Successful businesses research the marketplace first and then design products that will sell in that market. Not to sound too grim but if you want to open and close your craft business in less than a year, approach this whole proposition from the opposite direction by developing your craft product first and then looking for customers.
Look to the Basics
The law of infomercials: I know an infomercial producer. Ugh, I know. However, the law of the infomercial gives a good clue as to what motivates people to buy. According to my producer buddy, for his target audience, the motivation boils down to two things: money and appearance.
Just about all successful infomercials show you either how to improve your appearance (weight loss, new hair, better skin, etc.) or how to make money through self-employment. What to take away from this example? You have to first decide how and where you want to sell your craft product. Then key in on what motivates the customers who purchase in that type of venue. Using this information,you then design your product line.
I’m not saying you should completely abandon your basic design aesthetic or switch to another type of craft discipline. What you need to do is turn your ideas around, shake ‘em until they fall into place and mold your product ideas into items that will fly out the door – in your particular market.
- Stay true to the four basic needs: They are love, money, protection and success. If your craft business fulfills one or two basic needs, you’re halfway home.
Here’s a very broad example: jewelry fulfills love (wearing accessories shows self-love or it can be gifted love), money (I have enough money to buy these fabulous hand crafted emerald earrings) and success (I have a good job, therefore I can wear nice things or my personal favorite – I work hard, I deserve it!).
How many times have you rationalize buying something you really didn’t need using the same approach? I know I have, way too often. Your job as a craft business owner? Apply the same thought process to your area of craft expertise to hone in on what you can produce that will motivate your potential customer to crack open that creaky wallet and buy.
Do Your Research
- Find out where craft products are selling: Start locally. Check out what retail shops and other venues market your type of craft. Go back to the same shops a few times to see what craft items are moving and which are sitting forlorn on the discount rack. As your business grows, move into the regional and national market using the same tactic.
- Make note of the selling price of similar crafts: Price and speed are two major concerns for any crafter. Speed counts. If you can only make one or two craft items a day, will you be able to sell them for a high enough price to support your financial goals?
- Find out if your art or craft has hit saturation point: For example, I recently attended a craft show where 80% of the exhibitors made jewelry. Most was quite lovely but with that type of competition, the jewelry is going to have sing and dance from the display case to stand out in the crowd.
- My jewelry designs had better rock if I plan to make any craft show holiday sales.
- Assuming I design for women, I know from prior research (research is an ongoing process) that women like to copy celebrity or famous designer looks.
- How can I tap into this market? One possibility is to gear jewelry designs around future fashion trends instead of creating a generic line of gemstone and precious metal jewelry.
- Where can I get ideas? I don’t have a crystal ball but I can keep a close eye on garments and jewelry going down the runways during Fall Fashion Week.
- Working from this perspective, create your own jewelry line and have fashion magazine photo layouts showing similar jewelry designs framed and hung in your booth.
- Maybe emphasize that this celebrity or that celebrity wears the same type of jewelry (have pictures).
What does this tell me if I’m a jewelry designer?
The worst thing a business owner can do? Tailor a product line around what they personally like or prefer to make. The majority of your customer base may not feel the same way. Be amenable to making changes to stay current with any shift in your market’s buying patterns. And always keep in mind the 3 R’s: the Right product to the Right person at the Right time.