When you set out to create a new product, where do you start?
>> How do you decide upon design?
>> How do you choose colors, or scents, or materials?
>> What makes you certain your product lineup needs this new product?
The world is, as it always has been, changing. And now, more than ever, people are expecting more.
They want more meaning from the businesses they support and the products they buy.
But how do you add more meaning to your business and products?
How do you even know what matters most? Everyone has different values and priorities.
You get specific.
People don’t remember the name of every jewelry, soap, art, etc. business out there; they remember the name of the one that suits them the best.
And based on this year’s consumer trends found here, people want businesses and products that are tailored to their specific needs.
The masses have been served for decades.
It’s time to pay attention to and create businesses and products for those who have been ignored and haven’t had all their needs met.
General is out; specific is in.
Imagine someone who’s felt left out; like X,Y, and Z products are great, but they’re not quite right for them.
Now imagine you create a business that speaks to that person and products that are perfectly suited to their wants and needs.
Your business instantly becomes one they can’t live without.
Here’s how to build that business.
STEP 1 – KNOW WHO YOU WANT TO PLEASE
Instead of creating a business/product and then looking for customers, start with the customer.
- Who would you love to work with?
- Who do you best understand?
- Who’s currently being ignored in the marketplace?
It’s important to get more specific than basic demographics.
Details such as gender, age, location, marital status, etc. are helpful, but you’ll need to go deeper to know enough about your customers to create a business, brand, and products that are suited for them perfectly.
For example, let’s say I’m a painter and I’ve defined the following information about my customers:
>> I’m targeting females, age 20-30 years old, who are married
I need to create a painting that makes that customer stop in her tracks and say, “I have to have that piece”.
What type of painting would that be?
I have no idea…do you?
A married woman in her 20’s or 30’s could be interested in any type of art. I would have a hard time creating a piece that’s perfect for that customer.
Now let’s say I’m targeting gardeners.
What type of painting could I create that would grab the attention of gardeners?
This time, it’s easy. I could paint a picture of a garden, or perhaps, a picture of flowers, or maybe gardening tools.
As I determine other details about my customer, such as demographics, I can get clearer with the details of my painting.
For example, targeting women in their 20’s or 30’s who are gardeners may influence me to paint in a modern style, or even create paintings that have a rustic vibe to appeal to those decorating their homes in the trendy modern farmhouse style.
Determine who your customer is and choose a detail that goes deeper than demographics.
STEP 2 – GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
How much information do you really know about your customers?
Not information you’ve made up about them, but rather facts you know about the target market you’re selling to and what influences their purchases.
When you define a customer from scratch, it can be hard to get to know them. You tend to make up details as opposed to finding a group of people and getting to know them.
Let’s go back to the painting example. Maybe I paint different types of pictures, in different styles, it just depends on what I’m inspired by.
When I start with a product and then go looking for customers, I end up defining a customer based on my paintings; who may or may not actually exist.
I may determine they like lots of color because my paintings are always colorful. Maybe that love of color translates into them being a “life of the party” type of person. I may imagine they’re a homeowner because they want art to decorate a home, and that they’ve purchased that home with their spouse.
I’m outlining a lot of details, but none of them help me find customers or sell to them.
>> How do I find people who are the “life of the party” and sell my products to them?
>> Where can I be certain to find people who are married and homeowners…and interested in buying art?
When I start with a detail such as “gardener”, it’s a detail that helps me find customers and sell to them.
I can easily find groups of gardeners and gather factual information about them.
>> I can find them in Facebook groups or forums and read the questions they’re posting or learn about topics they’re discussing.
>> I can find them at gardening shops and eavesdrop on their conversations or research demographics (e.g. are most of the people shopping in a gardening shop male or female? What’s the age range of those shoppers and which age group can I best serve?).
>> I can pick up a gardening magazine and see what type of topics their readers are interested in.
Find the platforms your target market uses and gather information that will help you create perfect products for them, as well as market and sell to them.
STEP 3 – DETERMINE HOW YOU’LL PLEASE THEM
Think about a restaurant you can’t live without. You crave their food and they’re usually top of your list when planning to dine out.
You obviously love the dishes they offer and the taste of their food.
But it’s likely not just the food that’s perfectly suited to your tastes.
>> Their prices may be perfect for your budget.
>> Speed of service may fit your schedule or how you prefer to dine
>> The décor, atmosphere, and servers may make you feel comfortable
If the food was amazing but the service was too slow or the atmosphere was too stuffy, the restaurant wouldn’t be top of your list.
When the majority of elements meet or exceed your expectations, a restaurant stands out in your mind and is one you want to support again and again. You may even recommend it to friends and family or write a great review for it.
For a consumer to fall in love with your business, it must exceed their expectations.
Once you’ve gotten to know the group of customers you want to target, start thinking about how you can use the information you’ve uncovered to improve all areas of your business.
Start with all the touchpoints; all the ways a customer can interact with your business.
Those areas may be:
- The products they can buy
- The tags or packaging they read before purchasing a product
- The design of your website
- The product descriptions they read on your website or the sales pitch they hear at craft shows
- The checkout process on your website
- The email replies they receive from your business
Then take the information you’ve uncovered about the group of people you want to serve (e.g. gardeners) and determine how you can use that information to adapt the touchpoints of your business.
- Which keywords do your customers frequently use in forums or Facebook posts? Those keywords can be used in website text or sales pitches to create a connection with your customers.
- What type of problems do they discuss in forums? Perhaps you can create products that help solve those problems or alleviate them.
- Which topics are they reading about in magazines or on blogs? You can use those as inspiration for your blog articles, social media posts, or newsletter topics.
Use the information you’ve gathered to improve every nook and cranny of your business.
It’s not enough to simply create nice things.
Nice things will attract few sales, but when you really think about the purpose your business serves in the lives of a specific group of people, you build a business people come back to support again and again; not just when they run into it at a craft show.
OTHER WAYS TO INCREASE SALES
Here are a few other ways you can increase sales once you know who you’re targeting:
- Don’t try to offer too many types of products – business owners often make this mistake in an attempt to sell to more people. Check out: HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE OFFERING TOO MANY PRODUCTS
- Get specific with your product style – your customers should know when they see one of your pieces, even if it’s not on your craft table or website. All your products should have a style that appeals to your target market. Check out: HOW TO FIND A SIGNATURE STYLE FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS
- Test before you spend – before jumping in and creating new products, research to be sure it’s going to sell. This will save you time and money. Check out: 5 WAYS TO KNOW IF PEOPLE WILL BUY YOUR PRODUCT
- Keep reaching more customers – a craft business cannot wait for customers to come to them. Follow the steps in this article to continuously go out and find more customers.
LINKS MENTIONED IN ARTICLE:
- THIS YEAR’S CRAFT TRENDS
- HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE OFFERING TOO MANY PRODUCTS
- HOW TO FIND A SIGNATURE STYLE FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS
- 5 WAYS TO KNOW IF PEOPLE WILL BUY YOUR PRODUCT
- HOW TO FIND MORE CUSTOMERS FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS
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!