The easiest (and most efficient AND profitable) way to boost your revenue is to sell more to the shoppers you’re already attracting.
To do that, you need to think about your customers’ journey with you.
Imagining your customer and what they’re thinking, wondering, and wanting, before, during, and after buying from you ensures your shop (online or off) has multiple items they want/need.
But it’s not a matter of offering as many products as you can.
You have to consider your typical shopper, as well as typical shopper behavior.
When you consider typical behavior and the thoughts and questions swirling around your shoppers’ minds as they browse your products, you can fill in the missing pieces to your puzzle.
Those missing pieces are what will help you take your sales to the next level.
This article will help you explore your customer’s journey and the steps many businesses forget about.
Step 1 – Your target market’s ambassador
Imagine all your customers and potential customers have elected one person to represent them.
This person is your target market’s ambassador.
Of course, each person in your target market is going to have slightly different opinions, preferences, styles, looks, ages, budgets, etc. But your ambassador has one key value that represents everyone in the group.
For example, your ambassador might represent people who:
- love punk rock fashion styles (and you sell punk rock jewelry)
- have a dog (and you sell dog collars)
- are parents to newborns (and you sell baby blankets)
- decorate their homes in a coastal style (and you sell coastal-themed art)
There’s one common thread that ties everyone in your target market together and makes them all perfect for your business.
Visualize one person who best represents your target market.
If it helps, think of a celebrity who would be a perfect fit for your products.
That celebrity’s fans who want to dress like them/decorate their homes like them/have the same vibe as them/etc. are your target market.
Most likely, your target market will have a smaller budget, different lifestyle, etc. than a celebrity. But if you don’t know your customers yet, or are in the process of narrowing down your target market, imaging a celebrity as an ambassador can be a good place to start.
You’re going to keep that ambassador in mind as you go through the following steps and answer the questions.
Step 2 – What sparks their shopping desire?
Now that you have an ambassador in mind, imagine them in their pre-purchase stage.
This step ensures you’re creating products consumers have a use and desire for.
We’ll get to add-on items in the next steps, but every business should have main items that draw customers to them.
Magnets, bookmarks, lip balms, etc. might be great items for your customers to add to a purchase, but most people don’t sit around thinking about a fridge magnet or yearning for a new lip balm.
So let’s brainstorm the types of items that will bring shoppers to you.
Customer journey exercise
Think of your ambassador.
Imagine the setting they might be in when they think about buying a new _____ (type of product you sell: art or jewelry or candles).
For example, someone selling art might imagine their target market’s ambassador sitting in their living room and thinking “I really want a new piece of art to hang above the couch”.
Someone selling candles may imagine their typical customer having a meditation or bath ritual that involves lighting a candle. They’re getting to the end of a candle and are thinking about buying a new one.
Or perhaps your customers don’t typically buy your items for themselves. It may be a gift. In this scenario, you may think about the occasion they’re buying the gift for.
Now consider the thoughts, questions, feelings, etc. your customers have when thinking about buying a new ______ (the product you sell).
- What sparks their desire for that something new?
- What do they see as they’re thinking about a new ____ ?
- What do they feel like they’re missing? (by not having a new ___ )
- How do they hope they’ll feel once they purchase that new _____ ?
- What do they envision when they think about owning that new _____ ?
- What do they want others to think when they show off their new ____ ?
- What do they need help piecing together? For example, maybe they know they want to update their wardrobe. Questions they ponder might be: what are the latest trends? What type of trends are age-appropriate for me? What would I wear it with?
Brainstorm questions / thoughts / feelings that are specific to your products and your customers.
Let’s say I sell art. I may think about the following questions:
- What room are they decorating?
- What’s their home decor style?
- What other objects are in the room?
- What do they want to add to the room? (e.g. more color or light, moodiness, whimsy)
- What type of art catches their eye?
- What type of magazines do they flip through, or TV shows do they watch, and think, “That’s a beautiful home”?
- What do they want to think or feel when they’re in that room?
- What do they want to think or feel when they’re looking at a piece of art? Or what might they want to be reminded of?
- What blanks do they need help filling in? Perhaps: how to choose the right size of art for a wall. What type of art suits my home? What type of art suits my personality? How do I choose a piece that both my partner and I love?
Get into your customer’s head and imagine what they think about before they buy your product.
Apply to your business
After completing the exercise, consider if your product selection, craft show display, and/or online shop have elements that will draw your customers in, based on their pre-purchase thoughts.
For example, if I’m selling art and I imagine my ideal customer sitting in a coastal-style home, loving soft blues and greens, and wanting a feeling of calm or being by the ocean, do I have several pieces that fit that scenario? Or do I only offer one or two coastal/ocean themed pieces? Or perhaps my art sort of has a coastal theme, because I mainly focus on blues and greens, but I could change the subjects of my art to be ocean/beach themed.
Do you have a way to answer common questions without shoppers having to ask you the questions first?
Most of your shoppers will have the same question(s) but won’t take the time to send a message or speak up at a craft show.
If shoppers have unanswered questions, they won’t buy.
You can answer common questions through:
- product descriptions online
- blog articles online
- craft fair signage
- a sales pitch at a craft show
For example, if I sell large pieces of art and I know most of my customers wonder what size is right for their wall, I might write a blog article titled “How to choose the right size of art for your walls”.
At a craft show, I may have a small sign on my table that reads “Not sure which art size is right for your walls? Take a free guide”. Below that, I may have a stack of flyers that share tips for choosing the right size of art, and on the back, illustrations depicting proper sizing in comparison to common items (e.g. a couch, dining table, bed, etc.).
3 – What options do they want?
Now we’re going to imagine your customer has found you online or at a craft show, and they’re in your shop/booth.
This step is to make sure they can find what they need as they look around.
Imagine a shopper finding an online listing for a pair of bohemian-style earrings. They love them, but visit the seller’s Etsy shop to see if they have a pair that are a bit smaller. When they get to the shop, they can’t find any other styles of boho earrings.
That shopper is going to leave without buying.
If instead, the seller took that pair of boho earrings (their most popular item) and made slightly different variations of them (bigger and smaller, different colors, different shapes, etc.), the shopper will have no problem finding a pair to buy.
Before you can get someone to add to their purchase, you must first make sure they can find an item to purchase.
Start by giving them options.
As mentioned, the people who make up your target market are going to have varying wants/needs when it comes to colors, sizes, budgets, etc.
Your product options shouldn’t be trying to get people from different target markets to buy, but rather making sure everyone WITHIN your target market can find an item they love.
For example, let’s say I’m selling art and all of the people in my target market want coastal-themed art. Coastal-themed art is my starting point.
But some people in my target market prefer:
- small pieces of art while others want big pieces
- water scenes while others prefer beach scenes or images of lighthouses
- framed prints while others want an original painting on canvas
The main products I offer should stick within the coastal theme to give my target market plenty of options to choose from; increasing their chances of finding something to buy.
On the other hand, if I were to try to appeal to other target markets in an attempt to gain more customers, I’d actually lose more sales.
If I were to sell everything from coastal-themed art to farmhouse, bohemian, french country, and Scandinavian-style art, I’d only be able to offer a few options in each style. So I’d have a harder time turning shoppers into customers because each shopper would have a limited selection to choose from in the type of art they love.
Customer journey exercise
Think about the things your ambassador might say or ask as they look at your best-selling piece.
What options might they ask you for?
Imagine your ambassador asking: Does this item come in _____?
E.g. Does this item come in…another color, different size, with or without a certain feature, etc.?
Or, you might imagine your ambassador saying “I like it, but I wish it was ______ (e.g. blue, bigger, etc.)”
For example, someone looking at a piece of art may wish that the artist sold something similar but:
- in a different color to suit their color scheme
- framed so it’s ready to hang
- smaller or bigger to fit their blank space
- in a print so it fits their budget
Apply to your business
Brainstorm the options your target market might like to have when buying your products.
Your shoppers are at the “this OR that” stage (we’ll get to the “this AND that” stage next).
Don’t build options to appeal to a different target market.
Stick to one target market (e.g. people who have a coastal style decor style) and build options for them.
If the majority of shoppers flock to your craft show booth or find your Etsy shop through one type of product, create variations of that product.
4 – What else do they need?
Now you want to consider other items your customers might want/need once they’ve decided to buy one of your main products.
This step ensures you’re NOT filling your shop with items your main customers don’t really need.
You should fill your shop with products that can be sold to the same customer.
If I’m selling large pieces of original art, and that’s all I have in my shop, shoppers will only be able to buy one item from me. Most people only need one large piece of art at a time. So if I want to sell more to each customer, I need to offer items they’re more likely to buy with a large piece of art.
Take the products you want to sell the most of (or that you do sell the most of) and consider items that can be sold with those items.
Don’t go too broad and keep typical shopper behavior in mind.
Shoppers don’t tend to context switch very much.
If someone is shopping for living room art, they’re focused on decor items for their living room. They’re not thinking about items for their wardrobe.
Although I could print my artwork on t-shirts and sweatshirts, those items aren’t a fit for someone buying a piece of art for their living room wall.
A sweatshirt may attract a different shopper and allow me to sell to someone who’s not interested in wall art, but that sweatshirt sale is unlikely to lead to the sale of a large piece of wall art.
Filling your shop with “dodads” that don’t relate to your main products, and that can’t be sold to the same customer, not only takes up important real estate but those items also take time, money, and attention away from products that help you build your business.
Before adding a new item to your selection consider if it’s likely to:
>> be purchased with one of your main items
>> be purchased on its own but eventually lead to the sale of one of your main items
Here’s a great system to use to ensure ALL your products will help boost sales.
Customer journey exercise
Imagine your target market’s ambassador. They’re ready to buy an item and now they’re looking for other items to buy with it.
Think about the questions your ambassador might ask by filling in the blank.
Do you also sell _____?
- the matching necklace?
- frames for your art?
- this candle scent in an essential oil blend for my diffuser?
To brainstorm other ideas, imagine your customer when they get home.
- What do they need to use/wear/display/etc. your product?
- What do they wish they would have purchased with the product?
- What questions might they have now that they own the product?
For example, if I’m an artist selling prints, before my customers can enjoy my art on their walls, they’ll need:
- to mat and frame the piece
- drywall plugs (if it’s a large piece of art)
- nails/screws and picture wire
I could offer different colored matting and frames customers can buy with their prints. I may include drywall plugs and screws, or nails and wire with each purchase.
They may get their one print home and wish they had purchased more prints so they could hang them as a set in a room or create a gallery wall.
They may be purchasing a piece of art as a housewarming gift. Greeting cards and gift wrap that incorporate my art may be good products to offer.
Now that they’re getting ready to hang a piece of art, they might wonder:
- How do I hang this? Is one nail enough? Do I need to find a stud?
- What’s the right height to hang a piece of art?
- Should it be centered on the wall or centered above the couch?
- Should I add an art/gallery light above my art? Where would I find one of those?
Including a flyer with hanging tips with each purchase would improve the customer experience. Or, I may post a blog article with art hanging tips and direct people to that page after purchasing.
If I sell high-end art, I may find a wholesaler of gallery lights and offer them as an add-on product.
Walk through your target market’s ambassador using your product, how they want to feel, and what they need.
Apply to your business
Based on the actions your customers go through when using your product, the way they want to feel, the other items they need, etc. brainstorm products you can offer and ways you can improve their experience right after purchasing.
Explore products people would buy with your main products.
Remember, don’t offer products for the sake of offering them.
You should be able to sell most of your products to the same person.
Those products should also help you create a better customer experience and boost your sales.
Also, don’t over-extend yourself. Anything you add to your product line should be done well and help you build a name as an expert.
For example, a jewelry maker’s customer will need clothes to wear with the jewelry, but that doesn’t mean they should start making and selling clothes. Stick to your niche, area of expertise, and within your skill level.
>> If you need ideas on how to create a line of products that all work together, check out this article.
5 – What keeps them happy and coming back?
Now you want to think about your customer a month or two into owning your product.
This step will help you keep your customers happy and brainstorm products they might want/need when they’re ready to purchase again.
Repeat customers are the most profitable customers.
So you want more people to come back and buy from you again. But they won’t do that if they never use their first purchase, or if you don’t offer items they’ll need in addition to their first purchase.
For example, someone who buys a large piece of art for their living room probably doesn’t need another large piece of art for their living room. If that’s all I sell, the majority of my customers won’t come back and buy from me.
They may need smaller pieces of art, or pieces to decorate their coffee table, or larger pieces of art for other rooms in their house.
Customer journey exercise
Think about your target market’s ambassador looking at your product several weeks after purchasing it.
- Are they losing their lust for the product? Why might that be? (e.g. it doesn’t look shiny and new, it’s gone out of style, etc.)
- Are there any problems they might run into with your product? For example, a jewelry maker may receive emails from customers saying their chain broke, or they lost a gem. Offering a repair service or an option for customers to buy replacement gems and have the item fixed is a good way to keep customers happy and potentially boost sales.
- What do they rave to others about when it comes to your business and/or products?
- On the other hand, what might they complain about?
What questions might they have about their purchase now?
For example, someone who purchases an original oil painting may wonder how to clean it when it gets dusty.
Now imagine, your customer is so happy with their purchase, they want to level up.
How might they do that?
- What do they wish they would have also purchased from you?
- What do they want to buy to keep their experience with your brand going?
- What would be a better version of their purchase they’re ready to invest in (e.g. they purchased an art print and are ready to buy the original).
Apply to your business
Look at your questions and answers and think of ways you can ensure your customers are happy with their purchase and using it.
If you sell a pair of earrings to someone and they sit in their closet, they’re not going to come back and buy another pair, or tell friends about your business.
Think about the problems your customers might encounter with your products and how you can get ahead of them.
You also want to implement ways to stay in touch with existing customers and keep them thinking about and using your products.
You may encourage customers to join your newsletter by sharing tips for caring for their products, entering customers into a monthly draw to win a prize, or as an easy way for them to get in touch with you if they have any issues.
Or, you may add marketing materials to each purchase.
For example, a flyer or pamphlet may be included with each purchase that shares care/cleaning/maintenance tips. Or, you may include a coupon they can use to receive a discount on their next purchase.
Next, brainstorm the products your customers might purchase to go with their initial purchase, to level up their initial purchase, or build on it.
After purchasing from you once, how can they go bigger or better in the future?
There may be other questions and aspects of your customers’ journey that you want to consider.
But I hope this exercise gets the ball rolling!
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!