Yesterday, a lovely chap approached me for advice about how to write about his labour of love. He’s created a work of art: a clever combination of fun, beauty and ingenuity. It’s not frivolous either – given as a thoughtful gift, or employed as therapy, it has the power to bring people together.
It’s a truly premium work of art, made from premium materials, with a hefty price tag. He’s suffered for this – two long years in the making, on a torturous personal journey.
Now comes the difficult bit.
He’s got to sell it.
Plus, the pressure’s on to ramp things up because he quit his day job to invest everything he has in this product. Heart and soul.
And that heart and soul shines when he talks about his art which got me thinking about the Why again.
What really makes his art special is the driving force behind it: those tortuous nights in the workshop, the attention to detail, the obsessive focus on materials and process.
That’s the How as it should be – a manifestation of his underlying Why values. And those values are that everything needs to be ‘just so’. It’s the belief that love and care must go into anything you create, making it an extension of yourself.
The end product, described above is the What. It’s something physical you hold and touch – feeling the quality of the materials and construction. It’s looking at the one-of-a-kind hand drawn illustrations included.
What does all this mean in practical terms though?
Our discussion began with who might buy this work of art – very much focused on sales to affluent sorts, to warrant the price tag. Yet it was clear to me that this product isn’t about price, it’s about how its story represents value – to the right people.
When people give gifts, or present some object as precious, the story behind it is what really makes the thing meaningful. An example that sprang to mind was parents, giving this object to their son/daughter on their wedding day:
“Here, we want you to have this – you won’t believe how it was made. It’s this guy who gave up his job to throw everything into making it. He’s a perfectionist – just look at the way these different grains of wood are jointed together. Can you smell them? Did you know he hand-drew everyone of these personalised illustrations of you and your friends? There isn’t another one of these anywhere – it’s utterly unique.”
Suddenly, price falls by the wayside
The person giving or sharing realises that value is much more than price.
So my suggestion was to communicate, through writing press releases, blog articles and photos – the process of making each individual work of art. Each object should have a story to accompany it, capturing his obsession with materials and millimetre perfection.
He didn’t believe anything like that would interest people. So I dared him to believe that it is – to the right people.
There are communities of people out there, just like him, who obsess over their art – they watch videos of laser-cutting, and agonise over the texture of gold embossing on a cardboard box. And these people have friends, colleagues and family looking for extra special gifts and artwork for their homes. Reach them, and they’ll champion your cause for you.
On paper, it sounds like madness. Who’d want to pay so much for an object product with such niche appeal? But that’s just limiting yourself to the What.
Orbit your why
Show your What – describe it in minute detail in your copy. Photograph it. And write about your How – because it’s happening anyway, and it’s concrete proof of how much value there is in what you do.
Let me assure you – you’re sitting on an absolute goldmine of compelling ideas – and it isn’t too boring or obscure. It is of real value to likeminded people out there who see the world like you do. They’re your advocates, your salespeople, if you like. But they’re not selling – in fact they probably hate anything like that, they’re just doing what you do – believing in something.
And always stay true to your Why; what gets you out of bed in the morning and back into that workshop, wherever it is, to slave and obsess over what and how you do it.
It’s what makes you authentic.
That’s where real value comes from. Your Why is the most magnetic, compelling reason for people to champion your cause.