In the first blog post of this series, we answered the question of “What is modern marketing for handmade businesses?” Now, let’s dive into the components of modern marketing that matter to customers.
All new business owners – myself included – find themselves falling into the gimmick trap of marketing their products at one point or another. We buy into the idea that we can make sales by selling trending products (and/or trademarked products), by posting in lots of groups that allow it, and by excessively posting on our social media accounts. Very quickly, most of us learn that this approach soaks up a lot of time and yields very little return on the time invested. My question to you is: have you ever stopped and asked yourself why this form of “marketing” doesn’t seem as fruitful as some people would lead us to believe?
The idea behind these marketing tactics is to cast a wide net a to catch any fish you can. Now, I’m no fisherwoman, but I do think that catching a few great big fish is better than catching just any ole fish. Even if we are desperate and starving, one good catch can feed us for a few weeks while a little catch might not even be enough for a meal. What I described above is called target-less marketing. We fall victim to this mentality because we want to make money and every dollar counts. We believe that all dollars are equal when in fact, they are not. We want to make dollars that can feed us for weeks – not just a snack. That means we need a tailored marketing plan for our business, products, ideal customer persona, and profit goals. This all starts with the three components of modern marketing that matter most to customers.
It is no secret that we gravitate towards products and services that are original. Any time a new product comes onto the market, it takes off like wildfire. Rarely are these products completely unique but they are an original take on a common idea. Think about these businesses: Dollar Shave Club, Ninja, Hobby Lobby, and Nurx.
Are any of these businesses and their products/ services new ideas? No. You can buy razors at any grocery store. The original design of the blender produced in 1922 is still a staple today. Tidbits of home décor can be found in most department stores and medications can be picked up at the local pharmacy. And yet despite this, all these companies have done millions in revenue by taking an idea and giving it their own original twist. They may not project more revenue and marketing dollars than the companies their ideas stemmed from; but they are getting more than a small piece of the consumer pie.
The same concept applies to your handmade goods. You will always have staple customers – often friends or family – who purchase anything you put out. However, to reach more potential customers, loyal customers and revenue, you need to put your own original twist on the everyday handmade product. When you apply originality to your own product selection, customers gravitate towards it naturally. When you focus on niching down your business in conjunction with this, you build sales longevity and customer retention.
The originality of your products drives productive modern marketing with little effort on your part. This makes it easier for you to carve out your own piece of the pie without getting burnt out, trying to swim upstream with many handmade competitors.
AUTHENTICITY & TRANSPARENCY
As society continues to evolve, there is a greater call for more authenticity and transparency from businesses. We have gone through a pendulum swing, of sorts, in terms of how we interact with customers. One side of the pendulum is the old-school way of doing business – exist at a store front, build relationships in a community and profit. The opposite side of the pendulum is e-commerce – exist online, make products accessible and profit. Now we’ve landed in the middle where customers want the best of both worlds. E-commerce creates accessibility but customers still want to feel like businesses actually care about their business. This is created by showing up with authenticity and transparency in your business marketing.
This does not mean that you unveil your entire life on social media. It means that you create customer engagement that makes your users feel seen and heard as well as making yourself appear relatable. If you’re not sure what that looks like, take a page from me and how I engage in Sub That: Sublimation Graphics & Tutorials.
How much do you really know about me? Not much, truly, but you still feel connected to everything I bring to our community group. You easily associate our group with being a helpful and friendly community. You feel included in my life because I share tidbits of my home décor and pictures of Jasper and my occasional trips or other hobbies like kayaking and quilting – but the rest of my life is completely private from social media. I share stories of my journey and hardships as an entrepreneur and open space for others to do the same. This is what creating an authentic and transparent user experience for your business looks like. It is bonding with your audience on your terms in a way that makes them feel included and important – but not sacrificing your privacy in the process.
Are there business owners who put everything online for the customers to judge? Yes. Does that have to be you? Absolutely not! And trust me, creating boundaries is one of the best things we do for our lives and our businesses.
When you show up with authenticity and transparency in your businesses marketing and engagement, you create a bubble of trust. Just as you know when someone is fake in person, you also know when a business is fake to their customers. Authenticity and transparency strengthens the bond with your audience and makes them feel good about spending their dollars with you and your products.
ANSWERS & SOLUTIONS
Originality, authenticity and transparency ultimately fold into the third component of modern marketing that customers love: answers and solutions.
This final component is the reason why a customer ultimately pulls the trigger on your handmade product. What problem are you answering or providing a solution to with your products? Again, this is even better facilitated when you have niched your handmade business. Every dollar that we spend as consumers goes to support an answer or solution for our lives.
We pay an electricity because we want reliable, stress-free power to enjoy all the technology in our lives.
We pay for prescriptions and doctors visits to feel healthy and get help when we feel unwell.
We buy personal necessities at the store to give ourselves comfort and cleanliness.
And we use our discretionary dollars on handmade products to give as meaningful gifts for occasions, holidays and just to say we care.
What I love about the handmade market is the unlimited potential for what kinds of answers and solutions you can create. There is no inch of the buyer market that you cannot tap into with your goods. You simply need to structure your business in a way that encourages customers to shop your products to answer the question they have in their minds. What is the perfect bridesmaid gift? How can we memorialize a loved one during the holidays? What personalized items are ideal for my child’s backpack? What items resonate with me and my personality for my office space? And so on – there are endless questions being asked, we only have to be the answer that the consumer is looking for.
Modern marketing uses these three components to tell your brand story. A story of who you are, what you have to offer and why it should matter to your audience. In our next installment of this blog series we will talk cover how to implement these components across different marketing platforms for your handmade business.
If you enjoyed this blog post and series, and are ready to kick your business into high gear then check out MAKE & GROW: The Marketing & Selling Masterclass for Makers. This unique masterclass is an in-depth look at how to structure, grow and scale your business. It covers everything from curating products to targeted marketing and includes tons of printable materials, content ideas and more for your small business.