5 questions to ask ourselves when launching a new thingamajig

lori portka's bracelet by polarity
You may have noticed by now I love the word thingamajig.

I especially love that it covers just about every thing makers could possibly make and I love that Google and Websters think it's a real word, too.

(maybe it actually is)

Anyhoo, I am about to launch a new thingamajig and thought I would share a little bit of my thinking that went into this process.

5 questions to ask ourselves:

1. why are we making this?

"Why" is a really important question. I truly, truly believe that it is the passion in people that draws us to them and draws us to the things they have created - our energy seeking out energy that makes us feel good - that makes us feel more alive.

The answer to why we do what we do will never be about the money because there are many things we can do to make money, many more sure-fire things, like those that involve paychecks and 401Ks - why are we making this and why should anyone care? Artists can't make art for the money - we will lose our hearts and not make any money that sticks anyway.

2. who is this for and why will they want it?

Our market is much more important than our marketing. It is no fun to make something we really love making and then have to spend all our time trying to figure out how to sell it. Take the time to think about who is going to buy and why they would want to first. Stand in our customer's shoes -

(luckily for me my customers are not so much into 5 inch spikes and if yours are, then yes, you will have some sore arches, but you will have to do this anyway)

who will buy our thingamajig and how will buying our thingamajig make them feel? Is this how they want to feel?

3. what are other makers doing? how is our thingamajig better and different?

When I started fabricating magnetic jewelry I googled and searched to make sure no one was doing anything similar (they weren't ... ah, the good old days) - since we are looking for a need to be filled, it is important to take a look around and make sure there actually is a need.

We are not competing with who it looks like we are competing with. I do not compete with other cork jewelry makers with my cork jewelry because it is not like people are waking up and saying to themselves "I must have some cork jewelry!" - I still can't understand why this doesn't happen, but cork jewelry is not a vanilla latte folks - sniffle. 

I do not compete with jewelry makers with my magnetic jewelry because no one has my story and my passion and my originality - no one can do what I do. No one can do what you do either. 

What we are really competing with are the gazillions of distractions that vie for our customer's attention. 

We have to be worth their time.

I once developed a whole line of plexiglass jewelry and, right before I launched, an artist wrote a new book called Plexi is Sexy (which I can't find now in a google search, wth) - with such similar and such better stuff, I shelved my launch and gave the stuff away for Xmas. Now, I google and search first. Don't create the same old, same old. And don't do something someone else is already doing better than you are.

(and by 'don't do what someone else is doing better' I am talking about your thingamajig here not your skill set, obviously there will always be someone with a better skill set which is probably ok, because different is better than better anyway)

4. how will we sell it? I do not believe that we have to make art that we intend to sell, but here we are talking about a thingamajig we intend to sell.

If we want to make money with our thingamajig we need to put some thought into strategy - where is our customer looking? How will we be where they are looking? How will what they see when they look at us make them feel? How can we make what they see reflect our 'why' so they connect with us?

Let's say we create a very popular thingamajig and people become rabid, loyal fans (yes, we want them foaming at the mouth and drooling - an ugly customer is a happy customer folks).

What will those rabid, loyal fans tell themselves about themselves by being our loyal, rabid fans?

5. what is our goal with this thing? This is different for everyone. And it is perfectly ok to update this from time to time, but we need little end zones so we can pivot when things go wrong and when things go well we can make time for happy dances around the studio, high fives with our peeps (in my case Olive, whose high fives are more like 'give me your paw', but I know what she is thinking with this) and chances to haul out the good liquor.

(please send me your corks)


DancingMooney said...

I can save my corks for you, do you need corks Cat? We have a bottle of wine or two or three over the course of the week, I never figured they would add up very fast, but winter is coming so I'm phasing out beer (calories) for the vino. lol.

I am working on getting into that place of why I do what I do. I have always known why, but it's becoming clearer and more focused for me now, as a business model.

Your blog and thought process has been a big help for me too, so keep doing what you do, and thank you for it. :)

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

Catherine Ivins said...

Janell - we think the same - beer/summer, wine/winter -
my weekend was mostly cleaning - I think yours was, too? my sister who arrives tomorrow is very, very neat and organized! such pressure! ha!

Yes, I think the clearer we get on the whys, the clearer the what, where and whens show up ... xo

KJ said...

I need to figure out why it is I read your blog Cat, other than the pure pleasure. I am a maker but a rather poor seller. Nonetheless, I am not completely blind to the need to sell some of the things I make.

I have answered most of these questions at one time or other. Although, I have to admit I have never every googled what I do. Heck, google wasn't even a dream when I began playing with beads. I do care about what other makers do which is why I decided to incorporate bead weavings into all of my makings. It is what I love best. It is not something there is a lot of competition on.

Enjoy your sister's visit.

Catherine Ivins said...

makers don't have to be sellers Kath - there are many other ways to share our gifts, but I know you know all of that already - I think you read this blog because this is your tribe here .... xo :)