“In a few months you’ll drive by a building and you won’t think ‘yellow building’, you’ll think ‘Cadmium yellow’,” Amy said to me.
“You’ll look at something on Instagram and think, ‘I wonder how they did that?’ and then you’ll try to figure out how to do it yourself.
Well, a few years in, I can say I do and I have and figuring out how someone else makes art is much more difficult than it might seem.
Exhibit A: Top/Left Artist Ben Pearce does amazing things with limited colors and negative space. Bottom/right: I try to copy him pretty closely until I give up.
We could spin this off in an entirely different direction about not worrying about people stealing your ideas because it’s not really the idea it’s the implementation and most people just don’t follow through and also how it doesn’t matter as much in our industry if someone in Texas and someone in Minnesota do the same thing at their brick-and-mortar store because your customers aren’t the same anyway so go ahead and steal.
(Heather will kill me for that sentence.)
We’re not talking about ideas, though.
We’re talking about ways of seeing.
Which is also the name of a revelatory little book by John Berger.
I just found my copy from my one and only college art class (Art History) sitting on the shelf next to my copy of Elements of Style. (Oh the irony, Heather.) There are a LOT more naked people in Berger’s book than I remember, just FYI if you check it out. This is a good summary without the skin.
Speaking of skin: While we were in Portugal the naked ladies (Lycoris) were blooming. I pointed them out to our guide and she was like WHAT?!?!?!?
Apparently that’s not a widely used common name for them in Portugal, or maybe she didn’t know much about plants?
We saw these blooms on an archaeological tour near the border with Spain and our guides (PhD students from Evora that knew everything about prehistoric and historic (there’s a difference – who knew?!?) sites) said, “We only know about the rocks.”
So if anyone can identify this for me, great!
What it really comes down to with Amy’s comments and John Berger’s book, and Marissa (our guide) and our youthful archaeologists is
What all of this is about is SUNGLASSES, if by sunglasses, you mean the lens through which we look at and understand and process everything in our whole entire lives.
If my previous newsletter was about showing your customers some behind the scenes, er, scenes of your business, this newsletter is about putting yourself behind the scenes of your customers.
(That was a lot more elegant in my head.)
It’s thinking about “what are my customers bringing to the table when they come shop with me?” Whether those customers are retail, wholesale, B2B or B2C, buying things or buying services. Because, at least for the time being, we’re all human-to-human
He wears his sunglasses at night
At The Garden of Words, we often end up working with clients who have had big fancy marketing agencies with lots of credentials and awards that:
a. Knew nothing about horticulture.
b. Disappeared when the going got tough and the website got hacked.
c. Held the client’s websites/Google Adwords/ email lists hostage on the marketing firm’s servers.
d. Charged a lot of money and produced very little in the way of results.
e. All of the above
Which means when these clients get to us, even if they’re referred to us (which 95% of our clients are) they are suspicious, nervous, and rightfully dubious that we can help them. They’ve been burned! Of course they’re skeptical.
And THAT means we, at GOW, absolutely MUST structure the way we get to know new potential clients and the way we help them get started with us in a way that allows them to be comfortable and confident.
We have to have transparency in what we’re doing, structure their tech setups in ways that puts control in their hands, be clear up front about what happens if we part ways and have scheduled check in points.
We share tools and make explainer videos to help our clients give us feedback in ways that work for both of us, whether that’s through Google doc comments, making us a Loom video, using Markup.io, sending screenshots, or having a good old fashioned phone call because sometimes you gotta just TALK TO EACH OTHER.
It’s why I give webinars and talks and write articles and this newsletter. Because I know what you’re carrying and I want my business to be a safe place to put it down for a while. Let us carry it for a while.
Why does my dear Joe wear his sunglasses at night? He’d have to tell you that, but I try to make sure he always has them with them when he leaves the house.
Total eclipse of the . . . profit margin
Here’s what it looks like when a business looks through their customers’ eyes.
I’m in Indianapolis this week so I can travel with my mom to Boston later in the week. On Saturday we visited Allisonville Home & Garden, a beautiful garden center owned by Pat Sullivan.
Here he is standing in front of a vignette for the Pumpkintown train route. Charley is his granddaughter.
When Pat took over the hardware stores from his family they were just that. . . hardware stores.
Now they’re places where, as I said to my mom, “Family groups ages 2-102 can enjoy themselves for an hour or two.”
I amended that to 2 months after Pat took me on a tour. They have a nice area near the rest of the kids’ activities for parents and tiny little ones to chill while the rest of the crew trick or treats.
“Everyone can steal this idea! Set up some doors!” Pat said.
There are drop in fall containers for plant people and decor for home people.
A restaurant for sustenance or hanging out inside while the rest of the fam is outside.
“I get embarrassed when people say, ‘Thank you for what you are doing for the community.’ ” Pat said. “Don’t they realize I’m making money?”
Yeah, but you also gave them something to do with their family, including the new baby, the kids and their friends, and grandma & grandpa. And everyone’s happy.
Here’s how a writer does that:
GOW client Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, “The Hoosier Gardener” creates a (Gold Award Winning!) monthly newsletter SPECIFICALLY for central Indiana gardeners. Her readers immediately missed her when the Indy Star stopped carrying her column and they let her know that.
She immediately pivoted to writing her newsletter, and her readers write back and thank her every month.
Here’s how a public garden sees their business through their customers’ eyes.
For someone who likes seating, I took precious few pictures of benches at Newfields yesterday. Rest assured that every. single. bench. had beautiful pumpkins artfully arranged around them, and they were well-used by families taking pictures.
Because if you’re visiting a fall festival, you want some family pictures. AND places to sit down.
Here’s what a service business does:
Sends out frost warning texts because maybe their clients don’t know to cover their plants. And then uncover them.
What do YOU do to get in the minds of your customers and meld your products & services with what THEY need and want? I would LOVE to tell share your examples. Hit “reply” and email me!
And this is what we do:
Free webinars and handy tools.
FREE FALL WEBINARS!
- NOVEMBER 1!
Email marketing supercharge: Learn about segmenting, customer journeys, post-purchase activity, and more. (Helps if you’re already doing some email marketing.) Learn more & register. It’s free.
- Proven Winners Webinars: Learn all about generative AI – what it does, what it doesn’t, how to use it, now not to use it. Learn more & register. (It’s free!)
Each newsletter always has a mix of fun and functional links. This month is geared toward helping YOU help your service providers (marketing, web development, graphic design) see what YOU see in a way that THEY can see.
TL;DR: How to give feedback that your helpers will USE.
Loom.com – Best for: People who like to show and TELL their feedback
Skitch – Best for: People who like to draw their feedback
Figma – Best for: People that need every type of feedback tool in one place and are good with tech.
The Most Perfect Novel
So soothing. So well written. So evocative of place. Someone get me a cherry pie!
The Most Fun Newsletter
“Amy” from the opening paragraph is Amy Stewart, best known for her awesome books like Wicked Plants and Flower Confidential and the Kopp Sisters novels. She is ALSO an artist and, if I’m being honest, she’s the one who taught me how to paint!
We haven’t been in the same place at the same time since 2009, but when people on Facebook tell her she’s talented she says, “It’s a skill. You can learn how to do this.” So I believed her! And took all of her online classes in 2020 and 2021.
Now, she has a fantastic free Substack newsletter, and paid subscribers get little art lessons (weekly? a couple times a month?) that part is new. Subscribe!
Need help? We are available for for projects and also enjoy getting to know you and referring you to trusted providers if we can’t help. Grab a call slot here. (If you need 2024 help, THIS is the time to get on our radar. Q4 will go FAST.)
I’ll be out October 18-25 taking my mom to Cape Cod to see fall leaves, lighthouses, and Karen. I will not be responding to email. Tracy will be watching my inbox and routing items to the team. You’re in super capable hands!
And *I* will be back in your inbox sometime in early Nov. (I have, like, six newsletter ideas marinating.)
Do you have ideas marinating? SPILL! (Write me back. I wanna know!)
Art P.S.: Portugal edition!
All of these were done on-site.
Bonus Joe wearing sunglasses during the day.