Marketing to the needs of your customer will increase your traffic and sales. The basics of this concept applies to all sorts of businesses regardless if you are an artist or an accountant. Your customer is more likely to buy something that they want if it also fulfills a need they have.
What’s the difference between a need and a want? Purchasing a product to fulfill a need is like the grocery shopping we all do because we have to, not always because we want to. Food is a need even though we often want it too. A want is often related to an impulse buy. We might think we need something when we really just want something. A pedicure is a want, not a need.
As a creative, you may not think it is easy to market to your customers' needs. Art, crafts, and photography sounds like something people would want. But there are other things you can focus on as a creative when promoting your products and services that will fulfill a need of your customer.
1. Offer a Solution to a Problem
Your customers might not just be the people who buy your art or craft, but people who want to learn from you as well and are willing to pay you to teach them. Take a look at your speciality: Can you provide a detailed tutorial, an online webinar, or provide personal lessons to educate your customers? There are tens of thousands of online tutorials available on YouTube because people recognize educating their customers for free or even at a fee will eventually turn into sales for their products. You also become seen as an expert in your field over time, increase your visibility, and become more well known in the creative community. If people know about you, can find you, and respect you, they are more likely to buy from you.
Everyone has someone that they need to buy a gift for - birthdays, holidays, etc. Buying gifts can be stressful enough, so help your customer out and give them a unique, handmade product for a gift. Are you able to personalize your product for your customer or take commissions for larger projects? Let your customer know they have options when buying from you.
If your creative business involves creating downloadable files that your customer then prints out, offer an option to have a printed version sent to them at a higher price. People often pay for convenience. Examples of these are weekly planners, printables for art journals, a workbook, or stencils for crafts. Sometimes people like your product but do not want to go through the hassle of printing it out. Either they may not have access to a printer, they may not understand how to do double sided printing on a small home printer, or do not want to worry about having the right type of paper or colored ink.
Make your customer experience as simple as possible. If people cannot find what they are looking for on your site, or run into any issues when they are checking out, you may have just lost a sale. Be careful that you do not create problems for your customers. Ask friends and family to test out your site and your checkout process. Was it simple and easy, or did they have trouble navigating? If they did have trouble, was there an easy way for them to contact you for support or a FAQ section.
2. Find a Gap in the Market and Fill it
Take a look at what your competition is doing. How can you improve on what they are offering? What are they not providing to their customers that you are able to provide? There are often simple things you can do that will have a large impact with your customers. Pretend like you are a customer and try to find a product on the internet similar to what you offer.
Was it easy for you to find, did it have everything you expected it to come with, and would you come back as a repeat customer?
Perhaps you’ve noticed people are generally unhappy about the shipping speed and costs from your competitors. This is something you can potentially improve on with a few simple changes - maybe use a different delivery company or promise a 1-2 day shipping speed over your competitors 3-4 day policy. Little changes add up!
Do you offer a product at a lower cost and more features than your competition? Advertise these key features on your website so your customers are fully aware of what they are getting. Don’t be afraid or too shy to self promote!
For artists, it can sometimes seem difficult to apply these concepts to art that you produce. You could ship a print fully framed rather than rolled in a tube or just with a matting. Add a personalized note or some free samples: a few note cards or post card sized reprints would be something your customer then could share with their friends and family (more advertisement for you!). Your angle could simply be that you have a specific or unique style that no one else is offering - carve out your own niche and make it work for you!
3. Ask Them What They Need?!
Yes, talk to your customers. Do not hide behind your computer screen or canvas.
If you are at an art show and people approach your tent, take that time to talk to them. What are they looking for? What is it about your art that made them stop to take a closer look? Are they in the market for themselves or someone they know?
Discussions that you have in person with your customers are just as important as discussions that happen online. Use your social media and your own website to connect with your customers. The more you interact, the more they will remember you and the personalized experience you provided them.
Sales can often feel very impersonal. If you go that extra step to make a transaction a more personalized experience, your customer is more likely to remember you, come back as a repeat customer, and recommend you to their friends and family. Who doesn’t love an awesome experience?!
You can’t be afraid to interact with your customers. Your business may very well depend on interaction with your customers that develops into relationships. If people feel close to you, they will buy more from you. You may not feel like you know them, but the more you open up with your experiences through your blog and videos, the more they will feel like they know you.
If someone leaves you a comment or feedback through a review on your product, respond to them and let them know that you are there for them. Regardless if it is a complaint or a praise that they leave you, interact with them now or you will have lost a great opportunity to connect. Pay attention to comments people leave you - you may just find what they need through comments and reviews!
Read the reviews that your competitors receive. What are people asking for? How can you make their lives easier? What need of theirs can you fulfill? It is perfectly okay to do a bit of recon on your competition. Actually, it’s necessary.
Send out a survey to your customers asking what you can do to improve their experience. Their responses may shock you and you might just find out what they need.
Here are some sample questions. Replace “my product” with the name of your product:
a. What do you like best about my product?
b. What can I do to improve my product?
c. Why did you choose my product over our competition?
d. Why did you purchase my product?
e. Does my product make your life easier or better in any way? If yes, how?
f. Would you return to our site for future purchases?
g. Would you recommend us to your friends and family?
What needs do your customers have? Take time to seriously consider their needs and how you might be able to position your product to fulfill those needs. The more you understand why people buy from you, the better you are able to market those features and increase sales.