Right Product, Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Citrine Silver Earrings

A guest post by Rossi Ignatova of  SilverSense 

Are you targeting the right audience? 

And do you know who is the customer who would be willing to part with their cash for your lovingly handmade creations? After coming across a stall selling luxury chocolates at, perhaps, not a well chosen location, these questions made me think even harder as to how the choices made when targeting a product can translate successfully or not into sales.

It’s Sunday and a well known market in London’s East End is bustling with people. Stalls selling their wares abound and a crowd is fleeting from one to the next in search of a present, curiosities or something to buy for themselves.

The liveliest place is the food corner with sellers tempting our senses with mounds of the world’s best brownies, warm pitta breads stuffed with hummus and falafels, tasty dumplings and other hundreds of worldwide food combinations.

Among the happily eating and chatting throng I spot this stall and what grabs my attention is the lack of people in front of it, in spite of its neighbours doing a roaring business in sausage and mash on one side and vegan meals on the other. So, curious as to what they sell there, my partner and me approach and see on the table beautifully presented little pyramids of little chocolate squares.

Oh, they are glossy! Oh, they are tempting. The lovely girl behind the stall shyly tells us that the chocolate shells are filled up with a combination of brownie chunks and frosting in different flavours.

It sounds marvellous, but I am not tempted! At the market, we are after a satisfying meal with some worldwide connotations. Something warm that is served from a huge paella pan or is piled in a box that you can take to a nearby wooden table and tuck in whilst chatting away with friends. I think for a moment about buying some chocolates for later, but I am worried their dainty box will get crushed in our bags among all the people, and then the price, I am asked to pay, doesn’t really correspond to what you would consider a bargain.

So, we pass! No sale from us and by the look of it – not many from the other hundreds of people.
A few days pass and I am looking for a present for a work-related friend. Something lovely and classy to give to a girl with a note: Spoil yourself a little! So, I remember those chocolates and go in search of them. But, at the market I am told, that stall is there only on Sundays. So, no sale from me again!

This little story made me think.

Targeting the correct audience with handmade work is indeed important, but how exactly to do it and guarantee success? How to avoid the pitfalls of taking the wrong route and wind up at a place which is not quite ready for your product yet?

For example, had I seen those glossy chocolates in my local deli shop, I would have stocked up on them. I would have thought I was paying a fair price for a little delight that was handmade, looked exquisite and tasted really good. I could also imagine those chocolates being hand delivered to a girl as a declaration of love. Another idea that popped in my mind was to have these chocolates served at foodie events where people are eager to find a new sensation to seduce their taste buds.

So, based on these personal thoughts and some extensive research, I compiled four little tips to help you decide how to approach the process of selling and to whom.

Blighty Bracelet

1. Define the person that has a need of your product

Think in details about who this person is. Is it a bride in search of a matching jewellery set? Is it a mother eager to look her best as she drops off her kids at the school gate? Is it a teen girl who can be moody and then sweet? Be clear and paint a vivid picture in your mind of this person and how your product will make their life a little happier and a little easier. For example, my company sells beads. But not any beads, mind you! We are choosy like this. We pick lovely gemstones and Czech glass strands for the discerning beader – someone that has invested time in developing their jewellery making skills and is looking for good quality, unusual beads to help make their creations really stand apart. As such, we satisfy a real need.

2. Make yourself visible to the person you want to attract

Now that you are clear about the person who is most likely to buy from you, consider where this person goes and what they do. Do they use mobile apps to stay abreast of things? Do they happily browse handcraft markets on a Sunday afternoon? Do they rely on a word of mouth recommendation when making decisions what to buy? Then tailor your approach to this. Accordingly you may need to invest some time in building social networking connections online. Or you may need to research the best craft fairs and book your stall. You may even think outside of the box and come up with a different approach. Like asking a local florist to stock your handmade cards, start writing articles for blogs your audience reads, give a talk in front of a local club on how to start a handcraft business in your spare time or even use QR codes to appeal to a younger crowd who is up to date with apps and other fashionable things.

3. Meet the expectations your ideal customer has of you

The next step is to think how you present yourself. If your product met your customer in real life, how would your product behave to capture their imagination and convince them they are a right match? Going back to my little story – you know, at a market, your eye is seduced by the abundance of things: big piles of pasties and pies, steaming pots with some veggie and meaty delights, you get the gist. If you are in an exclusive boutique, then little luxury touches capture your imagination and you want to buy something, no matter how small, just to make yourself feel like you belong. So, coordinate your approach – work on your photos, copy, packaging and, if you sell face to face, your displays. Aim to project an image which is consistent and translates into powerful messages in your customer’s head.

4. Pay attention to what your competitors do

Whilst doing all this, don’t isolate yourself. Keep your finger on the pulse of things by following the competition and the choices it makes. No, don’t plagiarise blindly. This is not my advice. But try to gain knowledge and apply it creatively to what you do. For example, read industry resources and magazines. Mark the profiles featuring other artists and crafters and see what inspires them and what they do to achieve commercial success. Or if you are thinking about a stall at a fair, first go and browse to see for yourself how successful it is. Also, visit shops in your field and see what they stock, how they present it and at what price points.

When you are clear who your work is for, this helps you focus and develop a more structured approach.

Instead of making single designs, you may even start thinking in terms of whole lines and collections to satisfy the needs of your ideal customers in the different settings of their lives. I hope the above four tips have been of help. Please share your thoughts with us and let us know how you tailor your product targeting approach.

You can find more great tips from Rossi over on her facebook page, or sign up to her mailing list.  

So much of what Rossi has discussed here can also be applied directly to your approach to blogging - don't spend precious time writing without first considering who your posts are for.  This Sunday the 19th Feb 2012, at 9pm Craft Blog UK is hosting a tweet chat to discus focusing your blog content, please do come and join in! Just use #cbuk to find us :)