When I consult with clients or teach a class, one of the first things I have folks do is define and describe their ultimate customer. I am not talking about your family and friends—they will always love your work because you made it—but the person who is willing to slap down hard-earned cash to have your services or jewelry.
Who is this elusive person? And how do you get their attention?
First you need to do an exercise: Close your eyes and visualize the person who is your ultimate customer. Now describe them and what their life looks like. You might be picturing someone you already know or it could be an imaginary combination of different people you’ve met. Sometimes this is a good exercise to do collaboratively with people in your business, your family members, or your best friend. Those individuals might have insights and ideas that you haven’t thought about. After you have an image of your customer answer the following questions and write down the answers to review later:
- What is their age?
- Are they local, national, or international customers?
- What region or area do they live in—north, south, east, or west?
- Are they female or male?
- What is their level of education?
- What is their income?
- Are they rural, urban, or suburban?
- What do they spend their discretionary money on? Where do they love to shop?
- Do they have any special interests, professions, or characteristics? Maybe they love horses. Do they garden? Are they mothers? Brides-to-be? Gay? Do they play an instrument? Are they college students? Do they love to fish or go to the opera? Are they are architects, nurses, or teachers?
- Are they collectors or do they only purchase jewelry occasionally? Are they impulse buyers?
- Are they seasonal consumers (such as people who purchase a piece of jewelry as a memento on a vacation) or year-around buyers?
Now that you have a pretty solid image of the person who is your target market, let’s take this information and use it to figure out where to find them and how to get their attention. Again, get your pen and jot down as many of these answers as you can:
- How do you get your jewelry in front this specific customer? Magazines? Direct mail? Email? Events? Home jewelry parties? Small jewelry boutiques? Word-of-mouth? Through an awesome website? In a local retail gallery or boutique? At craft shows?
- What would attract your customer’s attention? Coupons? Your metalsmithing process? Branding? Collectibles and one-of-a-kind pieces? Fashionable or trendy jewelry? Pieces that are handmade? Jewelry that’s made in America? Pieces with symbolic meaning? Your choice of gemstones?
- What type of websites, magazines, newspapers, blogs, newspapers, radio, or Facebook pages do they read or follow? Where do they get their information?
- What types of events do they attend?
- What types of organizations, associations, educational institutions, churches, or clubs do they belong to? Are they members of their local museum, theater, or symphony?
- What restaurants, events, recreational facilities, and stores do they frequent?
- What do they want from a buying experience? Do they like to sit down and browse at a leisurely pace? Do they love the craft show experience? Do they want to buy handmade from a website like Etsy? Are they looking for a bargain at a discount store? Will they buy at a church bazaar? Is a personal home-jewelry event or trunk show where they’re likely to spend? Would they prefer to speak directly to the maker or to a trusted retail location? Do they love the convenience of a user-friendly and sophisticated website with beautiful photographs?
Put the “Ultimate Customer Profile” you’ve created somewhere it can easily be found. As your product line develops, your ultimate customer may also evolve. That’s okay. It’s important to begin now by defining who would buy your work. Through this exercise you’ll have the opportunity to “meet” your customer, get to know them, learn what they like, and think seriously about WHY they would eventually feel compelled to purchase your jewelry.
If for example, you are designing a “mother’s ring” you should consider advertising in a local PTA or library newsletter or displaying your work at a church bazaar or maternity clothing shop. If your ultimate customer yearns for jewelry with a southwest flair, do as one of my clients did, and rent a booth at a local horse show! Or as another friend did when she rented a table at an SPCA “adopt a pet” event to sell her puppy and kitty pendants. I made fun of her until I found out that in a few hours, and with very little investment, she managed to sell a lot of jewelry.
Once you have the “who” and “why” figured out, you can begin searching for appropriate and affordable venues to get your work in front of them.
How have you discovered who your ideal customer is? Do you have any successful outside-the-box strategies for getting your work in front of them? Please DO share your experience!