Product Flop or Marketing Fail? Deciding Beyond Your Negative Self-Talk

Running a handmade business can feel like a very personal and even scary thing.

When you’re trying to make money from designs that you’ve conjured from your own mind and crafted with your own two hands, it’s easy to feel hyper-sensitive to any reactions the outside world is going to have about them.

It’s also easy to deem our products or business as a “failure” when, after we’ve finally summoned up the courage to put it (and ourselves) out there – we get crickets in response.

We think to ourselves: even criticism would be better than this. At least it would provide us with feedback so we would know what to change when we try again. (Or so we tell ourselves.)

So we go back to the drawing board and come up with something new, leaving the first try sitting on a shelf, in a bin, or the junk drawer for re-purposing later.

But what we probably need to consider before we call it a day is how much we have really put into getting our products seen. Have we actually given them their best chance at success before we start telling ourselves that we’ve made un-sellable duds?

Product Flop or Marketing Fail? How to tell...

Most handcrafted sellers are guilty of doing this.

We make a thing, put it up on our websites or Etsy shops, maybe post a thing or two about it on social media, and wait.

When no one buys right away, we immediately feel the excitement and hope we were harboring for our new shiny thing diminish.

We tell ourselves: maybe it wasn’t so great after all. Maybe we were all wrong about what our ideal customers are interested in. Maybe we aren’t even really that good about this whole business thing after all.

And on and on with the negative-self talk we go.

When really, what we ought to be thinking is this: have I really given this product a fair chance? Has it really been seen by my ideal customers?

Because in today’s hectic world of noise, there’s a very good chance that, no, a new listing and a few social media posts isn’t going cut it.

Conventional business guru wisdom currently tells us that people need to see your product 13 times before they buy. 13 times!

Considering the low likelihood that your target customers saw your tweet, Facebook update, and/or Instagram post, you aren’t getting hardly anyone primed to buy with a drip system like what you’ve been doing.

Not only are you not really giving your products a chance to be sold, you aren’t giving your ideal customers a fair chance at finding out that they even exist.

The #1 damaging story we tell ourselves is that our people don’t want to hear from us. That we’re only being annoying when we e-mail our lists, or write about our latest product launch on our blogs.

Uhm, NO.

Very, very, very few handmade sellers are making the mistake of selling too much. Most of us sell far, far too little. We ignore the fact that we have followers who have symbolically raised their hands to hear from us, and we’ve essentially convinced ourselves that it must be for other reasons.

It’s not.

Chances are these people saw the pictures of your lovely creations on Instagram and chose to follow you because they want to see more of them. Or they loved what you had on your website so they signed up for e-mail updates so they get to be the first in line when you launch new collections. In any case, they may not have been interested in buying right at that very moment, but they signed up to get updates from you because they knew that there was a good chance that they would be at some point in the future.

Your job as a business owner and product marketer is to foster that desire and provide your followers with the opportunity to act upon it as often as is strategically fitting.

Does this mean spamming your twitter feed with links to your Etsy shop listings every 10 minutes? No. But it doesn’t mean only telling funny jokes and never mentioning that you’re a handmade seller, either.

There is a strategic way to make you product marketing a welcomed part of the conversation. (Click to tweet this!)

The first step is to stop telling yourself that no one wants to hear about them (or you), and the second is to insert yourself (and your products) into the conversations that make sense.

You can’t really say your business or your products are a failure unless you have really, truly, given them the chance they deserve.

Curious how exactly you’re supposed to do that? Stay tuned for next week’s post, where I’ll help you create your own simple marketing system that will help you map out a specific plan for putting your products out there. Sign up for e-mail notifications from me to make sure you don’t miss it.

 

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Comments: 2

  1. rosemary zamecnik August 23, 2015 at 8:32 pm Reply

    Wow, do I need this. I have no idea how to market my Etsy shop and it’s items, sales are sproratic at best. Thanks so much. I will look forward to next weeks tip.

  2. Martha Willis August 25, 2015 at 8:09 pm Reply

    Thank you for the article, Rosemary. As crafters, we are often working alone and your words give us support to carry on, to try one more new idea. These interactive sites with support and information are a balm to our egos.

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