OK, now strategic marketing is going to mean getting very close to the customer
(not close enough for any type of disease transference, but close enough that we maybe could benefit from a wintergreen tic tac before proceeding)
and it includes market research although hopefully no trips to the mall with clipboards trying to make eye contact with people who are suddenly very focused on the shiny, tile floors.
Most makers -
(I am thinking all, but there may be someone out there who for some strange reason most likely having to do with trends is out there making things they do not love)
who are making a living with their makings are selling things that they are passionate about - things that you and I may not love - but things that they think are freakin' amazing!
They have also either taken the time to figure out that there was a market for their makings and where that market is or they got really lucky.
(and I totally believe in luck, but only beginner's luck - which life has a way of bestowing on us once as a kick in the ass to get us going, after that our luck is kind of like our face at 40 - we've earned it)
I think successful business owners need to have a personal passion for their business beyond paying their mortgage.
A friend of ours has a house alarm installation business that he started after his own house was robbed. Early on he thought marketing to new home owners would be a smart idea and he got lists of them and did mailings to them, but what he found over time was that his primary customer was not a new home owner at all, it was someone whose house had just been robbed.
At first he felt kind of weird to directly start marketing to them (even though this was the reason he got into the business in the first place) but when he really thought about what he is selling which is safety and peace of mind, plus he offers people all kinds of free services and advice, he started talking to these people and letting them know what is available and talking to their neighbors and he is doing really, really well. It is sometimes hard to sell the solution to a problem to someone who has never had the problem.
And strategic marketing is all about solving a problem for your buyer. It helps to be thinking - what problem am I solving and who and where are the people with that problem? And the earlier in your creative business start up you think about this the better.
When I saw Etsy I fell in love hard and fast - the head over heels at first sight kind of love that could have left me barefoot, pregnant and with high credit card debt if I wasn't careful ... luckily I was.
I was already a greenie (although an imperfect and sometimes lazy one) and remaker of all things remakable and I knew in my heart that there was a segment of the market - a pretty untapped segment - of people like me who were thinking about the impact of the things they were buying and who also wanted stuff that was modern and different.
I knew this would be my niche. Modern eco for people like me was what I was thinking. People who wanted to feel good about the environmental impact of what they bought, but who still wanted to buy really cool stuff.
People who wanted to own and wear things that were different - things that made a statement about who they were and that made other people ask them - what is that?
(but in a good way, not in a skin rash - is that contagious? - kind of way - or at least that was what I was going for)
This - "people wear things to make a statement about who they are" - is something everyone who makes wearables can think about when developing their line or planning advertising.
Now, I could see right away that there was alot of jewelry on Etsy, but I did not see this as a bad thing.
Think of how all the car dealers and furniture stores group themselves together on highways.
It would be hard though if you were a Honda dealer right next to another Honda dealer so you need to be working uniquely from your heart and you will probably need to be selling in other places - certain types of art will probably always do much, much better at shows and shops where people can really see them and touch them and hold them and walk away with that art in their hands.
Strategic marketing 1. Opportunity Identification
(this is more than I really love my stuff and so will they)
We need to be seeking holes in the market that might be opportunities.
Double Click Ad Planner by Google is an awesome tool for some strategic thinking. It's free and based on the incredible amount of information Google collects from us on a daily basis probably very accurate.
We can use it in 2 ways:
1. by looking up a site's url and even better 2. we can search by audience where we can choose our own parameters
I LOVE to enter a site where I might want to sell my work or buy advertising, etc and then click around on the other sites the same people visited! It is addicting.
Checking out Etsy.com I can see that Etsy's average browser (and I say browser and not shopper and you will see why in a minute) is a female, 25-44 years old making $25K-$45K a year, with some college or a bachelor's degree living in the U.S.
The keywords they most frequently searched on the day I checked were: fabric, pioneer woman, land of nod, hancock fabrics, joann fabrics, ballard designs, I should add though that the most frequently searched keyword by far was "etsy" or some misspelled version of it -
other sites they visited that day include artfire, craftgossip, craftster, fabric.com, regretsy, twopeasinabucket (scrapbooking supplies) and firemountaingems.
So what does all this mean to us -
(other than the fact that alot of these viewers are makers, too based on the other sites they visited and the keywords they searched and this is ok because we sell to each other all the time)
well, the income levels tell us something about the upper price points that will likely sell well on Etsy (in general) but other than that I think most of us would find our general customer categories working within these profiles.
Now, this is once again getting way too long so I will continue this tomorrow with some specific things we can do. In the meantime if you have never played with the Double Click Ad Planner have fun thinking about the type of customer your work would attract and what kind of things they are looking for and what places they are looking.
* finger cuddle photo by Dancing Pancake Studio
* love is the new black print by The Love Shop