5 creative ways to grow your business from the world’s greatest artists

Picasso photoArtists and advisors face many of the same challenges in gaining a paying audience for their work. Both have to:

  1. Be great at what they do.
  2. Get their “work” out in front of people who can see it.
  3. Convince people that what they offer is worth exchanging money for.
  4. Keep their clients happy so they’ll buy more and tell their friends.

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Failure in any one of these four areas will doom an artist–and you–to the dust bin.

With that in mind, here are 5 things creative artists can teach you about building an enduring personal brand that leads to new business.

 1.  The Andy Warhol lesson…Be Fascinating.

Andy WarholFrom his striking hairstyle to his trendy pop art to his hip association with leading celebrities and intellectuals in the 1960s, Warhol found a way to get noticed. He was one of the early pioneers of today’s “celebrity culture.”

And while his art wasn’t always appreciated during his lifetime, today, his works regularly sell for tens of millions of dollars—including one that sold for more than $100 million last November.

As an advisor, to breakout from the pack, you have to create a fascinating personal brand that causes people to seek you out and talk about you. Author Sally Hogshead wrote a book called Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, which lays out exactly how to do that.

In a recent talk, Hogshead said one key to becoming fascinating is to unlearn how to be boring. I’m not suggesting you have to be “off the charts” fascinating like Warhol, but turn it up a few notches so people will notice you.

For example, this article by Diana Britton tells the fascinating story of RIA leader Joe Duran and his rise from a troubled childhood in South Africa to the top of the RIA world.

What’s fascinating about you that other people will want to read?

2.  The Vincent van Gogh and his letters to Theo lesson…Show and Tell Your Story.

Vincent van GoghA bit mad likely due to a medical condition, van Gogh was an extraordinary creative genius who wrote more than 600 letters to his brother Theo. His art and the letters to his brother were a 1-2 punch that after van Gogh’s death, opened a window and illuminated his genius to the world.

As an advisor, you must find ways to “show” what you do in a tangible way that people can grasp. One way to do this is through a content marketing program that showcases your wisdom and tells your story in an informative, inspiring and entertaining way.

You sell an intangible service. By finding ways to make it “real,” you will connect with more people on an intellectual and emotional level. The result? Better, deeper, and more loyal relationships.

3.  The Pablo Picasso and George Braque Cubism lesson…Develop a New Way of Seeing.

Pablo PicassoPicasso and Braque developed a revolutionary style of art that “challenged conventional forms of representation” and ushered in the era of abstract art. Cubists deconstructed traditional perspective painting and painted a subject from different angles, different views and from a different idea of space.

They adapted art to reflect the modern age.

As an advisor, you have to keep your eyes open to and adapt to the changes that are taking place in our industry. For example, the growth of robo-advisors and the rise of aggregators are two clear trends that could dramatically affect your business long term.

Given these two trends, how are you adding value above and beyond managing money? How would you compete if a large aggregator started throwing its weight around in your area?

Force yourself to keep peering around the corner by reading widely, attending various industry and non-industry events each year, and having an annual strategy meeting. Supplement the strategy meeting with quarterly conversations with industry colleagues whose opinions you respect.

If you stay stuck in last year’s business model, prepare to remain mired in mediocrity.

4.  The Henri Matisse and his fellow Fauves lesson…Be Bold.

Henry Matisse

The Fauves were a loose collection of artists from the early 20th century who painted pictures with outrageously bold colors, simplified drawing and expressive brushwork. Nicknamed, “wild beasts,” the Fauves unleashed a color explosion in the art world with a high degree of emotional intensity.

(Full disclosure–I love the Fauves–especially Matisse and Derain!)

As an advisor, the timid ones lose out to those who are willing to “put themselves out there” and make a statement. Hiding behind your desk or seeking “passive referrals” won’t get you to the top. You have to get out of your comfort zone, face rejection, and then get back on the horse to ride another day.

As the old saying goes, if you want to succeed more, fail more. Failure isn’t fatal but not trying is.

5.  The Jackson Pollock and his drip paintings lesson…Find a Niche and Own It.

Jackson PollockPollock was a wildly successful practitioner of a style of painting called “drip painting.” His large and energetic abstract paintings might look like child’s play to some, but to art experts and collectors, Pollock’s drip paintings are among the most highly prized works of a 20th century artist.

When you think of drip paintings, you think of Jackson Pollock.

(For movie buffs, I highly recommend this movie about Pollock.)

As an advisor, you’ll go farther faster if you find a niche and own it. It’s like hunting at a zoo. I don’t care whether it’s C-level executives at Silicon Valley companies or lovers of 1950s muscle cars, having a rich niche and going deep is like going hunting at a zoo.

Just make sure you have a passion for the niche, you are an expert at solving the problems of your niche, and you have an effective way of reaching prospects in your niche.

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Here’s the deal. These 5 ideas will, without a doubt, increase your business. There’s only one trick–you have to put them into action!

So, be creative, go forth and make good things happen!

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Photo Credits: teadrinker via Compfight cc qthomasbower via Compfight cc   Thereshedances via Compfight cc   Wikimedia   Wikipaintings   Wikipaintings

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Steve is the founder of Belay Advisor and a NYT bestselling author, podcast host, speaker, and financial advisor coach.

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