So this was fun…

Last week I had an opportunity to speak to a Muggle audience about corsets.

Well, ok, I spoke to a group of entrepreneurs about business, using corsets to make my point. 🙂

They are a diverse group of entrepreneurial nerds in all kinds of fields – personal trainers, accountants, healers, coaches, gardeners, herbalists, stylists, tech wizards – who are all building online businesses around their passion.

You can imagine the double takes the first time they hear what I’m doing online. A membership site about making corsets and historical dress??

My area of specialism bends brains in that group. It’s the perfect example of specialising in something very specific in order to stand out, and that’s exactly what I was talking about.

When you go into business, you tend to cast a wide net. It’s a numbers game, right? Appeal to as many people as possible and you’ll have the greatest possible chance of catching some clients. But it doesn’t work that way. And to demonstrate my point, I showed them what it’s like inside our world.

  • I talked about the passion for this misunderstood garment and its unadvertised benefits – control, curves, confidence, calm, posture.
  • I talked about the ravenous hunger for knowledge that has mobilised a community into action to figure this art form out – and develop it further.
  • I talked about just how much the outside world doesn’t get it, busted some myths, and throughout the presentation, showed slides upon slides of beautiful work by Foundations Revealed members.

The feedback was positive. Some of the audience made some new business decisions based on not being so scared to specialise, which delighted me no end.

But there was a side benefit, too – a side effect I never would have predicted.

“I had no idea! I get what you do now! This is awesome! So who makes corsets to order? Where can I get one?”

I think that sometimes makers concentrate on appealing to their own world. They sell to each other and to people who already “get it”. We get upset about just how much the outside world gasps in horror and asks us whether we can breathe, and we jostle for position in a tiny market – but have we thought about proactively investing time in education to change that?

What if corsetmakers spent a conscious portion of their time going out into the world and talking about corsetry? Not angry myth-busting in Facebook comments or on your blog, but proactive education in the real world. With love. With patience. With enthusiasm. “You’ve been lied to by the 20th century. Here’s how it really is.”

People DO listen. In fact, my audience were positively fascinated (and not because of my budding public speaking skills).

The downside of being a specialist is that not so many people get it, and makers often get upset about that. But being special doesn’t mean that the world will never get it; you just have to get out there and communicate. Think about playing the long game. What if investing in “outsiders” – speaking, getting featured in the media – brought you more fascinated, mind-blown, I-had-no-idea clients? Would that make the investment a good use of your time? You just have to get out there and share. How hard can it be?

Communicate. Educate. Inspire. Don’t get mad, get out there and share your passion!