Friday, February 18, 2011

Marketing This Thing Part IV - strategy is not just for generals

Back to the basics of strategic marketing :

1. Identify an Opportunity -

look for holes in the market that might be opportunities to use our creative skills

At this point things like brainstorming, focus groups of creative peeps, talking to your current customers - there are great survey sites like and that you can use to ask your current customers questions before introducing something new or to find out what they are looking for.

Once you have customers it is a whole lot easier to sell new stuff to them than it is to sell to an entirely different kind of customer.

(I have used surveys a couple times and always offer some kind of freebie when sending something like this out - it is amazing how many people who have already purchased something from you will take the time to answer a short - I have a 3 question max - survey)

A few words about showing your early ideas to people - sometimes they will not be so receptive and sometimes you have to trust your gut with this stuff and totally ignore them.

When I found this drawer of old auto parts in hubby's shop and started talking 'locket', he thought I had lost my mind.

He said, "Cat, girls want to wear silver and gold and gemstones and stuff that is shiny and new."

but I was thinking ... well, maybe not all girls ...

2. Niche thinking makes this strategic marketing a whole lot easier because a. there is less competition b. it makes it easier to find the customers who will be attracted to us c. our stuff has a higher perceived value since we can position ourselves as an expert in a smaller field and d. we can charge more.

It's like the travel agent who specializes in cruises for college athletes (if there is such a travel agent) or the chiropractor who specializes in golfing injuries. Their success comes from the fact that they are not worried about leaving out 95% of the market - they are just focusing on being the go to girl/guy for this niche.

(and it totally helps if the travel agent is an ex-college jock and if the chiropractor plays golf because there will be a kind of passion and presence and energy from that that will be unique to them)

3. Strategic marketing is about fulfilling someone's emotional need with our stuff.

Marketing people will tell us that people buy stuff based on their emotions and those primary purchasing hot buttons are:


How are we solving some problem for other people around these needs?

4. Strategic marketing is about taking what you love and being smart and creative about making money with it.

No one can really teach us how to do this, because it will be unique to what we do but there are lots of incredibly clever people on Etsy doing all kinds of strategic thinking within competitive markets.

Littlebrownpen is an amazing photography shop that could be teaching strategy to generals in the Pentagon.

1. The passion they have for their subject jumps off their pages.

It is clear they have an amazing and developed skill set - composition, depth, perspective, technique - just gorgeous. They live in New Jersey (yay) but their hearts clearly reside in Paris.

2. They have chosen a subject that is not available to everyone with a camera.

(for example - if you are going to sell photos of flowers on Etsy, they will have to be some very special flowers and you will likely need some photographic techniques to set you apart from everyone else because everyone has a digital camera and access to flowers and by everyone else I mean your customers - also people probably don't want to buy pictures of your cat - if they like cats, they have their own cats to photograph

this is the same reason if you make jewelry and buy your supplies at AC Moore or Michaels or other places available to everyone your work is much more likely to look like everyone else's work)

3. They think in terms of how customers use their products.

Sometimes it is hard for people to see how a single photo or print they love would fit into their home.

People often have large wall spaces to fill and by offering the groupings they do by color I could see how customers (even those with no interest in Paris) could immediately see how this could work in their home and be excited to buy. It is, I think, simply brilliant.

They do alot of other smart things; based around the fact that they think their customers are smart, too.

They are a great example of makers creating things from their heart that people want to buy.

Now, we want to be creating our own brand and not copying anyone else's, but seeing someone else doing something really, really well can get us thinking of new ways of looking and thinking about our own work.

Traditional target market thinking doesn't always work for creative makers intent on exploring our own passions and some stuff we just have to make even though we know we will never be able to sell it, but by staying true to our own hearts and factoring in those "other people" that our business needs to thrive I truly believe we can create something totally freakin' amazing, real and make some money, too.

* failed opportunity print by the amazing Jenni Penni

Have a great weekend everyone - don't miss the last couple days of Mooza Design's totally fun bathroom door art giveaway here!


donauluft said...

All 4 parts marked for reading on sunday!!
Thanks cat!! said...

The last paragraph about making what we feel we won't sell is so key for me right now as I start to take my work in another direction. Again, I'm tired of chasing the trends and anxious to get back to what I love (and believing your marketing ideas will spark in the process).

Don't quit writing. I'm hooked :: lynn

Catherine Ivins said...

yes, getting back to what we love- I love that Lynn - thanks Viktoria- have a wonderful weekend!