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Introduction to Wet Felting at The Fold

Introduction to Wet Felting at The Fold

A couple of months ago while shopping at The Fold in Marengo, IL, owner Toni Neil asked me if I’d be interested in teaching a wet felting class.  Many of the people who shop there are knitters, crocheters and spinners and she said they were curious about the felting. I agreed and we settled on November 1, class size and I provided her with a class description and supply list along with a list of the items I would be supplying.

I always think when taking a beginners class it’s nice to come home with something you can either use or show people, so I chose to make a place mat.  In preparation, I made a couple as examples and gathered some other samples to show how embellishments can be used.  I also brought along, yarns, prefelt, and some silk for embellishments.

2014-11-02 14.40

I provided a pool noodle, bubble wrap, a template, a piece of polyester curtain fabric for each student and gathered up my samples and other tools to discuss as we worked. In addition, I printed out flyers for the forum, a resource list and a general step by step guide to basic wet felting for future reference.

preparation

The class was held in Toni’s kitchen at The Fold which was comfortable for four people. Unfortunately, they had to turn away a fifth, but I don’t know where we would have put another body.

I was surprised to learn that a couple of the ladies had come from as far away as Beloit, WI and Highland Park, IL which is an hour and half away.  The other two lived closer to me.

layout 3_edited-1

The kitchen was nice and bright.  So sunny, pictures were a little hard to get.

laying out lay out 2

The one thing I learned is that they would have preferred to not have choices as to design.   However, I’m never one to squash the creativity of a group and as it turned out they helped each other and while they followed basic designs they added their own creative touches.

Toni M (not the owner) finished first and was pleased with her first project and decided she liked her organic edges.

Toni

Dana brought some beautiful Churro yarn she’d purchased from New Mexico and made her mat a bit more abstract with a lovely turquoise background.

Dana

Carolynne purchased her roving and yarn to match at The Fold with the intention making an additional five mats of the same design which featured the stripes and abstract yarn design.

Carolynne

Since Candace had just purchased all the merino sheep from The Fold, she chose to feature a sheep on her design that she cut out from prefelt and used yarn for a fence, silk for clouds and some roving for grass.

Candace and sheep

They were all pleased with their place mats.  We worked hard, but had a good time.  Now these knitters, crocheters, spinner and weaver have a new tool in their fiber kits!  I hope they will continue to experiment and join us on the forum.  For more information on The Fold check out their website http://www.thefoldatmc.net

I haven’t taught a class in a long time.  I was tired, but a good tired and had fun meeting new people and sharing my passion with them.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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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