How to increase your sales by 187% (Or ‘The one with the customer‘)

Know your customer, by Market my Handmade's Lucy Thornton

by Lucy Thornton, Market My Handmade

“Dear losers, do you really think I would hide presents under the couch?
P.S. Chandler, I knew they’d break you.”
“Uh oh, I think she could be onto us.”

If you’ve no clue what I’m on about, then thanks for stopping by, but I wasn’t talking to you.

If you know exactly what I’m talking about (and you agree that Monica is indeed very loud for such a small person) then hello, dear reader.

Knowing your customer is one of the most important steps to getting your marketing right.

By changing how I talk to my clients in marketing communications, my business more than doubled in just three months.  And it’s still growing.

And the change wasn’t all that difficult. All I did was talk directly to my customer.

Who is your customer? Does she watch American sitcoms? Does she know who the Kardashians are? Does she shop locally? Does she care about organic? What websites, if any, does she visit?  What magazines does she read? Does she have children?

Close your eyes for a second – (okay, read this first, then close your eyes).  What does your customer look like?  How does she spend her day? Does she drive to work? Does she buy lunch or take a packed lunch?

Get a crystal clear image of your customer to communicate effectively with them
The more you know about your customer, the more targeted your communications and the more effective your marketing messages.

My customer is female, she’s called Sarah and she’s a mother with two young children (Evie, 4 and Josh, 7). She wears A-line skirts, and she layers her tops so she’s never too hot or too cold. Sarah’s husband works full-time, and she has a part-time secretarial job that helps pay the bills. But she’s frustrated and wants to develop her own business. She makes sure the children have fruit in their sandwich boxes each morning, but then buys herself a Twix from the vending machine in work to satisfy mid-morning munchies….

Once you’ve got a crystal clear image of your customer, talk to her one-to-one in all your communications. Every time you write a sales letter or a blog post, when you Tweet or write copy for your website, talk directly to your Sarah (or Rob, or Pete, or Jen).

Talking directly to your customer makes for great marketing
This will make your communications incredibly powerful. Your customer will relate to you. She’ll feel like you know her and she’ll trust you because of it.

Maybe you’re thinking “but I have more than one customer”.  Yes you do, but you’ll be surprised how many people read your copy and relate to it. They’ll think you’re talking to them (even if they don’t wear A-line skirts).

So how do you put all this into action?  Right now?  How can you use this to increase your sales or followers by 187%?

Once you’ve got a few attributes that you can list to describe your customer, then you can get marketing with feeling:
– use the same words in your marketing that your customer uses (“mid-morning munchies” rather than “elevenses” perhaps?)
– write like you talk (no “henceforth” and “whence” and “to whom“, and maybe even the occasional “yeah“ – what would you English Literature teacher say?)
– use images that she can relate to in your marketing – photos of homes like hers, families like hers, friends like hers
– hang out in the same forums as her (not like a creepy stalker, but join in the conversation and offer constructive comments and advice)
– don’t get too hung up on grammar – write like you talk. Use commas after and, use loadsa slang (as long as your customers do).
– share articles that she’ll care about, through Twitter, Facebook and your blog
Who is your customer? What does your customer do? How old are they? What do they read?We’ll look in more detail at growing your business through social media in the next post from Market My Handmade here on OMHG, but until then, who’s your customer?  Do you know her well enough?  Is your customer a man? Is he older than you?  Does he read Time Magazine?  Does he care about the latest gadgets?

Tell me about your customer in the comments below.

PS: And if you didn’t get the Friends reference in the opening paragraph, then thanks for sticking with me til the end. Maybe I was talking to you after all….

18 comments

  1. Christina – Jennifer sounds like me (or how I’d like to be!) How do you talk to Jennifer? Do you offer support and advice on your blog on subjects she’ll find helpful? Do you post collections of organic baby clothes or list local companies that offer organic veg boxes? Do you empathise with the challenges of being a SAHM, and share funny stories about babies?

    Once you’ve identified your customer in your mind’s eye, talk to her directly in your copy – think about how you can provide solutions to the problems in her life, and share them – you’ll have loyal readers who know where to come when they want to buy what you’re selling.

    Why does OMHG have loyal followers? Because it includes posts on issues we care about, items we love, written by women like us.

    Give Jennifer information that she can use to make her life better and you’ll connect and reap the benefits! Let me know how you get on, Lucy x

  2. Joanne says:

    Excellent advice. It’s Friends vs. ThirtySomething former fans for me! ( nOw who gets that?)I am appealing to new Mom customers ( both commuting and sahm)who are more sentimental than trendy, were read to as a child and treasure details despite a busy life. I also must connect with VIP Grandmothers who are nursery rhyme fluent, melt over cloth alphabets books and send snail mail to their grandkids. I have been online sans blog and recently joined a retail artisan shop locally for the older traditional shoppers. I try hard to use my facebook page for relevant content links but now I will try to be funnier too!

  3. Sonia – I bet she loves OMHG :o)

    Joanne – I like the sound of your customer. She sounds lovely. How are you talking to that customer?

    Share pics of 1950s Ladybird books on your facebook page.

    Start a discussion asking your FB ‘friends’ what nursery rhymes they remember.

    Ask them what toys they loved best from their childhood. This will help you understand more about when they grew up so you can tailor what links you share online.

    Getting your readers engaged is the first step to building their loyalty.

    Have fun checking out those jam-making recipes and gardening tips for the VIP grandmothers! ;o)

    Lucy x

  4. Kat says:

    Hmm.. this is a hard one, because I think my customer would be a woman in their mid 30’s to 40’s with teenage kids who would borrow their clothes and jewelry. They probably work full time jobs, but love to hang out at social gatherings with their friends on the weekends.

    And well, since I am in my late 20’s… to be honest, I have a hard time relating to this type of customer because of the age gap and my lack of life experience. Any suggestions?

  5. Kat – the best way to relate to this type of customer is to hang out where she does. What websites does she visit? Any online forums?

    Red magazine is targeted at women in that age group – you could start by checking out Red’s website to see the sorts of articles they publish for women in their 30s/40s.

    Then take note of which companies advertise on Red magazine’s site and visit their websites. How do they talk to their customers? What article do they publish? What images do they use? What benefits do they highlight in their web content?

    The more you learn about your customer the more you can narrow your niche, talk more directly to her and understand how your products can best solve her problems.

    Let me know how you do, Lucy x

  6. bethany says:

    We are at a loss as to who our customer is; we can’t seem to narrow it down. We have moms that range in age from 20-40 with babies and 8 year-olds; some work, some stay at home, most are fairly well off financially. We also have customers that buy gifts for adults and for themselves.
    A common denominator between these two buyers would be nostalgia; everyone seems to have a memory that is stirred when they enter the studio, and they love sharing their stories.

  7. Bethany – I’ve taken a look at your online store and think you’re trying to be too many things to too many people.

    It sounds like a contradiction but the more you narrow your niche the more of an expert you become in that area. Think big fish in small pond, rather than small fish in big pond.

    You can try and compete with the giant brands who sell everything to everyone (Walmart), but the competition is pretty fierce, so focus on what you do well – your children’s clothing is adorable – build on that.

    Try focusing on one or two product lines and do those really well:
    – aprons for children (perhaps with matching baking bags with a wooden spoon, cookie cutters and tea towel included) and
    – children’s clothing

    Make all your products from recycled fabric and you can then start developing a brand that says vintage, nostalgia, eco-friendly (recycling) and handmade.

    That should help narrow your niche. Try looking at who your current customers are – are there are any trends?

    Once you’ve established these product lines, consider developing a new range for mums.

    What do you think? Could you narrow your product range? How would it affect your sales?

  8. Gret says:

    Thanks Lucy, great post. I now realize I have not been doing this, but what a great exercise. I think my customer is female aged 30-40 who has a little bit of a crafty or sewing interest herself. She is probably juggling work and family life but appreciates handmade, and loves to drop in to a thrift store or vintage market if she passes it. Her sense of style is simple and classic, not quirky or left of centre. She’s likes to bake, and is particular about drinking good coffee. She is down to earth, appreciates detail and likes to spoil her friends occasionally.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  9. Thank you so much for such a fantastic post – something really different.

    I have had it in my inbox for a week or so now and have just had a go.

    Thought it was only fair to share my customer too…

    She is female, 37, married
    Lives in Victorian terraced house
    Decorated in Cath Kidston / Laura Ashley
    She eats Italian food, drinks white wine
    Tries to be healthy but is a bit overweight and eats too much chocolate
    She has two children under 7 – a boy & girl
    She is self employed p/t doing something from home
    She doesn’t have enough hours in the day
    Her husband has quite a good job
    She belongs to a book club but it’s a bit of a chore sometimes
    Most of her friends are other mums
    She has quite a perfect life on the surface but secretly feels quite low sometimes
    She buys flowers every week
    She wears White Stuff clothes
    She is close to her parents / family
    She likes to take baths & have ‘time out’
    She is tired quite a lot, trying to juggle things

    That’s about as far as I’ve got I think.

    Charlotte
    xx
    http://www.cottontailsbaby.co.uk

  10. Charlotte & Gret – thanks for sharing your customer profiles. The level of detail is great – I can picture both customers and think I understand them a little bit.

    Once you’ve done the job of defining who your customer is, remember to visualise them every time you’re planning a new product, or writing a sales letter, or a blog post, or sending an email.

    Write directly to the customer you’ve just described (to one person – not ‘Hi all’ but write as if you’re talking one-to-one).

    Acknowledge her problems, try and provide solutions that will make her life easier and address her biggest worries.

    Have fun with it though – it’s much easier to write great content when you’re talking to your customer, rather than trying to address the masses. Show you relate to her and share her world.

    Thanks again, Lucy x

  11. Sherri says:

    I am so glad I found you! I can’t wait to read more! I’ve never really thought about my customer’s profile before today. Most of the items that I sell right now are for infants, so I’ve focused my thoughts more on the babies than the mommies. Well, not anymore!

    My preliminary thoughts would be that my customer is Sasha, a mid-twenties, college educated sahm who recently had her first child, a baby daughter. She is very eco-conscious and looks for all-natural, handmade and preferably local items for her baby and her family. Her husband has a good career and she does not mind spending a little more to get the best for her precious little girl.

    I just recently set up my first Artfire shop and now I want to go back and review my copy because I’m sure the new grandma in me is probably oozing out of my ad copy! =D

  12. Thanks Sherri – I love your comment – it’s good to hear when someone can use tips from a post immediately – thank you!

    What key messages are you using now for your customers? What language and keywords do you use to describe your products? Do you use images that reflect Sasha’s home and lifestyle? Look forward to seeing how your new shop develops, Lucy x

    PS And congrats on being a new grandma :o)

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