Whilst out and about running workshops and creative surgeries, I keep being asked the same kind of questions. This is great because it is market research while I’m working! It is always good to know what people want to learn about, this helps me tailor the content that I am writing or delivering.
The majority of the people I meet have either just started up their business, they are in the first year or they are thinking about starting. Maybe they have taken a career break, maybe the kids are old enough now, maybe it’s just the right time. Either way, most discussion topics from these pre-start-ups are ‘what do I do first?’
When we were just starting out as The Creative Business Network, I wrote a blog post about how to start, and I thought it was about time I built on that.
I first spoke about the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ and the ‘where’ but didn’t expand too much initially on the ‘who’. Take a look at the first post to catch up, and then hop right back again…!
It is crucial when you are starting up that you know who you are targeting. Who is going to buy your product? As I spoke about before, it is important to know that there is a need or a want for the product you are making. Will it appeal?
It may be that you have someone specific in mind when you are designing your work? Or you may be creating what you love and then you can work out the audience once you have calculated costs, for example. One way or another, you need to have a clear understanding of your customer.
What are you making? Where does it fit? Is it high end, or more frivolous? Is it interior based? Is it huge wall art? Will it need space? Is it jewellery for a woman or a man? Or a child?
Start by answering some basic questions as to who your audience is.
You are creating a ‘persona’ – one that will become the person you are talking to whenever you are spreading your brand message. Do as much research as you can to help you answer these questions – and it is likely that you won’t have just one persona, it is worth creating a couple at least. Remember to give them all names, and refer to them visually in your mind when you are addressing them.
It will also help you to understand your persona’s values and needs – so that you can have a good go at nurturing those values and fulfilling those needs. Remember however, that you aren’t targeting yourself - you aren’t your customer!
This persona is then crucial to where and how you sell online and offline.
This persona will determine how you style your product photography.
This persona will help you speak the right language that they can identify with.
Why is this important?
Imagine speaking French to a German (who doesn’t understand French.) They won’t understand what you are saying, they won’t be able to engage in a conversation, they may get frustrated and they will (most likely) walk away.
They might, however, give you the opportunity to change your language – they may have an inkling that what you are saying is interesting, so they may try to explain that they don’t understand, but they want to. If you don’t adapt your language to suit them, if you don’t respect their wishes or acknowledge that they have given you that opportunity to change, they will switch off. It’s unlikely you’ll see them again.
Speaking in a language that your target audience doesn’t understand (a foreign language) sets your business up to fail. How can you expect them to engage with you if you aren’t trying to engage with them?
Understanding what your audience is interested in hearing, will help you with all of your content. Your website can be tailored to suit them. Your blog will be written in a way that they will engage with. Your brand, styling and photography – even how you pair your work up with other products, it is all part of a language that your customer will respond well to.
It is a sign of respect and mutual understanding, and they will appreciate that.
It will also make it so much easier for you when taking photographs, writing posts, approaching potential collaborators. Because you will know what your customer likes, and that can be where you focus your attention.
Learning to speak a new language is always hard, and it takes time.
For more information and help on how to create a customer persona, and some more resources, take a look at this Hupspot article https://www.usertesting.com/blog/2016/02/19/customer-personas/
And if you need any help or support, then please do get in touch.
The CBN Team x
The Creative Business Network is a place where you can ask questions, find answers, receive mentoring & advice, and have access to a directory of suppliers and providers of creative businesses.
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The Creative Business Network
4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006
4 New Buildings,
01884 266045 / 07969 044006