For any business to succeed it needs to have a thoroughly constructed business marketing plan. This business plan must be developed with key data analysis and research carried out carefully. One of the areas most focused on in modern marketing is that of search engine optimisation or SEO for short. All marketing has to be based on a data-driven decision-making focus and understanding of what customers want. It also looks at where the market is going and how best to operate at the highest efficiency. These are all included in such planning. What can crafters looking to expand their business use in analytics to help them develop theirs?
A craft business plan is successful by using the following examples of data and information. Firstly, market research plays a vital role in deciding how best to formulate a plan for a crafter. Looking at demographics will enable the crafter to be able to shape what their target audience is. This covers a multitude of areas within that target audience such as their gender, their age, where they are located, how much they earn and other factors such as what they watch or listen to for leisure – all this information can play a huge part in forming your plan. These chunks of demographic data are combined with the study of market trends. Seeing these trends develop will provide the analytics to show the crafter what they should be focusing their product range on for the coming seasons and the sales that they bring in. Another useful element is looking at what competitors are producing and doing. Understanding what their price points are should enable the crafter to be able to focus on their own. This means that when crafters do produce work and put it up for sale, they will not be underselling their items compared to what others that are out there are retailing at.
If you have access to it, the data that you yourself have gathered about customers is of great value to you. You should be able to detect what buying patterns are being shown by your customers. A simple stock take for example will show what lines have performed best over others and how you should also be able to ascertain what are the seasonal favourites throughout the year. It should also give you the potential to see what upselling opportunities there are as you begin to build your craft business plan.
Don’t be afraid to gather feedback directly from people that buy from you. Maybe there is something that they particularly do not like about your operation, or conversely, something that they really do like. Knowing this enables you to integrate it into the plan so that you focus on it when you come to finalise how you are going to market overall. Using this data should also enable you to consider what new and adapted products are going to look like and where your focus should be when it comes to what you are going to produce in the future. In this way, you can return to the market selling lines that you are confident with in terms of getting a decent profit and return. This replaces the trial-and-error basis that you may have had when first starting out and exhibiting either at a fair or online. You can do this through the creation of either gathering anecdotal oral feedback or you could produce surveys both online and on the day of trade to give to customers for them to return. There is nothing wrong with offering a little incentive for people to complete the form and then either email or post it back to you.
Your own financial recordings should also be used. From your sales data, a plan can be drawn up as to when your optimum performance months are and when you are making the most of your money. This should enable you to learn exactly where and when you should produce and sell items. This is usually done through stocktake inventories and turnover rates. Armed with this data, you should then be able to see and build up a trading history throughout the year. Another thing that you could use as part of the basis of your craft business plan is where you have interacted with compliance and regulatory bodies about your long-term existence as a trader and crafter. Use this information to be aware of where you must seek out new licences to build a long-term strategy and also map out when these are required again.
A long-term goal that can be achieved using these systems and strategies is for you to be able to see what your continuous improvement will be. Regularly looking through data provided by SEO, traditional feedback and surveys plus physical stock takes and chats with accountants will enable you to draw up a long-term growth plan so that you know that you are operating when and where you should be. Then you can keep your focus on what customers want and what they are expecting of your products and where you are going to be so that they can purchase them.
As you can see, data is such an essential part of business and how it grows and operates that you cannot simply ignore it or its functions. As we have touched upon earlier, there is also a regulatory requirement to make sure that your business is healthy and financially sound so that should auditors come to inspect your accounting and financial dealings all should be in place. Data is not something to be taken lightly but it can be an extremely useful ally in your continued striving to be the best that you can be and to produce good quality products that people will want to buy. It will also show the thoroughness of your business and its success.