently experimenting with the Humane Marketing Circle, which is my community, for this year I had closed doors. So, the typical thing where usually it’s closed, people get on a waiting list until I open the doors and then I promote that the doors are open. And so, it was interesting to see actually that yes, there was people signing up for the waiting list, but then when the doors were finally open, some of these people still didn’t sign up. And so, I went back to them and then they’re like, “Oh, I’m still not deciding…” And then for some of them it was also like, “Well, I moved on to the next thing.”

They didn’t tell me that exactly, but that’s what I felt. So I’m like, “You know what, I’m actually going to experiment with open doors next year,” and instead of having these so meaning open doors all the time, so having people being able to join whenever they want and instead running certain workshops, paid workshops and telling people, “Well, these workshops are going to be paid and they’re free if you’re in the community.” And so, having the workshops as scarcity saying, “Here’s the workshop. This is a really good workshop. You can pay a one time fee, which is the same amount,” or even maybe I’ll play with maybe even making it more than the community, and so using that as a leverage for getting people to join. So, it’s an experiment that we need to see what works, what doesn’t, but it is just interesting to play with these ideas, I think.

Miriam Schulman:
So, we do have a lot of listeners who are also online course creators and art teachers. So, a lot of this conversation’s going to be relevant, but also if you’re selling physical products, the same thing. I personally experimented with two different kinds of sales and I didn’t send it to my entire list. So, my first sale was I only sent it to 3,000 people. I’ve about 23,000 people on my list. So for 3,000 people, I took one on my premium classes, I put it at 50% off, and I only sent this offer to people who attended the masterclass where the offer was made. So, I knew they were all [inaudible]. So, I wanted to see, would they be motivated by a price cut? And that [inaudible] some sales, but that didn’t do so well. Then I did a different sale, a different product because I wanted to experiment close together, but different segment of the list.

And I didn’t put it on sale at all, but I had basically exploding bonuses that went away. So, first day you get a one-on-one with me, second day you had to sign up the first day to get that. Second day, you had to sign up by the second day to get a second bonus, and of course people sign up on day one, get all the bonuses, and that worked much better. And so, it showed me that a lot of beginning marketers think you have to put things on sale. What this showed me is that you don’t, and by giving extra value and having these value offers go away each day, I made more sales and also giving my audience a benefit. So, it was a win for them as well.

Sarah Santacroce:
It’s just a matter of how we phrase these things. It always is, right?

Miriam Schulman:
Yeah, and then I just want to let also my physical sellers, in case they think they’re left out of the conversation, this absolutely works for you. This is no different than the way cosmetics stores they have gift with purchase only during a certain time. So, they’re not saying you can’t buy Lancome makeup after February 1st, but you can only get the free gift for a certain amount of time. So, I’ve encouraged a lot of my clients to what gift can you give with your art, so a lot of my clients did calendar sales in the fall and they offered a free pen with it because that’s something I’ve done myself and that does really well, that you have this certain gift with purchase and the gift is what goes away, so it’s the same thing.

Sarah Santacroce:
I love that.

Miriam Schulman:
So, what are some examples of hype marketing and how would you reframe those into more gentle marketing?

Sarah Santacroce:
Well, we talked about the false urgency already, so that is definitely a big one, the scarcity as well. What I talk about in the book is the wealth signaling. What I’ve noticed over the last decade or so is all these webinars and the big gurus mentioning, “I made this amount of money in two weeks with this technique, or this is how much money…” Or, you even have the websites where they have how much money they’re making on a constant basis. All of this creates so much anxiety for the people who are not there yet, and then these people are using that wealth signaling saying, “This is how you’re going to make so much money if you follow these six steps.” And, then they basically sell the program of how they got there. So that to me, it just no longer works. I feel like, I guess also because of the economy that we’re in now, it feels wrong to tell people that if you just follow these six steps, you’re going to be a millionaire just like me.

It just doesn’t work like that. Maybe back in 15 years ago, you can create a huge audience because you’re the first blogger. Today it doesn’t work like that anymore. It takes a bit more than just putting a blog out there and hoping to make millions. So, this to me is part of the hype marketing, using money and how much money you can make to sell programs, that doesn’t work anymore. So, a humane marketer is going to talk about the positive outcome, not the negative outcome. Well, what we also are taught is this idea of the gap selling, selling what you’re missing basically and how shitty your life is because you don’t have this certain art or you don’t have this program or whatever.

 

And then waving this magical wand saying, “Oh, but I have the solution and I can get you to six figures.” And so, to me that is negative marketing instead of positive marketing where it’s we use empathy and perspective taking and saying, “I get your situation. It sucks. Yes, I understand, but here are the different ways that you can get out of this situation,” and that’s exactly what you’re doing with your Artpreneur, right? It’s like, “I get it,” but it’s not like you’re telling them, “This is super easy, here’s the six steps and you’re going to be a millionaire.” It takes work, and I feel we need more of that in marketing.

Miriam Schulman:
There’s a couple things I want to unpack. So first of all, one thing that I tell my artists is that we learn from the whole bro marketing, traditional marketing culture, sell the pain. This is your [inaudible]-

Sarah Santacroce:
Exactly, I remember you reading about that in your book.

Miriam Schulman:
But if you’re an artist, you are providing pleasure, so the example I give in my book is that they would never promote a movie by saying, “It relieves boredom.” [inaudible]. They would say, “It’s a great movie and it’s so much fun, or it’s so scary,” or it’s whatever it is. So, you’re selling pleasure. So, it’s more about not thinking about their night sweats. So, traditional marketing is going to say, what’s keeping them up at night? What are their night sweats? It’s all about their fantasies and their wet dreams. What is that pleasure that your art class, that your art product, that even if you are not selling one of those things, but you’re selling like you are a coaching program or something else, how is what you’re offering pleasurable [inaudible] the right way-

Sarah Santacroce:
Exactly.

Miriam Schulman:
[inaudible] perhaps.

Sarah Santacroce:
I love that chapter on in your book, and I’m thinking especially now that everything is gloomy and gray, if we’re coming with our marketing and it’s hitting us on the head with how shitty everything really is, we’re all frozen and nobody wants to spend any money anymore. Instead, if you focus on the pleasure and the positive outcomes, then that is so much better.

Miriam Schulman:
So, why is selling so uncomfortable though for so many of us?

Sarah Santacroce:
I think it has a lot to do with the worthiness and really believing in yourself, and you start out like that in your book, and that’s part of my book as well, the rumbling piece of really figuring out who you are, what you stand for, what your story is, and believing in that and showing up with that, and that goes for artists, it goes for entrepreneurs. Especially, I was just on a podcast yesterday, when you come out from the corporate world. Maybe it’s like happened to you as well. You come from the corporate world and then you’re like, “I’m just going to be an artist now or an entrepreneur.” You have been hiding behind the corporate America brand for all these years. You don’t really know who you are and what you’re going to sell. So, that’s really first what you need to figure out, and I think a lot of us are just not used to selling ourselves, and that’s what we do, even if it is your art that you’re actually selling. You’re selling a piece of you because you created that art.

Miriam Schulman:
What collectors really want is a piece of the artist.

Sarah Santacroce:
Yeah.

Miriam Schulman:
Sarah, would you agree that it’s harder for women who have put their families first their whole lives? There’s a lot of women who it’s like, “Me last, everyone else first.” It becomes harder for them to really dig into who they really are.

Sarah Santacroce:
It really just takes that undigging of who we are and owning that part of the story. And once you do though, it really is just so liberating and it feels like you don’t care if you sell anymore or you don’t because you know you will. It’s like there is no will I or won’t I. It’s just a matter of, I guess, time maybe.

Miriam Schulman:
I think building a small business is the best self-development work you can ever do.

Sarah Santacroce:
Totally.

Miriam Schulman:
So, we both have different ways of talking about sales funnels. You suggest a sales path with signpost. Can you tell us more about that?

Sarah Santacroce:
There’s all these terms in marketing, and one of them that really I’m really allergic to is the sales funnel because this idea, when you actually draw it on a piece of paper, you draw a funnel, you’re like, “Oh my God, we’re shoving human beings down a funnel,” and it’s just freaky and gross almost. So, especially if you think about what they do with animals who go into slaughterhouses and stuff. So, it really is gross how we’re treating humans. And so, I wanted to find a different way, and what came to me is the gentle sales path where really what you’re trying to do is get people into your world, and it doesn’t have to be forceful, and not everybody has to go down the same path really because that’s also, I think, my message is let’s empower our clients.

Let’s treat them as the smart human beings that they are. And so, if we give them a path and we give them different signposts, and by signposts I mean… The other word that I don’t really like is lead magnet. So, that’s what we’re usually taught. We have to have a lead magnet at the top of this funnel, and so then we shove everybody through the lead magnet and through the funnel. And so I’m saying, well, we don’t just need one of these signposts, bracket lead magnets, we need several because we need to just be a bit everywhere. And for one person, it’s going to be a podcast episode. For another person, it is a book, it’s a written block post, and then give them these different entry ways to our gentle sales paths that then eventually leads to our serene garden, and that’s my word for the sales conversation. It’s like I want them to go walk through this garden to discover all these different signposts and then sit with me in my serene garden to have a sales conversation.

Miriam Schulman:
That’s beautiful, I love that. I actually love creating the freebies because when I offer it to my audience, they’re so grateful.

Sarah Santacroce:
Right.

Miriam Schulman:
Oh, you’re selling to me? They’re like, “Thank you for giving us all this free stuff.”

Sarah Santacroce:
Right, exactly.

Miriam Schulman:
99.9, whatever it is. Only one to 2% of your list buys. Isn’t that the statistic, something like that?

Sarah Santacroce:
Yeah, something like that.

Miriam Schulman:
By the way, listeners, actually we’re not making this up. It actually is one to 3% I think of those of you though who have small lists, I know that there are people on my… Artists on my list with only 400 people, that percentage is higher. So, the bigger your list and the less warm your audience is than that percentage… But for most people, on average, it’s like one to 3%. So, I know 99% of the people are never going to buy from me, and they’re just going to enjoy my free content, and that’s totally okay, and then 1% well on that’s who I’m in the garden with, as you-

Sarah Santacroce:
Exactly, and it just gives us this more free approach that we don’t feel like we have to be forceful because we know that we want clients who make their own decisions, and we don’t then need to be clear of any objections or convince them. We need to just warm them up and then yes, have this conversation in our serene garden, but most often what happens if you market this way is that people just say, “How can I buy? How can we start?” Because they have done their own research and seen all your signposts and your freebies and all of that already.

Miriam Schulman:
All right, that’s beautiful. So, there’s a number of ways you can work with Sarah. First of all, her book, Marketing Like You’re Human… Wait, did I get the name right?

Sarah Santacroce:
Like We’re Human, yeah.

Miriam Schulman:
So, we have link to that in the show notes. Of course, just skip me and go over to Amazon, but it is linked on the show notes, schulmanart.com/239. We’ve linked all the places, Sarah, and then if you want to go deeper with Sarah, she has a way you can work with her. It’s called the Humane Marketing Circle, humane.marketing/circle… Would you tell us a little bit more about that community and what it is?

Sarah Santacroce:
What I’m trying to do there and what I’m doing there is really creating a community that talks about what works. So, it’s not a community where you’re going to learn the six steps on what you need to do in your marketing, but we bring questions to share. Everybody comes in as a leader and shares, this is what works for me. What are you guys doing? And, I really bring in this hippie community DNA that I know I’m good at. I’m good at hosting the space and having people collaborate and share and, what about this? What would you guys feel about this? And so, that’s what we’re doing there, and it’s a growing community. We have about 50 members now, and I really feel like you’re being part of a bigger movement for humane marketing and not just another community.

Miriam Schulman:
Beautiful, so we’ll link to that in the show notes as well. And don’t forget Artpreneur, it is going to be on the bookshelves January 31st in English speaking places. We don’t have foreign rights yet. We’re working on it. You can get it online. We’ve linked all the places on the book pre-order form where you can get it because I know that people from Europe and Australia were asking me about that. So, bookdepository.com, you can get worldwide free shipping from them. So, we made sure we link to that as well on the pre-order page, artpreneurbook.com, but we will not discriminate against you. If you want to support your local bookstore and they can order it for you. You just talk to the store manager. All you need to do to get the bonuses is your name, your email address, and your order number. So whatever order number on your receipt, we will accept all of them, artpreneurbook.com. All right, so Sarah, do you have any last words for my listeners before we call this podcast complete?

Sarah Santacroce:
What I’d like to say is that after listening to Miriam and I talking about this, I don’t think you can unhear what you’ve heard today, and I really hope that it’s planted a seed and that you will look at everything that you receive, marketing messages that you receive, look at it from that humane marketing lens and feel like Maya Angelou says, it’s like, “Does it make you feel good?” Because if it’s people that you want to hang out with, it’s going to make you feel good, and otherwise you unsubscribe. And then once you do that, then you’ll also learn from the people where they make you feel good, you’ll do the same thing in your marketing, and it’s just like this ripple effect of making each other feel good.

Miriam Schulman:
I love that. All right, my friend, thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you at the same time, same place next week. Stay inspired.

Speaker 2:
Thank you for listening to the Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook, facebook.com/schulmanart. On Instagram, @SchulmanArt, and of course on schulmanart.com.

 

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