THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Miriam Schulman: Bottega Veneta, a renowned luxury fashion brand, also made headlines by withdrawing from social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and this move was seen as a strategic decision to maintain the brand’s luxury status and exclusivity, avoiding the mass appeal that often comes with social media presence.
Speaker 2: 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.
Miriam Schulman: Well, hey there, my friend. This is Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration, and you’re listening to episode number 292. How are you doing, my friend? So, I am recording this in January, and I just came back from Las Vegas. And there was a lot of lessons that I learned there that I want to share with you.
So, I went to Las Vegas for a marketing conference. It’s called T&C, which stands for Traffic and Conversion. So, what that means is trying to get traffic—in other words, more people to your website, to your things, to your offer. And conversion means you get them to convert into people who will buy your art or buy your art classes, or in my case, also sign up for coaching packages. But the main reason I went is to stay on top of the trends.
So, in today’s episode, I’m going to share with you the top two marketing trends and what that means for you, as well as other lessons from Vegas. So, hold on to your horses. This is going to be an extra juicy one. So, Las Vegas. First of all, I do not recommend Las Vegas. I’m sorry if you’re from Las Vegas, and I’m sorry if you love Las Vegas, but I knew I wasn’t going to like it the minute I got off the plane. So, there are basically slot machines in the airport all over.
The whole town is like a migraine waiting to happen for me. It’s all flashing lights and loud noises. If you have a little PTSD or you are subject to migraines or you don’t like the tackiness—which I did not like any of those things. I mean, it’s just so tacky there. I actually bought myself a t-shirt that says Vegas on it. It is extremely tacky, but it’s one of those things that’s so tacky it’s cute. It’s kind of like the Barbie chic, you know? Vegas written in with, uh, what’s it called? Those doodads that you put on it. The studs. Yeah. So, I did get that in the airport but that I thought, was cute. But the rest of it, not going back. Not going back.
But the conference was amazing. Before I get into the conference, I do have something that I want to share with you about the whole idea of slot machines, which is why I don’t like them. So, as it turns out, I’m actually reading a book that I do recommend called Scarcity Brain. It’s about how our brain is wired for scarcity. This is how we survived, and because we have a scarcity brain that has evolved for survival, this is what leads us to addictions—addictions like gambling, addictions like overeating, and other things. I’m only about halfway through the book, and it’s a great book.
One of the things they talked about, though, were the slot machines. Prior to the 1980s, people didn’t play the slot machines; they played cards, maybe just a few around the fringes, but mostly it was not the main event. It was a boring thing that people did. It wasn’t until the 1980s when they started to introduce gaming technology into the slot machines, because that’s when Atari and the video games came out, that they became more appealing and more addictive.
The way these work is that you kind of get a little win, a somewhat win, and unpredictable results along the way that encourage you to keep playing. Now, social media is programmed exactly the same way. You open your app, you get a number of likes, maybe you get a comment. Sometimes it’s not predictable when you’re going to get a post that goes viral, when you’re not going to get a post that gets a lot of likes or a lot of comments. All those things are very similar to the slot machines. Even when you open your feed, it’s like a slot machine. You don’t know what you’re going to get. And this is what leads to our social media addiction.
So, one of the things that I was thinking about when I was there is like, I just don’t have any interest in playing games that are designed to make me lose. So the house always wins. I didn’t even want to sit down at a slot machine because I knew it’s programmed so that it just eats my money, and I didn’t want to play it. Now I feel very differently about that in terms of marketing, even paying for social media ads. I know how that game works when you’re paying for the traffic. I know how that game works so that you can win.
What we’re going to talk about today in terms of marketing trends is a game that you can play that you can still win at. So, this is going to be a very juicy episode. This is going to be the type that you’re going to want to bookmark. You’re going to want to take lots of notes. So, we’re going to get started. The first trend that I learned about at this conference is not going to surprise anybody. And that is that, AI is eating everything. And what I actually did is I drew a picture of a Pac-Man—who remembers Pac-Man? So, I drew a picture of a Pac-Man eating the little dots. And that’s what I put in my notes. AI is eating everything. I don’t have to tell you that.
I’m actually going to create a separate podcast episode all about why the copy that you generate from AI sounds like a used car salesman and why it’s no good. So, stay tuned. Make sure you hit the subscribe or the follow because there will be a completely separate podcast episode all about AI, and I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it today. What I want to talk about instead is trend number two.
Trend number two: when Instagram and Facebook first came out, and Twitter and all these things first came out, it was all about building your following. And a lot of you still have that thought that you need to build a bigger following. Fast forward to when TikTok came out. TikTok, from the very beginning, said, “We don’t care about following. I don’t care who you follow. We know what you want, and we’re going to show you what you want.” The whole TikTok platform is based on an algorithm so that if you watch a video, if you forward a video, uh, I don’t really do TikTok that much. So I say something stupid, that’s why. But basically, it’s all based on your engagement with the videos. So it will learn. It uses machine learning to know what to send you. So, it’s not follower-based at all.
And that is something that the publisher world is learning the hard way. They will award big book contracts to people who may have a huge TikTok following. Well, you can have a million followers on TikTok, and nobody even knows who you are. You can follow someone on TikTok and never see their content ever again. When I was promoting my book and my book was doing really well, my publisher reached out to me and said, “Hey, this influencer, and I forget her name. Not that I would have shared it in a negative way anyway. She has half a million TikTok followers. If you put her on your podcast, she’ll put you on her TikTok.” I’m like, “That’s not a good trade.”
I looked over on her TikTok, and yes, even with half a million followers, there were like maybe 20 likes on her TikToks or whatever. I don’t remember if it was likes. That is what I saw. Because, like I said, I don’t really use TikTok that often, but it was like a wah-wah-wah situation, and I already knew this about TikTok anyway. I knew that just because someone has a lot of followers, there’s no guarantee that their posts get any kind of engagement, especially if they lapse for a while. It’s the type of thing where you have to be dedicated to posting there every day.
So when TikTok became a threat, what happened next? Well, Instagram, i.e., Facebook, started changing what they were doing as well, and they started changing that even before TikTok came around. Do you remember when Facebook announced that they were going to prioritize groups in your feeds? That was a few years ago, and by the way, that’s not even the thing anymore. So, back then, they said it’s not going to be follower-based. It’s going to be based on your groups. Now, it’s changed again. Facebook and Instagram don’t care who’s following you. They don’t care. That’s why people with tons of followers may not have a lot of engagement anymore. It doesn’t matter who’s following you; they’re going to show your post to who they think wants to see your posts. That’s true of TikTok, and that’s true of Instagram with their reels. I’m not so much on Facebook anymore. I mean, I have my account there, but I don’t use it that much, so I’m not sure what all the platforms do, but they’re not follower-based. So it doesn’t matter how many followers you have, which could be good news for some people if you don’t have a big follower base. But do you know the one platform where the algorithm doesn’t matter, and it is follower-based?
*Humming* Yeah, it’s email. Email is the only platform that is follower-based because all the other ones—remember I said AI is eating everything? All the other platforms are based on AI. AI decides for you. Email, the algorithm doesn’t decide. If you see a post, you decide if you’re going to open that post when it comes into your inbox. That’s good news for you if you’re sending emails because you have some control over that. Are you using a good subject line? Are you writing good emails? If so, people will open your emails.
So now, this is why email marketing is the cockroach of marketing. It’s the cockroach. It’s been around for a long time, and it will continue to stay around for a long time. Okay, so some common themes I hear from artists like you who are not utilizing email marketing and what their blocks are. One thing I’ve talked about, and I’ve talked about it so many times on the podcast, I’m almost tired of talking about it, but it’s the whole idea.
“It feels like bothering people”, so I’m not going to go over that now. I’m going to go over a sister complaint, which is that people say to me, “But Miriam, I don’t like email”, or “I don’t like opening email.” And here’s the thing. Here’s the truth. We are not our customers. We’re not our customers, so they don’t paint or sculpt or whatever it is that you do. Okay. They’re not us. I pushed back on an artist who I’m going to call Lisa just for the sake of this conversation right now. So Lisa was telling me, “But I don’t like email.” And I said, “Okay, well, tell me about your clients, who are your clients?” And she said, “They’re between 50 and 70 years old, and they are, and she’s in Florida, so they’re mostly retired between, you know, late 50s, early 70s.”
I said, “Okay, well. And what are you doing now?” She says, “Well, I’m telling them to follow me on TikTok and Instagram.” And I said, “Listen. These people who are in their 60s and 70s, they’re not on Instagram except for one reason. The only reason that people that age are on Instagram is to see their grandchildren. How do I know this? Because my mom’s on Instagram. She’s 75, and the only thing she knows how to do on Instagram is follow my sister-in-law’s posts because my sister-in-law posts pictures of her nephew on Instagram, and she will comment or like on them.”
That’s it. That’s all she knows how to do on social media. She is an emailer, and people in their 70s, not only are they emailers, but they’re still doing that type of emailing where you forward a joke. Anybody remember that from like 20 years ago? Before there was Facebook, when we used to forward jokes to each other on email, email chains. They still do that. That demographic, they’re not on TikTok. Remember I said, I’m not on TikTok, so I’m 55, so I’m on the youngest end of that, and I’m a pretty hip 55-year-old. I mean, here I am, I have a podcast, I have a coaching program, I have Instagram, I have Facebook, I have zero interest in TikTok, just like I have zero interest in slot machines. Okay, no interest.
And remember what we said about the algorithm decides what you see. This is something I was thinking about. Okay, so I’m going, like this is sort of a number two on here. Recently our friends were over our house. Um, and our friends are musicians. The, you know, the wife’s a musician, the husband is a professional musician and a composer and all that. And so. And my sister-in-law was at our house, too, at our apartment. And she was asking her, and I’m going to call. I’m going to give my sister in law her real name, Ruth Ann. And I’m going to call the musician person Susan, just to not use her real name. So she was talking to Susan and she says, well, “How can I get on your email list so that I can be notified next time your husband has a concert?” And Susan says, “Well, are you on Facebook?” And Ruth-anne’s go, yeah. And she’s like, “Well, just follow me on Facebook.”
Unfortunately. First of all, Ruth-Anne is on Facebook “on Facebook”, meaning she has an account, but that doesn’t mean she checks it. She’s like, I don’t check my Facebook anymore and I’m quote unquote on Facebook. And I run Facebook groups there. I have my newsfeed completely turned off when I go on the desktop for Facebook. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while, you know, uh, I do not have any of those things on my phone, I don’t have Facebook on my phone. Um, sometimes I turn Instagram off my phone when I get annoyed, when something triggers me, when I’m find I’m wasting time, I will take Instagram off my phone. The only reason I put it back on my phone is because I know how important it is for me to to talk to people in my DMs.
That is the one thing that is really, really valuable, and that’s one thing I work with my clients on doing, is talking to them in their DMs about things. So that’s that. Where was I? Oh yeah. Yeah. So talking about Ruth Ann and Susan. So Susan’s like, “Oh, just find me on Facebook.” Now. First of all, there was no way-it wasn’t like, “Okay, let me show you how to get on Facebook right now and follow me.” It wasn’t that. It’s just like this assumption. And that’s what a lot of people are doing that I see in art fairs. I go to art fairs myself, I go to art festivals, and I go to, um, I’m going to call a flea market. But again, if you’ve been following me for a while, the flea market that’s near me in New York City on the Upper West Side is pretty high end. So it’s more like an art and craft fair that happened to also have food like a normal flea market, but really it’s very high end. So a lot of those artist vendors, they don’t have email sign-ups; they just have a sign that says, “Here’s my Instagram, follow me on Instagram.” Well, I can follow them on Instagram, and all I’m going to get on my Instagram when I open it is cat pictures.
Oh yeah, and I just realized the thread I dropped earlier. Okay, so I don’t have anything on my phone mostly. So I was saying I don’t have Facebook. Sometimes I don’t have Instagram, I don’t have TikTok, I don’t have Twitter, and I don’t have YouTube on my phone because those things will suck me into a scroll. The only thing I have on there reliably that I check is email and sometimes Instagram when I feel the need to communicate with my clients.
On my desktop for Facebook, I actually have the news feed turned off. I have it turned off. And I did that actually quite some time ago because I found it. I think I turned it off around 2016, if you can imagine why, with the contentious election here in the US, and I’ve no desire to turn it back on. It was not just the politics in the news feed. It was also anytime someone’s dog died, I saw it in my news feed. So I just really found it very negative and I didn’t want to see it. So even though I’m quote-unquote on Facebook, I don’t see news feeds there. If somebody wants to get in touch with me, they know they need to text me or email me. Wow, that’s a lot of people in the world now. Ruth Ann would totally have gone to Susan’s husband’s concerts 100%.
She and her boyfriend love jazz. Love the kind of music that the husband of this couple does 100%. Will they go to a concert? Probably not. Why? Because they’re not going to find out about them. They’re not going to find out because there’s no email. So that’s the thing. You may not like email, but your clients probably do. Just to give you full details, Ruth Ann is in her early 60s. So this is exactly the demographic that this artist was trying to reach. And in fact, probably many of you are trying to reach people who are in their 50s and 60s, disposable income, many who are retired, maybe they have a second home, or maybe they just moved to homes. They downsized. But just because they downsized doesn’t mean they don’t want art because maybe they did a refresh.
Number two reason that blocks people from doing email marketing. I hear this a lot, and that is, the cost. The cost of email platforms and people who are afraid, just getting started, who are afraid of not being able to sell their art, don’t sign up because they’re afraid they’re going to spend money, and it’s not going to pay off. So I went and researched three top email platforms that I recommend for artists: MailChimp, which is what I use, Flodesk, which is one a lot of my clients are happy with because it’s really easy to use and it looks very pretty.
And the third one I looked up is ConvertKit. So MailChimp still offers a free plan. A free plan includes up to 500 contacts. So if you’re just starting out, you can have up to 500 and not pay a dime. And a thousand email sends per month. So what does that mean? That means if you have 250 people on your email list, you can send an email out every week. Four times 250 is 1000 email sends. And you don’t have to pay anything, and that’s a really good deal for you.
Also, if you get their lowest paid plan, which I do recommend, you do pay for the plan because you get more if you pay their essentials. Plan starts at $13 a month for up to 500 contacts, and you can send ten times a month to your maximum contact count. So that is also really cheap. I mean, we’re talking about under $150. If I did the math right a year, something like that, 150-ish a year, I don’t know what’s 13 times 12, something like that anyway. So are you going to sell one thing this year by having an email list? I sure hope so.
And then about their other MailChimp plans, their standard and premium plans, they start at $20 a month with a lot of features. Okay. Other platform choice is Flodesk. Flodesk offers a 30-day free trial. And after the trial, the pricing for Flodesk is $38 a month if paid monthly, or $35 a month if paid annually. Again, are you going to go into business and not sell anything? I doubt that. This is where we get in our own ways. If you believe you’re not going to sell art, your brain hates to be wrong, and your brain will work to prove you right. So if you believe you’re not going to do it, you won’t because you will look for ways to sabotage yourself. If you believe that you can sell art, you would sign up for this plan 100%. That’s not a lot of money $38 a month. If you’re going to sell at least one artwork per month. Okay. ConvertKit again, they have a free plan. They provide a free plan, which includes up to 1000 subscribers and all the basic email sending capabilities. ConvertKit, their lowest paid plan starts at $9 a month for up to 300 subscribers, and they offer additional features like automated funnels and sequences, which is something I teach inside of my Artist Incubator program, is how to create a welcome sequence or a sales sequence. So all those things are things you’re going to want to do.
But hey, $9 a month. $9 a month is going to keep you from emailing people, I hope not. So each of those three choices offer pricing that cater to wherever you’re at. I’m with MailChimp because I’ve just been with it forever. I am paying several hundred dollars a month for it by now, though, because I have 25,000 subscribers. But this is what runs my business. Email 100% runs my business. I can go off of Instagram tomorrow and still have a thriving business. 100% because I have an email list. Now, I also was doing some research. Kind of unrelated, actually. So I was I’m in this, um, I was watching a, an Amazon Live because there’s this Amazon influencer who I follow and they were talking about bags. Bags that that you can get on Amazon and Coach is one of them. And I remember reading an article that said, actually somebody on TikTok, but I’m not on TikTok, but I do read the newspaper. So in the newspaper article, it was talking about how a TikToker deconstructs bags and shows you what bags are good, what bags aren’t good. And this TikToker was saying that Coach and Bottega Veneta are two brands were actually when you take the whole bag apart, the the materials and the construction are actually high value. But not all designer bags are.
So I was saying this in the chat, and somebody else said, “Well, don’t buy Bottega Veneta.” And I go, “Why?” And they said, “Well, I can’t tell you why, but do your research.” That tells me the person probably has some political thing as a reason why they don’t like Bottega Veneta. I never found out what the political thing was, just so you know, but I did try to research it. When I was researching Bottega Veneta, it turns out they are not on Instagram. They made a point of not being on the social media platform at all. Then I found out there were a couple of other brands that also refused to be on social media, and I was like, “Wow, that’s amazing. Here are these high-end luxury brands that are refusing to use social media.”
Okay. I just paused my recording so I could do a little research on this. I looked on Google, and as of 2020, some high-end luxury brands have chosen to limit or completely abstain from social media presence, focusing instead on exclusivity and discretion as key aspects of their brand identity. Now, the ones that were given as examples, the first one I’m not familiar with, but maybe you are. It said the luxury wellness retreat Vana in India made a conscious decision to exit social media entirely, aligning with its philosophy of discretion and privacy.
And then the other example is the one I just gave you. Bottega Veneta, a renowned luxury fashion brand, also made headlines by withdrawing from social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This move was seen as a strategic decision to maintain the brand’s luxury status and exclusivity, avoiding the mass appeal that often comes with social media presence. Now, these examples illustrate a trend among luxury brands where scarcity and a sense of mystery are employed as strategies to enhance the brand’s allure. By limiting their visibility on social media platforms, these brands aim to maintain a sense of exclusivity and cater to a clientele that values privacy over widespread public recognition. So really, really, really, really good to know. Okay, so now I’m going to move on to number three of things that come up with people who have a problem with email. But before we get there, these words.
Miriam Schulman: Welcome back. So we’re just going to wrap up with these few final thoughts. So I was on a call recently with an artist. Again, I’m going to change her name, Mary. I’m going to call her Mary, okay? So Mary was telling me, “Miriam, I’m really worried about joining your programs because I feel like I know everything already. I’m just having a problem doing it.” And what I said to Mary is that if we could just find out what to do and just do it, we’d all be skinny because we all know what we need to do is eat less and exercise more, right? If we can get skinny just reading a book, we’d have a world full of skinny people. So sometimes you know what you need to do, but you don’t believe it’s going to work for you. That’s one thing we talked about today. When you don’t believe something’s going to work for you, you will sabotage yourself because your brain hates to be wrong, and it will look for ways to prove yourself right. “Oh, see, I knew that wouldn’t work for me. I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew this is for other people.” So that’s why mindset is so important for having success in life, having that belief so that you can take those right actions. Now, sometimes it’s because you just don’t have all the right information or you’re given bad information. That’s what we’re talking about today. Maybe you’re still following people who think you need a bigger Instagram following, and that’s still the answer. Maybe you’re going off of information that’s a few years old because a few years ago, I mean, we’re moving through the internet on lightning speed. It’s like each year is like a dog year, right on the internet.
A few years ago, having a big following was important. Now it’s not important. Now AI decides what we see. So are you still following bad advice? Maybe you are not getting the right advice. Maybe you’re not following the right thing. So maybe the information you have isn’t what you need. Or maybe you just need a kick in the butt. So that is what I offer inside my coaching programs and my online programs. And really, it almost doesn’t matter which one you choose. I offer it for many different levels for people, whether you just want email marketing or you want a full coaching program. I do recommend the Artist Incubator. That’s the best way to get my help, the best value. I’ve also reconfigured my higher-end coaching program. So you heard me talk about in the past, the Accelerator. I now offer the Inner Circle. It’s something you can join in for just one cohort, or you can join it for the whole year. And it’s very similar to what I used to offer as the accelerator. I renamed it and repackaged it because I recognize that some people don’t want to speed up; some people need to slow down. And so the accelerator wasn’t the best name for it.
So it’s really a renaming and a reframing. If it’s something you’ve considered in the past, and now you’re wondering if you do need a little kick in the butt because you know what to do and maybe you’re not doing it, come talk to me. I would love to talk to you. Go to SchulmanArt.com/BIZ. That’s B as in boy, I as in ice cream, Z as in zebra. Go over there and scroll down, and you will see the Artist Incubator Inner Circle. You can apply for it. We would love to have you join us. If you’re listening to this when it goes live, you could probably jump in the February cohort. Otherwise, we’ll get you started in the incubator, and you can be part of the Inner Circle when the next cohort starts. I’d love to help you have success. You deserve success. Your art is amazing. I believe in you, and I want you to have the same confidence in yourself to take those inspired actions. All right, my friend. Until next time, I’ll see you in the same place, same week next time. Until then, stay inspired.
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