Once you have a sense of what craft products you will sell, you’ll want to consider how you will reach people who could be interested in buying these products from you.
In this blog post, we will give you some tips on finding your ideal target market for the handmade products you make.
So, what is a target market?
People that are likely to purchase the products you make are known as your “target customer” or “target market”.
It’s important to have an awareness of your target market as it will:
- indicate the keywords and words you need to use in your listings and descriptions to entice these customers
- provide you with ideas on how best to reach these customers, using social media, SEO and offline activities like consignment selling
- show you how best to showcase your products, in terms of photography and positioning ensure that you are being direct and deliberate about your marketing (…and thus be much savvier with the money you spend to promote your products).
Who is your current target customer?
If you are already up and running with your handmade shop and making products and sales, one of the best ways to research your target market is to start by looking at your current customer base.
- Who are the people that are already buying your handmade products?
- What do they have in common?
- Are they, for example, from a specific state or country?
Once you’ve identified some of the common characteristics of your current customers, the next step is to start to create personas that will help you look for others like them.
Creating personas for a handmade business
Personas are fictional, generalized representations of your target customers and have been used for decades in marketing to understand the needs and motivations of buyers better.
It’s important that your personas should not represent specific customers, only basic characteristics you have found in common with them from your previous research.
By creating personas for your handmade business, you will be able to paint a more accurate picture of your target customer, which will make it easier to create marketing materials that appeal to them.
Some examples of personas for a handmade customer may be:
Alice is a stay-at-home 35 year old mom of two young children. She loves handmade products because she knows that the money went directly to the creator. She spends a lot of time on Etsy and Pinterest, and she is always looking for new shops to follow.
Jane is mid 20s and like all things hip, unique and geeky. She buys mostly for herself but is on a budget as she just moved out of home. She likes supporting independent businesses.
The more personality you can add to your personas to make them feel as “real” as possible the better - this will make it easier to think about how they will react to your business, the copy you use in your listings and how you present your products.
So, what do you do if you are just starting your handmade business and have no existing sales or products to learn from? There are still many ways to learn about the customers that are likely to purchase from you.
Using search queries to find your target market
If you haven’t already got customers and sales to work from, another great way to find your target market is to use keywords and search engines. When you research keywords that relate to your product, you can start to get an idea of who is searching for those terms. This can give you some insight into what type of person might be interested in your product.
For handmade products, the best place to start is on Etsy - type in some words describing the products you are planning to make to see how others are presenting their products.
- What words are they using in addition to the ones you have typed in?
- What backgrounds and situations are they using to photograph their products?
- What colorways / fabrics etc are they making their products in?
Using social media to find your target market
Another great way to find your target market is to use social media. Social media is a great way to connect with potential customers and get your name out there. Use hashtags and keywords that relate to your product or niche, see who is talking about those things and start to build the personas from here.
Tip: A great place to start with tag and product research is Instagram and Pinterest.
Find the WHY
Once you have an idea on the personas you’d like to target, you’ll now want to think about how they will become (or continue to be) your paying customers.
You can start to find the “Why” by asking these questions:
Why would buying your handmade product make them happy?
How would buying your handmade product as a gift fulfill the recipient’s why?
An answer to these questions may be:
“Because I can wear something every day that looks beautiful”
“Because it is useful and also looks lovely on my windowsill”
“Because it reminds me that it was hand crafted by a small artisan”
“Because it is unique, and I’m likely to be asked where I got this piece from friends and family”
Handmade gift givers and receivers
Once you have your personas and motivations sorted out, you can also create parallel marketing strategies to cater for the situation where someone is buying your handmade product to give to another.
You’ll need a strategy to entice the person who wants, loves, and needs your piece; and another for the gift giver who wants to give what the end user wants, loves and needs.
Ultimately, understanding the WHY helps everyone win in the end: you make the sale, the customer is happy with what they have purchased, the gift buyer is the hero with the perfect present, and the gift recipient has a handmade item that they love and makes them feel amazing.
Refining your target customer
You’ll want to keep reassessing and checking your target customer on a regular basis to ensure that the research you have done is in line with how your product is selling. You might find that some of your products surprise you and appeal to completely different target markets than you expected. Rather than ignore this data, see if you can evolve your product lines to accommodate these unexpected buyers in better ways.
You can also use social media to run surveys or polls to get feedback from potential customers about what they’re looking for in a product and then feed that back into your own processes and product ranges.
When it comes to finding your handmade target market, there are a lot of different approaches you can take. The most important thing is just to get started and experiment until you find what works best for you and your business. Good luck!