Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Crafting Your Customers

Now, I must start by saying I was a little reluctant to title this specific article what it is, but honestly, I could not come up with anything better. I want to relate the topic and associate the information, to grab the attention necessary. So, it is certainly not to be taken literally, but figuratively and in a small craft business sense.

With that said, here we are and what does it actually mean? ‘Crafting your customers’ is a method of thought in small business that creates new marketing ideas/techniques to connect to your customers. It also means to constantly update your customers on changes to products/services as well as change marketing perceptions so that focus is placed on your business and the products you sell, from a customers point of view.

Easier said than done, as with anything, but the importance relies on always staying a step ahead of your customers needs, satisfying their wants and desires, but more importantly giving them no excuse to return to your business again and again.

So what can you do to help your customer not only understand their needs, but show them you have what they need and want what you have to sell them? The following details a few keep points that will help to place focus in that area that will help your customer understand they have found not only a good business, but one they can count on for years to come:

  • Every person is different, so they all consume media differently. To ensure they are all satisfied, give them options to choose from. You may have a Facebook and Twitter account, but have you connected them yet, so when you post to one you actually post to both? You should also consider that there are plenty of other social media outlets besides the previously mentioned. Such as Google Plus (Google+), LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, Tagged, CafeMom, My Life and Multiply. Those are just a few of the hundreds to choose from. That doesn’t mean searching them all out and placing your product on all of them, it just means select a few and begin there. The old phrase do not put all your eggs in one basket applies here and it makes sense. Don’t rely on just a couple of social media outlets to get your message out the door, when there are so many to choose from.

  • Answer the customer, emails, your phone in a positive light and with a happy disposition at all times. You may not be aware, but everybody has the ability to hear smiles…yes hear them. If you are positive and happy on the phone, your customer will know it. They will hear your smile. That goes the same for face-to-face and email communications. Always be as positive as possible, even if the news is not good. Try to find an alternate answer to make sure it works out for you and your customer.

  • Embrace the negative and turn it into a positive. (NEVER Place Blame, take responsibility and move forward). Emphasizing the negative for any reason is not a bad thing, so long as you don’t place all your focus on the negative and stay there without moving to some resolution. In Business this is especially true. You can evaluate the negative and then move forward with a positive. Take it as a learning experience and keep moving forward. If you focus too long on that one negative aspect, you will feel the repercussions with your business for years to come.

  • Impress existing customers and spend more time doing so. If they have spent their money once, they will continue to spend more money. Make sure you give them more reasons to spend their money. Impress them with new products/services, show them the benefit of the product and they become a free marketing tool who will not only buy from you again but tell everyone they know. This is a win-win situation because you spent a little more effort on a customer who has already given themselves to your product. Look at it this way, have you ever seen cable TV providers advertising on their own networks when you are already a customer? They do this to impress their existing customers to not only stay with them, but continue to purchase from them. This could be from current products/services or from upgrading or accessories. It is a marketing tactic that works and works well. Place that focus and you will reap the rewards over time.

  • Create a suggestion box for your customers. This could be a physical box or an online suggestion area. However it is important to hear from your customers. You may not hear from everyone, but you will hear from some. Some will be positive and some will be negative. Maybe you don’t want to hear about the negatives, but it is a necessary evil. You cannot learn from mistakes if you aren’t aware of them. Also, remember to always respond to everyone as quickly as possible. If they have a problem, get it fixed. If they have a compliment, send them a thank you response. Whatever you do, make sure you do it as quickly as possible, so they know you are attentive. Even the negative customers will be impressed with a quick response and give 2nd chances if you are quick enough. Tried and true, it always works.

  • Ask your customers if and how they would like to be contacted. Some people don’t mind handing over their personal information if they see value in doing so. An email newsletter is good at getting information about your product out the door. However if that email address information is all you need to collect, then make sure that is all that is requested. You may have a booth or a storefront and want to put a mailing list book out for customers to sign. That is absolutely fine, just make sure you are not asking for any additional information that you will not use. For example if you want to send an email newsletter, you don’t need to ask for the customers physical address and vice verse.

  • And finally, you can’t just tell people about your product/service, you have to show them. Nothing says “BUY ME” like a visual display. Giving them perspective helps to craft an understanding of the versatility of your product/service. You can create YouTube videos to show them how you make your products. You can create ebooks, or blogs explaining your products with photos. You can take action shots (no head shots) of your product in action to display in store/booth. There are many ways to present visually, explore and experiment for what works for your products. You may just find the golden key to help push your craft that much quicker out the door, but if you never try, then you will never know.

One final point. Before implementing any of these actions, it is important to emphasize that many things can bring stress to a business, but nothing more worse than the owner/operator. You will at times find yourself pulled in so many directions you can’t keep your head straight. Stay positive and things will always work out for the best. Always try to keep a positive attitude and you will always see positive returns. No, it isn’t easy, but with practice and time, as with everything, it can be become habit. When you make it a habit, then it becomes one less thing to worry about. Stress is a killer and a business killer at that. Staying positive will not only keep you sane, but prosperous and will also keep your customers happy as well as your business successful.

Crafty Marketing

So you have a craft business and you are frugal about what to spend on top of how to spend it. Those are excellent qualities and if your product has value then its time to start marketing your items. People want value and they want to know about great value. They want to know where to get it, how much it is and if its available now. If you have read our BLOG entitled “Crafting is Value Based“, then you are well on your way to getting a leg up on the competition out there. Make no mistake, the competition in the craft business is fierce but it is not unmanageable. Marketing is where you get the most exposure and we will discuss some free and inexpensive ways to get the most out of advertising those things you want to sell.

Sure there are plenty of ways to get your products in front of the customer and most of them are still viable to this day. You can rent a space, get a booth, consign your work to other shops or even sell outright for their markup. You can check out the local fairs/venues to see what rental space is going for these days. You can ask around to local community sales, like church rummage sales or even neighborhood yard sales. You can look into convention center events or even local business events such as “cash mobs”. These are all ways to get your products in front of the customer, but they can be limiting. They limit the amount of foot traffic that is possible to seeing what you have to offer. It can be dependent upon the timing local events or even bad weather. It can be frustrating to say the least because you can’t seem to get enough people to know about your wonderful craft. However, thanks to the internet, you don’t need an old “brick and mortar” storefront to sell your crafts in this day and age. There are plenty of ways to get your product seen and your craft known about, before you even step out your front door. The internet is where it all happens.

For some, who are not computer savvy, it can be daunting at best to learn. However, not impossible and for those few, who are willing to put forth the effort, the return on investment is eye-popping and jaw-dropping. So learning what specifically to do and when to do it, can be found on a number of articles across the internet and we are not going into details here. Here we will discuss points to look into and research for your own endeavors so that you can start everything you need with no money spent.

*Before starting this list of things to do, make sure that you never, ever mix family and business social media. If you already have a personal account on any of these sites mentioned, make sure you start over with your business. It starts with a brand/product and it never crosses over with personal connections. You can make personable connections and network, just not personal connections. Personal and Business never mix well.

So here are a few points to help get started on the internet. Make sure to do some research if you need anymore help:

  1. Make sure you create a Web site with your product. If you are serious about going into business, you will need one. There are Tons of FREE website providers that not only supply the web-space, but give you easily understood and controllable admin panels to create and update your website.

  2. Create FREE accounts with an email provider, for communication and customer interactions. Google, Hotmail and Yahoo are only a few of the FREE email services that are available.

  3. Create FREE Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus (Google +) accounts. Utilizing the free email account for your business in conjunction with these free social media outlets, allow you to connect to your customers directly and more personably.

  4. Create a FREE Facebook business (Fan) page. This is where you share your posts, stories, product photos, upcoming events, interesting topic related articles for more engaged discussions with your customers.

  5. If you do have an actual physical address, make sure to register it with FourSquare. This will give your business and your craft a place your customers know you are.

  6. Create a FREE LinkedIn account. This is for business related networking. Remember that business isn’t just about competition, but connecting. If you are able to connect to other businesses, they can show you paths to success, you never would have thought possible. Make sure to look for target companies on LinkedIn

  7. Create a FREE YouTube Channel. Create, upload and share videos that are related to new or unique ways to utilize your products.

  8. List your services on Craigslist, its FREE too. Businesses rarely think of this site as social media, but it has its place in value. Customers searching on craigslist will find your business quicker than individual items they may be looking for because of their search engine and how powerful tags can be to advertising.

  9. Create a marketing calendar to highlight a to-do list. Things to organize your time like a calendar, will help to manage all the things that will become daily chores in the world of marketing. It can quickly get out of hand and out of control if you don’t organize. Most of the FREE email providers include a calendar in your account. Utilize it so you can manage your time, otherwise your time will manage you.

When utilizing the internet to market your products/craft, it is best to take it slow. Learn everything you can about one thing, then implement it to the best of your ability. If that means taking each aforementioned point one day or one week at a time, then so be it. You can never be too slow to get it right the first time, not because your time is money, but because your money is time. Never waste it, but always utilize every bit you can to get it right the first time out.

Keep an awareness about your time, energy, effort. You can be savvy and diligent in your business as well as show how passionate you are about what you do. Producing fine quality handmade craft items to sell for a profit on the internet is not impossible, just make sure you have plenty of time and patience to dedicate to this endeavor.

As a final point, you should also never just show customers what the product is about, try to demonstrate why they need it and can’t live without the value. Remember that value is what they look for and crave, if you give them that value, they will beat a path to your door everyday.