Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change

creative business

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.

Self-Promotion vs. Marketing

I'm allergic to the term “self-promotion.”

Lots of crafters call it that, getting their work in front of other people, and it's not just a malapropism; it's dangerous! It  distracts you from what you should be doing.

To apologize for spilling the garlic sauce, Beau is making this face:

Beau begs you to stop calling it self-promotion.

Self-promotion sounds gross. In fact, just promoting yourself, telling everyone how great you are, is kinda gross. No one wants to be around the girl who can't stop talking about how great she can sing. (You know the girl.)

But calling it self-promotion is dangerous.

If “promotion” is the only way you're thinking of marketing, you're avoiding it. And that's dangerous, because you're probably avoiding all the other aspects of marketing, too.

(Or you're the other kind of creative, that just accepts the gross aspect of self-promotion and fills your twitter stream with “just listed [link to shop]”…but I'm pretty sure that's not you.)

Marketing, however, is the process of communicating with your people, about your product, your business and how it can help them.

Promotion is only (a small) part of the marketing equation.

It might help to know that traditional marketing (as defined in my past-life, MBA marketing classes), Promotion is just one of the 4 P's of Marketing.
In other words, it's only a quarter, of all the marketing you do for your business. In creative businesses, I have a theory that it's even less than 1/4, but we'll get into that in a bit.

The 4 P's of Marketing is a framework for thinking about your marketing mix (all the things you do to communicate with your people). Inherent in the concept of a marketing mix is the belief that Promotion isn't everything; that your focus should not only be on telling people about your work.

The other P's:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place

Product – It all starts with what you're selling – Is it something people want? If so, what about it do people want? Is that clear? Is it remarkable? Is there a new product you can add (or delete) from your line to reach a new market?

Price – We already know that pricing is not a benefit…but it is a tool for marketing. Not just special pricing (a sale or discount), but the overall pricing strategy: Do you have a range of prices? Do your prices appeal to one market over another? What does your price say about the quality of your product?

Place – Where your product is sold directly effects the market it reaches. Is your product where it's people can find it? If you only have an online store, do you know your Right People shop online? When you pick a craft show, do you make sure your people will be there? How do you pick a shop to carry your goods? Where does news of your business show up? Is that really where your buyers are?

See, there's lots of marketing to do that doesn't involve promotion. In my next few posts, I'm going to share stories of how specific businesses can market (and grow) using the other Ps.

What Ps do you use in your marketing mix?

Is there one you want to explore?



Things Change: 3 ways to make it suck less

Yesterday I shared a bit about how a thing (an offer, a service, an IdeaStorming thing) changed after I let it out into the world.
Today I wanted to share what I learned through that (and many many many other changes). Ways to make it suck less. Ways to maybe make it awesome.

Disclaimer: I'm mostly talking about systems that need change. Things in your business that you can influence. Not other people's actions, not outside forces. You. Your crafty biz. Your changes.

1. Notice

Always the first step to change: notice.
Notice what your customers are saying.
Notice what your people are asking for.
Notice what you're resisting.

Noticing gives you a little more…I don't want to say “control”…but influence.

Do you have a system in place for listening and noticing?

2. Don't resist

This particular example was pretty awesome: something I offered as being X turned out to be most helpful when it was Y.
But the change was only awesome because I didn't resist.
When clients said “Hey, I have plenty of ideas, what I'm struggling with is focus”, I said “Sure!”

I was really in love with the idea of IdeaStorming, but I am more in love with giving crafty businesses what they need. Rolling with the changes they suggest just make it better for both of us.

Is there something you've noticed but are resisting? Would it make things better for your customers?

(Example from my own crafty biz: I hate purple. Can't stand it. Customers always ask for it. I've resisted in the past, but why? It makes knitters SO happy and it's not compromising my morals.)

3. Make it gentle

Once you notice a thing you could change, there's no need to overhaul everything. Make a gentle shift into the new thing.

What super small teeny change could you make? What's the smallest possible step?

How do you make changes in your creative business?

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