Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Problem With Selling Just One Thing or when the Wednesday Whines post gets deleted somehow

Now, you know I like to whine on Wednesdays even though it has long been my goal to have a positive attitude at least 99% of the time and to be the kind of person who sees the glass as half full, makes lemonade out of lemons, doesn't cry over spilled milk, yadda, yadda, yadda ...

- although this will probably never happen in case you are holding your breath, waiting for this newer, better version of me to appear.

(you're not though, right? please don't - I don't know CPR and Olive is napping)

but this week's post seems to have vanished, so here's something I wrote a while back and for some reason never posted, can't quite remember why.

"If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said a faster horse." Henry Ford

Back in the days when Henry Ford was "the man" he learned of a process for turning wood scraps, which he was loaded with from the production of his Model T's, into charcoal briquets.

He built a charcoal plant and Ford Charcoal, later renamed Kingsford Charcoal, was born. Today, Kingsford is the leading manufacturer of charcoal,

not sure how the Ford automobile is doing these days,

but you can see that selling something that the company wasn't originally intending to sell worked out pretty well for them.

(now charcoal has a big carbon footprint and not one any of us want to be stepping into, but the example of repurposing scraps and diversification is a good one)

Both my Etsy shops started out looking like jewelry shops - in that I mean that they were stocked with jewelry.

But in my mind they were never jewelry shops- they were a cork shop and a magnet shop,

so it was easy for me to diversify them a bit into housewears (stuff your house wears). I do not sell alot of housewears and I do not list alot of housewears, but it is a great benefit on Etsy where categories and labels are crucial to getting your work noticed that you diversify into other categories.

When someone buys a locket from me, it could have been that little magnetboard or something totally different that drew them into my shop.

This is also why I list alot of items even though I have certain items that are bestsellers and some things that never sell - because it may be that little item that never sells that drew that customer into my shop in the first place.

(note this "lots of stuff strategy" is an Etsy strategy and not necessarily a good business strategy in general)

They may buy the owl necklace (yes, owls are still hot - sorry), but there are 6486 (yes, I checked) owl necklaces on Etsy.

It may have been the gnome necklace (127) that caught their attention in the first place.


I have heard alot of advice given to new sellers about having no more than 2 pages of items for sale - that customers never get past that point in your Etsy shop and I would agree that most of my sales come from the first 2 pages - but it could be something else entirely that drew that customer in there.

(not that you need to be putting dozens and dozes of items into your shop, but maybe a couple things in another category can help, even a sub-category like earrings when your normally sell necklaces)

The other great example from the Henry Ford story is the idea of using your by-products to diversify. If you are making something you are usually also making something else (the by-product of your making) and what can you do with that?

And even the non tangible things that you have collected in the process of creating your business could have a value to someone else. The knowledge and systems that you have developed may have a value that someone else is willing to pay for.

Making cars and making charcoal seems like a strange fit - there may be some "strange fit" stuff in our creative businesses that we have overlooked.

And speaking of by-products I should add that Olive AKA the pampered pooch is on a new diet - food not made from the usual "not for human consumption" by-products, but one that is producing a new kind of by-product.

Blue Buffalo enhances their dry food with dark brown pellets they call Life Source bits, a scary name that makes me think that Olive is actually eating the souls of other dogs and Olive must think this, too, because she has been eating around these little pellets and depositing little trails of them all over the floor.

She has never been a fussy eater, but more of a canine garbage disposal, so I am wondering just what it is that they actually put in these little bits- other than the "precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants" that they advertise.

Olive is pretty smart- if she is leaving these bits as a by-product there must be a reason- I have been throwing them out for the squirrels.

(probably another reason for my super-squirrel backyard population explosion)

I did try grinding them up to get some of the "precise blend of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants" into her system that way - but am wondering - can a dog's eating habits really be changed (thinking about letting her go back to the little Caesars- she really loves them) or is it built into her DNA - like the way she likes to roll around in dead things and attempt to impregnate the beach towels ...

5 comments:

madder root said...

I love reading your posts. They always make me laugh out loud and contemplate at the same time. -Christina

sheila at shecological said...

I love the way you think Cat! Somehow I always feel more uplifted by your whining than by other people's preaching! Thank you!

Also, I just started giving my cats the same brand of food and they do the same thing! The woman at petsmart said that it had blueberries in it and she doubted that cats were interested in fruit! I don't think you can change their nature and that is probably a good thing.

Adia Photography said...

Please write a book!!! Kella and I were talking about this a while back...
Your writing style is so fun to read and you would do such an awesome job and it would be... hmm.. Diversifying :O)

donauluft said...

Your mental leaps are really inspiring! ..Don´t stop whining!
I thought about having a christmas item in my shop, your post encourages me, to try it....

Catherine Ivins said...

Thanks guys, yes Sheila I think I am going back to her fave food again.

Thank you Amy- love your pictures BTW! Maybe if I could get a firm commitment, just something quick and easy and legally binding, from both you and Kella for 29,775 copies each, I could find a publisher, make a million dollars and retire from Etsy ... and get Olive back on those expensive little Cesars again.. xo