Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hi Everyone!

I am really excited to get to know you all and share marketing tips with you. Over the weekend, I'd like us all to introduce ourselves, and I'll take a minute to cover a few administrative tidbits.

In the comments section below, please introduce yourself as if you were a target market. (You can leave out income for security reasons). I've written my introduction as an example:

The New Frugals - Between the ages of 25 - 35, the New Frugals grew up in an age of overindulgence and prosperity. They believed they could have it all if only they worked hard enough, signed up for enough credit cards, and networked with the right people. Both men and women, they started careers in large metropolitian areas like New York, Chicago, and L.A. They primarily worked for Fortune 500 corporations or large-scale financial institutions; now, they are shifting to new outlets like non-profit, teaching, and nursing. While these careers are more rewarding, they pay substainially less than their former budgets. As a result, the New Fruguals are more conscious of sales, coupons, and bargin shopping.

On Monday, we will continue our discussion of reaching your target market. This excericse will help you in understanding how to think about approaching a consumer - because ultimately, the easiest consumer to understand is yourself!

Administrative Odds & Ends

I will post blogs Monday - Friday, and take Saturdays and Sundays off to re-charge. Since everyone knows different things about marketing/advertising, I will start with the basics and move up. Have patience if it is too basic - eventually we will move on to more in-depth things.

From my posting on the forum in Etsy, I've had a great response to the number of shop owners interested in critiques. My original thought was to do one shop critique per week. As I look through the responses, I may integrate particular shops into a blog as I talk about a topic. I would also like to set up a few tools for you to run your own self-critiques. With that being said, I've elected to have Thursdays be the shop critique days. No particular reason, other than Thursdays tend to be normal days - they aren't like Mondays when everything bad happens! I will be in touch with you as your shop is featured.

On Tuesday, I will start what I like to call "Trending Tuesdays." This is really where I get to have my fun as an advertiser! The large advertising agencies are always looking for trends - who is buying what, why they are buying it, and what people are talking about. I've seen some of these trends influence Etsy, and some that do not. We'll talk about what makes a trend and what makes some trends stick.

The other thing to note is the list of Children's Books to the left. This is just my interest and connects back to my book nook pillows for kids (currently in my workshop waiting to be sewn!)

And, as always, please feel free to feed the fish at the bottom of the page. Just click your mouse on the blank spot and see what happens. :D

See you Monday for "Media Monday: How to reach your target market through advertising"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Where are they? Finding Your Target Market

You've got a great product. People are telling you to get out there and sell it. You've joined Etsy, eBay, Amazon or the like and have posted numerous items. Problem is, you aren't making as many sales as you'd like.

The foundation for all selling - branding, advertising, strategy - is the consumer. If they aren't convinced to buy, they won't buy it. If they don't like it, they won't tell their friends about it. And if they don't tell their friends, you'll never get sales by word of mouth.

Don't worry, you aren't the only person with this problem. Every major corporation today has this problem. Coke wants people buy more Coke. Adidas wants you to quit buying Nike. Convincing a consumer to make the decision to buy your product is a challenge. You have to get inside of their heads - and that's the trouble.

Etsian artrageousclay asked for help in defining her target market. The easiest place to start is your past sales. If you don't have any previous sales, ask yourself where you might get sales when answering these questions.

Are your customers primarily male or female?
If your customers are mostly female, then you're in luck. Women make up 85% of purchasing decisions in a household. Men and women shop in very different ways. Men usually know exactly what they want and go to the store to pick up that specific item. Women are more likely to browse and enjoy the experience of shopping. (For more on Men vs. Women, see the link Men Buy, Women Shop).

How old are your customers?
Professional advertising agencies typically break their customers into these age groups:
  • Under 18
  • 18 - 24
  • 25 - 35
  • 35 - 45
  • 45 - 55
  • 55+
You might be more familiar with these age groups if you think of it terms of generations - the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and beyond. Our Etsian said she made sales to all age groups. What I would encourage her to do is to think about what attracts each age group to a specific product. Maybe young teenagers buy the outrageous, wild pieces to make a statement? Maybe the older women buy unique beads to match what they wear to work? Think about the broader implications of how age affects a purchase.

Where do your customers live?
Selling online, where you customers may not seem like a big deal. But it is! Look at what regions your customers live in. Also determine if they are city-dwellers, rural, or suburban. If you are selling very traditional crafts, target the Midwest. If you sell urban chic, target Ann Arbor, New York, and L.A. You'll know if you have hit a hot spot if sales repeatedly come from the same geographic area. (For an in-depth look, try reading about creative cities in Richard Flordia's Book.)

Where do your customers work? Or, What do they do for a living?
Again, examine your previous sales. You may not know everyone's professions, but look for keys in your customer's sign-in names, profiles, etc. Are you seeing teachers? doctors? lawyers? stay-at-home moms? Now you know what shops to target for retail sales and what publications to advertise in.

How much do they make?
Income affects purchasing decisions. One ad agency found that low-income families are the last ones to cancel cable during a recession. Why? Because cable is sometimes the only form of entertainment the family can afford. Income can surprise you because what one person views as a need, another person will view as a splurge.

Think of any other aspects of their lives that would affect a purchase.
For my shop, it boils down to readers. If you like to read, you probably need a place to store all of your reading materials that pile up around the house. If you don't want to read, well, a pillow with a pocket is somewhat useless. It's like this: If you sell house siding, then you want to target people with houses. I had a retailer try to sell me house siding for two years in college. They called at least once a month. Not once did they make a sale - I lived in a dorm!

Once you have answered these questions, put it all together into a group. For example:

The Urban Mom: She is between the ages of 25 - 35 and has several children at home. She lives in a suburb based around a large city, such as Chicago, New York, or Seattle. She likes to be trendy, but needs to be practical in order to keep up with her busy life. The Urban Mom works part-time right now, but hopes to re-enter the workforce and wants to keep up with her business skills. She used to make over $50,000, but now she makes about $25,000 since she cut-back her hours at work. Her husband makes over $75,000 and helps support her family.

That was hypothetical - don't rely on it! But now you can see how these questions, when pieced together, puts a face on your elusive target market.

Questions? Comments?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentine Pie: Consumers Cut Back on Valentines

With Etsy all the rage for Valentine's Day, I thougt I would start my first blog post on Valentine's Day from the consumer's standpoint. According to today's The New York Times article, this year will mark the third Valentine's Day to be affected by the recession. Over 80% of consumers are planning to cut back on their Valentine's purchases. As a result, marketers are finding unique ways to target consumers and make a sale.

Both Macy's and White Castle are using Twitter to reach consumers and involve them in valentine promotions. (Yes, you read that right. Both high-end and low-end retailers are reaching out through the same free service). For smaller retailers, this means it will be increasingly more difficult to keep a customer's attention. Consumers have tighter budgets, and are being pulled in more directions. We now have to reach customers through a variety of media - on our tighter advertising budgets.

Open's small business blogger Chris Brogram wrote an excellent article on how small business should slice their social media pie. He breaks social media into three parts:
  • Listening
  • Creating
  • Communitcating
Listening is about learning what people say about you online. What are they tweeting? Writing on blog posts? What are they saying about your brand and your competitors?

Creating is about content. It is about putting relevant content out there in front of your customer. Are you simply promoting? Or are you buidling connections to your products/services? If you are simply promoting, expect to be ignored.

Communicating is the key to building the connections. It is about being yourself: a creative, small business owner. When you join Etsy and post on the forums about a topic that interests you, you are communicating. But you also need to figure out how to communicate to those outside of Etsy. If you are an artist or photographer, are you commenting in forums for paints, cameras, and in artist communities? If you are a quilter, are you in the quilting forums? Reach out to those beyond the Etsy community to build relationships that will eventually help drive your sales.

For this Valentine's Day, show your customers and potential customers you love them. Give them a bit of Social Meida Pie.