Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

Month: March 2012

Find your FAB: features, advantages and benefits

The day I turned in my manuscript, I immediately went to the library and stocked up on books. Every kind of book. Books about writing, about faith, about veganism.
Imagine my delight when the very first book I read post-book, reiterated what I had written!
Write to sell

My book is a system for talking about your thing from two angles: what makes you and your thing unique, and what your people (the buyers) want from your thing.
Write to Sell starts right off with your customers and figuring out what they want. In fact, the first chapter starts like this:

Write to sell


If you've ever written anything for your business (a product description, an about page, an email) then you're familliar with the struggle to put what you know and think about your item out of your mind and focus on what your customers care and think about what you sell.

And as Write to Sell points out, your buyers are only thinking ONE thing about your product: What's In It For Me?

This is where makers get mixed up. They think that buyers are thinking “Oh, this is handmade! I love handmade! I want to buy it!“, so they write about how handmade it is, what they used, what their process is like.

In reality, buyers are thinking “Oh, this is handmade and buying handmade is better because….(it reinforces my self-image as someone who doesn't buy mass-made stuff, it's sustainably-made, it makes me feel like I'm supporting an artist, it's longer-lasting, etc).”

Your job is to fill in that blank for the buyer, to explain why buying this handmade thing is, in fact, better.

The author shares a helpful equation for filling in the blank.

Features ->Advantages -> Benefits

For example:
Feature: my Monthly Yarn Mail is spun-just-for-you and sent automatically, once-a-month
Advantage: You get the colors you want, delivered right to your door
Benefit: You don't have to “hunt” for the perfect yarn, it comes right to you.

Let's do another example, this time with something technical:
Feature: This bag is double stitched
Advantage: It's very strong
Benefit: You never have to worry about it busting, even if you have it stuffed full of your kids toys and food and books.

Walking through this equation in your product description or sales page makes it obvious to the buyer why they care and it how it benefits them.

What's the FAB of your product?

It costs how much?! aka, Marketing with Price

This month we're looking at marketing without promotion and the other ways to market: using Place, Product and, today, Price to share your work.

This whole marketing-with-price thing is a tricky subject. You want to think about using price to find new (or repeat) buyers…but you don't want to slip into doubting your price, or worse, trying to compete on price. So before we start thinking about pricing and marketing, let's get one thing straight:

Your customer doesn't buy on price, she buys on value.

Value = How much your product is worth to the Right Person.  (This has nothing to do with numbers, and everything to do with how it makes her feel when she buys it).

Think about your last haircut. Did you pay $5 for it or $35 (or more!) for it? Why? Was the action the same? Before you got your haircut, you couldn't be sure of the results, so you didn't really pay for a better haircut, you paid for the promise of a better haircut. And you probably paid for a nicer environment in which to get a haircut. And a friendly hairdresser.
Why yes, I did bring my own creamer to the coffee shop. #coffeewasmylastnonveganholdout

Or your last cup of coffee or tea. Did you drink it at a gas station? Or a coffeeshop? Or did you make yourself a cup of the good stuff at home (with your favorite creamer and sweetener, in your favorite mug). If you drank it at the coffeeshop or at home, it wasn't because of price, it was because of value – you wanted the experience of enjoying that cuppa.

So how do you market with Price, without trying to compete on price?

Start by thinking about your price range.
What's your most expensive item? And your least expensive? Is that a very big range?
If it's a wide range, could you fill it in with mid-range items?
If it's a narrow range, could you add a lower-priced item? A higher-priced item?

Be careful! A lot of my students immediately think of offering a low-priced item to their range. You may want to do that, but before you jump to that conclusion, take a minute to think of a few other options. What could you create that would be worth a higher price?

When considering which to do, keep your Right Person in mind. What else could she buy from you that goes with her current purchase? Or how could you reach a new segment of your Right People with a new price?

Another way of marketing with Price is to group products together (a higher price, but perhaps a savings overall), or to break up a group of products. Or you can change the way people pay for and buy your item.
Freshly shorn fleece #shearingday

For example, I no longer sell single skeins of yarn online (you can find it in yarn stores) – instead I offer Monthly Yarn Mail. 1 skein of yarn, every month, delivered right to you. You sign up and are charged monthly, automatically. Or, you can buy a whole year of yarn at once.

While I didn't alter my pricing much, I did alter the way my customer interact with the price. They don't choose to buy a new yarn each month, it's automatic, and that makes the price less of a factor.
Other fiber artists offer “clubs” – where you sign up once and get three or sixmonths of yarn. It's the same principle – grouping something together, since we know our customers usually buy multiples (repeatedly) of what we sell.

Let's look at a few examples:

A jeweler can offer a high end range of jewelry and a more affordable teen-inspired line.
A bag maker can also offer wallets – a great, low-priced add-on to your order
A knitwear designer might create multiple lines – one of affordable basics and another that are very detailed, very intricate knit shawls.
A bookmaker might add a line of handmade bookmarks.

What else? How can you market using price?

Do you want fries with that?

Using Product as a marketing tool.

This month, we're talking about the difference between self-promotion and marketing. Marketing is made up of 4 aspects: Place, Price, Product and Promotion. Last we talked about using Place to market your work and today we'll look at how 2 makers used Product to reach a new market.

Cthulhu necklace
Collaborative Cthulhu necklace


Amy makes art.
Shannon makes laser-cut jewelry.


They met in the Starship and got to know each other while chatting in the Holodeck (our Starship-only chat room). When Shannon visited San Fransisco and stayed with Amy (a side effect of the Starship: you've always got a couch to crash on), they got to see each other's work up close. And they realized that their target markets (or Right People) aren't that different.

Shannon makes jewelry that geeks (math and science geeks) like, and Amy makes art that geeks (horror and sci-fi geeks) like.

They collaborated.

They talked, they asked the Starship questions, they sketched different ideas.
When they decided on what to make, Amy created the art and Shannon took those files and turned them into the right sort of files for the laser cutting software. They figured out the costs (and paid them up front) and now they each sell the work in their shops.

spider necklace
Collaborative spider necklace

This collaboration is a really great example of reaching a new market by creating a new product. Amy now has a high-end jewelry to offer her card-buyers. Shannon now has geeky/gothy jewelry with a slightly different aesthetic to offer her current customers.


The trick of creating a new product is to look at your existing customers.

What do you offer them? What do they use it for? What else might they like?
(Bonus points: what could you give them to help them use your main product?)

You want to be careful not to create something for an entirely different kind of customer. For example, If you sell geek-themed wall hangings, you might not want to make cutesy, Disney-themed baby blankets. (But baby blankets that go with your wall hangings = perfect!).

The mistake I see a lot of crafters make is to branch out into products for other crafters. This makes sense if you already sell something to crafters (patterns, yarn, supplies), but not if you sell the finished work to non-crafters. Remember, the girl who buys your jewelry probably doesn't make jewelry…so what else would she like?

Whether you choose to collaborate to create a new product or just come up with something yourself – what kind of new product might introduce you to a new market?

Here are a few ideas from the makers I've worked with:

  • A knitter who sells scarves can make custom-ordered blankets
  • A fine artist can sell cards
  • A knitwear designer can teach classes
  • A lotion-maker can make soaps
  • A jeweler can create a line of men's jewelry
  • A purse-maker can create wallets, or big beach bags
  • A yarn shop can create their own kits with yarn + patterns
  • A yarn-maker can carry someone else's handmade kitting needles
  • A glass artist who makes beads can make holiday ornaments
  • An embroiderer who makes wall hangings can create embroidered jewelry

How about you? What new kind of product could you make?

Where ARE you?

Last week we talked about the difference between self-promotion and marketing. Marketing is made up of 4 aspects: Place, Price, Product and Promotion. In my next few posts, we're going to have examples of how you can use each one to share your work with more people.

The following example is an amalgamation of the work I've done with several fabulous knitwear designers.
If it sounds like you, that's a sign that your worries are normal!


Went to Lambikin's Hideaway yesterday for some needles


Lindsay creates knitting patterns. She has an online shop on her site and sells through Ravelry. She has a well-read, well-liked blog (she's writing about the kind of things her Right People – knitters – want to read about).

But her sales have plateaued. She wants to reach a bigger audience and is thinking about doing some sort of promotion (buying an ad in a knitting magazine, offering 2 patterns for the price of 3)…and she wonders – is this the best way?

The problem with this plan:

Holding a sale is not a good match for her objective (reaching a broader audience) because who will she tell about her sale? Her current audience! A sale might generate more purchases from your current audience, but unless you pair it with something else, isn't going to introduce you to many new people.

While buying an ad on Ravelry might increase her Ravelry sales, buying an ad in a magazine is going to reach a lot of people who don't shop online, and who shop mainly in their local yarn shop.

And there, buried in her problem, is a hint for the solution.

She can reach a broader audience by focusing on Place instead of Promotion.

She can make her patterns available to more people by being in more places.

What are some of the places she could offer her patterns?

  • She can offer a wholesale line of patterns to yarn shops.
  • She can submit patterns to print magazines (the magazine pays you and their subscriber base becomes familiar with you and your work).
  • She can vend at knitting and stitching shows, fill her booth with samples of her work and sell printed versions of her patterns.
  • She can hold a trunk show at her local yarn shop (or even a regular boutique!) with samples of her work in a variety of sizes, so knitters can try on a pattern before they commit to making it.

Long weekend of dyeing + spinning ahead of me. Seeking fibery inspiration in pages

Where else could this designer put her patterns to reach her people?

Have you thought of how Place is a marketing tool you can use? Where else can your products show up?


Don't know where your people are looking for your product?
Let's research that during an Exploration.