What is Modern Marketing for Handmade Businesses?

One of the top questions asked in our community is: How can I make money with my handmade goods?

If you pose this question in an online forum, you’ll be answered by many similar newbies voicing their own experience and things they have heard to be “the right answer”. While everyone’s experience and results are valid, they are not universal and often times, they are also not duplicatable by another. It’s also important to note that while social media, in particular, allows for many voices to be amplified, this does not mean that those individuals actually have expert, well-rounded, informed experience to assist on a topic.

Too often I see gimmicky marketing tips, tricks, accounts and even courses that completely miss the foundation of modern marketing for handmade businesses (or any business). You do not need to spam groups on social media. You do not need to dance on TikTok. You don’t need to sell one specific way or product. You don’t need to follow short lived trends. Marketing looks different from the newspaper and radio ads of yesteryear, but the purpose of marketing hasn’t changed.

Marketing has and always will be about serving the customer. Today, more than ever, we are seeing customers looking to support companies that do good, answer a problem in their lives, are transparent and relatable, and make them feel like more than just an order number. Marketing is not limited to hashtags, SEO and social media “likes”. Sure, those details matter and assist in getting sales but when you want to work smarter and not harder, your modern marketing strategy needs to include the customer experience and relationship at the helm.

So what is modern marketing for handmade businesses? It is a strategic plan to tell a story of our products and create long-term engagement and interest from our audience to fuel revenue.

A strategic marketing plan is one that is built around your goals, your products, your customers and your life. It does not look the same from one business to the next. In fact, for most of us, starting off small and with consistency is the most practical way to grow and do more later. Modern marketing can include text message or email marketing, social media marketing, in-person selling or online selling. It’s tailoring these different methods to allow you to reach your ideal customer and close the sale by the connection that is made.

Buyers of handmade goods are interested in the way a product and the maker, makes them feel. We facilitate this through our marketing strategy. In today’s small business world, we absolutely have to push past trends and opinions to focus on this detail that matters most for long term success. Here’s the thing – this isn’t my personal opinion. This is the opinion of every successful entrepreneur ever. Pick up any book from any successful entrepreneur and you will see that they write about serving the customer and how that is the secret to sales. I have read 100+ books on marketing by multi-millionaire entrepreneurs and have 17-years of business ownership under my belt with 3x creating and growing businesses to six-figures from nothing.

In addition to that, we only have to look to the biggest companies with record-shattering profits to see this in action. For example, have you seen the Etsy commercials that rolled out before Christmas 2021? These commercials really hit the purpose of modern marketing for handmade businesses on the head. If you haven’t seen them, the summary of their commercials is that it showcases different shops and poses the question of “When the uniquely made is out there – why buy anything else?”. Almost immediately, a viewer thinks – wow, that is so true! And this is only fueled by the push today of buying less junk that will end up in a landfill and focusing on unique and original, meaningful gifts for those in our lives.

Small businesses can learn A LOT from watching how big businesses market products and services. We don’t have multi-million dollar marketing budgets and teams of analysts doing market research for us – but they do. Combining some of their strategies with our business model can truly take your business to new heights. Modern marketing does not mean spending hours a day on social media or engaging in tactics that make you uncomfortable. It means leveraging the way the world has evolved to tell your story, meet customers where they are at and generate your own growing, record-setting profits.

Over the next few weeks of this Modern Marketing blog series, we will be highlighting the different avenues of modern marketing for handmade businesses and how they can be used to grow your business. If you enjoy this blog series and want to dive deeper and learn more including having access to content ideas and more, be sure to sign up for MAKE & GROW: The Marketing and Selling Masterclass for Makers.