One of the most challenging things about starting any business is getting the word out. Marketing your business effectively is crucial to staying afloat, but you’re running a home sewing business, not a marketing company! How do you strike the right balance between sewing and marketing? And if you’ve never done any marketing before, how do you even get started?
Thankfully, it’s not as intimidating as it might seem. Marketing basically comes down to a few categories. In marketing parlance, these are known as the Five P’s: Person, Product, Price, Place, and Promotion. By creating a marketing plan based on these factors, you can develop an effective toolkit that will let you focus more of your time and effort on sewing, and less on trying to find customers!
This is the newest addition to the list of marketing factors (until recently, it included only four P’s), but it’s possibly the most important. The first thing you need to think about when starting your sewing business is who your customers are. What kind of sewing do you do, and who is going to buy it? Are you creating finished products that you’ll sell directly to your customers? Are you going to make custom garments, or do alterations? Maybe you only work in bridalwear, or kids’ clothes. Whatever kind of sewing your do, start by making a list of who might be interested in it. Try to think outside the box. If you do bridalwear, your primary audience will be brides-to-be, but your skills might also appeal to pageant contestants, and high school girls looking for prom gowns. All of these audiences will be important to your business, but each of them are unique, so your marketing will be a little different for each of them.
Now that you’ve got an idea who you’ll be selling to, it’s time to work out the details of your products. Create detailed descriptions of your different products or services to use as a reference when you’re posting about them online, or talking about them to potential buyers. Don’t worry about using “marketing language.” These descriptions are just for you, to make sure you’ve thought through all the features of your items. Try to look at them from the perspective of each of your different audiences. To use the bridalwear example, brides might be interested in having a one-of-a-kind gown, while pageant contestants might want gowns that can be easily packed up and transported.
Price is a sticking point for a lot of creative entrepreneurs. It’s important that your products or services cover not only the cost of materials, but also your time, travel, equipment, and other aspects of your business. The harsh reality is that if your business can’t make a profit, it’s not sustainable, so you need to price accordingly.
There’s another aspect to price that many marketers overlook: the non-monetary costs. These are all the things your customers “pay” in order to make their purchase: time, travel, effort, etc. Think about your products from a customer’s perspective. How easy is it to buy your products? For example, do you take credit cards? How’s your customer service? This is where your business can shine, and where your “price” can actually be quite low. By meeting your customers’ needs, you can help your customers see the real value of your sewing skills. Add these cost savings to your product descriptions for reference.
This concept can be a little bit tricky to understand. In this case “place” isn’t about where you advertise your products or services, but rather about where your customers can access them. Are you working with local businesses to sell items, either wholesale or on consignment? Do you have a website, or a Facebook page where people can buy your creations? Do you work from your home, or a studio where people must come to you for fittings or consultations? Understanding how your customers can access your work will help you decide how best to reach them. If your handmade goods are available at a local shop, don’t put a lot of effort into sending local customers to your website instead. Conversely, it doesn’t make sense to advertise your local studio to far-off audiences, even if they otherwise seem like the perfect customers. Make a list of all the different ways people can access your work–remember, this includes just being able to contact you, especially if you take commissions.
Now it’s time to think about the things that usually come to mind when you hear the word “marketing.” These are the ads in newspapers and magazines, the billboards and business cards, the websites and social media posts. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you consider all the different options available, and the costs can mount quickly, so you want to make sure you’re using the most effective marketing for your individual business. The truth is, there’s no magic bullet when it comes to finding that perfect mix, but the foundation you laid by first considering the people, products, pricing, and places of your business will be a good place to start.
Though there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to finding what works, there are some tips and tricks that can give you a leg up when you’re first getting started. One of the simplest is to have a website that’s easy to navigate, and a basic social media presence. That doesn’t mean you need a profile on every social media platform. Choose one or two to start with, and build from there when and if it makes sense. Another powerful tool is email marketing. With a traditional brick-and-mortar store, and even with a website, you have to wait for customers to come to you. With email marketing, you can go to your customers. There are lots of companies that can help with creating email lists and generating beautiful emails to get your customers buying from you time and again. Many of these even offer free accounts for businesses with small email lists.
You didn’t start a sewing business to spend all your time marketing, but it is an important part of gaining new customers. By putting in a little work ahead of time and working through each one of the Five P’s, you’ll be able to market your products to just the right customers, whoever and wherever they may be.
Got any marketing tips and tricks of your own? Share them in the comments below!