(I’m about to say ‘poop’ and ‘feces’ and ‘shit’ a lot. If you’re squeamish…prepare yourself.)
A long time ago I worked as a hotel housekeeper.To cheer myself up after a particularly gross day I went to the village store and bought a pile of magazines. One was Black Book and in it was an article involving Sasha Grey and Terence Koh called The Porn Supremacy.
The piece involved some questions about an art series (I don’t know if that’s the right word for this?) that Koh did in 2007 involving his feces. If you’re not familiar…he sold his gold-plated shit for half a million dollars. HALF A MILLION DOLLARS.
He then in an effort to be democratic about his poop (see below) offered his non gold-plated feces (would I be right to assume that means he literally just sold his poop?) for $150 a pop. As art. When asked why, since it was in fact still his poop, he would sell it so cheap he replied…
“I personally believe that any of my feces, gold-plated or not, should be worth its weight in gold. But I wanted to sell it at a lower price-point for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford me. I try to be democratic, especially when it comes to my poop.”
I was stunned. To think that while I was scrubbing some tourists possible ‘art’ off of bathroom walls for minimum wage – Koh was SELLING HIS SHIT for $500,000?!
But Koh’s act of salesmanship has stayed with me.
There is a lot of talk in business about this, I’ve heard it called ‘Finding your tribe‘ and I thought I’d share some encouragement. To anyone who is selling something – especially creative like writing, art or your knowledge- this can be helpful to hear.
In matters of creative business I think it’s entirely too easy (and a bit desperate) to try to ‘mass market’ what you’re selling. The truth is, in most cases, your market should be smaller and more focused.
There is no selling point Koh could offer to make me want to hand over my money for his feces. But he didn’t need me. Or you. He found the person willing to pay half a million and then he found a crowd of people willing to pay $150 each.
Smart business. Focused business. Exciting business.
This is the key. The majority of the world probably isn’t going to like, be able to afford, be interested in or care about what you’re selling. That’s okay. Good in fact.
You don’t need everyone. Find your people. Market your people. The ones who will be interested in what you offer.
Let what you do be for them.
This is the exciting part. They are happy about what you offer. They want to read what you write. They want your art on their walls. They will splurge to hear you speak. They will buy your shit. Because they are happy about what you offer. How blessed would that make you feel? When instead of stressing over making small money from moderately interested people you can focus on your product. And in turn make good money from people who care?!
And I don’t care what you’re selling. There are people somewhere who are interested. Focus on them.
Lots of times, what starts as a small group of fans grows into a much larger group. Let the appreciation blossom and the love grow from the people who get you and your product – then, if everyone else follows, it’s just a bonus. You already have your base.
And the base is the most important part when building up.