Sunday, January 27, 2008

Defining your market

The two things that seemed to be most important in the initial creation of a business in the arts or crafts field is knowing who you are planning to market to and what is already out there in the market place. Defining your customer base is very important. If you don't do this then you are creating products that are all over the place. Ever walk into a display at an arts and crafts show and wonder what exactly is this person selling? You can tell (some times) they sell woodwork, painting, jewelry, or what ever but the products seem to be a hodgepodge of items for children, bric-a-brac and artistic items. The other extreme is the artist who has 100 items of basically the exact same thing. We have a wonderful artist here on the Cape that makes jewelry from a type of shell that is fairly unique to this area - which she mounts on sterling silver for necklaces, bracelets, earrings. For variation some have man-made gem stones and some don't. That's it . . . she does nothing else different or new with the shells. So once your customer has bought what they want they have no real reason to come back to you to buy more unless its a gift for someone else.
In my last post, I recommended reading HBI's grant information to help get an idea of what you should do to get your jewelry business off the ground - I have put a direct link on this blog under links to check out. In their Hints and Tips section they have an article on Targeting Customers. It is a great guide and walks you through how to come up with a target customer base and how to come up with ideas unique to that base. If you are thinking about starting a jewelry business I highly recommend doing this exercise. Okay, okay - I know that doing this is not nearly as fun or exciting as learning a new wire wrap technique, figuring out how to mount unfireable gems in PMC, or creating an ethereal necklace from beautiful beads and crystals. However, if you are serious about wanting to start a business of creating and selling your jewelry this is a key step. This will be an important component when you get down to writing your business plan.
BUSINESS PLAN?????? What the heck is that????
We will talk about that in days to come and all the reasons that having one is important.
Based on your target group, you need to research what is currently being offered both in your area and on the Internet (because your business world is now automatically a national business if not a global business). If you live in a rural area with a limited customer base, if you move often because your spouse's or your regular career requires it, or if you have family or personal reasons that you can not work outside of the home then Internet sales may be your thing. If you live in a tourist or resort area (like I do) then you may also want to do local shows during the "season"; however, you need a way to continue to do sales off season. My next post I'll talk about the specific steps I took and what conclusions I have made - as my first year of business continues I will keep you posted on what I have found to be right and wrong about my conclusions.
Have fun . . .
Gale

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