Do you know who your customer is? Do you know their tastes and shopping preferences? Do you know when and where they like to shop? Being able to identify who, and identify with, your customer will help you to plan an effective marketing strategy.
There are six types of potential customer who browse the hand made selling internet sites.
The “buying only” customer
The “relationship” customer
The impulse buyer (that’s me)!
The bargain hunter
The Hand Made supporter
Let’s look at these customers more closely. (Please note that these are generalisations – there’s always potential customers who don’t fit the profile).
1. The Buying Only customer doesn’t have a shop of their own. They may not make regular purchases on hand made sites and probably don’t frequent the forums often either.
Positive point: they are here because they like to shop.
Negative point: it is difficult to build an on-line relationship with this customer.
2. The customer that you have a relationship with (by that I mean you are on chatting terms) is usually a seller too. This customer may be a familiar name in the forums and on other promo sites.
Positive point: this customer is easy to reach through forums, chat rooms and promotions.
Negative point: selling may be more of a priority with this customer than buying.
3. The Impulse Buyer may be shopping for a variety of reasons: boredom, the urge to spend money, saw it – liked it, chatted with you and liked you.
Positive point: anything might catch their eye, your item could be in the right place at the right time.
Negative point: they don’t linger long and rarely make a repeat purchase from the same shop.
4. The Collector is looking for something specific – it may be a particular style or craft.
Positive point: If you have what the collector is looking for then you have found the perfect customer.
Negative point: collectors avoid consumables such as soap, food and clothing.
5. The Bargain Hunter is looking for – yes, you guessed it – a bargain. Sales items, novelties, low cost jewellery are attractive to this customer.
Positive point: good news if you make very affordable items.
Negative point: bad news if you are a high-spec artisan.
6. Have you taken the “hand made pledge”? This customer has and will buy because they support hand made.
Positive point: if you are an applied artist making hand crafted items it’s all good.
Negative point: if you are selling vintage or supplies this is not your customer.
Of course, your customers will be a mixture of all of these. How many of these profiles do you fit into? I am no’s 2, 3, 4 and 6.
Here's a short exercise for you to do: Take a couple of minutes to visualise the type of person who might buy your craft. It’s easy to say, EVERYONE but that doesn’t help to define your market/target audience. Think about their age, sex, ethnicity, social class and background. Do you think your customer is just like you? Are they the people you WANT to sell to? Are there other types of people you would like to reach?
Now think about the types of people who wouldn’t buy your craft and the reasons WHY they don’t buy your craft. It doesn’t matter if you are making assumptions, you won’t offend anyone if you keep this in your head!
Researching your existing customers. OK. This is going to take a bit longer than the previous exercise. Take a look at your existing customers and try to find out the following about them (without behaving like a stalker):
What else have they bought from other sellers?*
Is there a pattern to their buying habits? Do they have certain tastes?
Are they social networkers?
Have they bought from you before?
What do they do socially? (gigs, theatre, pub, sport, high street shopping)
You can find out an awful lot about your potential customers by talking to them. We social networkers love to talk – that’s why we are on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, chat rooms and forums. Just by talking we can share ideas, tastes, trends and predictions.
* I’ve just realised that, unlike Etsy, we cannot track the buying profile of buyers on Folksy who are not sellers too – rats!
Market Research can work. I always thought that market research and customer questionnaires were a pointless pain in the *rse until I started working in a gallery. A carefully worded questionnaire can give valuable insight into the profile of your customer and help you to plan your Marketing Strategy. Of course, we have to be careful on Folksy not to spam customers or badger them with lengthy customer feedback forms but, invariably, the Feedback we receive via folksy is inadequate and doesn’t really tell us what we want to know. Potential customers, and also buying customers may, however, be willing to answer one or two questions that can really help you to understand how to market your craft. You might contact the customer after a sale or ask in the forums. Remember, open questions give you so much more information than closed questions.
Here are a few examples:
Where did you find out about my shop?
Is your purchase for you or is it a gift?
Do you regularly buy X?
How does this item compare to the high street?
What other crafts do you like to buy on-line?
What comments would you make about my customer service?
Would you shop here again and, if not, why?
It’s fairly easy to build a profile of your potential customer (you can also research strategies to attract buyers who don’t fit the profile) and it can be fun finding out too. In a future post I will be talking about marketing yourself using the research that you have found. It would be great if you could comment on this blog post with more insights, advice and ideas on customer profiling.
Thanks for reading.