August 3, 2020
When my cousin, Kate, turned over the tarot cards lying on the floor of their 10th floor Salt Lake City apartment, I inhaled a little dramatically. You know, as one does when tarot cards are flipped over and you happen to have something going on in your life that could possibly be interpreted through the goddesses’ wisdom.
I’m not usually a tarot card kind of person, even though I like watching the fortune-telling women from afar in their market booths. In fact, I’d never seen tarot cards close up in the flesh until this moment, but consulting tarot cards seemed like the appropriate thing to do when my husband, Michael, and I were lost trying to figure out where we wanted to live.
Kate had said, “aha…” in her most drawn-out, scratchy, mystical- sounding voice when we told her our problem. She had walked past electric guitar amps, sheepskin rugs, and a gallery wall of the beautiful and the random that they’ve accumulated or inherited over generations, and she came back with a stack of cards. The edges painted in gold. She fanned them out and invited me to choose five and place them on the ground face down. They were arranged by past, present and future.
We read the card about our present. Message: Big Changes Happening. An uprooting of sorts. Hence my gasp (which, to be fair, I played up to sound appropriately dramatic), because we didn’t know where to live. Working remotely means freedom. And freedom is making me paralyzed.
Then Kate asked the question everyone, understandably, asks: “Do you have any ideas of where to live? Any specific places that are in the running?” It’s painful to be asked. Draws up all of my insecurities about location, happiness, providing, commitment. But I know it’s a reasonable question to ask, and so we said we were considering Salt Lake. Kate’s eyes got wider and her mouth froze into a big, open-mouth, surprised smile. “I don’t want to impose…” she said quickly, “but I think Salt Lake is a great place to live. I can tell you more about it if you’d like.”
Michael immediately leaned forward, smiled at me with his eyebrows raised, because we both knew what would happen next. It’s one of our favorite activities: to be sold to. We love the attention. We love someone we like telling us that our problems can be solved. That all we have to do is make a choice. Hand over a credit card. Whatever.
So we settled in while she told us the wonders of Salt Lake. As she spoke about the relatively low cost of living, the elementary school around the corner with tons of potential friends, the proximity to going to the mountains, the fun start-up scene, I looked through their huge sliding glass door where I could see the university cam- pus, the mountains, and downtown spread before me, glowing in the setting sun.
It was all very lovely.
And I found myself daydreaming. “I wonder what Salt Lake would be like for me? ” My curious mind started to illustrate beautiful and unlikely ideas compared with the inconvenient, isolating, busy New York City living we had loved but were now tired of… In my mind’s eye I saw us swimming in a lake on the weekends in the summer.
Buying fresh produce at the nearby farmer’s market every week. Surrounded by close friends we’d actually get to see without planning for weeks or months. Riding our bikes around town.
“It sounds great,” I told Kate. And I meant it. If you would’ve said, “Emma, now is the time to move. If you hand me your credit card right now, I can get an apartment for you in the exact neighborhood we’ve just described,” I would’ve done it. Seriously.
And pretty quickly, I started to analyze what in the world had just happened when not many days before, I was begging people to please stop bugging me about where to move because how could I possibly limit my options. Why did I feel confident and happy about the prospect of living in Salt Lake?
And then … as I often realize quickly … I knew it was in the sales.
For context, I recently talked to a friend of mine who sells beauty products and she said when she sees women, she sees something beautiful in all of them. They all have a feature that attracts people to them. “How wonderful that there’s a creature in our world who sees the world this way,” I thought. Then there’s me: when I have an interaction with friends, family, or brands, especially when it’s super genuine, I see how people persuade, how they feel, what makes someone decide to DO something, to hand over money…and I apply it to marketing and sales.
So here’s what I think: especially service-based luxury businesses who say things like, “my service doesn’t solve problems,” here’s the secret to selling luxury goods and services:
We need to use daydreams. Specifically, we need to help people daydream.
Imagine for a moment, making your service something they day-dream about often. Something that makes them think, “I wonder how she would make me look if she photographed me…” as their mind wanders to the French countryside, their own beautiful home re-imagined, looking in the mirror at the perfect blowout. I wonder what I would look like through her lens.
This is something most creatives miss. I get emails asking if I’d be interested in collaborating on a project where I’ll get free photos. First thing I do is look at their portfolio. If I don’t have that feeling of, “I wonder how she would photograph me,” and instead, I think, “they take decent pictures,” I decide not to work together. Even if the photos are free. I don’t want things I don’t want…even if they’re free. Oppositely, I’ll pay for things I do want. Even when they’re expensive.
Now pay attention to the answer to the question you may have asked before: the problem and the pain you solve for people as a luxury service, is that you make the daydreams a reality. They’re dreaming of life being better. More beautiful. More impressive. More attractive. They’re rooted in deep feelings…like wanting to not be lonely. Wanting the approval of the people they love. Wanting to feel like they matter. It’s the things you often don’t say out loud. The things you want to feel, the way you want to be seen.
Make them daydream about what their life will look like after your time together.
For me, I want to make women daydream about what it would feel like to be creative, bold, successful, and vulnerable at the same time. I want my audience to wonder what it would feel like to belong to yourself the way this woman does when she sits topless and unabashed? To be fearless looking into the camera? To be delicate, ex-posed, formidable? What color suit jacket might I wear when I am delicate, exposed, formidable? How would I pull my hair back? How would I feel if I saw images of myself like this? Powerful. Confident. Like I have something important to do in the world. How would I love my life more if I saw myself this way?
Trust me, if you can make them daydream, they’ll be ready to hand it over too.
Emma is a business coach who dives into the dark world of business strategy to learn cutting-edge techniques so creative business owners can get their important work out there. She translates unappealing business jargon into a human-centered, relationship driven approach to business that inspires innovation and connection. A strategist with a background in fiction writing, prop creation, antique selling, and art direction, she helps art-driven creatives discover that the doors to their dreams were always unlocked…now it’s time to find the confidence and courage to walk through.
Art Director: Emma Natter
Photographer: D’Arcy Benincosa
Hair and Makeup Artist: April Benincosa
Wardrobe Stylist: Erica Kopp
Model: Hanna Sundahl
Model Agency: Niya Models