By the time you’re ready to even start thinking about marketing your handmade product you’re already deep in the trenches of making amazing creations ready to be packed and shipped to excited customers.
Perhaps you’ve been creating your product for weeks, months or even years.
You’ve sourced your supplies, spent hours making, conducted photo shoots with props and models and listed your polished creations on your website or a creative selling platform like Etsy.
And even if you’ve been going at it for a while now, do you ever look at your orders page, hit refresh and wonder…
How can I make more sales?
Even if you’ve made 1 sale, 10 sales, 100 sales, 1,000 sales or you’re just starting out (hey, we’ve all been there!), it’s probably the question that your mind has been repeating over and over again.
For most of us, the answer lies in being good at marketing.
What does this even mean? If you’re anything like me, you’ve trawled through pages on the internet, attended conferences and read a bunch of books that have told you all the things you should be doing:
- Start a blog
- Create a website
- Start an Instagram, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, a Pinterest, a Snapchat or whatever social platform is trending
- Build an email list and send out a newsletter
- Run ads on Facebook
- Optimize your products descriptions for SEO
- Run ads on Google
- Run promoted listings on selling platforms
- Promote a sale, offer or a giveaway on your shop
- Pay influencers to promote your products
- Get your product story published in a magazine or a blog
All of that and you’re also supposed to be making things, packaging, shipping and answering to your customers.
I know I sure am.
My aim in this lesson is to forget everything in that list and focus on simplifying your how and why behind your marketing.
After that, I’ll show you what marketing activities to start or where you need to be realigning your focus on.
At the end of this lesson, I want you to be an intentional marketer.
Intentional marketing is creating a strategy where all your tactics come together and result in a single outcome: getting you more sales.
Why you need an intentional marketing strategy for your handmade business
When it comes to handmade businesses there are two types of people: the hobbyist and the entrepreneur.
The handmade hobbyist loves what they do and selling online is a way for them to share their work with the world. Making is the most important thing to them and the money they make running their business is a nice extra bonus.
Hobbyists will try their hand at marketing but it’s all entirely random. It’s a random social media post, a random email every few months and a random “testing out” of new channels.
There might be results and sales, but ultimately, they’re all random too.
On the other hand, a handmade entrepreneur still has the hobbyists passion but there’s one more thing that makes them different.
They have a vision.
Everything they do has a purpose towards achieving their goals. They have a reason for every single social media post, a reason for the product they just launched and they don’t avoid the uncomfortable stuff (like criticism, new systems or phone calls).
Are you a handmade entrepreneur with a vision to succeed?
Then you need a marketing strategy for your creative business. Now, a strategy doesn’t mean that your days will be filled with data filled spreadsheets, planned-to-the-tee calendars and employing icky-feeling salesmen tactics in your promotions.
Actually, a marketing strategy is more about building a funnel for your business that will help you:
- Find your customers and your biggest fans
- Get your handmade product in front of these people
- Implement intentional marketing activities on the channels that actually bring you results (and sales!)
Part 1: Craft your customer persona
Handmade marketing success begins with understanding how to find your customer. After all, you can’t have a business without customers.
The best way to do this is to create a detailed profile of your ideal customer. When you’re just starting out and creating a persona for your creative business, most of your details will be specific measures like age and demographics. But the really juicy stuff is when you’ll start getting inside the head of your customer and figuring out their problems, habits and personality traits.
When you are able to visualize your ideal buyer inside your head, this makes a whole bunch of tasks easier to achieve:
- You understand what kind of language and visuals to use when creating product descriptions and marketing content.
- You know where to filter and find your customers online so that you can spend your energy engaging with the people who matter.
- You can deliver content like social media posts, ads, blogs and emails that influence, inspire and empathize because you understand their pain points and goals.
Find your one person
Every audience started from one.
Whenever you’re writing product descriptions, snapping photos for social media or talking to influencers, think about talking to a single person. Help bring joy to one person, gain one follower, reach one fan and sell to one customer. Over time, your one’s will turn into two’s and your audience will grow bit by bit. When you go back and just focus on the one customer, you’ll always know exactly how to speak to them.
Being relevant to a select few is better than appealing to everybody.
The truth is that you’ll never keep everybody happy. The same thing applies to marketing your craft business. It’s better to have a small group of niche buyers, followers, viewers or listeners who you know inside and out. These are the people that will be even more attracted to your products because it speaks directly to them.
Profile your customer
Before you find your one person, you’ll want to narrow down your customer segments. Ask yourself what type of people choose to buy your products?
- Do you offer trendy products and they are up-to-date fashionistas that are buying for themselves?
- Do you offer personalized pieces and they are brides shopping for guest gifts?
- Do you make with sustainable materials and they are ethically-minded consumers?
- Do you offer business services and they are start up entrepreneurs looking to grow their business on a budget?
Once you’ve figured out your customer segment, it’s time to play God and create a single character that embodies the description.
I’ve listed some of the major elements to define below for your persona:
- Who is your one person? Where do they live, how old are they, what’s their gender, background, job, marital status, education level, annual income and language they speak?
- What are their beliefs, interests and hobbies?
- Which influencers and brands influence their style and decisions?
- What are their goals and dreams?
- What are their challenges and current problems that your product can solve?
- What is their motivation for buying your handmade creations?
- What are their worries or concerns when it comes to hitting that Checkout Cart button on your shop?
- When and where can you find them online?
- What kind of marketing content do they enjoy surrounding themselves with online?
Start finding your customer. Download my free Marketing Strategy worksheet bundle. Inside you’ll get a Customer Persona Canvas which will help you paint a clear portrait of them. I’ll guide you through step-by-step on how you can create a clear, consistent and useful customer persona that you can keep coming back to.
Part 2: Utilize your secret marketing weapon: a marketing funnel
Think about the last few purchases you’ve made. Was there a reason why you chose those specific products over something else that was similar?
Did you see a commercial about a new cleaning product? Did your friend tell you about a clothing brand that doesn’t get destroyed no matter how many times you throw it in a dryer? Did you pick up a new tube of toothpaste because you’ve used it over and over again? Did you buy that book because it had 4.9 stars on Amazon?
Did you finally order those shoes you’ve been lusting after since you saw it on your favorite Instagrammer?
Can you see a pattern here?
Every single time you open up your wallet for a new purchase you’ve gone through a decision making process where:
- You’ve been exposed to the product, and;
- You’ve gained enough trust in the product to spend your hard earned money on it.
Whether you realize it or not, if you have dreams of turning your business into a full time gig then you’ll need a marketing system like this of your own. You’ll need your own marketing funnel, also known as my Secret Marketing Weapon.
But what the heck is a marketing funnel?
Hardly anyone ever sees a product for the first time and makes an express bee-line to the shopping cart to check out.
This means your job is finding ways to gain trust with your shop visitors. You can ensure that your photos and listing description are as accurate as possible. But at the end of the day people will choose to not buy your stuff for a bunch of reasons:
- They don’t have enough money
- There aren’t enough reviews or people advocating your creations
- People aren’t convinced they need your items
- They put it in their shopping cart and forgot to check out
- They have other purchases that have priority over your products
Remember how I said that my marketing funnel is my secret weapon? Well here’s the power you can yield with a funnel:
- You can convince people that your creations are worth spending money on
- You can build trust by building a relationship with your followers
- You can share how your products can fit into your audience’s lives, and;
- You can remind your followers that you still exist when they are finally ready to buy
Sounds complicated? Trust me, you can have your own marketing funnel mapped out in just a few minutes if you keep reading. Pinky swear!
Build your own marketing funnel
Ready to start making money in your sleep?
Step 1: Discovery
Discovery is the process of getting someone new in your tribe to notice your products. They’ve either stumbled upon your Instagram or Facebook account, they’re searching for your items in Google or they’ve read an interview about you on their favorite blog.
Step 2: Trust
Nurturing someone is about getting them to trust you, your brand and the legitimacy of your products. If you offer a creative service or your items are on the high end when it comes to pricing you can nurture your tribe by building an email list or a blog. You can either start to communicate with your followers on a regular basis: email them with offers, freebies or educate them on the benefits of what you’re making.
Alternatively, if your product sits on the trendy or impulse-buy spectrum of retail you can still nurture trust by getting great reviews, improving your social proof, working with influencers and getting your items published in blogs and magazines. Nothing feels better than having a customer tell you that they’re choosing you over a competitor because their best friend can’t stop raving about your stuff.
Step 3: Action
Here you want your audience to take action and reach a predetermined outcome or end goal. It’s making the sale, getting a client or achieving the goal you set out to conquer. Remember, you can apply your marketing funnel to any part of your business so your end goal doesn’t always have to be about making money. It can range from getting email sign ups to social media follows.
Step 4: Advocacy
Congratulations! You have a customer now. But how can you turn your customer into repeat orders or a customer referral? Now that you have your customer through the funnel you need to give them the attention they deserve. You can follow up with great post-customer service, or simply encourage them to talk about you to their friends. Instead of simply being customers, they become your brand advocates.
These are the people who share positive reviews, put up photos of your product and talk about how great your products are to their friends. And of course, come back for more! You can’t control this behavior but you can certainly encourage it with your marketing activities.
Get every step of your customer journey right. Download my free Marketing Strategy worksheet bundle. Inside there’s a Marketing Funnel Template which will help you get crystal clear clarity on how your marketing system works. Now that you have your customer profile etched in your brain, you can get a better hunch of your customers behavior when it comes to the steps it takes for them to purchase your products.
Part 3: Choosing the right marketing channels
To make a marketing funnel right, you’ll need to find the right marketing channels to plug into each step of the funnel. What platforms will you use to get in front of your target audience? What mediums will you use to nurture a relationship with your followers?
In a perfect world, you’d run campaigns across every single marketing channel you can think of. But if you’re a one-(wo)man show, time is a precious resource when your brainpower is spread across a heap of tasks.
So it’s essential that every minute you spend on marketing goes towards a select few core marketing channels that move the needle. Don’t try to sign up to every single social media network. Don’t feel the need to start an email list because some expert told you so. It’s ok to not follow the latest marketing must-do trend.
It’s better to truly know your audience and use the channels they use the most.
TIP: If you’re lost, peek at your Customer Persona Canvas to see where you can find your audience online.
There’s an endless number of channels to market your handmade goods and these just scratch the surface:
- Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat
- Blogs: educational articles, contests and giveaways
- Email: digital freebies, newsletters and offers
- Videos: YouTube and webinars
- PR: guest blogging, pitching to influencers and bloggers
- Paid advertising: Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and promoted listings
- Affiliates: customer referrals and paid promoters
- Traditional: flyers, brochures, business cards and events
To start, simply take a deep breath and say Yes to a few channels your gut is set on. Then do those tactics deeply, fully and madly. Download my free Channel Map to start plotting out the types of content, topics and themes you’ll be publishing in each channel.
What steps do you take to become an intentional marketer? Share your thoughts, feedback and anything else you’ve learnt in this lesson in the comments below.