In my previous marketing post, I asked, “Who Are Your customers?” We had a nice discussion on the forum about customers and how some of the members found their markets. Some of the members who are selling products that responded had to think hard about it. But once they did give it some thought, they had a good idea of who their customers are. Of course, those people selling multiple types of products had a broader range of customers depending on the product.
As a summary, I’ve compiled a very general profile:
- Women were the primary market
- Ages 25-65
- Who have disposable income
- Who value handmade goods and specialized services
There were several common threads in the development of an art business, whether it was intended to start a business or not.
- Product appeal and uniqueness
- Seeing the product as a gift for oneself or someone else
- Word of mouth
Leonor (Felt Buddies) and Carole aka craftywoman each experienced the building of a potential or actual business through word of mouth. It doesn’t just happen to artists. It can happen on a major scale in the corporate world as well.
I worked for one company that did not have a sales force, did no advertising and at the time were in 18 states with their own warehousing and distribution systems. All of the growth was due to word of mouth. What they had was a unique concept that was appealing to parents at schools who did fundraising to help the school support special programs. No door to door selling required! Products were ordered ahead of time and delivered once a month to the school. Volunteers ran the sale. This all evolved because one woman provided something other than baked goods for her child’s fundraising program at school. Word spread quickly and a business was born!
The customers (parents who convinced school officials to use the program) were the company’s best salespeople! But that doesn’t mean a business can always depend on that. It’s up to the business owner to know their customers, the problem being solved and the benefit to the customer. For this company, it was parents and administrators who needed to raise funds. The benefit was the school being able to raise funds without sending children door to door and excellent products being delivered to the school. Parents and teachers felt good to help out, keep the programs running and still benefit by obtaining excellent and unique products for their families. Win, win for everyone.
For your business, it may mean a customer needing to find a unique gift (problem). When they purchase one of your items, they feel good about finding something meaningful and/or unique (benefit.)
Let’s look at a few examples from my perspective:
Ann (Shepardess) makes fingerless mitts that are popular with young women. Problem: The women like to text, but find it too hard to do with traditional gloves. Benefit: They can keep their hands warm and text to their hearts content while making a fashion statement.
Leonor makes custom felted animals. Problem: Pet owners want a remembrance of their beloved animals or a unique gift resembling a favorite pet for a family member or friend. Benefit: The lifelike miniature brings joy and sometimes comfort to the recipient. The gift giver feels good about giving a special gift.
Carole has been making flower brooches and hair clips for her friend’s craft fair this summer. Problem: Her friend needed inexpensive items to sell. Benefit: Fun, bright, inexpensive items customers will feel good about purchasing and using and will help fair sales.
What problems can you solve for your customers and what benefits can you provide for them? You may be thinking “problem,” my customers don’t have problems to solve. Maybe they just like to buy pretty, artsy things, then switch the word problem to goal if that helps you to understand your buyers needs better.
Food for thought: Are you a loyal customer? What are the attributes about those businesses you frequent that makes it appealing for you to keep going back? What are the benefits you get from shopping there? How can you use this information to understand your buyers better?
Thank you to everyone who shared their experience with me on the forum and gave me permission to use that information and pictures.
Watch the Marketing section on the forum for more discussion.