About themarketmill

Marketing graduate, experienced department store buyer and owner of small business.

….it has been a while.

I owe you an apology…

…..it may have appeared that I have fallen off the Earth….or worse…….a sneaky holiday in the Bahamas,  but rest assured I am here and …..well ….have been busy.

To catch you up, here are some of what I have been up to while it appeared I was on a break.

A regular guest post-  Perth Upmarket

What?  …success requires more than just talent.

Cost effective tips on how change can keep your business youthful.

Embracing change?  No thanks I like things just the way they are.

The workshop – Business Basics for creative people with the lovely and talented creatives of Perth Upmarket

A soon to be regular monthly guest post – Epheriell Designs

The price of desire.

Very excitingly my first article for online magazine ‘Tickle the imagination’.  A stunning publication by a fellow Perthite:  next edition out early December.

Launch of Facebook site: The market mill

………and in the coming weeks the launch of a monthly newsletter:  Milling around.  Offering resources that I have found useful in the starting and developing of my business – Cookie Dough biscuits, marketing and branding tips, successful people that inspire and encourage me and “how to’s” to get the best out of your brand.

and finally the development of my new logo (by the very talented Karma Designs www.hellokarma.com)

Well after that, think I need to put my feet up!

See you next week.

Lisa

http://www.themarketmill.com.au

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Case study – Beadbods. How to communicate with your customers without saying a word.

I first met Lori Anderson- Creator and owner of the unique and gorgeous jewellery brand Beadbods, 6 months ago.

We both attended the same artisan market – one that was held over several weeks,  so we got to get to know each other a little more than the usual once only occasion.  Whilst discussing general topics and market set up, I got to delve into what Lori believed her business to be about, and also stand back and see visually what her brand was saying to her customers.

After an Image Blast session – here are some key findings on how Lori strengthened her brand, refocused her message and re energised her business.  And most importantly increased sales.

CASE STUDY – BEADBODS

 STEP 1 :INFORMATION GATHERING.

i)  What is your sales pitch?

“Beadbods are durable and adorable. They are versatile mini-people pendants happily handcrafted in Perth. Beadbods are an original pattern, and all designs are made in limited numbers or even as a one-off piece.  They are functional and fun.”

Lori’s hope is that they become motivators for positive behaviour.

ii)  What makes you unique?  Your unique selling proposition.

“The product is unique. I have re-worked a design to make beadbods an original pattern.”

iii)  How do you see your brand/image?

“The current one is a clean, modern look – which I think is unisex and will appeal to a wide audience. It doesn’t pigeon-hole my product as much as the earlier attempts. I like that it’s simple, versatile, and works pretty well with my product. I need to now carry this through across all areas of my business (signage, website, promotional materials.)  At the time I met Lori, she had spent considerable time and valuable resources developing and improving her logo, tagline and packaging – but was a little unsure on what direction to take.

At the time I met Lori, she had spent considerable time and valuable resources developing and improving her logo, tagline and packaging – but was a little unsure on what direction to take.

STEP 2:  IN REVIEW

i)  How does the customer view Beadbods?

By her visual cues, the message is complicated, non targeted and difficult to understand at a quick glance.

Although the message is confusing – the customers who purchase believe Beadbods to be beautiful and special, but not enough people are taking the time to stop.

STEP 3:  CONCLUSION

i)   The message Lori’s customers are getting is not one of unique, beautiful and finely hand crafted jewellery.

ii)  Her main image and photo was not highlighting the beauty of her product.

iii) In displaying her product (because she only had one type), Lori felt more was better.

iv)  Because her display was not straight forward and the message difficult for her customers to decypher, Lori was spending more time explaining and less time selling.

 

STEP 4:   STRATEGIES TO REFOCUS AND BUILD THE BEADBODS BRAND

i)  Photography

Always use the best photos you can afford – or take a workshop or classes to improve your own skills

TIP:  Find what it is you want to say with your photo and try not to overcomplicate it with unnecessary props/settings.  Words set to images can help explain your product better without overshadowing the main feature.

ii) Display

I say this alot.  SIMPLIFY!!  Just because you only make one type of product, don’t get caught into the trap of putting out so much stock that the customer doesn’t know where to look.

Create a focal point, tell a story or draw attention to what you want the customer to notice.

What is it you are wanting to say?  In this case, to most people, “unique” means less of the same products.  The more products I see on display the “less unique” and hand crafted I think your product is.

TIP – takes lots of product but don’t put it all on display.  Top up when products are sold.

To convey this to the client,  I drew a rough sketch of a design concept to help Lori simplify and highlight the beauty of her product.

iii)  Understand the message you want to communicate and look for unique and simple ways to execute it.

Everything about your business is saying something.  Look carefully and ensure they are communicating a unified, clear message.

 

 

STEP 5:   THE RESULTS

i)  IMAGE

The image now highlights the gorgeous product.

ii)  DISPLAY

A simple and pared back display now highlights the product.

The customer can easily understand the product and make purchasing decisions without the need for involvement from Lori.

The display and product now do all the talking and allow Lori to pay attention to all her potential customers.

Lori has taken the concept and injected her own personality – which is vital when building your brand.  It is easy to be consistent and honest when it comes from “you”.

iii)  EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

By allowing the product to now speak directly to the customer, Lori’s “sales speak” is an added bonus (not a necessity) and the customer has the ability to make their own assumptions about the product and why they are purchasing it.

It can be often true of “hobby turned business” that we spend so much time involved and loving the product we feel we have to tell every little detail to the customer –  potentially confusing them and taking away from them – why THEY love it.

In Lori’s case this may be true.  She described her product as “durable, functional and fun” and by wanting to give her “little people a reason for being” may be overcomplicating a simple pleasure.  Her customers are buying them because they are unique, adorable and beautiful.  It can be as simple as that.  It is an instant appeal without saying anymore and her new display now speaks confidently.

TIP:  It may sound obvious – but remember to allow the customer their reasons for purchasing too.

iii)  BEING CONSISTENT

Lori now has a clear message for her brand which allows her to build strong communication with her customers.  It will also help her with defining and building her marketing which includes packaging, logo, tagline, facebook and website.

Seeing Lori at the last Perth Upmarket – she was beaming, confident and somewhat amazed at what a few small and inexpensive changes had made to both her business and herself.

For more information on an Image Blast Session visit The Market Mill

Wishing for elephants.

I know a little girl who has a very active imagination.

In her first term of kindergarten, the teacher approached her mum with enthusiasm and asked innocently ” and when are you going to Bali?”.  “We aren’t” replied the puzzled and slightly embarrassed parent.  “Oh she mentions it every day and every Friday she always replies to the warm phrase –  “see you all next week” with “you won’t see me, I’ll be in Bali”.

This went on every week without any doubt or waiverig belief that she wasn’t actually going to Bali.  At home half her imaginary friends lived in Bali, the other half were moving to Bali and all her dolls holidayed there.  It was as simple as that.

Now this little girl had never been to Bali, nor had she seen pictures of it – but I am guessing the stories she had heard all ended with what wonderful times people had and what a magical place it was.

Her belief in going to Bali was so strong that half way through the year a fellow class mate – who was actually going on holidays there,  said to the class “Good-bye, I’m off to Bali”.  Without a batter of an eyelid the little girl replied – “great -I’ll see you there!”

This went on all year and although she was told several times, she never chose to believe her parents had little intention of going.

Before that year was out,  the little girl, with a smile big enough to make the whole world happy, was fastened into her seat alongside her Mum, dad and baby brother – on a flight bound for Bali.

She had the most amazing adventure.

Dare to dream, dream big and believe anything is possible.

THE BUYING PRINCIPLE #2 USP – Making the most of it!


Now you have identified what makes your product unique – do you make the most of it?

Do you shout it from the rooftops, stamp it on everything and promote it whenever you can?

Does your customer know why you are unique and ultimately why they buy from you over your competitors?

When you know and understand your uniqueness, getting it across to your customers, magazine editors and buyers is the next important component of effective marketing and brand building.

Consider your tagline, business cards or Facebook bio.

Do they communicate your Unique selling point effectively?  These are great tools for getting across who you are and how you are unique,  in a simple and compelling way.

Often the simplist approach can give you the clearest direction and the most effective connection with your customers.

For example a cupcake business that sells beautiful cupcakes but iced simply.  Compared to their competitors they may look “plain”.

Now consider their business with the tagline and added phrase:

In a world where frosting and decoration often outshine the cake – in these two sentences they have pitched themselves uniquely from the 100’s of cupcake businesses competing in a crowded market.  It has taken their product – generally pitched toward children and opened it up to a completely new target market.

Great tasting, petite cakes, for grown ups.

In letting your customers know why it is they buy from you,  it in turn makes them aware of what it is your competition are not doing for them.

And when meeting with a buyer it is important you can articulate why it is you are different and what target customer you can cover off for them – that they are not already doing with their current range.

 It makes you look professional, passionate and informed.

Perspective is golden.

                                                                                                                               It has been a busy busy week so far and things are sure to get a little more stressful before the week is over.  So it is timely that my gorgeous Aunt would send me these pearls of wisdom from her enlightened treasure trove.

“I remember after I had become an adult crying on my Mothers shoulder.

I  am not too sure what I was crying about but obviously it was a heartbreaker.

My world was shattered by something someone had said or done to me.

My Mother, the ever so wise woman just listened to my wailings. ( I had an audience)  I wailed louder still as I was very hurt.

Out of the mouth of my steady Mother came “do not upset yourself Dena”  Well that sat me back on my haunches.  I blinked, tried to cry some more and then I thought about it.    Who was doing the upsetting here?

I pulled myself together, picked myself up (no participating audience!) and got on with life.

I heard myself repeat those very same words to my daughter recently ! The response she gave was very similar to mine all those years ago.

I thank my Mother for that incredible balm from her Medicine Chest of Wisdom.”                                                                                                                                                                                           Geraldene Takaro – Mother  wife  listener  healer  

THE BUYING PRINCIPLE #1 USP Finding and knowing it!

This week I introduce my new weekly posts called THE BUYING PRINCIPLE- A buyers’ perspective on running a successful, creative business.  I hope to give you a slightly different angle on how running and improving your business for better profit doesn’t have to be complicated, costly or use up all your time- after all you have gorgeous things to create!

So… you started making something you loved.  Then friends and family loved it too and asked could you make for them and then you thought….. hey…I could earn a little extra cash for this and ……….so you started a business selling at a market stall.

The customers loved it, the feeling was electrifying and the feedback endless.  To keep the customer happy you took on board all their helpful suggestions and before long you looked at your table overwhelmed, and found a “business running you”. This was not what you had in mind.  Sound familiar?

To gain control again and point this “living thing” called a business back in the right direction the perfect place to start is

FINDING AND KNOWING YOUR USP (unique selling point)

and ultimately does your YOUR CUSTOMER know it?

The first things I would say to the many potential brands that would pitch to me their worthy products:

1.   How does it fit into my product mix I currently stock in the department?

2.  Why would I choose your product over the many others I stock and potential new ones?

3.  How will your product be successful – bottom line how will it make me more sales?

You would be surprised how few people had stepped into my department let alone done their homework on the above questions. I was! All that hard work getting to the appointment stage to blow it on something so fundamental.

Pretty much you would have lost me before I had got to see any of your products.

Knowing the answers to the above questions means you know and understand why it is your customers are buying your products and you have a healthy respect for my business.

So….back to your USP.  If you are not sure or things have changed since you first started then get back to basics.

1.  Go to a market, a store or a department to see the products that are similar to yours.  Make a note of the brands, the price points, why you would buy them and then go back to your product and see where it fits in.

2.  Don’t just think of it as a product, it could also encompass your skills, experience or knowledge.  In a recent workshop we identified that it wasn’t a product that this business was selling – the unique selling proposition was rather a service, an experience, a feeling.  The product was secondary.

3.  Ask friends and family what they think makes your product unique.  Often those who have seen you grow are the ones that can give you a different perspective.  You will be quite surprised.

4.  And lastly actually imagine pitching to a buyer, a centre manger or financial institution.  What would you say?

Knowing your USP is only the half of it. If you know why it is that your customers buy from you over your competitors – then make sure you make a BIG deal about it.

Next week THE BUYING PRINCIPLE  is about building your message around your USP and importantly building your brand. A clear, concise message is imperative in highlighting why current customers buy from you and why customers who don’t – should.

Harvesting – with designer label “jham”.

BEYOND THE MARKET

It is easy to see why Perth couple Jodie and Andrew are a thriving success.  They are the perfect balance of talented designer and quintessential husband and wife collaboration.  The stylish simplicity and timeless elegance of their label transcends age and stereotypes and allows customers to develop their own sense of style by mixing and matching luxury tailored pieces.

What started out as a stall at the Fremantle markets now boasts over 120 stockists nationwide and business has never looked better.

Eager to understand their triumph from local market retailer to national wholesaler, Jodie was kind enough to share with me her valuable insight.

Did you start wholesaling or retailing first?

We started retailing first (in a market environment).  We knew little about the clothing industry and it was a good way to learn. It also fitted in well with our home life, with young children to care for. The direct customer feedback was invaluable in terms of producing a commercially viable product. Once we started wholesaling and built this side of the business, the market store was a convenient way to clear excess stock.  With the rise in popularity of internet sites, however, we have found that there are other ways, that are less labour intensive, to clear stock.  The markets enabled us to get a business off the ground but a few negatives started to creep in. I started to design with “market price points” in mind, which began to limit creativity. I also spent too much time working on the floor, which detracted from time spent designing new ranges and growing a business. Staying in a market environment for too long, in our industry, can also be risky from a branding perspective.

Why/how did you start  wholesaling?
We were approached by a couple of stores to see if we would be interested in selling our product to them.  We did, and it exceeded our expectations.  As luck has it, an agent brought several of our items from one of these stores, discovered it was a local label and approached us regarding representation by them.  Once we had one agent and our brand started to work for them, it was a lot easier to get other agents on board.
What are your best tips for someone thinking about wholesaling?

In the early days, Trade Shows helped us to build a customer base in areas where we didn’t have agents and we have found some of our best customers through them.  They can, however, be expensive and there is a higher risk of orders falling over as there is no pre-existing relationship so it’s important to keep a limit on the cost of these.
We now sell through a network of agents throughout the states.  For us, these professionals, with existing relationships in their states, get better results than we could.
For us the challenges of wholesale are to produce strong ranges that sell through,
ensure the agents have the selling materials they need and to look after our customers and service them professionally.
We were lucky to find a manufacturer who is reliable and has good quality control and this was essential.
Finally, it is always a challenge to keep consistent cash flow.   Foster relationships with customers who pay. Carrying too many of those who don’t, or are excruciatingly slow,  can send
a small business under.

Jodie Hebb

Thank you Jodie.

To find local stockists or buy online visit

www.jham.com.au