By Mari Chiba Luke, Stitchcraft Marketing
News flash: your yarn/paper/fabric/craft shop is not unique. Sure, there are some aspects that are a little different from your competitors, but there are a thousand shades of that perfect red, countless varieties of paper punches, and more options for amazing organizing bags than we can count on our fingers and toes. So why would a customer choose to buy from your shop, rather than that online retailer, the big box store 15 minutes away, or on Amazon? Because you’re providing a better customer experience. Really, that’s it – the one differentiating factor you have control over.
If you’ve read a marketing book, you’re probably familiar with the “Rule of Seven”. The idea is that a consumer has to “hear” your marketing message seven times before they buy. But in the age of many competitors, blasting your message aimlessly, hoping you’ll hit your target consumer, isn’t going to cut it. Consumers want to purchase from their “friends” (people they know, like and trust), not some faceless conglomerate. This is the area where even if the price is better online, you have a leg up as a small business. We call this journey of how customers come to purchase from a brand as the know-like-trust funnel. Generally, customers only purchase once they’ve reached a level of trust.
Getting to Know You
This is when customers first hear about your company, your brand story and what you sell. Making a great first impression is important. So where do people get to know your company?
- Print and digital advertising
- Earned media (print and digital articles/blogs/social media posts about your company)
- Social media
- Referral from friends or family
All of these areas lay the foundation for converting potential customers into returning customers.
Getting to Like You
At this stage, people are getting to know your company. This could be anything from your elevator pitch at a booth to a customer walking into your store or clicking a link that directs them to your website. It’s your chance to show the customer who you are, what you believe in, and why they should buy from you – because as we established, they could just as easily buy a similar product elsewhere.
Where do people begin to like your brand online?
- Website – don’t forget to include an “about us” page!
- Social media
At this stage, it’s important that you convey to customers how your product/service can make their lives better, easier, more beautiful, more creative, or some other enhancement.
Getting to Trust You
How do you build trust with people you meet outside of business? By being genuine, likeable, and generous. The same rules apply in marketing, so make your messaging about the consumer: connect with her on a personal level, provide value to her, and show her that you understand her pain points. Where can you build trust with potential customers?
- Testimonials (on your website, in social media posting, in the form of reviews)
- Endorsements from people your customers already trust
Of course, there are overlaps between all of these categories, and many instances where these stages can combine. Also keep in mind that converting from liking to trusting may take a long time and require many exposures. It’s important to remember that good friendships go both ways – you get to know your friend, and they get to know you. For a personalized marketing experience, you should provide the same experience to your customers. Tell them about you and your brand, your values, but also communicate that you understand her pain points, her passions, and provide her with solutions (your product/service).
When planning your marketing strategy, you should consider people at each stage of the
know-like-trust funnel. How does your content engage and bring people further into the funnel? What are you doing to increase brand awareness to invite more people along this path?
Here’s an example of a real customer journey. Although I know how to knit and have made several dolls and stuffed animals over the years, I still purchased a $65 hand knit doll from Cuddle+Kind for my son due to their well-executed marketing campaign. Here’s a breakdown of how they gained my trust to close the sale:
Know: I first saw one of their dolls in a Facebook ad. Not long after, I saw it again on Instagram; one of the mommy-bloggers I follow had a sponsored post showing her super-cute doll with her equally cute baby. I clicked over to the website, and browsed for a few minutes. There was a pop-up offer to sign up for their newsletter to get free shipping on my first order, but I wasn’t ready to buy just yet, so I opted out and clicked around the website a little more.
Like: Cuddle+Kind uses retargeting, so in the following weeks I started seeing ads for their dolls on my Facebook and Instagram feeds. I enjoyed seeing these brightly lit, beautifully styled images of dolls and babies in my feed because they reminded me of snuggling my newborn son. Then I sought out their Instagram feed on my own and started following them, which further increased my exposure to their stunning lifestyle images.
Trust & Conversion: As Christmas neared, I kept remembering these beautiful dolls. When I went back to the website and saw the free shipping pop-up offer again, I signed up for their newsletter because I was seriously considering purchasing one of these dolls. I immediately got an email with my coupon code, but the email also showed images and told the story of how these dolls give jobs to women in Peru and their community giving project that is tied to the sales of the dolls. I was sold! Not only did they have a product that I thought was beautiful, they had a great story to go with it. Although I could have knit a doll myself, between work and caring for my own child, supporting a business I believe in sounded like a better, simpler, and saner option.
How to Implement a Personalized Marketing Strategy
Clearly, knowing your target audience and tailoring your marketing strategy to their needs can make an impact for your business. In our industry, it’s safe to assume that your target customer is a knitter, weaver, spinner or crocheter – but within these categories, there are plenty more niches to explore.
A great way to get started is by creating a customer avatar. Think about your ideal customer, then ask yourself:
- How old is she?
- Where does she live?
- What are her passions?
- What inspires her?
- What do you think her annual income is?
- Where does she go on vacation?
- What does her house look like?
All the things you probably know about your friends, you should know about your ideal consumer. Give her a name, then create marketing material that she’ll love: photos, tutorials, newsletters, social media posting, should all be customized to her, your ideal consumer.
You’re also likely to have more than one ideal consumer. Maybe your yarn consumers include millennial, gen X and baby boomer women. How do you market to all of them effectively? The short answer, is, you don’t. Although there may be overlaps in what they find beautiful (like your yarn), the answer is that women in such different stages of their lives, with different life experiences, won’t feel connected with the same language or imagery.
For example, a crochet bikini top pattern to wear at the pool this summer might appeal to your millennial audience, but baby boomers may be less likely to crochet themselves a bikini top. Millennials are likely to find charm in the retro aesthetic of a crochet bikini top, but for gen xers it’ll trigger flashbacks to past wardrobe malfunctions.
Baby boomers are likely to be knitting baby projects for their grandchildren. Some gen xers might have babies at this stage in their live, but they are more likely to have older children. Older millennials are also likely to be having kids and knitting baby items. The lesson? Know your audience, and segment your marketing. You can target your Facebook ads, posting, and newsletters based on what you know about your customers.
Let’s revisit why Cuddle+Kind’s campaign worked so well.
- They nailed their targeting through the Facebook ad and the sponsored post on Instagram. They are everywhere I am!
- Retargeting works. They kept popping up in my feed, with lovely photos. Their beautiful photos of sweetly sleeping babies with their dolls? That’s not how I remember the newborn days (where’s the spit-up?) but that’s how I wanted to remember them. Crisp white sheets, cute swaddles, and lots of sunshine.
- They have a story I like, and they told me how my purchase makes me a participant in their mission. By purchasing a doll I also became a supporter of their campaign for providing economic stability for women in Peru.
- They built trust. I saw lots of other people posting these beautiful dolls on my Instagram feed. Surely if everyone else has been happy with the quality, and didn’t think $65 was an outrageous amount to spend on a knit doll for a 1 year old, then I should go ahead and buy one too, right?
Back when people used to shop in person or order on the phone, they had a more personal shopping experience: you’d talk to a real person, and they’d ask you about what you were looking for, and your specific concerns. The arrival of the internet has radically changed the marketplace, but customers still crave this personalized experience. If a small business wants to succeed, not only does it need to be where its customers are, it needs to give them exactly what they’re looking for. With 10,000 options for yarn online at any given time, how are you going to set yourself apart?
Stitchcraft Marketing is a niche agency specializing in craft, fabric and yarn companies. Check out their weekly blog and regular podcast, Business of Craft. Mari Luke is a knitwear designer and account manager at Stitchcraft Marketing.