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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1132: To Market, To Market

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 345 days ago 815 reads 1 time favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1131: Reflections Part 1132 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 1133: Reinventing the Wheel »

One of the most important aspects of having a small business is marketing. If you don’t get word out to people that you exist, there is no way that you will be able to sell what you have to offer.

When I was growing up and attending Southern Illinois University, at one time I had considered marketing and advertising as a major. Even back then I enjoyed all forms of art and I thought it would be a way to incorporate artwork into my daily working life.

However, when attending an orientation that the university offered which gave an overview of the perspective major, the thing I remembered most about the presentation was how cut throat and competitive the advertising industry could be. If the lecturer’s aim was to weed out a certain number of perspective students, than I think he succeeded, as right then and there I changed my mind and decided it wasn’t for me. I knew even back then that I would never have the heart for a job like that.

I am a fan of the show “Mad Men” and I catch it when I am able to do so. It always makes me think back to the days when marketing was run by huge firms such as Leo Bernette in Chicago, which was one of the pinnacle firms at the time I was growing up. It always makes me wonder what my life would have been if I had pursued that avenue. It is kind of fun to think about.

These days however, those of us who own our own small businesses know that marketing is a big part of the equation. No matter how good our final product is, it is important to get the word out and let people know we are here. It reminds me of that old saying “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make any sound?” Without letting people know we are here, it doesn’t matter how good we are, we would not succeed. So marketing is the answer to keeping our company growing and healthy.

Last year when we decided to leave one of the large companies that we wholesaled our patterns to, it was very scary for us. After all, the sales generated from the company were probably a third (or more!) of our entire income. Deciding to pull out of their company and no longer sell through them was a huge and scary step for us, and we didn’t make it without much thought and consideration.

But after finding out that our information (as well as the patterns themselves) were compromised, we felt it was no longer in our best interest to continue selling our designs that way, and we felt we were better off selling directly to people to insure that they were getting the product and support that we intended. It was a risk for us to back pedal this way, as we knew that our revenue would (at least initially) be greatly decreased. But we wanted things to be “right” so we took the plunge.

We realized that this meant that in order to make up for this loss of sales, we needed to step up our own marketing and get word out about our existence. While we were already marketing in several directions (here on the blog, through the magazine, on Facebook, etc.) we knew that not only would we have to work harder on those areas, but also find additional ways to get our products out so people knew we were here. While this may have taken some valuable design time away form both Keith and myself, the additional customers it would bring to us would certainly be worth it.

Fortunately, with technology and communication being what they are, it is no longer like the days of Mad Men when people need to depend on hiring advertising agencies to do their marketing for them. I always have the tag line “Knowledge is Power” in my signature and this is one of those times when it really rings true. Knowing different ways you can let the public know about you and your products is an essential beginning to marketing, and can make or break your small business.

What I think I am going to do is take the next few days to discuss several different marketing strategies that small business owners can explore to market their own business effectively and with as small a cost as possible. I am often approached by customers who are just starting out and ask me the best way to market their products and I think a short series talking about a few of the avenues that are available will be very helpful.

I want to emphasize that I am certainly no expert on this process, as I am a “work in progress” myself, but what I like about blogging is that there are often many wonderful readers who contribute to the subject and are willing to post their ideas and thoughts on what has worked for them. I think that by talking ideas over among ourselves, we can come up with some good and solid ways to expand our marketing practices and customer base.

With that said, I invite you to join in with comments and explore some of the different ways that you may have had success with, and also some of those that haven’t worked well for you. That way we will all be able to learn something.

I am not sure how this will work, but I hope that we can all get something out of it. I will check often both here on Lumberjocks.com as well as my blog page on my sheilalandrydesigns.com site and see what you all have to say. For those of you who just want to sit back and read, I hope that this brings forth some information that will help you along as well.

It should be interesting.

Feel free to post comments. I am sure that as a group we can come up with some great ideas.

Happy Thursday! :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



12 comments so far

View CFrye's profile

CFrye

2855 posts in 474 days


#1 posted 345 days ago

I have no experience with marketing so will be reading and learning! I do know that the same friends, family and coworkers that appreciate and may even rave about the work produced, especially when given as a gift, are reluctant to pay what is required to keep a business going. Happy Thursday!

-- God bless, Candy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7596 posts in 1554 days


#2 posted 345 days ago

I hope LOTS of people comment (HINT! HINT!) and share their experiences! :D

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

849 posts in 1519 days


#3 posted 345 days ago

Well, allow me my two cents on this. I do have a degree in Marketing and spent about 35 years in retail, so perhaps I have a little knowledge.

Marketing ( of some type) You have got to do some thing to get the word out about what you do. Today it could be social media, WEB Site, contact referral list, friends, relatives (not those who want it for FREE). I am not a big fan of PAID marketing at out level. It will cost too much, dollars may go the wrong direction and so forth. TO me, FACEBOOK and friend referral has been the best. It has taken about four years but I think I am getting there.

Customer Service - if you do not provide 100% customer satisfaction get out of the business, in my opinion. I tell all of my customers that the product has a life time warranty. So what if I replace one or two – that would cost about TEN BUCKS. I have not had to at this point but if I do it will happen in a heart beat.

Quality – you have got to put out the best quality that you can. You are being compaired to every one else, even retail stores. IF you look at you item and it does not past this test, make another one or fix that on (no patches or putty overs).

Price – this is a tough one. I generally go with cost of materials times three. On one of my last items I goofed. There was a ton a labor involved and I did not factor it in. Guess what, the customer got the price I quoted.

Business Cards – but tons of them and pass them out all over town. BY this I mean putting it in someones hand. They are cheap, about $10 for 250 cards.

Craft Shows – most every year I am a vendor at three of more. The number of people you meet vs. the cost is a great investment. Every person you talk to could be a customer, now or later. Again, give the a card.

Now these are just my rambling thoughts at the moment. I have some contractors working on the house so if I think of something later I will post. I look forward to the ideas of others.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

213 posts in 2139 days


#4 posted 345 days ago

Good morning Sheila, I am looking forward to this series of marketing your products and seeing how others do it. On that note I would like to point out another blog on LJ’s. (Hope you don’t mind. If you do let me know and I will remove it.) It was written by huff and he broke it down into 2 series, 1 being “how to price your work” and 2 “how to market and sell your work”. Very interesting reading and gave me something to think about. Like jerrrells, I have used the cost times 3(or 4) to price my items. I was told about that by a well known designer at a painter’s convention. Marketing has been craft shows, web site and some posters around town along with business cards and FB. I really want to grow the business but don’t know what else to do. So, I’m looking forward to following this thread.
Rick

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

849 posts in 1519 days


#5 posted 345 days ago

I totally agree with Rick about Huff’s two posts. A must read.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

849 posts in 1519 days


#6 posted 345 days ago

I suggest that everyone sign up for this newsletter – it will tell you where all of the local craft shows are in your market.

www.fairsandfestivals.net

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7596 posts in 1554 days


#7 posted 344 days ago

Thank you both Jerrell and Rick for the information. Rick – I certainly do not mind you sharing Huff’s post. I will go over there and look at it and maybe he would allow me to link to it here tomorrow. I was out for the day (which is rare) and just returned and I was pleased to see your response, along with the helpful information that Jerrell gave. I would like to share some of the information you gentlemen shared with me on my other sites where the blog is posted, if that is OK. Please let me know if that is OK with you.

I think that this is a good start for people. I will read things over tonight and have some thoughts on it tomorrow I am sure. A big THANK YOU to you both for sharing your thoughts and helping out. I am sure many others will appreciate it as well.

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

849 posts in 1519 days


#8 posted 344 days ago

Shelia – you may share any information I post – and thanks for starting this

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

213 posts in 2139 days


#9 posted 344 days ago

Hi Sheila, You can share any information that I post. I am looking forward to see where this will lead.
Rick

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View Celticscroller's profile

Celticscroller

769 posts in 707 days


#10 posted 344 days ago

Hi Sheila, when I had my own custom sewing business in Toronto (back in the 80’s pre-internet social network days!) I found that word of mouth was the best advertising I had. Like Jerrells I think that you get very little return from paid advertising. I did network (the old phone call and face to face method) with other folks in the same industry and we formed an association which met every month. We discussed costs, pricing, advertising, work ethics etc. and we were able to standardize the pricing for the custom work we produced. The same thing happens nowadays through the internet and you are able to reach a much wider audience. A booth at local markets helps too. The carving club I belong to has a booth all summer at the local artisans and farmers market and we do demonstrations and give information on the club. While it is a big time commitment for the members, we find it pays off in our exposure in the community and we always gain new members from our efforts.
While I’m not in business anymore (happy retirement!) I find this topic interesting and I’ll be following the comments to see how this works for current businesses as I know people who are looking to promote and sell their craft products.

-- Anna http://richmondcarvers.com/

View Roger's profile

Roger

14388 posts in 1438 days


#11 posted 344 days ago

Good stuff, Sheila. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7596 posts in 1554 days


#12 posted 344 days ago

Thank you all for your wonderful input. It is because of people like you that we have such a wonderful community here. I read Huff’s blog and I referred to both his blogs in my next post, as well as your comments here. I think that putting our heads together and sharing ideas is a great way to help each other.

THANK YOU ALL for sharing your thoughts and experiences! :D

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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