Turn Your Hobby into a Moneymaking Business

CIn the course of this workshop you've transformed your craft into a business, you've set prices for your wares, and you've found places to sell them. What's left to do? Marketing. Marketing your product is crucial to success. And it doesn't have to be time-consuming or costly. In this step, you'll learn how to get the word out about your business and establish the right promotion plan for you and your product. Each of the sections below details a strategy for effective marketing.

Let People Know about Your Crafts
Many artisans rely on simple, down-to-earth marketing techniques that work surprisingly well. Communicating with people and giving them real information about your products or services, real benefits and outstanding customer service are low-cost techniques that work.

  • Engage in off-hours marketing. Make sure that you're always armed with business cards or brochures. Remember, if you don't promote your business, who will? You never know when you'll be introduced to someone new, so keep a stash of cards at all times. If a new introduction includes mention of your business, great! If not, work it in. You should not let the person you met depart before you place one of your business cards in her hand.
  • Spread the word. When you're out with friends or business acquaintances, you have a great opportunity to discuss your business. Perhaps not all of your friends and acquaintances know what your business is all about. Some of them may not buy from you, but they may know people who can use your product. Make sure that you keep them filled in on what you're doing so that they can help spread the word.
  • Increase the Perceived Value of Your Product
    Selling your product at a higher price is what most people associate with increasing its perceived value, and it's true that many people assume that the higher-priced product is better. However, there are additional ways to increase the perceived value of your services or products:

  • You can offer a small sample item that takes little time to make but is indicative of your larger product line. This increases the perceived value because people think that you're confident in your product, so it must be good.
  • Including testimonials about your products in your ad copy or sales materials increases their perceived value because you have actual proof of other people's positive experiences with your product. Testimonials can be as simple as a sentence or a short paragraph. New business owners want to be on the alert for positive comments from their customers and should collect them to use in their copy. If you do this, be sure to get customers' permission first.
  • Trumpet the features of your products in advertising copy and sales materials. If you only use high quality bee's wax in your handmade candles, let potential customers know! Keep in mind that people love products or services that solve their problems. Describe how you can solve customers' problems.
  • Give people a strong guarantee. This shows that you stand behind your products.
  • Get your product endorsed by a local or national celebrity. After all, what famous person would want their name associated with a poor product? Getting such an endorsement is more feasible than you think, but you won't know unless you try contacting some of them.

Avoid the Need to Please
Many new business owners catch a very serious bug. It's called "the need to please." You catch the bug from your own misguided sense that when you spend an inordinate time with a needy customer, you're doing a good thing. It makes you a slave to people who take advantage of your good nature and willingness to please your customers. Oftentimes, by stating in your brochure that your prices can change according to the specifics or that rush and change fees may apply, you'll forego any assumptions by customers that you're at their beck and call free of charge. If customers make demands beyond the initial agreement -- such as asking for commissioned items to be delivered early, increasing an order or requiring changes or modifications -- be polite but firm that these changes will result in fees or price increases.

Earn Money by Crafting Exercise 4:
Successful home business owners know that the best form of marketing -- and the easiest -- is through word of mouth. Your most important contacts will be people in your day-to-day life. Teachers, fellow club and organization members, local business owners, neighbors and friends can offer the inexpensive -- and critical -- viral marketing you need to get your business off the ground. A friend could recommend your services for an upcoming event, an administrator for a local school might ask you to join the line-up for their yearly craft fair or a local organization may ask you to donate one of your products for a charitable auction or give-away.

Make a list of all of the groups and organizations you belong to (or have in the past) and individuals you keep in touch with on a regular basis. Once you've created your list, be sure to make a comment next to the name or organization writing details that may be useful to your business. Does this organization host large events, hold auctions or bazaars or organize benefits? Or, if it's a personal contact, do they sit on the school board, PTA or organize corporate events at work? You may need to do some research to find out these details. This is time well spent.

By jotting down key facts about each individual or group, you'll be able to use this list as a guide when creating targeted promotional mailers, marketing by phone or by word-of-mouth. While marketing to larger groups may offer the most exposure, a personal acquaintance recommending your craft to, say, a bride-to-be looking for wedding favors or an event planner looking for unique gifts for a large event has more impact for less effort on your part.

Focus your efforts by creating a short list of your top three marketing contacts. Every month review your list and make sure you have been keeping on top of those who can affect your business most directly. These questions will help:

  • Is this person or group up-to-date on your latest products and offerings?
  • Are they holding any upcoming meetings you should attend?
  • Are there any upcoming events or seasonal holidays for which they'll need products like yours?
  • Is there a preferential price list for their referrals you can put in place for a limited or unlimited time?
  • Have you asked them if they know of anyone else who might be interested in your products?

Adapted with the permission of Alpha Books, Barbara Arena

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