BUSINESS: Finding Your First Customer

As published on UK Handmade Turning your hobby into a fully fledged creative business can be a daunting task but here are a few useful tips from Rickie Josen ofCrafty Skills.

Recently we ran a Success Workshop which had the official title of ‘How to sell to those other than friends, relatives and colleagues’. These workshops offer practical tips and advice about turning your creativity into earnings.

Even without trying sometimes, the first people who buy from us are people who have seen our work. Perhaps your colleague admired a necklace you were wearing and they were gobsmacked that you did that yourself? Or your mother-in-law came round and saw the beautiful hand-crafted cushion that takes pride of place on your sofa?

In fact, many small businesses have started because a friend or family member admired and your work and uttered those words, ‘you should sell those.’

So you have a ready-made market with people who already know, like and trust you but how do you reach others and make this craft into a business?

How do you find your first customer?

Yes, the first port of call is our family, friends and colleagues. Next, how many people do these kindly souls know? 10, 20, 100 or 500 each? How large are their families? How many people follow them on Twitter? How many Facebook friends do they have? Who works at a large company that can put your posters and flyers up for you? Now we’re talking of a reach of 1000s of potential customers just be having a handful of conversations with people you know.

How do people find about you Apart from the aforementioned word of mouth and important promotional tool – as well as a fun sociable one – is social media. My advice is to use them all; Twitter, Facebook Pinterest, LinkedIn and any others to heighten your online presence. It’s free after all and think of making friends via social media as part of your marketing time. Just occasionally mention your products!

What do your competitors do?

Why not emulate it the tried and tested methods? Look at what works and make it work for you.

Who can you promote your product or service to?

So far we have talked about reaching customers directly but what about indirectly? Try approaching shops that sell your type of products. It helps them as it adds more product lines and therefore increases their profits through the margin they are making on your product.

How do you know what works?

Try it and see. It costs nothing other than time to work with social media, send emails and very little to print out some flyers and make phone calls.

Who is your audience?

Work out who your products appeal to and go to that market. Do young students go gaga over your jewellery? Approach universities about events where you can exhibit at advertise relatively cheaply in student magazines.

How to make sure people buy from you

Let them know where you are and how to buy! At an event, ensure your name is on every product and you have flyers and business cards with all the ways you can be contacted. Remember although it feels like it, the whole world is not on Facebook so be sure people can find you on-line via a blog or website. When they do buy from you, whether in person or online, include your contact details so they can buy more or pass it to a friend. Who can throw out a beautifully crafted calling card?

Happy selling!

See full article as published on UK Handmade here