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Dipping my toe back in …….

Dipping my toe back in …….

During most of the Covid 19 lockdown in the UK I couldn’t travel the 8 miles to my studio. I did bring wool home, but I haven’t made much felt recently. Early on in lockdown I decided, while the weather was good, to focus on my long-neglected garden. I thought it would take a couple of weeks to knock it into shape. The weather stayed good so I stayed in the garden. 10 weeks later I found I’d slipped into gardening full-time.

As the only fibre involved in my garden project was the permeable membrane under the reclaimed brick circular patio I built…

brick circle
Very proud of my reclaimed brick circle!
View from brick circle
View up the garden

….that adventure doesn’t have much relevance here. So, I’m going to tell you about my first felt-related venture back into the outside world.

One outlet for selling my work is a beach hut gallery in Whitstable harbour (the coastal town where I live). It’s an open-air market offering locally created art and craft plus international food. I’m a member of a group called ‘Made in Whitstable’ which rents one of the harbour huts year-round and we share the time there between 7 individuals / groups.

As it happens, one of my weeks in the harbour came very soon after open air markets were allowed to reopen in England on 1st June. What to do? The leap from venturing out only once a week (to food shop) to market trading seemed quite daunting. After much thought and discussion (via Zoom and FaceTime, of course) I decided I’d give it a go.

clean hut
I gave the hut a good clean as it’s been empty for a while

The market organisers have done a lot of work to put in safety and social distancing measures in preparation for reopening. I visited the market before it reopened to have a look around and see what other traders thought.

I then filled the hut with my pictures (about 50:50 felt and photo canvases). I only took felt that was behind glass as felt asks to be touched and I couldn’t be sure that was safe. I stocked up on hand sanitiser and antibacterial cleaners. I made various signs to cover different scenarios. I thought I’d probably only take card payments, though I did have my cash bag and disposable gloves just in case.

inside hut left
Inside left
Inside hut left felt
Some of the felt pictures
inside hut back
Back Wall
inside hut right
Photos on the right

I planned mostly to stay outside the hut when open but I had two fallback positions in case there were too many people. First, I could cordon off the entrance so I could be in the hut and other people could look in but not enter. Second, I could close it and go home at any time.

I had a few ‘social distancing’ nightmares in the nights before opening the hut and did feel quite anxious as I took the short walk from my home to the harbour on the first day.

Hut with barriers
My hut with barriers & tape

There were lots of barriers and hazard tape everywhere; signs reminding people to keep 2 meters apart; a one-way circulation system with arrows on the floor and boxes drawn around the hut entrances. It looked a bit like a crime scene!

My first day, a Friday, was very quiet in the morning. People seemed to be a put off coming into our part of the market. At lunchtime it started to rain, so I closed and went home. Saturday and Sunday were warm & sunny. Whitstable is a very popular day / weekend trip destination within easy reach of London and can get very crowded, especially with good weather. Was this going to be a problem? No!  There were lots of people on the beach and the food huts were busy but the footfall in our area was low.  By Sunday the barriers were slightly adapted to improve flow. By Monday, even more so. There was always the option of putting in more barriers or limiting the overall numbers but these weren’t needed.

market and relaxed barriers
Sunday
hut with no barriers
Monday

 

Sales overall were disappointing but I don’t regret having a go. It was nice to chat to people, even if it was from at least 2 meters away. There were some issues with queues near the food huts but people are tackling them and they didn’t impact on my area. My next week in the Harbour is in late July and this has given me a chance to try things out; to see how it works and how it feels. Indeed, the chance to dip my toe back into the water. I can look forward to the next time with more confidence that I can cope with and adapt to the new environment.

whitstable panorama copy (2)

Pandagirl’s Year in Review

Pandagirl’s Year in Review

I know I’m late to the party, but I’ve been traveling and have several family affairs looming that need my attention.

I started out in 2014 as a forum member and then in March I was a Global Moderator!  This past year has brought many challenges and delightful learning and wonderful outcomes in terms of felting.

My year started with experiments in dyeing.

2014-01-24 16.29.52

I shared my venture into encaustics.

2014-01-16 11.13.59

Tried my hand at painting with wool.

2014-01-12 12.05.33

Experimented with different wools.

2014-02-07 14.53.01

Participated in the quarterly challenges.

Jackson Pollock - Marilyn

Stewart Stephenson - Marilyn
Stewart Stephenson – Marilyn

 

Monet 2 after felting
Monet 3rd quarter

 

2014-10-19 13
Land Art 4th Quarter

 

Tried framing methods.

burlap 2

I broke down to drum carder envy and began my foray into making batts.  Woo hoo!

2014-11-14 15.15

Cathy and I tried indigo dyeing.

silk and thick n thinMy marketing blogs…

addiction biz cards wool side

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s been awhile, but its more fun felting than marketing…  Sorry.

 

I taught a felting  class.

Toni
Toni and her placemat

 

There was a period of obsession with pods and vessels.

After rinsing

I ventured into free motion stitching.

moy layout

Then I experimented with embellishments and making a book cover.

finished front

Designing and making a handbag was a huge accomplishment for me.

hanging

I  experimented with 3D felting – grapes and flowers.

finished 2

2014-10-29 12.29

 

I learned a lot of new techniques in Fiona Duthie’s class.

2014-06-03 11.07.12

It was a busy year visiting farms, mills and fairs.

susan democarder back

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made scarves including a cobweb scarf.

2014-10-17 13.45

A big project was a 3D free motion stitched bowl, oh my!

2014-10-28 12.12

Felting a rooster, I learned to combine wet and needle felting.

2014-11-10 16.24

Our holiday exchange was an experiment of combining beading and felting.

2014-10-29 11.47.04

All in all, it’s been a very productive and inspiring year felting. Of course, there were many more projects that were completed.  It has been a wonderful year.  I want to thank all of you for teaching, inspiring me and encouraging me to do and try more.  Thank you!  A special thanks to my fellow moderators and Luvswool (Cathy),  Leonor at Felt Buddies and Nada for pitching in and contributing to the blog.  It’s been a terrific, fun journey.  I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings and what I learn and try!

 

 

What Does Your Calling Card Look Like?

What Does Your Calling Card Look Like?

In a few weeks, Cathy (Luvswool) and I are going to attend the Midwest Fiber Fair in Grayslake, IL.  I started thinking about what a great opportunity it might be to introduce some people to the Felting and Fiber Forum/Studio.  But I didn’t have any business cards.

So, while working on one of my felt projects I decided that if I’m representing a fiber collaborative I should have business cards that reflect that concept.

I pulled out a bunch of prefelt pieces leftover from other projects and piled up a stack of embellishments and went to work. Of course, I forgot to take a picture before I felted them.  I used just one layer of prefelt so that it wouldn’t be too thick and proceeded to play with the embellishments using yarn, silk, silk habatoi, silk hankies,  sari threads, throwsters waste, silk gauze with sequins and ribbons.

When I finished felting/fulling the pieces, I cut out a business card size plastic piece and cut out the cards while the felt was still wet and soapy.  Then I worked the edges some more before rinsing and drying.

biz cards wool side

After they dried, I steamed and shaped them a little more. Some of them shrank while drying so I did a bit of pulling and stretching.

I didn’t want to sew them on, so I used three different types of glue (Elmers Clear, Sobo and Tacky Glue) to see which would work best, but all worked nicely and didn’t leave any residue.  I applied it using a wooden stick so it was evenly covered. The nice thing about the glue was that while it was wet I was able to stretch and manipulate the felt to cover the card.  To make sure they stayed put I piled a couple of heavy books on them to let them dry and flatten.  I left the organic edges because I like that look.

2014-06-27 13.10

I’m not sure how people will react to wool business cards, but I think it sends the right message.  I’m definitely a fiber enthusiast.

2014-06-27 13.09

The next time I make more cards I will stick to silk and embellishments that are flatter.  While the yarn and ribbon are nice and very textured, it is a bit more bulky.  What do you think?

 

The Results are in…

The Results are in…

In an effort to evaluate our marketing plan and see if we were meeting our Felt and Fiber Forum Members needs, we conducted a member and guest survey May 20 though 27.

Overall, the results were good in terms of the satisfaction of our members.  There are a few things we will be working on to make some improvements to enhance the site and information available to members.

Our first question  was “What Brought you to the Felt and Fiber Studio forum/Blog?”  Since we are an online community, it was important to know how people find us.

forum

I added invitation to the list on the graph because several comments we had included that as an option we hadn’t offered on the questionnaire.

For those members who found us on an online search, half of the respondents chose “wet felting” as their search criteria, 25% “fiber,” and 25% used “needle felting.” Other comments included — felting, fibre, fleece,  and wool roving.

93% of the respondents said they were satisfied with the interaction on the forum. Sometimes was the response for 7%.  The comments for “Why not” were,  “I don’t feel I have much to contribute to the conversations, but find them interesting” and “I check in occasionally, but not regularly.”

Meknittingmbers (79%) feel valued.  65% feel their interests are well represented. Friendly and helpful members rated 93%.  Comments requested more information on spinning, weaving, crochet, etc.

 

 

One of the most interesting answers for me was the activities members are looking for on the forum.

activities

Comments included “Mixed media is more interesting to me,” and “online classes.”

class

Participation would be higher if we were able to give our members more time.  100% of the respondents checked this off.  What this tells me is that those regular members somehow make time to visit, while others pop in occasionally when they have a few minutes timeavailable.  Giveaways and classes were also considerations at 8% each.  “A larger membership with increased posts would naturally prompt me to respond more frequently” was a surprising comment for this question.  We’d love to have more members participate, if only we could find a way to give them more time!

 

92% of Forum members also subscribe to the Blog.  Again time was mentioned in the comments as to why members did not belong to both.

One of the reasons I wanted to do the survey was to see how we could get our members to help us increase our membership and participation.  Here were the results:

promotingAgain there is that power of “word of mouth.”

I was also curious how people felt about the lack of advertising since we make an effort to keep the site uncluttered and supportive of the purpose of the forum without compromising the integrity of the site.  71% liked not having advertising.  29% had no opinion.  However, the comments were revealing — quality fiber related vendors would be welcome. Others commented that the sponsorship banner was a good idea.

What does all this mean?

Generally, it means for those members who responded,  The Felt & Fiber Studio Forum/Blog is doing a good job as a friendly place to share most things fiber enthusiasts care about.  The information gives us a few directions to improve or make changes that would benefit our members and, hopefully, engage our current members to help attract new members and other ways such as Search Engine Optimization clues to drive more online traffic our way.

Can we improve?  Of course!  There are things we will be doing in the future to offer more of what our members want to see and do.  In addition, we will provide some material to promote the forum for anyone who wants to help.

help

In the mean time, keep telling your friends about us and come by often to share what you’ve been working on with us, offer some tips or let us know how we’re doing.

Our thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey!

We hope to see you all on the Forum soon! http://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com

 

 

 

Evaluate Your Marketing Plan

Evaluate Your Marketing Plan

In our last marketing blog, I used the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum as an example for determining marketing goals towards developing a marketing plan.  We discovered the who, what, why, where, how, and when for the plan creating a road map for our plan.

photo 3Now it is time to evaluate our plan and see if it meets our needs in terms of our goals. However, before we do that we need to take a look at what is working and what is not.

If your business is humming along just fine, you may wonder if this is really necessary.  There is no one right answer.  If you are satisfied with how much you’re selling and the way you are marketing and selling, it’s probably not necessary.  But what if you want to expand your market?  Make more money?  Diversify your offerings?

woman shopping

If you were running a restaurant and sales were down, customer complaints up, low tips for staff and few return customers, you’d have a good idea something wasn’t working.

However, in the internet world of marketing for arts and crafts, you don’t have the luxury of easy or obvious measurements of what is working.  At a craft or art fair, you can see your competition, compare pricing and quality first hand.  It’s easier to see how your products differ on the spot and ask customers what they think.

survey_clipartIn our Marketing Strategy for the Felt and Fiber Studio Forum the Driving Action for the goals of the Forum is participation.  So, in order to determine how we are doing since we can’t meet face to face, we are asking our members (and blog subscribers) to take a simple ten question Membership Survey so we can evaluate our plan.

What do we want to know?  We want to make sure we are serving the needs of our online community in a friendly, giving and nonjudgmental way.

Please use this link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RX2XM9W

There will also be a link on the Forum under the Business section.  Please only fill out one survey.  We will not collect any personal information.

keyboard

I realize some of the people that read the blog, may not be Forum members.  So, if you would like to take the survey, please answer the questions applicable and put in the comment section of question number 8 that you are are a blog subscriber.  If you read the blog on a reader, please mention that in the same section.

dog and computerThe survey will be available for a week.  I will publish the results after I have collected and analyzed the data.

Please feel free to leave any comments here or on the forum.  We’re always interested to know how we are doing and what more we can do to help you.

Thank you for taking a few minutes of your time to participate!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Communicating with Customers

Communicating with Customers

In my last marketing post, I asked “what makes you a loyal customer?”  The reason I asked is that it helps you get into the customer mindset when you can understand what your own buying habits are and why.

I answered my own question in a discussion of customer benefits about ebooks on the forum.  I consider myself a loyal customer of Lyn and Zed’s ebooks because the books are well written, have easy to understand instructions, a lot of good pictures And the fact I can work at my own pace. When they produce new books, I would likely buy them because I know the quality is good,  the price was reasonable, purchase was convenient — immediate download and I was able to contact the seller with questions.  All of these things are key benefits to me especially since I’ve purchased ebooks more expensive and less user friendly.

groceryMy buying loyalties for groceries are different.  I like a good bargain and am loyal to retailers who are conveniently located, offer sales, discounts and coupons, good customer service with liberal return policies.

When buying art, fibers or art supplies, I have an impulse buyers addictionmindset. Although I won’t turn down a coupon, discount or sale. I love this, I have to have it! I’m sure you all know what that is like.

As a business person, you want to cultivate loyal customers.  How? It’s all about understanding buying habits, mindsets, benefits and problems.  The best way to keep on top of trends is to do a little market research and communicate with your customers and get to know them.

Ask customers why they like the specific product they are buying.  Is it for themselves or someone else?  If for someone else, who?  Starting this conversation will bring more detail because most people love to talk when they like something or someone.  Of course, this is easier to do if you are selling face to face at a craft fair or to friends and family.

women shoppingBut if you are selling through a third party like a gift shop or an art gallery, the people who procure your products know this information and will share it with you since it is a benefit to them to keep customers satisfied and popular products coming in.  They can also give you an idea why something isn’t selling.  It’s not necessarily negative feedback; you may find this is just not the right market for that product.

On the forum discussion, Ruth mentioned all the things she does at her store to keep loyal customers  Basically, great customer service was at the heart of it.  A few of them —

  • Shipping at cost
  • Free gift wrapping
  • Keeping the inventory fresh and unique
  • Custom orders
  • Creating customer oriented events.

She said, “go a little beyond the normal service, people are wowed because the norm is pretty low.”

When communicating with people, don’t underestimate your enthusiasm.  When you do what you love it shows through in the attention given to making the item, but your enthusiasm for what you do is contagious!  So, is your loyal customers.

excited womanIf you’re selling online and don’t have the opportunity to communicate face-to-face, keep an email list and follow up after the sale.  Asking a customer if they are satisfied or if the gift was well received can help reveal trends and keep your customers coming back. Most people will respond to one or two questions.  It tells them you value their opinion and want to guarantee their satisfaction. Many retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble follow up with an email after the sale to ask you to rate the product and make comments.  Take the marketing hint from companies who spend a lot of money researching these things!

Emails can be used to communicate news about introducing a new product or line, exhibit emailor fair dates.  Email marketing is inexpensive and can result in repeat sales. Of course, e-newsletters and blogs also provide the same benefits.

Posting news and pictures of works in progress also works using social media like Facebook.  If I see an item I know one of my friends would like, I can share it on my news feed or send it to that persons news feed.  Again word of mouth in the digital age!

Remember less can be more.  I say this because if people are busy too much information becomes background noise.  So, be selective about what and how often you post or email.  Make it newsworthy and friendly.

You may be saying, but I do all this or I’ve tried that and it’s not working.  Again, knowing your customer will help you determine where to sell and the best strategies to use. If normal outlets aren’t working, it’s  time to get creative to develop better strategies and or find new markets.

Food for thought:  Where do my customers go?  What do they do?

 

 

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.

Fiber — An Adventure in Textures

Fiber — An Adventure in Textures

Hi, I’m Marilyn.  I’ve recently accepted the invitation to be the fourth moderator of the Felt and Fiber Forum to replace Karen who left last year.

Paper sculpture "Change"
Paper Sculpture “Change”

As long as I can remember, Ive been fascinated with texturesthe grooved trunk of a tree, the delicate petal of a flower, the juxtaposition of smooth sand and a raging ocean wave.  Im a hands on person and have reveled in creating textures in a variety of mediums involving fiber.

As a young girl, my aunt taught me to sew which was great since I was able to make my own clothes to fit since I had long arms and legs. Later, when I had two boys of my own, I made their clothes.

Throughout my young adult life I continued to sew, design clothes, crochet, embroider, knit, played with string art, quilling and macramé. I also was interested in drawing and watercolor.  But 3D texture was always the draw for me. And water. For many years I made paper, my specialty being textured paper sculptures. Of course, paper is fiber and requires water to process. I had wanted to be an artist, but coming from a practical family I was encouraged to go into business instead.

Stained Glass Vase
Stained Glass Vase

My college education was interrupted, but when I returned after my sons were born I waffled about my major. Most of my credits were in business so if switched to art I would have had to start over. My husband Craig gave me excellent advice. He was a marketing major in college and told me that no matter what career path I chose I would always have to market myself and a product. So marketing became my major.

It was more creative than I imagined and I was able to combine my knowledge of art and design as well as my love of writing into a career in corporate marketing.

I discovered felting when I retired a few years ago. It was instant love.  Like all of my other creative endeavors, I researched and learned on my own.  But now thanks to the wonders of the Internet and You Tube it was a much quicker and easier process.

Hand Stitched Eyeglass Case
Hand Stitched Eyeglass Case

When I found the Felt and Fiber Forum/Studio, I knew I found a home.  Ive learned so much from the wonderful cyber collective of felt and fiber artists from across the globe. I enjoy the camaraderie and look forward to sharing my knowledge of art, marketing and my creations.  And, of course, continuing to learn and be challenged by all of you as well.

Apopka Lake, Florida
Apopka Lake, Florida
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