December 23rd, 2000
YouCanDraw.com's Insiders Communique
In this issue -
1 & 2) Jeff's "Marketing 101 and 102": response to two questions
3) Related Links
this is a departure from the usual caricature and drawing talk. My old
friend and YCD member Floyd Stockwell (and cartoonist extraordinaire) wrote
me an email this week. He's asked a very general question about - and this
is how I read it - "how do you make your site sell?". (And if he didn't ask
that, that's what I took from it.) This is a HUGE subject, but I'm open to
any question about business and especially how it relates to running your
own art business. In the future we can get to a lot more specific examples
peculiar to caricature, cartoons and the like, but let these two excerpts be
a primer if you're thinking about a new start-up - it's more like "Jeff's
marketing 101". I'm hardly the final word - just passing on things
I've been told by really successful people.
Starting your own web business is relatively easy, AND cheap compared to the
brick an mortar version. ...So here's part of our conversation
1) Here we go: Jeff's "Marketing and Web-building 101 ideas"
"...Got any hot ideas for my web-site that deals with caricatures and
portraits. Kicking some stuff around but need all ideas that I can get.
Hope all is well with you and hope that you have come up with alot of
caricature simple stuff idea easy to follow steps down the many roads that
makes the caricature venture a pleasant journey.
You take care and I close as.............
"As far as ideas about how to sell caricatures on-line I recommend a
thorough investigation of other on-line sites - look at them with this
question in mind: "what is the most unique thing about this site, how
does that uniqueness appeal to me?" What do I like about this site? What
do I dislike about it?
Many caricature sites show you their caricatures and say "I've done this
and this and this, I'm pretty cool". That doesn't work for me. I want to
see what the seller or person advertising can do for me.
Some base their uniqueness on "overnight delivery" or "the mostest for
the leastest", or that they're the only one of whatever it is they do in
that certain corner of the country. And that's the best approach:
discovering and being able to nail down on a piece of paper that
Maybe they offer a payment plan that others don't offer, (on-line
checking or credit card), maybe they have an on-line booking feature so
a customer can schedule in the artist to show up at his party in one of
the slots offered - securing his request with a credit card
payment...maybe the artist allows the buyer to hang the art work in his
home for 30 days to see how they like it. The potential buyer falls in
love with it after 30 days and is more than willing to hand over the
dough. Lots of outfits give premiums with a purchase (free watch,
flowers, a thsnkgiving turkey). All those are things - little things -
that make them different.
First task Floyd is to decide what you want to do: do you want to do
over-the-net or through-the-mail, one-at-a-time caricatures? (A major
pain if you ask me - unless you're getting 2-3000 dollars a picture
minimum...of course you have to be in pretty high demand to start asking
that kind of dough...I sure am not in that kind of demand). Then maybe
that's exactly what you want to start - one at a time mail order
business. Draw at parties- is that the focus? Do newspaper op-ed stuff?
you know that aspect of the business.
My suggestion is to build on your strengths Floyd - you got decades and
decades of cartoon drawing experience and you draw great cartoons - all
these imaginary characters and stuff - I remember well the stuff
you've sent me. I'm just tossing this off the top of my head but maybe
you could build a huge library of all your cartoon figures - I mean
there's no limit to that, right? Build your own purchasable stock of
cartoons that people could use in letters, office memos, newsletters,
flyers etc. You can offer that in addition to doing personalized
caricatures. Or bundle the cartoons with your drawings and your written
out drawing lesions. Get it on a CD. (All within grasp now with
scanners, PhotoShop LE and "mom and pop" CD ROM makers.)
You could be the only "Ex Hells' Angels Harley Biker, turned Santa Claus
Caricaturist in the whole Midwest". Build on what you have and who you
are. If you're trying to be other than who you really are, people will
see through that and sense the "posing". Which brings up the other side
of a business: who do you want to do business with? Who's in your niche?
If somebody was truly an ex-Hells Angel biker then going to an ex-Hells
Angels convention as an ex Hells' Angel Caricaturist has instant appeal
- you're one of them and they're proud to see one of their own doing
something as entertaining as caricatures - not to mention that they all
will want their own caricature.
Even in the most crowded market Floyd, if you can decide what makes you
unique - truly unique in a way useful to the buyer, you can stand out.
I'll bet if you talked to your son's boss at the bakery he'd be real amazed
that you can do cartoons and caricatures Floyd - have you approached
him/her? I mean people are asking for custom drawings all the time on
their cakes right? I'm sure you're way ahead of me on that one. That
strays a little from the Internet - until you start thinking about it.
I know how I forget to look right at where I'm standing when I'm between
a rock and a hard place. (Which seems like all the time these days :-)!
Starting right there - respecting that spot - and building out can be lot
more profitable and fun than shooting for some national campaign right
from the get go. People around want to help when they see you doing
Marketing your skill to a group with that shares another of your
interests can make you a local celeb real quick. Combining your skill
with/to any other interest opens a whole other market for you. Think
beyond the web for your web site/business.
Now Floyd I have to thank you - you just helped me write a big chunk of
the next Communiqué. So decide on what thing or things you want to focus
on at your web site and look for ways you're different than others: mine
I don't know if that answers your question Floyd, ...Hope that starts you a
2) Adding to what was just said...on actual site building - and
tsking thos opportunity to really drive home the idea if
your "Unique Selling Proposition"
Here's something written to another friend this past week - it has a lot
more on how to build a home page and how to write a "Unique Selling
Proposition". Read it and see if you can't pull thing or two out of it on
how to make your caricature or cartoon website different...we're jumping in
about 3/4 ths of the way through:
"...At the "experience" link:
"to help businesses and individuals meet their objectives through
top-quality, error-free communications. Drawing from more than 10 years'
professional experience developing strategic communications in public
and private industry, Shelley provides a variety of writing, editing,
website-development, and communications consulting services to a diverse
group of clients"
- excellent first paragraph - you really tell me for the first time what
you do. I think that should be your opening paragraph on your home page.
There's some really impressive resume entries that follow - they're very
much about you and your history and your competence - they're excellent
and they belong on the a page that's about your experience.
That first paragraph though is the closest thing yet I've seen that
resembles a "USP" - ya know, the "Unique selling proposition".
A USP? That is, what's the one thing or two or three or cluster of
things that you do that really makes you stand apart from your
competition - and that's very different from a corporate mission
statement. I haven't looked at the competition's sites to know what
they're up to, but I'm sure there's a void to fill - and from what I've
seen, most sites really are written so bad - you certainly offer a
remedy to that.
What makes you different? For me it's the fact that you're an editor who
does web sites and design and also writes really really well as well as
being a sweet and caring person who can also dish out the tacks when
needed. (rather than someone who just does web sites on the side and
knows nothing about writing anything but code.)
So how do you write a "USP"? This is old hash I'm sure, but one way I
approach by is by setting up this short 2 sentence fill in the blank:
1) "You know how...." (And name the pain in the blank)
2) "what we do is...." (then spell out the gain in the next blank)
e.g., for my site the "name the pain" line is:
"you know how some people have always wanted to learn how to draw faces
and caricatures but thought they needed some special gift?"
"Name the gain" line:
"What I do is show people not only do they not need any special gifts
but that they already have everything they need to learn to draw
masterpieces. And I'll show them (you) in a one of a kind, year long,
nurturing, on-going, on-line program" (It's just under the opening
..or something like that.
For Revamp, it might be "You know how some people are spending all this
money and effort on trying to figure out what makes a web site work?"
What we do is show you what impact great, clear, error-free writing
really makes, then we'll build your site in a caring, design-conscious -
but business-focused way - that makes for a killer impression thereby
multiplying your bottom line 2 and 3 times"
Or whatever benefit it is you're trying to deliver. 'Course you got to
be able to deliver everything you promise (And all your other pages
you've have to absolutely back you up - and you got that part done - a
primo job at that!)
I'm getting long-winded here Shelley, (Even though I'm just warming up -
I'm going to cut myself off - cuz I'm a slow typist and I'm preaching to
the choir - and I've probably offended your sensibilities 631 times
already...bear with an old geezer "know-it-all"...it'll be your
Christmas present to me. :-)
So, I think you have a wonderful site there Shelley! It's elegant, it's
fast loading, you have tons of proof you can do what you say...
The top three things
These would be the three things that would really grab me, the
prospective purchaser of your services if I saw them:
1) A USP that tells me how you're different, spelled out up-front in a
sentence or two, that's incorporated into all your marketing...
2) ...which would come right after a benefit laden headline (like the
"Your site can pull 31% more sales when you follow these 3 fundamental
writing rules" from up top.
3) Ubiquitous use of the word "YOU". Direct response advertising rule #1:
for every occurrence of the words "I" or "me" or "we" or "us", you should
have three or four - or more - instances of the word "you".
Those are the "What's" of what I'd go after. I can't tell you how to
write anything - you just write so well and so "Shelley" - you write how
you talk and that's very refreshing. That's very unique in and of
itself! Irreplaceable. Don't you ever lose that girl!
Lastly, in review, if I was doing your site, here's how Id arrange just
the first page (then link everything else from it). I would NOT start out
with "About Revamp", I'd start with this:
use the page from the aesthetic site right up front. Make it your index
page, your home page - this one:
-Add the "you" based, benefit filled headline right at the top. (I can
give you a four word headline to a thousand page book and you'll read
every last word of that book. What's the headline? You'll have to wait
until my next issue... no, that's a tease. The headline: "All about
Shelley Kostlenack". Apply that same thinking to your market.)
-follow the headline with your USP
-then go right into that page (the "/revamp_home.html" page), just
exactly as it is.
-get some of your best testimonials somewhere on that first page - (the
endorsement Jack Benky wrote was a butte - and your testimonial page is
full of awesome praises. One after another! Mix some of those on the
-you can make that first page as long as you like - as long as it's fast
loading and it's all about the reader. And I can show you how to make
even a 100 page long home page pop up with the most attention grabbing
parts first - keeping your readers reading what you want them to read
while the rest of the page loads. (It's very, very simple)...."
3) Let's check out some bigger sites:
Now Floyd, here's a page with a gargantuan selection of cartoonists - right
on up to renting New Yorker comics, (BTW, this site made about 100,000 in
profits this year):
Can you find any statement about what Cartoon Bob's going to do for you?
Definitely entertaining and fun, you can tell this guy is just enjoying
The National Caricaturist network- gives a slightly different approach to
Sites that can help you learn to sell yourself:
"NetrageousResults": one of the first really successful small business sites
on the net:
Monique Harris: She's a web-trepeneur royal. Teaches how to sell your own
expertise - no matter what is - on the web.
And you can actually buy it cheaper at this site here, at Dr. Ken Evoy's
very well no, extremely simple and extremely well written sales site:
And if you're going to write and program your own web site, here's a great
info site, (yes "Web Sites that Suck" is the name of t both the site and the
(Doesn't sound too charitable specially this close to Christmas, does it?)
And here's the really "long copy" type sales approach. When it's well done
and you need the service, you can hardly say no to a well crafted, sales
letter. Read and think how to apply to your own business or web site -
whether it's real or imaginary at this time.
I've promoted this gentleman before: Dr. Ralph Wilson - he's got a fantastic
free electronic magazine for those who like to get weekly or every other
That was a "data dump", but I hope it gives you something to chew on!
Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Merry Quansa, Ramadan...Happy Holidays all! I'm off to Minneapolis for 10 days.
Kasbohm & Company's
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