What’s there not to love about crafted products which are of high quality, locally made and totally unique? Knowing that someone has poured their heart and soul and a good chunk of time into creating a distinctive brand encourages people to pay a little bit more for it. Crafters themselves know that their work is high quality and will benefit and bring pleasure to others; so, how to get the message out there?
Incidentally, there is nothing like human contact and face-to-face encouragement, so maybe this is a good place to start. Talking to fellow crafters at craft fairs or at your local arts quarter or hub is invaluable. Making a special visit to someone else’s studio or workshop and chatting with them about their business; we are all passionate about the products we have created and the crafting community is a friendly bunch, keen to share advice and simply to tell our stories. Each business is unique, but there are often tips that can be gleaned from hearing others’ journeys, contacts which can be made and encouragement to be taken to heart. Failing a personal visit, connections made via social media groups help us to garner invaluable insights from other crafters who are further down the path.
There are also numerous blogs and articles online which offer advice about starting up small businesses and marketing your goods. We thought we’d also share some tips here on other things you can do to get people to “fall in love with your brand”.
1. Build relationships with your customers
A brand which customers fall in love with revolves around the customers themselves. Without these, our businesses are nothing. So, do everything you can to build up mutual respect between your clientele and yourself. If you sell face-to-face, at craft fairs or within your own retail space, you will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with your customers. For those who have studios open to the public, for example, if you create handmade ceramics in the UK, you are able to take it a step further as you invite people into your space, either to watch a demonstration or to participate in workshops.
2. Make sure that potential customers know who you are and what you stand for
Friendly customer service is a large part of a good reputation, upon which foundation you can then build your business. In an age of anonymity and our constantly busy lives, our yearning for human connection is arguably greater than it has been at any other time over the past few centuries. This is where small family businesses win hands down over large corporations. You have a story, you deal directly with customers yourselves, your business is locally rooted and you often have far greater ethical and environmental care standards than any large company. These are all things to shout loudly about! They are huge strengths that can be made much of. If you have a website, write the “about” section to your best advantage, emphasising how your business began, how it is expanding and what your vision is. If you can, use first names for yourself and your staff so that potential customers know who might be at the end of an email or phone call. Some pictures of your workspace as well as your products, maybe including a friendly dog or cat, will all add to that feel of a personal touch.
3. Listen to what your customers say to you (and about you)
Another important aspect of marketing your brand well is taking on board customer feedback. This sounds obvious, but may not always be easy if it’s something you’d rather not hear. While you will always need to filter bad feedback, once your initial reactions have subsided, it really is worthwhile sifting through a less-than-complimentary comment. There may be something useful in it, and, with a little wisdom and distance, some useful threads can often be disentangled and tweaks made to your brand or marketing.
As mentioned earlier, a great way to engage with customers and increase your profile is to invite them into your workspace. This not only offers an excellent way of demonstrating your skills but also gives good opportunities to chat about your brand, what your customers like about it and what they might like to see in the future. Textile workshops offer great opportunities for this, as, with a warm drink and maybe a biscuit or two, participants will enjoy the sense of community as well as learn a new craft. Pottery throwing may not quite adapt to this model, but it is a fascinating and mesmerising activity to watch, and open days where people can see the potter at work, and visually observe how lumps of clay are turned into beautiful handmade ceramics are sure to attract customers.
4. Answer a need.
For your brand to really take off, it has to fill a gap or solve a problem in a way which appeals to your customer base. Handmade soap or bar shampoo will be a hit with those who want to use more natural, chemical-free products on their skin. Handmade ceramics can be marketed as customised wedding gifts, as well as beautiful presents which will bring delight every time they are used; a chunky mug in tones reminiscent of the sea out of which to drink your morning tea, or a stunning vase in heathery tones which brings back memories of a restful holiday. (Sometimes, your customers might not even be aware that they have a certain need – it’s down to you to bring that awareness.)
Handmade, ethically sourced and locally produced craft items are good. Arguably, as we become ever more digitalised and impersonal, local family businesses offering high-quality products with longevity may well become more sought after. You are doing a great thing; have confidence in yourself and your product!
N.b. If you are considering holding workshops and demonstrations, you will need to ensure you have the correct insurance in place; pick up the phone and we can talk you through the best deal for your unique needs. If you would rather email, we endeavour to respond within twenty-four hours. We too are a family-run business and value our clients greatly.