Craft Venture: marketing basics: who are your customers?

mini bud vases, felted, from papaververt

Hi all!  Brenda from Phydeaux and Phydelle here, writing on a lovely sunny Summer day.  I hope you all enjoyed your first weekend of Summer!  Time to start thinking about marketing and promotion for the holidays!  You might be thinking that the end of June is far too early to start thinking about the holidays.  However, retail buyers are already placing orders for their stores and major retailers already have their own marketing plans finalized for the biggest shopping season of the year.  Independent online businesses should be no different – it’s not too late to plan and implement your own holiday “plan of attack.”

I think that many small business owners seize up and go blank when they hear the dread words, “marketing plan.”  (Same goes with “business plan.”)  I’m going to put your fears to rest by sharing a secret with you:  a marketing plan can be as simple as a brief outline.  A marketing plan can also be a complex document of many pages, but let’s get our toes wet with something far less scary that will add immediate value in your business.  Pull out some paper and a pen for brainstorming as we walk through a few easy steps!

We talked about marketing versus promotion last week on Craft Venture:

The American Marketing Associationsdefinition of marketing:  “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

More simply, everything you do to create value for your actual and potential customers, with return on investment (e.g., sales!).
Before you can plan how to add value to your customers, you need to have an idea of who your customers are.  This may be the most difficult step that prevents many sellers from developing a marketing plan.

So, who are your customers?  Do you have a targeted typical customer?  If this is impossible to answer because of the wide range of items in your shop, you may want to consider revising your shop’s focus first.  A shop offering ceramic housewares, beaded jewelry and bridal dresses definitely needs to either focus on just one of those areas or open separate shops for those areas.  When I was planning last year to start a line of miniature knits for Blythe and other collectible dolls, I decided to do so under a separate shop, because each shop has such a different target customer and marketing plan.

Still not sure who your customers are?  Pull out your pen and paper (or computer) and work your way through the following questions/ideas:

1. Who do you want to buy your goods or services?  Maybe you want teenagers with disposable income to buy your jewelry or teeshirts or ipod cozies?  Perhaps you want career women with disposable income to purchase your clothing and accessories?
2. Who is most likely to buy your goods or services?  If you design banner ads, owners of online shops and blogs are likely to be your customers.  If you sell your delicious candy or baked goods online, you’re not as likely to have diabetics or exercise/fitness enthusiasts as your customers.
3. What does existing market research say about your target market?  Run some Google searches on “market research,” “demographic,” and what you sell!  Note of caution:  you want reliable information, not just someone’s opinion.  Check with your local small business or merchants association for additional resources!
4. Who is buying your goods or services?  Who’s hearting you or putting your in their favorites?  Check out your customers’ interest – look at what they’re buying and favoriting!  What are the commonalities between those shops and yours?  Ask your customers how they found you, what they like about your shop, what they’d like to see more of, etc.  That will give you some insights into their interests.

Recycled paper bowl, from picapica design

Your homework this week is to get a strong sense (although a better sense would be great) of who you want your customers to be and who they are currently!  If you have a strong customer base that’s not the demographic you want, do you want to lose your current customers in order to attract the ones you want?  Or do you want to tailor your marketing plan to reach more people like your current customers?

And now that you have a better sense of your customers, what’s the next step in your marketing plan?  You’ll have to come back next week to find out!

I would love to hear from you this week!  Was this a helpful exercise?  What did you learn?  If you already know who your target customers are, how did you determine this?

Image credits:  1.  Mini bud vase – felted wool – with glass, from papaververt; 2.  Recycled paper bowl, from picapica design

6 comments | Click here to reply

This article is certainly helpful. It provides relevant food for thought and the exercise on demographics is one that should be revisited often to maintain the broadest, but most applicable audience to your work.

Thanks for sharing. I enjoy ready through this column!

Rebecca from Maizie Designs

Thanks for the informative article! I have no idea what I am doing so this was very helpful and now I have lots to think about. Thanks again!

Liane

Thanks so much for your insights! I will do a more involved research but as for now I think my audience is who I thought they’d be – females, 21 to 40 year old, college students to working women who are financially cautious though independent.
Your post made me think and rethink whether I am going in the right direction. Many thanks for brining this really helpful information to us.

Jenya

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Louis

[…] reading about marketing right here on Craft Venture way back in June.  We talked about how to identify who your customers are.  Marketing based on your natural skills and talents.  Marketing that works for you, rather than […]

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