Fixating on the wrong things will lead to opportunities missed... Don't make that mistake with your Craft Business.
A good few years ago I tried a new craft show; it had all of the promise of something that could become a regular in the knitting and spinning world. It was faced by someone who I respected and so I took a punt and booked my stall, fairly confident I’d be ok… unbeknownst to me there were a great many internal conflicts among the organisers that saw the show really bomb due to lack of advertising. In fact I only broke even because I had let my customers know I’d be there and one, bless her drove 100 miles just to see me!
Anyway, of course the show being what it was with no customers to serve, I took it as an opportunity to chat with other stall holders. I met some really wonderful makers that weekend and mixed with some of my favourites too.
There was one that stuck out for me.
She was an extremely talented maker who specialised in a certain type of product that had a very niche following. In fact I’d only seen a few people offer it at that time. She was incredibly powerful in her passion and like many she encouraged me to have a go. She was fascinating.
Throughout the first day it became apparent that she was having a bit of a spat with a fellow stall holder, who was making and selling something very similar… in fact I had seen this guy a lot at shows. He was a big personality and knew exactly how to get good press for himself, so he was someone who I had thought was a pioneer of this new technique. In fact it turned out that he had been a student of the lady I was speaking too and as you can imagine the spat was very real and had become very dirty. To the point where they had each hired people to shop with the other person, so they could not only keep abreast of what they were doing, but come out with something similar in a few days. It was intense to watch!
The spat aside what strikes me more each time I think back to it and what I wanted to talk to you about today is the massive opportunity this fixation on their competition cost them.
A few years back a major trend hit this particular niche technique, using a slightly different material. It was ‘the’ craft to be trying and everyone wanted to learn. I thought, ‘Wow I wonder where my favourite lady is and how she is doing? I bet she’s making strides now!’ There was no sign of her mentioned in the vast amounts of press this technique was getting. Neither was there mention of the gentleman.
I searched for their websites and found them. There they were perfect carbon copies of each other. Worse than that they had completely missed the trend! Why? Because they were clearly fixated on each other as competition and not paying attention to their customers or to the market.
I couldn’t believe it, what an opportunity missed!
So my advice is this; Do not fixate on your competitors.
- Do your customer research to find out how you can better serve them with products and services that inspire them
- Do your product research and establish the points at which your offer could change to give better results in sales, or how you can perfect an already great product idea
- Do your market research and establish trends in consumer buying and new techniques that might influence your opportunities to make sales
- And finally use your competitor research only as a tool to understanding what else your customer buys and why they buy it
These things combined are a great way to keep on track with what your customers are likely to buy going forward and it also helps you position your unique products in the best light for maximum exposure.
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