What Cupcakes Taught Me About Marketing Art

By Jeff Slaughter, guest blogger
Living in Europe for the past 13 years has sheltered me from some of the delights of living stateside.  So on a recent trip home to Louisiana I was stunned to find an upscale boutique dedicated solely to selling cupcakes.

Not just any cupcakes, but mouth-watering, blood sugar shocking oversized concoctions in familiar flavors like vanilla, chocolate,and red velvet all the way to the unusual such as peanut butter, key lime pie and banana pudding. The eye-popping display features 21 flavors a day and can hold more than 1,000 cupcakes. And it's not uncommon for them to sell out before closing time.

Now, I like a good cupcake, but I like a good business idea even better. So I was intrigued that a business could focus on such a narrow target - and be successful.

I soon learned that the cupcake craze was a national trend, having already spawned a Starbucks-like multi-store company called 'Sprinkles'. In the Memphis airport this week, I found an article in Inc. Magazine declaring that, 'The Great Cupcake Wars' is full on in our nation's capital, with multiple stores and chains competing for the capital's taste buds (you can find the article on Inc's website). There's even a TV show about the cupcake wars on Food Network!

Really? All that over cupcakes?

But I shouldn't be surprised. Cupcake companies have developed business models that are focused, marketed well and poised for profit. Which is what we should be doing with our art. As artists who are learning to focus, market and yes, make a profit, we should take some tips from the Cupcake Craze:

Here are a few things I learned:

Be creative, but be smart: Create art that people want to buy. I bet the flavors that don't sell well in cupcake shops get dropped like hot potatoes. They want to make money, not just prop their shops with cute cakes.

Market shamelessly: That's right, the Cupcakers have learned to sell using facebook pages, twitter accounts, you tube videos, articles in magazines, even trucks driving around Washington D. C. giving away samples. What are we doing to market our art? Are we so ashamed of it we hope no one notices it? Or are we as proud of our art as the Cupcakers are of their Red Velvet masterpieces? Do we really think our art isn't worth as much or more in marketing efforts as a wad of flour, sugar, butter and eggs?

Don't be afraid to charge....a lot: $3.00-$4.00 for ONE cupcake? Do people really pay that much for one cupcake? Yes, they do, just like they pay $3.50 for a tall latte, $4.00 for a gallon of gas, and $10 for a movie ticket. Starbucks, Shell and Tinseltown know how to make money. So do the Cupcakers.  And so should we. 

I'm going to give you a fun assignment: If there's a cupcake shop near you, get there, buy yourself a nice calorie-laden cupcake, take a big bite and think about how the Cupcake Craze has taken America by storm.

And come up with some ideas about how you might go just as crazy marketing your art.

Jeff Slaughter lives in Brussels, Belgium where he serves in international church ministry, oversees a worship training organization, writes and develops content, and enjoys an occasional cupcake. You can write to Jeff at: JeffKathyS@hotmail.com.

Not Promoting Your Art on Social Media? Think again!

If you are one who thinks that Social Media is a waste of time . . . watch this and rethink! If you are not making your presence known online - YOU ARE INVISIBLE!!

Remember - the internet is a world-wide store - open 24/7!! Are you taking advantage of this opportunity?

Why not?

Pushing you towards Artrageous Success!


Retreat for Creatives - May 14 - 15, 2011 - Franklin, TN

In our ever-changing world, as artists we have an challenge to reach the masses. Art has an extraordinary way of drawing beauty on the soul of mankind.  Your skills and gifts as artists are needed to bring about this beauty.
If you are an artist: painter, musician, dancer, designer, poet, dreamer, or simply a lover of the arts, these events are for you. Come join us for an inspirational and insightful experience, as we tackle the tough issues that stand between you, your vision, and provision.
├ęclat de vie  ~ a burst of life

9:00 am - Once Upon A Time
10:00 - The Island of Misfit Toys
11:00 - Refresh
11: 15 - What Will be Written of Us
12:00 - Write theVision and Make it Plain
12:30 - Lunch Provided
1:15 - The Starving Artist
2:15 - The Strategic Artist
2:45 - Discovery Walk
3:00 - The Savvy Artist
4:00 - The Supported Artist
6:30 - Wine and Cheese Concert with Lite Dinner

Sunday, May 15th

9:30 - Come to the Quiet - Blessing Your Creativity
11:00 - Brunch
12:15 - Creative Explosion
1:45 - Funnel of Provision
3:00 - Review and Q & A

To register: http://www.cometothequiet.com/artistsweekend

To view brochure: http://public.iwork.com/document/?a=p123445523&d=Eclat_de_Vie_-_Weekend_with_webaddress.pages


Artists Arise!

"Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you. So carve your name on hearts and not of marble." C. H. Spurgeon

I have a forum called Artists Arise where artists from across the US and Europe join in conversation. A few days ago one of my artist friends admitted that he was struggling and in a low place. This opened a flood gate of responses on the forum. Many admitted that they were also struggling, discouraged, stressed and under pressure.

We do live in a pressure cooker and the water is boiling! When pressure cookers experience too much pressure . . . they explode. However, they are equipped with a release valve that reduces the pressure and helps avoid a crises.

"When written in Chinese, the word 'crises' is composed of two characters - one represents danger, the other represents opportunity." John F. Kennedy

Do you have a release valve? What helps you avoid crises or melt down? Recently I've been reading Vital Friends, an interesting book about the power of relationships. The research for the book was done by interviewing homeless people and finding out why they were homeless. The majority stated that their path to homelessness started with a break in relationships.

It seems that friends, especially a best friend, can be the release valve we need. But even if you don't have a best friend, as long as you have someone to talk to, you are in position to overcome your bad days and find hope for the future.
          My hubby and I with life long best friends Jim & Anne Mills and Elijah.
Honestly, I don't know where we'd be with this couple. 
They have helped us through our times of crises.

I realize that many artistic types are loners. We are alone when we create and can often hide behind our creativity. Are you more comfortable in the studio than out in public? Are you shy or maybe a bit self conscious in crowds? Don't let that keep you from reaching out and becoming a friend not just for the taking, but also for giving to someone else the release they need. If you can become a friend who listens, you can become a powerful healing force.

The bottom line is that we need each other.

"A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails."  Donna Roberts

Let me know your thoughts on this. If you would like to join the conversation on my forum go to: