Seth Godin and Marketing for the Art World

Seth Godin

When I set out to write this article, I wanted to provide readers with some resources they could use to help grow their businesses by taking advantage of some of the new art startups I had discussed in my last article.   How can an artist sell their work for use in the Depict Frame? How will people know my work is on Saatchi Art? How can collaborating with non-artists on Juicy Canvas sell more of my work? All of these questions can be answered by creating a good marketing strategy.

Having spent 15 years working in marketing and branding prior to becoming an attorney, I have found that many entrepreneurs, including those in the art world, don’t really understand marketing, thinking it is nothing more than manipulating the public to sell something. Other think that it is something intuitive and easy to do, only to find out they were wrong after it is too late.

Marketing is more than just selling a product. It is more than promotion. As Peter Drucker, one of the godfathers of marketing, said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Marketing is all about the customer. It is a deep psychological understanding of a person or a group’s wants and desires. Marketing helps take advantage of opportunities while defending against threats, building upon our strengths and minimizing our weaknesses. Marketing determines prices, defines the advertising message and establishes how the product should be distributed.

Seth Godin

Unfortunately, much of the resources the Internet has to offer aren’t very useful as they are focused on tactics, not strategy. Tactics need a plan to follow. Each tactic must work in unison with other tactics, each one fulfilling a particular goal of the broader strategy. Email marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization may all be important components of a good marketing plan but looking at each without the benefit of a greater strategy is just like spinning wheels without getting anywhere.

As an allegorical example, let’s look at Rouxbe, and online cooking site. Most cooking sites revolve around recipes. Cook a bunch of recipes and over time, you’ll learn how to cook those dishes better, and then you can move onto more difficult ones, and them more difficult ones until you can cook some pretty amazing meals. But that is not learning how to cook; it’s learning to follow recipes. Rouxbe teaches users how to cook by learning concepts. In its lesson plan for cooking stew, instructors teach students how to sear beef, how to know when a pan is hot enough, which meats are best, why, and how each should be prepared. If you know the concepts, then you don’t need recipes. You just need ingredients. It’s the same with marketing: learn the concepts, then you have the means to create a strategy and develop the appropriate tactics to implement the strategy. In the case of marketing, the ingredients are the things you know about your customers.

Seth Godin: The Modern Marketing Workshop

So for those who are interested in growing their business and taking advantage of some of those new hot startups, I actually did find one particular good program on the principles of marketing:  The Modern Marketing Workshop by Seth Godin on Godin is a brilliant strategist, successful author and an entrepreneur who touts the idea that work is no longer coming from factories but is instead the production of ideas and art. The plethora of relatively inexpensive tools that the everyday person can use to create, has made it possible to try lots of new ideas.   We are no longer bound by the assembly line. Most importantly, the cost of trying new ideas is cheap enough that people can afford to fail. Failure, after all, can provide important information that can mean success on the next idea.

Godin’s marketing concepts are perfect for the art entrepreneur. The on-demand video course runs only about three hours, with a few small homework assignments and some additional materials that can be downloaded if you want to learn more. Below is the class description:

You’ll be using the lessons from this class to generate a marketing project for your business or favorite brand. This project will transform the way you and your team your story and grow. Expect to give and get feedback from your classmates to incorporate new perspectives and ideas into your plan. Giving feedback on the plans of others is the single biggest step you can take in learning and using the ideas in this class. Thanks for committing to the work, posting your project, sharing the word, and most importantly, contributing to the work of others.

If you decide to take the online class, we would love to hear back from you as to how it went. Otherwise, if I haven’t been able to convince you that the class is worth three hours of your time, then maybe Seth Godin can. Watch his video introduction below.

An Online Skillshare Class by Seth Godin

About the author

Steve Schlackman

As a photographer and Patent Attorney with a background in marketing, Steve has a unique perspective on art and law. Should you have any questions on Intellectual Property contact him at [email protected] His photography can be seen online at or on display at the Emmanuel Fremin Gallery in New York City.

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