Tag Archives: Marketing

Building a Crafty Plan

So you want to start a Craft business and a small one at that. Well before you begin anything you will need a plan, a business plan. You may be wondering why, but the answer is simple. Everything needs a map to find its destination and nothing more true than a business. A business plan helps you to have a plan so that you can focus on what’s important and follow the right steps to success.

Does the plan have to be set in stone? No, nothing is ever set in stone. Plans continue to develop over time. They grow and change as the business needs it to or has obstacles present themselves. This plan will be an ever changing road map to success, but make no mistake it is a necessary step. Change can be good or bad, but it will constantly present itself in the world of business, no matter the size. A plan will help to adapt to the change and move the business forward as it needs to, rather than succumb to the change and possible failure.

Do you need to update the plan everyday or will this consume all my time? No, time is money and you won’t need to update this plan but as needed. An example would be that you plan to sell your crafts to only local stores, but somewhere along the line, your craft is now admired by several local churches and voila, you have a new niche to sell your products to, before you even knew it was possible. Granted this change is good, but an important example of adding to your business plan as it becomes necessary. These changes could come as often as every week or may only present themselves once a year. That only means you set aside the time to update your plan. Maybe you need to update it once a month or once a quarter, but it is important to be constantly evolving the plan as the business evolves. Having this road map will help in the long run and losing sight of a road map can be disastrous.

The following points outlines only some of the aspects relative to a good business plan. It is not comprehensive by any means. They may not all be necessary and in turn you may think of other things to include. Has previously stated a good business plan will evolve over time.

Confidentiality agreement

A confidentiality agreement is a safeguard of sorts. Should you need to show anyone your business plan, such as a possible future partner and/or investors, it would be wise to have the security of an agreement that binds the viewers to confidentiality.

1.0 Executive summary

An Executive summary is just that which it states to be, a summary for executives to read and understand. This allows them to capture the “concept and idea” of the business without being mired in reading about details. IF you are the executive then this summary acts as a reminder of what is important to the business and what you are looking to achieve. If for potential partners/investors then it is esoteric in nature and meant to only give the general basis of the business. Most executive summaries will include a listing of objectives, goal statements and keys to success points that give milestones in the road map. You can also include the business vision as well as mission statement with this summary, to make the best point possible.

2.0 Firm summary

The firm summary gets into a little more detail about the business, its history and a start-up summary with costs table. This can also include a business location and/or facilities that will be utilized.

3.0 Products and Services

These are the details of the products and/or services that your business will provide to the client/customer. It can specify certain types, but usually will not detail them to individual traits.

4.0 Market analysis summary

You will need a market analysis summary for your business plan. These can be performed by you, if you are willing to do the research “leg work”. The summary should include factors of success and what type of niche you plan your customers on being. This analysis should also include any competitor analysis, such as surveys, any current customer loyalty your business may possess and competitor alliances you are looking to create.

5.0 Sales and marketing strategy summary

A sales and marketing strategy is the culmination of market analysis information you have combed and put together to create a strategy that will push your products/services into the visibility of your clients/customers. This can include a value proposition, a statement of excellence and should include a sales forecast. If you sales forecast is anything less than 5 years, then it will not be effective enough to convey the strategy.

6.0 Operations summary

An Operations summary will convey the specifics of your business needs from a personnel perspective. This will include any staffing needs. Some businesses will need some form of financial analysis position, human resources, tech support, accountant and recruiter. Most small business owners just starting out will fill most of these positions themselves till the business grows strong enough to fill these positions with part or full time employees. Sometimes services can be outsourced for small businesses willing to bundle those services. An example would be a cable company or local computer store giving tech support to the company in the price of equipment (computers) or services (internet) sold. Another option would be professional services that might include legal representation. Though most small businesses starting out cannot afford a lawyer on retainer, it is wise to seek out legal advice when it is necessary or research online with legalzoom.com.

7.0 Management and organization

The final aspect is how your company is organized and structured. Most small business owners will fill the position of CEO/president and work any new employees going forward under the appropriate position as they are filled.

In conclusion, a business plan can provide structure, organization, a road map and the best foot forward for your business. It is the best means of communicating and reminding, if only to yourself what you are wanting to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

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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.