The floaters weren’t in Circe’s bowl, but she was moody anyway.
Circe stared moodily out from the painting, past the deep green water spilling out of her bowl. Behind her, the woods are dark. Her face is moody, and the water she’s poisoning shines with a jade-like, divine immanence.
In person, the painting is almost six feet tall. It’s wider than my shoulders, towering over the gallery, putting every other work to shame.
Appropriately Circe seemed to be glowering over at The Magic Circle, at the woman casting a circle, in the company of five crows.
The energy between the two works of art was palpable, undiminished over more than one hundred years.
Yet, the people just floated.
They stood for a few seconds in front of a painting, took a photograph, floated to the next canvas. These two incredible works by John Waterhouse were largely ignored, in favour of more broadly-known pieces, or religious pieces.
Almost like the magic inside the works frightened them off. The people were there, but they weren’t invested in what they were looking at.
They had $25, wanted to see them so they could brag that they did. But for all they got out of them, they’d have been better off buying a book.
Or, perhaps they didn’t understand them. It’s easier to understand the religious iconography of the pre-Raphaelites than the literary and supernatural themes, if you’re not a reader, I figure.
This experience in the National Gallery of Australia was an intense lesson in audience.
When people know about your work, or your brand, or even your personality, you’ll get floaters.
They’re those people who profess to be excited about your work, but they’re actually not that interested. They will perhaps want to meet you, they might read some of your stuff, they might even subscribe to your podcast.
But they’ll never buy anything.
The digital world is full of floaters: People who absorb a lot of things, but never want to take action on anything. People who take all the free stuff you’ll throw at them and never, ever buy from you.
It’s why giving your most valuable works away for free is rarely a good idea, unless you have a strategic reason for it. (For example, the first freebie has a known hook effect, and your sales from parts two and three give you a longer return on investment.)
There are two risks with this.
The first is that assuming that everyone who takes a freebie is also a buyer.
The second is not knowing what you’re going to do with ‘leads’ from your freebies.
What’s the point of capturing people if you’re not going to leverage them to sell to? How do you separate the floaters from the real deal?
And if you’re going to waste time agonising about freebies, why are you even doing them?
Without a bang-on sales cycle, offering freebies to people is a waste of time.
Just focus on sales and get rid of the publications you spend months working on instead.
My point is that it’s important to know what characterises your audience, sure. But it’s more important to know what characterises your floaters and what they will or will not buy.
When you do, you’ll agonise about them a lot less, and may even work out a way to sell to them, and then upsell to them.
That’s your free advice for today.
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