I was recently interviewed for a website that shares tips for entrepreneurs and business owners.
One of the questions I was asked was:
What’s the biggest mistake you made with your business and see other businesses commonly make?
I wanted to keep my answer relevant to a variety of businesses, so I said that “starting a business without knowing who your target market is” is the most common (and biggest) mistake business owners tend to make.
However, I wanted to share another answer that’s more specific to people running a handmade business.
One of the biggest mistakes I see handmade business owners make is:
They create products without thinking about why their target market will buy them.
If you can uncover a valid answer to “what motivates your target market to buy your products?”, and keep that answer in mind when creating products, marketing, and selling, then you can make more money.
It’s important to uncover the answer your target market would give; not define what you think their answer is.
For example, I might think my customers are buying my handmade bags at a craft show because they care about supporting local. But in reality, they might be buying a new bag because they want to feel stylish and receive compliments on their style when they head into work on Monday.
Let’s look at 3 important questions you should be able to answer.
Question #1: Why do people buy products?
I’ll start you off on the right foot by providing the answer to the first question…
Answer: To feel better
There are some exceptions, but most purchases are made because a consumer wants to feel better in some way.
Buying from you is a choice.
Think about all the things you do by choice. Or even more specifically, the items you buy by choice. You might buy a new shirt, a new face serum, or a piece of art for your home because you think it will ultimately make you happier.
A piece of art will dress up an empty wall in your home. Which may add more style and personality to your home. Which may make you feel proud when you have guests over. And it may make you feel happy to know others think you have a nice home.
Although most of us make choices based on what others will think, it’s not always about someone else’s opinion.
For example, hanging a piece of art in a bedroom may make you happy simply because the artwork reminds you of an amazing vacation you went on.
We voluntarily take certain actions because we think those actions will make us happier.
With that in mind, continue answering the next two questions.
Question #2: How (specifically) do your customers want to feel better?
We know every consumer wants to feel better. But in what specific way do your customers want to feel better?
Answers will vary based on the products you sell and who you’re targeting.
- Accessories & Clothing
- Consumers may buy new accessories or clothing because they want to look more stylish
- Bath & Body
- Consumers may buy new bath & body products because they want to feel more confident about the way they look
- Home Décor
- Consumers may buy new home decor items because they want to feel proud of the way their home looks/smells/feels. Or, there may be a specific feeling they want their home to have (e.g. cozy).
Find the word your target market might use to sum up how they will feel better.
Some examples are:
If you’re not sure which word your target market might use, have a look through your product reviews. Is there a word several customers use when explaining why they’re so pleased with your product?
If you don’t have many reviews, look for a product like yours (either on Etsy or on a big brand’s website) with lots of reviews.
Question #3: How do your products help customers achieve the feeling?
Take the specific feeling your customers are hoping for and combine it with how your products help them achieve that feeling.
Each seller will have a different answer based on product features and benefits and the market they’re targeting.
If I sell shampoo that uses natural and organic ingredients, my answer may be:
- Customers want to feel healthier by using a toxin-free shampoo.
If I sell a shampoo that addresses specific hair concerns, my answer may be:
- Customers want to feel confident by using a moisturizing shampoo that makes their hair look shiny and feel soft.
If I sell a line of scented shampoos, my answers may be:
- Customers want to feel fresh and clean by using a mint-scented shampoo.
- Customers want to feel invigorated each morning when using a citrus-scented shampoo.
- Customers want to feel feminine by using a shampoo that leaves their hair smelling like a bouquet of flowers.
How to apply
Once you’ve uncovered the specific feeling your target market is after and you know how your products help people achieve that feeling, communicate it.
Take the specific feeling (e.g. “relaxed”) and list the ways that feeling can be communicated.
For example, a feeling may be communicated through:
Then, look at each way shoppers interact with your business.
What do they see, touch, taste, hear, and smell when they:
>> shop your booth at a craft show or online
>> speak with you in person, through email, or on the phone
>> open a shipment from you or unwrap your product
>> use/wear/display/consume/etc. your product
How can you make a light bulb go off and help shoppers realize that your products are a perfect match for how they want to improve their life?
Some of the areas you may explore are:
- Product collections
- Product photos and props
- Product names
- Product descriptions
- Product packaging
- Social media posts
- Paid ads
- Newsletter emails
- Online shop name
- Shop description
- Shop announcement
- Craft show display
For example, which colors, fonts, images, etc. would you use in each area listed above to communicate “relaxed”?
To achieve your business goals, you must first help your customers achieve their goals.
Although your customers’ goals (as they relate to your products) may be quite detailed and specific (e.g. “I want to have the most amazing wedding that people talk about for years to come”), if you can uncover how they hope the goal will make them feel (e.g. beautiful), it will help you create a better product for them, as well as a better experience. Both of which will help your business make more money.
Was this article helpful? What specific feeling do you think your customers are after when they buy your products?
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!