A Marketing Myth-Buster for Your Craft Business
When you’re running your own creative or craft business it’s hard not to get in a massive tangle with marketing. My first side hustle in times gone by was sourcing fair trade bags from a women’s co-operative in India and at that time I literally did not know what the word ‘marketing’ meant. In fact, I don’t even like the word marketing because it’s too intimidating. It would be better to replace it with “story-telling” instead, because that’s basically all that marketing is. You, telling your story, to someone else.
That’s why I’m so excited to be working with Creative Leicestershire on their Webinart program which is all about encouraging artists or folks wanting to start a craft business along on their way. I’m looking forward to mentoring a mix of illustrators, textile designers and painters over the next few months and I know they’ll have so much to teach me too.
If you’re struggling with marketing then I want you to know that it can actually be really simple. In this video I take apart three marketing myths, all of which I used to believe, that might be holding you back.
Marketing Myth One: If My Work is Good Enough It’ll Sell Itself
As creatives we often think that if we’ve made something really good then people will buy it. We take how “good” it is as a mark of whether we’ll make any sales or not.
We put our really good thing online on our website and wait for the orders to come flooding in. But they don’t come - and we’re left despondent. No one seems to know or care about what we’ve made and we might start to believe that maybe we aren’t good enough, letting our work tail off, or even giving up altogether.
The problem here is that the expectation we started out with wasn’t right. It’s actually in our job description to go out and find customers and put ourselves in front of them, not to expect the customers just to turn up by themselves. Finding customers is absolutely our work and it has to be intentional. It’s as important a job as designing and making excellent things because we can make the best, most beautiful stuff in the universe, but if no one even knows it exists then we’re never going to get anyone else to fall in love with it.
Now, I get that when you make things it can be really hard to put them out there into the world because you care so much and because you’ve invested so much time and love. Try to detach yourself emotionally a little from the whole situation and see showing your work as a next, logical step rather than something to base your worth on for the next decade.
If no one can see my work, they can’t fall in love with it. If they can’t fall in love with it they can’t buy it. Time to show your work.
This brilliant little book by Austin Kleon is a must-own for any creative who’s nervous about putting their work out there or doesn’t know where to start.
Marketing Myth Two: I Need to Do Dodgy, Fake Sales Patter to Do Marketing
You might know that I quite like de-bunking the parts of creative business that most creatives aren’t fans of.
Again, if I think about myself starting out, trying to sell those first fair-trade bags, I just cringe. I felt that I had to hoodwink potential customers into buying things. I thought that everyone could be a potential customer instead of focusing on the ones who might really care and as a result I didn’t know what to say, or who to say it to.
The best thing you can know about your business and be able to articulate is WHY you do it. For me, I love and feel inspired by creative people and I want the world to see how good they are and for their craft to be discovered. Do you know why you run your business? And are you looking outwards to be serving the needs or desires of other people with that ‘why’?
Finding your ‘why’ isn’t usually a straightforward, thirty second task. It comes with time. If you have no idea why you do what you do then I recommend listening to this podcast by Kayte Ferris where she’ll walk you through how you can start to find it.
Once you know WHY you’re running your business it puts everything else into perspective. You can make decisions more easily and you can speak truly from the heart about what you do. Being totally unapologetic for what you do and being yourself won’t appeal to everyone, but that’s ok. You don’t need to appeal to everyone. It’s going to get you much further to be true to yourself and connect with a smaller group of people who absolutely “get it”, rather than tons of people who aren’t really that bothered. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s ok. That’s actually good.
The idea of having a smaller group of dedicated audience has now become widely shared across the internet, but it started here, with this article by Kevin Kelly.
Marketing Myth Three: Marketing My Craft Business Is Not as Important as Making
Probably, deep down, you don’t actually believe this. You just know that you’re good at making and a bit unsure about marketing. So you might be tempted to ignore it or gloss over it.
You might need to spend up to 25% of your time actually just telling people about what you do and putting it in front of them. I still believe there’s always a point to creating things, that’s there’s inherent value in it, whether anyone sees them or not. But if you want to build a business out of it, then you need customers. And the way to get customers is to find them and show them things. That takes more time than you think.
You also might be stuck just knowing where on earth to start, so always start with your customer. Where they go, what they like, who they are and everything else that’s possible to know about them. Then you can plan every action of your story-telling and showing up around them and where they’re hanging out.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of telling your story and being completely and utterly yourself. And if you still feel stuck, just email me here. I’d love to have the chance to try and unravel it with you.