If you’ve signed up for e-mail updates from this blog, then you’ve received Part 1 of my upcoming Run a Handmade Business & KEEP Your Day Job course. In it, I discuss the 2 foundational pieces of running a handmade business: narrowing down what you’re going to make, and who you’re going to sell to.
The “who” of that equation is the individual you’ll label as your Ideal Customer. This envisioned person is the ultimate, perfect fit for your products, and it’s who you focus on when conducting all of your product creation, branding, content generation, and so on.
Essentially, your Ideal Customer is at the very heart of your business. Without him or her, your offerings, brand, and sales will be unfocused and scattered.
So… narrowing down your Ideal Customer? Impeccably helpful.
(If you haven’t already… you seriously need to do this exercise. Even if you don’t have any interest in purchasing the full course, even just listening or reading the free part can do wonders when applied to your business model.)
But what if you end up with an Ideal Customer who makes you feel… a little intimidated?
Confession time: the current Ideal Customer I am striving for in my jewelry business intimidates me.
When I first started working on Ideal Customer Avatar exercises, I played it safe. I went with young, teenage to twenty-somethings who were a lot like me. They shopped thrift and discount mall stores, and loved all things geeky and of the fan-art realm.
There are still quite a few older pieces in my Etsy shop that reminisce of this original customer I was targeting.
That, of course, was the problem. I was targeting an Ideal Customer who wasn’t as likely to buy. (Hence all of the left-over merchandise.) At the time, my Ideal Customers only purchased when I offered deep discounts or crazy sales, which often times put me under just to keep the inventory moving. As a result, I gradually realized that I needed to make a shift in not only the types of products I was selling and what I was charging for them, but who I was targeting in order to actually make a profit.
In comes the re-branding of my official website, and its accompanying, re-envisioned Ideal Customer. This time she’s older, makes more money, and gains a sense of satisfaction when purchasing decor, clothing, and jewelry from artisans.
Or, in other words, she’s over 10 years older than me, makes a lot more money than I do, and is able to express her love for fashion and art at a capacity I can only one day hope to reach.
And now… I’m going to try to get this person to buy my stuff? *Gulp.*
I know I’m not the only one among you who feels this way. Most artists have to emotionally deal with the juxtaposition of selling their work to people who bring in a much higher salary than they do, especially if they want to price their work at a rate that will bring food to the table and keep the lights on.
So how can we deal? We have to work on communicating with this person, after all, we should probably learn to get comfortable doing it. Here are a few things that may seem obvious, but they help…
Start with the basics.
No matter how much smarter, wealthier, or experienced someone is than you, you are both human beings with the same basic emotions and needs. You can touch on these shared feelings and needs in your blog content , product descriptions, and so on.
Find common ground.
You have probably created your Ideal Customer around several of your own personal traits and interests. For example, I may not be as fashion-savvy as my Ideal Customer, but I am interested in fashion and style, so that’s where we have a common ground I can work off of.
Immerse yourself in his or her world.
Even if you can’t afford to buy anything from the types of boutiques your Ideal Customer would shop at, go and explore them anyway. Read the same magazines and blogs that he or she does. Visit the same art museums or car shows and really imagine that you are right there with your Ideal Customer. Or better yet, role play and imagine that you ARE your Ideal Customer. This is a fun way to really get into his or her head, and therefore figure out the best marketing methods from your end on how you can garnish his or her attention.
So yes, I am still a little bit intimidated by my Ideal Customer. But as I work on getting to know her better, I’m becoming more and more comfortable building a relationship with her. It’s only a matter of time before I feel there is no hierarchy at all. It’s only been a limitation created by my own fears and sense of insecurity the whole time.