Monday, 19 August 2013

Monday maker... Selling your wares

So you read Anna's blog last week and you've mastered your craft & have produced something that can be sold to the discerning general public?

So now what? Well you are only 20% of the way there, now you have to do all the preparation that goes into selling your product.

Firstly, you have to think about the channels you are going to sell your product through - B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer). We're B2C (at the moment, we are looking in to providing some of our gifts to local businesses to sell). The nature of our handmade pieces mean that we are usually unable to fulfil the large bulk order nature of B2B.

Once you've decided which channel, or in fact indeed both channels, you are going to concentrate on it's time to do your market research. Find out if anyone else is doing something similar, talk to them (most people are happy to provide you some advice), talk to people you know and have them talk to people about what they need / are looking for in a product like yours.

Firstly - don't always choose people you know! Ask a group of people who already meet at regular times to provide honest feedback on your products - church groups, WI, Mummies coffee meetings / Toddler groups. Make it as simple as possible for them to provide you feedback - a questionnaire (provide pens / pencils with your details on just incase they 'walk away' with them). Make yourself stand away from them so you don't jump in to defend any negative comments - take on board all feedback and use it to fine tune your product.

Secondly - USE the data! Don't think 'well they obviously didn't get it, my friends tell me it's great...'. Analyse the data and put it into practice. This will help you fine tune your product to sell.

Thirdly - Don't forget to use online resources, it's a global market these days and people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other networks are all sat out there waiting to give you their opinion!

Use your market research data to guide you towards your next step, preparing to sell.

Before you even start to think about your website, market stall, shop(?) you need selling materials - images, text (sometimes called 'copy'), costs (so that you can work out prices), and a basic start on logistics: a budget, an idea of postage costs - including any wrapping, insurance, a company identity (your 'brand' should reflect your values as well as your product), a company number, all in all the basics of starting any company.

We've already covered taking decent product photographs, decent copy and insurance in our Teacup Tuesday blogs - for more information just browse through the links on the right!

Like Anna's blog last week - if you're not starting your project in a 'clean kitchen' then you are going to struggle later on. Have all your images, copy, prices, logos and selling thoughts clearly laid out before starting up your selling medium.

Market / craft stalls - Invest in a table (they're not always provided and you don't want to be caught short), lay it out with your products before the event. Play with different layouts - ask your friends / neighbours / focus group what they think of your display. Make sure you have marketing materials to hand for the event, we usually run out of business cards / bookmarks / flyers - sometimes people don't buy on the day but they take away our marketing materials to share with others and to have to hand when they are next at a computer.

Websites - You don't have to create a website from scratch (OK we did but I'm a nerd). There are plenty of websites out there that cater for crafters. If you don't want your own .com or web address then consider or - these online market places cater for the small maker market. They are also well known so some of the hard task of drawing people to your website is done for you. The downside being that there are probably 100 people doing something similar and it's your job to make your product stand out! Otherwise, take the plunge and make your own website. Again, do your market research first and choose the right template / service provider for you. It's hard to purchase the correct template and then find out that they don't provide you the flexibility for your brand's colour scheme or the ability to add a shopping cart!

So once you've done your research, built your selling platform & prepared yourself for launch - it's crunch time. You launch but you need to let everyone know all about your company & it's fantastic new product. We use social & national media for this, we post up flyers around the county, we hand out business cards when we are out and about, we talk about what we do when we're out, we live, eat and breathe our company.

Start a Facebook page, get a Twitter account & follow people, use Instagram, contact your local newspaper / radio station and tell them YOUR story, sign up for the free trials of PR & media agencies. WORK IT! Start a email list & build it - use LinkedIn, Pinterest, and craft forums. Interact with people, let them know who you are and what you do.

The wider you cast your net the more people will know about you & potentially you may see more sales because of your hard work.

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