Craft Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published Aug. 12, 2012 | Modified July 12, 2019
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Marketing ideas for small businesses to help you get your handmade product in front of customers and make it stand out from your competition.

You've developed a clever, well-made product. Now what?

Now you need some effective, and affordable marketing ideas for your craft business.

It's not enough to simply create a great product with a smart design and trust that it will sell itself. All of your marketing efforts need to come together to entice customers to buy.

To get yourself in the right mindset, take a look around with a critical eye at places where people sell crafts and get a sense for who is making sales and who is not.

Etsy is a great place to look because you can see statistics on how many sales someone has made and how long they've been selling. You can also check out craft shows and see whose booth is full of shopping customers and whose booth is not. Ask yourself why one person is making plenty of sales while someone else is not.

White desktop with notebook. Text overlay: Marketing ideas for your craft business.

It's not always the most skilled artisan or the person with the most original designs who makes the most sales (although those factors can't be overlooked). If those craft artists haven't incorporated good marketing into their business, they won't get the sales they deserve.

Developing marketing ideas for small businesses requires a nice mix of logical, business minded thinking as well as a good deal of creative thinking. Once you have a good understanding of some of the business concepts, you'll be able to apply your best creative efforts toward developing some creative marketing ideas for your craft business.

Your craft marketing encompasses everything you consciously and sometimes unconsciously do to sell your work. When done well, it is consistent, comprehensive and all encompassing.

Craft Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

There are plenty of ways you can market your creative business. Here's what you'll find on this page:

  • Know Your Customers
  • Know What You Want to Communicate
  • Know How You Will Communicate
  • Find Your Winning Business Niche
  • Develop Your Business Brand
  • Fabulous Craft Photography
  • Catchy Business Names
  • General Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses

Know Your Customers

The better you understand your customers, their desires, motivations and expectations, the better you will be able to communicate effectively with them and make smart business decisions.

Think about the person who buys your product.

Ask yourself:

  • What is their typical age range?
  • How would they define their style?
  • What does their style say about their self-perception and outlook on life? (are they quirky, modern, traditional, independent-minded, into luxury?)
  • What is their average household income? How much money do they have available for discretionary spending?
  • What is their relationship to money? Do they like to be frugal? Do they spend a little extra money for quality investment pieces? Do they love luxury for its own sake?
  • Who are they buying for, themselves or someone else?
  • Why do they buy things? Why do they buy handmade? What motivates them to be your customer?

Don't Try to Be All Things to All People

When thinking through the qualities of your typical customer, it's important to avoid the trap of thinking you will sell to everyone.

Some craft business owners mistakenly think that by appealing to a specific niche, they will lose business because they won't appeal to people outside of their niche.

A small business that tries to appeal to everyone typically ends up appealing to no one.

You just can't be all things to all people.

If you try to do that, you'll miss great opportunities to laser-focus your business on the needs of a specific group of people.

When you clearly define a specific niche of people who are your target market, you will be one step closer to making those people your devoted fans. You can become wildly adept at meeting their needs because you will be able to make all of your business decisions with the needs of those customers in mind.

Consider Your Needs, Too

As you think through these marketing ideas for small businesses, you might realize that meeting the needs of your target customer will cause you to create a business that isn't in line with your work preferences.

In that case, you might need to re-think the type of customer you want to target.

For example, if you're like me and you love creating new designs but don't like production work, then targeting a frugal customer might not be right for you. You might be better off targeting a customer who looks for the luxury of one-of-a-kind design.

On the other hand, if you find production work meditative and relaxing, you might be very well suited to create a business built around a few great designs that you update seasonally.

It is very difficult to market to everyone. It is much easier to market to a defined niche of potential customers.

So take some time, and based on:

  • the type of work you create
  • your previous interactions with customers
  • and statistics if you have them (if you've tracked information about your customers, or if you sell your crafts online you might have access to some statistics that will help you get a snapshot of your typical customer)

Write a paragraph describing your typical customer. If you think better visually than in words, you could even draw a sketch of your typical customer.

Know What You Want to Communicate to Customers

Now you know your customers. But before we jump into specific marketing ideas for small businesses, it's important to think about what message you want to convey.

Review the characteristics you came up with, and, for each one, ask yourself how that impacts your business decisions and how you can appeal to those characteristics and expectations to entice people to buy your work.

For Example:

Imagine you make moderately priced, on-trend jewelry in the $20 to $30 range. Among other things, your customers are frugal and fashion conscious.

In that case, you might consider the following business and marketing decisions:

  • Get access to and use good research on jewelry trends when you design your jewelry so you don't have to scramble to keep up with trends.
  • Use materials and suppliers that allow you to keep your prices low enough to meet the expectations of your target market while still making a profit.
  • Refine your production process to be as efficient as possible to ensure you can keep prices within your customers' expectations without short-changing yourself.
  • Develop a few great designs that you create as production pieces rather than designing one of a kind items in order to keep your prices in line with expectations. Making one of a kind items requires more design time and might require you to keep a wider range of materials on hand, which impacts the price you need to charge to make a profit.
  • Look for a value-added feature that appeals to your customers' sense of frugality. Perhaps you could design a reversible necklaces, or interchangeable bead earrings so they get two items in one.

Although those decisions involve the design and production process of your products, they are also marketing decisions that help you appeal to a specific target market.

You would make very different decisions if you were trying to reach a different target market.

Decide How You Will Communicate With Customers

The venues you use to connect with customers and the way you choose to communicate your message will vary depending again on the type of customer you want to reach.

Keep in mind, communicating with customers doesn't just happen through the spoken or written word.

You communicate a message to you customers based on:

  • Where you sell your products
  • The methods you use to contact and connect with customers
  • The content of what you say when you contact customers
  • The design of your promotional materials
  • How you display and package your items
  • How you dress when you meet customers
  • How you talk to customers

That sounds like a lot to remember, but if you have a very clear picture of the person you are trying to appeal to, it becomes much easier to make decisions about the image you want to project.

Once you have a good sense of who your customer is and what you want to convey to them, you can look at some specific marketing ideas for small businesses.

Write Effectively For Your Online Customers: Learn the basic concepts of persuasive online copywriting so you can write to entice your online customers. Plus download an excellent 200+ page free ebook on writing to sell your products online. Working through this information will also equip you with plenty of information that will help you talk to customers.

Build Customer Relationships With Your Newsletter: A newsletter is a fantastic way to build relationships with your most dedicated customers. You can control your newsletter more than you can control other sources of visitors to your website / online shop, and you can make real connections with customers. Here's how to get started with email marketing.

Build Your Business With Your Personal Connections: Here are four simple techniques professional counselors use to develop rapport with clients that you can use to develop rapport and communicate clearly with your customers.

Business Networking Skills: Developing a great business network can be immensely helpful for the growth of your company, and it doesn't have to be a formal, nerve-wracking activity. Here's how to sharpen your networking skills to make connections, painlessly grow your network, and build your craft business.

Connecting With Social Media: Of course, no online marketing effort is complete without social media.  I've written several articles about boosting your business with social media over on the "How to Sell Crafts Online" section of the site. Click the link above to check out tips for promoting your business with social media.

Finding a Winning Business Niche 

Finding Your Niche: If you can go beyond simply being a potter, or a soap maker, or a photographer (or whatever medium you work with) and find a niche market for your business, you can build a community of people who aren't just customers; they become fans of your business. Here's how to find a market niche for your business.

Own Your Niche: One way to own your niche is to be the most trusted, well-informed person who is consistently first to respond to customers' needs. Here's how to efficiently stay on top of news and developments in your niche.

Develop an Irresistible Craft Business Concept: Discover how to combine your talents to develop a craft business concept that is irresistible to customers.

Develop Your Business Brand

Packing Your Crafts for Greater Profit: Want to charge more for your products? Here's how great packaging can help you raise the perceived value of your items and help you sell more crafts at a greater profit.

An Excellent For Handmade Packaging Ideas: Working out a best way to package your craft that is attractive, cost effective, secure, and not too time consuming can be tricky.  So, here's a great resource to help you develop great packaging for your products.

Promote Crafts with Brochures and Catalogs: Have you thought about creating a catalog or brochure to promote your business? Here are some tips on creating this type of marketing material.

Use Consistent Craft Marketing Strategies: Consistent, targeted craft marketing is crucial to the success of your craft business.

Communicate a Consistent Message to Customers: Do not confuse your customers! Ensure your communication is consistent with customer expectations. 

Fabulous Craft Photography

Getting Great Photos For Juried Craft Show Applications: Your photos can truly make or break your applications for juried art shows. Here's what you need to know about getting the best photos to get into the better shows.

Great Craft Photos for Online Sales: While the craft photography I see in online shops is definitely getting better, I still see a lot of photos that are clearly the cause of lost sales. Selling crafts online, you only have your words and your photos to convince a customer to buy. Here's how to make the most of your photos for online sales. 

Photographing Arts, Craft, & Collectibles: If you need to know how to take traditional craft photos - the formal style with all black, all white, or a graduated background - this book is for you. Click the link above to read my review and find out more.

Guide to Blogger-Style Craft Photos: This book lays out a more modern style of craft photography typical of what you'd expect to see in a blog, or a well-styled online shop. Read my review to find out if The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos is right for you.

How to Name Your Craft Business

A great business name will tell a story about your company to customers. It will be memorable and support your marketing efforts.

The series of articles below shows you how to define your goals for your company name, brainstorm cool business name ideas, and choose the best name for your new venture.

How to Name a Business: How to brainstorm and choose a great name for your creative business - step by step.

6 Traits of Good Business Names: Good business names share these 6 common characteristics. Make sure any business name you brainstorm contains several of these traits to choose a company name that's a winner.

Create a Catchy Company Name That's Unforgettable: Great business names are memorable to your target customers. Here are 4 ways to create a name that customers won't forget.

Bad Company Names: 5 characteristics of the worst business names. Avoid these big business naming mistakes, so you don't end up choosing an unfortunate company name you'll regret.

How to Write a Naming Brief: A naming brief will help you to understand everything you want in a business name. It will get you on track through the entire process of naming your company. Here's how to write one.

Choosing a Blog Name: 5 tips to help you choose the right name for your online business and avoid common traps when searching for an available domain name.

Create a Business Name: 3 Ways to Name Your Company: There are only 3 ways to create a business name, as well as 3 fundamental types of company names. Here are your options when coming up with business names and the pros and cons of using each type.

How to Brainstorm Business Name Ideas: Smart strategies for brainstorming a list of cool company names for your craft business.

Help Naming a Business: Loads of resources to help you brainstorm and choose a great name for your art business.

Choosing a Company Name - How to Choose the Best Name from Several Options: 7 tips for choosing a company name. Once you have a list of possible names for your creative business, you need to narrow down that list to choose the one best name your your business. Here's how to do it.

Choosing a Business Name: Criteria to use to narrow down your list of possible names and choose the best company name for your business.

Business Name Registration: Why you should register your business name and where to go to get started.

General MArketing Ideas For Small Businesses

Creative Business Marketing on a Dime: 8 affordable strategies to market your craft business with time and money you can afford.

Be Prepared!: Guest author Beverly Taylor describes how being prepared helps her find great opportunities for promoting her business.

Artist Marketing Plan: Developing a marketing plan to promote your craft business will help you stay focused and accomplish more. Without a plan, you'll jumping randomly at marketing strategies without assessing their value or creating a cohesive plan. Get organized and create a plan to effectively market your small business.

Customer Tips to Sell Your Crafts: Customers share their thoughts on what motivates them to buy handmade products and provide tips to help you meet their needs and expectations and sell more crafts.

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