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Ready, set… plan!

Ready, set… plan!

Have you thought about what your goal is for your business?  To help you incorporate the marketing concepts we’ve previously discussed into a marketing strategy to understand your goal, I am going to use the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum as an example of a business.

goals

Here is a quick recap of our previous marketing concepts blogs:

  • The six P’s of marketing — Product, Price, Promotion, Placement, Positioning, PR/Publicity and People
  • The customer is key.
  • Identifying customer problems and product benefits (Ideal buyers — our strategic assets)
  • Communicating with customers for market research

With these concepts in mind, we’ll develop a marketing goal which will be the basis of a marketing plan for the Forum.

Marketing and PR Strategy Planning Template for:

Company —  Felt and Fiber Studio Forum

  • Who (members/customers)
    • Fiber enthusiasts from all over the world working/playing in a variety of art forms

    pile of batts

  • What (problems the forum solves for members) also the Forum Product
    • Information, sharing, techniques, resources, engaging experts, experience, problem solving
    • What actions does the Forum want members to take
      • Participation
  • Why (How is the forum remarkable?) (Positioning)
    • It is self supported, membership of experienced to novice fiber enthusiasts around the world, full of resources for a variety of fiber arts, free to the user (Price)

internet

  • How
    • Personality — friendly, giving, nonjudgmental  (Positioning)
    • Creative/Design (Look and feel) — fiber graphic, easy to navigate  (Positioning)
    • Tone of Voice — casual  (Positioning)
    • Keyword Phrases — Fiber, Nuno Felting, Weaving, Knitting, Dyeing, Needle Felting, Wet Felting, Spinning, Crocheting, Surface Design, Business, Fiber Festivals, Studio Challenges, Wool and Other Fibers, Hand Stitching, Machine Stitching, Fiber Marketplace, General Discussion, Shows and Classes, Take a Stitch Tuesday, Beads/Beading  (PR/Publicity and Promotion) — This is how members find us with search words in addition to word of mouth.
    • Marketing Tactics and Content Strategy –Blog, Facebook, free tutorials, quarterly challenges, quarterly newsletter, welcome email, occasional giveaways, holiday exchange, resources for information, supplies, tools, links to other blogs, resources (Network of People and Promotion)
  • notepadWhen — Things to do today, next week (Actions to take)
    • Blog posts every other day by Moderators or guests (Promotion)
    • Monitor posts daily, encourage members to post new projects, questions, resources, events

 

Generally, the goal of the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum is to build a community of fiber enthusiasts who can share their work, ideas, techniques, resources and get information and questions answered in a friendly, caring environment.

The Driving Action for the goals of the Forum are primarily:

  • Participation
    • Registering to be a member
    • Like on Facebook
    • Subscribe to the Studio blog
    • Participate in conversations and/or challenges on the Forum
  • Download free tutorials
  • Ask questions, submit projects, tutorials, resources (share)
  • Refer the Forum to friends (word of mouth)

road mapThis is a road map of the thought process of planning our marketing strategy and understanding our business goals.  You can use this as a general guideline to ask yourselves the same questions about your business.

Ready, set….plan!  What does your road map look like?

Look for more discussion on the Forum http://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com

 

 

 

 

Identifying Customer Problems and Product Benefits

Identifying Customer Problems and Product Benefits

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.gift giver

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.

word of mouthI 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.

Ann's fingerless mitts
Ann’s fingerless mitts

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.

Worrying about capturing this pet's personality
Worrying about capturing this pet’s personality

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.

Carole's Flower Pins
Carole’s Flower Pins

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?

photo 1

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.

 

 

 

 

What is Marketing?

What is Marketing?

Every artist who wants to sell their work needs to understand what marketing is and isn’t.  Judging from the questions I’ve received, it is a total mystery to most people.  I hope to be able to dispel some myths and ideas and help you to understand the basics to so you can devise a plan for your business without losing some of the mystery that marketing offers.

Marketing is not easily defined, because it is multifaceted and is used differently by many companies.  The simplest explanation I can give you:

Marketing is an effort to discover, create, arouse and satisfy customer needs.   It is a process of creating and communicating value, understanding your customers and their needs, teaching the customer what the differences are between your product and your competitors, and developing a demand for your products.

My intent is to not overwhelm you.  It is a huge subject.  I will try to keep discussion to those simple concepts that apply to artists.

sale tagSo, what about selling?

Selling is the effort to devise tricks and techniques to get people to buy a product. 

Marketing supports sales by providing communication, creative work, research, product development, and marketing strategies to name a few services.

There are no formulas or right way to create a marketing plan. Most of you work alone or have a partner.   So, marketing and selling must go hand in hand.  Yet, they are two separate sets of strategies.

Marketing pie

This graphic depicts the different aspects of marketing.  It is close to a traditional marketing model. However, as the individual business person you will be wearing all these hats and make decisions about how much time, effort and/or money you will put into each segment.  I will address each one of these along our marketing journey.

Marketing is dynamic and changes as customer needs, wants and the marketplace changes.  When I first started in marketing  there were the four Ps of marketing– Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  Today there are at least six.

psProduct – the items you make to sell

Price– the price you determine based on materials, time, distribution and other costs plus desired profit margin

Promotion – What methods you use to promote your work and the places you will feature it.  This has been called the “face” of marketing because it determines how your potential customers will perceive you and your products.

Placement – Where and when you will present your work for sale

Positioning – Each artist should have a unique selling position for their products to distinguish them from competitors.  It is a promise to the consumer to provide a particular benefit.  For example, M&Ms — Melt in your mouth not in your hands.

PR/Publicity – How you tell people about you and your work using public media

People –For artists, it is your network of friends, family, colleagues, customers and you as a person and artist. This is particularly important when using social media.

Customers are key.  Marketers spend a lot of time getting to know their customers– who they are, their age, where they live, what type of lifestyles they have, how they behave in the marketplace, what they like or dislike, the avenues of communication they use, the places they shop, how they shop and their buying preferences.  They use this information to formulate their strategies on how to approach the customer. This is obvious in the commercials on TV, magazine and newspaper ads or radio commercials.  Or even the ads on social media.  Information is constantly being collected to be able to target the consumer. This is another big subject we’ll address later.

 fashionista woman w dogsocialitehipster

Who is your customer?

While these pictures represent stereotypes, they are meant to get you to think more about who your customers are.  It may be a combination of types of people depending on what you are selling.  For example, fingerless mitts will likely appeal to a younger person who likes to text.  For someone who spends a lot of time outdoors in the cold, but enjoys handmade articles a nice heavy woolen scarf may be what they want.  An art scarf may be purchased by a socialite or fashionista.

Food for thought:  While you are pondering your customers, think about yourself and how you relate to your customers.

We’ll continue our marketing journey soon.  I’m looking forward to your comments and  insights.

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