My first day of grade 9 was terrifying. I was too skinny, really short and younger than everyone else. Speaking of everyone else, wow, there were so many kids! All I remember was a sea of bodies all dressed in different styles and hanging out in so many little groups. It was overwhelming. Of course as time went on I figured it out, I weeded out who I liked, who liked me, and what style worked for me. It did take time though.
Starting to sell your work is like going into grade 9. There is a sea of customers and some will like you and some will not and at the beginning it is overwhelming. Just like high school it is up to you to find the sweet spot of who you want to hang out with and who wants to hang out with you. Trying to be friends with everyone means that you’ll waste a lot of time on some people who truly don’t care about you, and short change those who want to be with you.
In business terms this is called finding your target market, or your right people. All it means is hanging out with the people who like you and your work. These are the people who will support you and buy your work. In high school trying to hang with the wrong crowd just meant loneliness, in business hanging with the wrong crowd means no money. That sucks.
Hanging out with your right people means that you make the work that your fans like. You go to the shows they go to. You place your work in the stores they shop at. You hang out in the same social media places, you stop by the same blogs, you place yourself in their line of vision all the time. And when they like you, and they see you, they buy from you. If you try to hang out with people who are totally uninterested in your product then you are just wasting your time and resources.
So how do you find these people? My first tip is that you sell to who you are. If you are a 40 something conservative stay at home mom, you aren’t selling to 20 something skateboarders.
The best advice is to write up a profile of your ideal customer. Imagine sitting down for a cup of coffee with her and having a conversation. Give her a name. Now start detailing out exactly who she is and what she does. If you know a lot about her, then you’ll know where to go and really hang out with her so that she has the opportunity to give you money.
Grab yourself a notepad and answer these questions.
- What is your ideal customers’ gender?
- Age range?
- Do they have kids?
- What is their education level?
- What does she/he do for a living? Do they sit at a desk? Do they use a keyboard a lot? (charm bracelets are very annoying on a keyboard). Do they dress up for work? Do they wear a uniform?
- What’s their approximate income?
- Where does she shop? (do they like craft shows? Farmers markets? Do they shop online or just browse?) make a list of shops.
- Who is the product designed for? You may make kids stuff, but kids don’t buy. Parents buy, grandparents buy more, especially luxury items.
- Where do they live? Rural, small towns, suburbs, urban centres. A specific geographic location?
- How much are they willing to spend? You need to know their buying habits. Would $10 for a bar of handmade soap make them flinch?
- What magazines does she read?
- What social media does she use? Professionals use LinkedIn, musicians are still using MySpace. What blogs does she read? Why?
The more you can narrow down who she is, the more likely you are to find yourself in the same places she is.
Remember, she likes you. You like her. In high school it meant a lunch buddy. Now it means money in the bank.