Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Business Chat - One Word Challenge

This weeks topic was supposed to be Business Registration, however I’ve decided to put that off for a bit because something happened at my craft show last weekend that I think is far more important.

Three fellow vendors asked me to critique their booth.

Each of these vendors is relatively new to the show scene (less than 4 years) and each had been in business for a couple of years (2 – 6 years). All were wondering why their sales weren’t higher, why it was so difficult to get people to stop, why people just kept walking past.

If you are a crafter who doesn’t do, or isn’t planning to do, craft shows do not stop reading here. This is about attracting customers be they in the retail world, online, or wholesale buyers.

Put on your customer hat for a minute and think of the aisle at your craft show. (Or the online marketplace you are in). Why would someone stop at your booth? What are you doing to attract customers?

To attract customers you have to stand out from the crowd.

Standing out means having a clear brand. It means having a story. It means having a message. It means having a Unique Selling Proposition (USP, we’ll be getting to this later).

Creating a brand, a story and your own USP is a long and daunting process that is going to take us some time to get into. A brand is about creating customer expectations and placing a mental image into a customers mind. When I say the word “Tiffany” what do you think of? How about “Nike”? Now say your own company name, what do you see in your mind? If you don’t have a nice clear image you can bet that your customers doesn’t either.

So I want to begin this series with one simple exercise. It’s the One Word Challenge.

I want you to decide on One Word that you want to own. This is a word that you keep in mind when you make your work, when you design your marketing materials, when you build your booth, when you create your online store, when you do anything with your business. It is a word that you don’t need to have on signs because a customer should automatically feel it.

If you want to own a word like luxury, then buying booth decorations at the Dollar Store might not be the best choice. If your word is something like peaceful then dressing in tie-dye would be a bad idea. If your word is organic then a website in neon green and purple isn’t appropriate.

What I found with my three colleagues last weekend in every case the word that I felt in each booth was “chaos”. This is not a good feeling and it’s not a feeling that would make me stop as a customer. In each case they hadn’t yet defined the essence of what they did and so they threw in a little of everything not only in their work but in their display. As a customer strolling down an aisle, or cruising around online, it’s too much effort to dig around to see what you are really about when the person next door is giving me a nice clear message.

Pick up your favourite pen and notebook. Start scribbling. Grab your thesaurus. Think. What is your word?

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