Author: Tara Swiger

The 4 P’s of Marketing or Please stop calling it self-promotion


I’m allergic to the term “self-promotion.”

Many crafters refer to sharing-their-work as “self promotion” and I cringe every time. I bet you do to. Self-promotion sounds gross. In fact, just promoting yourself, telling everyone how great you are, is kinda gross. No one wants to be around the girl who can’t stop talking about how hot she is. (You know the girl.)

But it’s not just icky, calling it self-promotion is dangerous.

Because “promotion” is only one part of the job of sharing your work. And if “promotion” is the only way you’re thinking of marketing, you’re probably avoiding doing it at all. And that’s dangerous, because you’re probably avoiding all the other aspects of marketing, too.

Marketing, however, is the process of communicating with your people, about your product, your business and how it can help them.

Promotion is only (a small) part of the marketing equation.

It might help to know that traditional marketing (as defined in my past-life, MBA marketing classes), Promotion is just one of the 4 P’s of Marketing. In other words, it’s only one quarter, of all the marketing you do for your business.

The 4 P’s of Marketing is a framework for thinking about your marketing mix (all the things you do to communicate with your people). Inherent in the concept of a marketing mix is the belief that Promotion isn’t everything; that your focus should not only be on telling people about your work.

The other P’s:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place

Product – It all starts with what you’re selling – Is it something people want? If so, what about it do people want? Is that clear? Is it remarkable? Is there a new product you can add (or delete) from your line to reach a new market? (More on marketing with Product here.)

Price – You already know that pricing is not a benefit…but it is a tool for marketing. Not just special pricing (a sale or discount), but the overall pricing strategy: Do you have a range of prices? Do your prices appeal to one market over another? What does your price say about the quality of your product? (More on marketing with Price here.)

Place – Where your product is sold directly effects the market it reaches. Is your product where it’s people can find it? If you only have an online store, do you know your Right People shop online? When you pick a craft show, do you make sure your people will be there? How do you pick a shop to carry your goods? Where does news of your business show up? Is that really where your buyers are? (More on marketing with Place here.)

So you see, there’s lots of marketing to do that doesn’t involve promotion…marketing that will feel a lot less icky than “self-promotion.”

What Ps do you use in your marketing mix?

Is there one you want to explore?

Join us today for our last Marketing Madness #OMHG chat to talk about the 4 P’s of marketing & the end of icky self-promotion!

What marketing really is (and how to stop avoiding it)

What Marketing Really Is (& how to stop avoiding it) Tara Swiger, Oh My! Handmade


Dear sweet makers,

From your comments about marketing, on the blog and in the Twitter chat, it sounds like the biggest thing keeping you from sharing your own handmade goodness with the world is the you are terrified by “marketing.”

So let’s clear this right up!

Marketing = all communication with the people who will (and do) love your work.

(For another take on this definition, read this.)

This means 3 things:

  1. Marketing can be as simple as talking to people who love what you make.
  2. Everything that communicates is marketing; including your labels, your photographs, every word on your website, some of your tweets, and of course, your product descriptions.
  3. Your job with your marketing is not to convince people to like you or what you do. It is not to convert a non-believer. It is not to put your work in front of people who won’t buy it (either because they can’t afford it or don’t like it.)

Isn’t that better?

So what are we talking about when we talk about marketing?

Getting really clear in your message. Your message includes who you are, what is special about what you make, and how it benefits the buyer. (Chapter 1 of my book helps you define each of these pieces).

Sharing that message so that the people who will love your work know it exists.

Identifying who those people are and where they hang out, so you can speak to them.

Now, instead of despairing at what you haven’t done yet, can you celebrate the bits of this list that you are already doing? (Hint: if you have a website – you’re already sharing your message! If you’ve made even one sale, then you’ve identified at least something about your people.)

What is the marketing (ie, communicating) you’re already doing with the people who will love your work?

PS. If you have a hard time talking about yourself and your work (and what makes it special), Diane + I are teaching a class to help you. Sign up here to be notified when it opens on May 28th +  watch for part 2 of this post on the 4P’s of Marketing next Thursday, May 30!

How to harvest your business garden growth

Weeping Cherry = my favorite! A gorgeous day to explore a new neighborhood  & route. #foundwhilerunning #uar

In the garden of your business, one of the hardest parts of cultivation is managing growth of your harvest. Your crops are your products and services, and even if you think you know when to they’ll be ready to harvest, they seem to have a mind of their own. The harvest is for you (selling that product = cashflow) and for your community (they are being served by your product or service). Each crop has a different harvest time – a felted pincushion might result in a next-day sale, while teaching a class might not be ready for harvest for a month, and writing a book might not yield a harvest for a year or two.

Everyone I’ve ever worked with has had the same gardening issue – completely fallow periods followed by a crop so huge that they don’t have the time to harvest it all. This often comes to a head right when you should be celebrating – when you reach a long-time goal, like landing that book deal, getting a huge wholesale order, or being accepted into a trade show. But instead of celebrating, you feel the weight of the huge harvest. Not only do these Big Projects take time and energy, but you still have to keep your regular business flowering so that when you’re done with the project, you can continue to pay the bills.

(My own experience with this came last Spring – the week before my manuscript was due at the publishers, I got the largest wholesale order of my life. I spent those two weeks editing/emailing all day, and spinning and dyeing all night, while fulfilling client obligations and weekly Starship chats. Ooof!)

There’s something about Spring, with it’s glut of trade shows, publishing deadlines, and craft show application due dates, that has conspired to overwhelm nearly all of my clients with new Big Projects. If you’re struggling to feed your crops and harvest the fruits, here are a few gardening tips for managing it all.

1. Plot your garden.

The beginning (or even the freaking-out-middle) is the perfect time to really look around your garden patch. Have you planted everything willy-nilly? Or do you have orderly rows? What will be ready to harvest and when? Every plant (product or service) you could possibly seed will have a different timeline and need a different amount of space. While you probably can’t plant everything you want to eat at once, you can think about what you’ll plant and when you’ll plant it, with an eye towards the harvest.

When you’re just getting starting, it’s all about cashflow, so you want to start planting things with a quick harvest. But as your business grows, you’ll need to offer your customers different options, which will provide you with a mix of harvest times. You may want to invest time and energy into a longer-term project which will yield bigger crops (and a more invested community).

This healthy mix is different for every business, but the important thing is that you make sure you’re able to harvest something regularly (or you have a savings plan to get you through until the next harvest). For example, I have monthly clients, quarterly book royalties, yearly-renewing Starship members, and a few one-off one-on-ones and classes throughout the year.

Remember: your garden plot isn’t just for you – it feeds your customers, too! Bring ’em to the table with something quick and nutritious and then invite them back for more and more. The easiest gardening mistake to make is investing in a long-term, big-commitment project right from the start, before building the trust of providing great service over the years. But just as dangerous is only ever offering something quick, cheap, and low-investment — some of your long-time customers will want a big, leasurely feast with you!

2. Prune.

Even if you’ve plotted the perfect garden with regular harvests, Big Projects are going to pop up and take over. The trick is to be able to distinguish an opportunity you really want from a weed (an opportunity that doesn’t serve your long-term goals). Once you’ve decided you do want to keep that plant, you’ve got to make the space for it. Perhaps you need to scale back on one of your other plants, or you need to refrain from planting what you had planned, so that you can dedicate your resources to the new project.

You’ve heard it a zillion times, but let me reiterate: to give all of your beloved plants the sunshine and soil they need, you’ll have to say no to some project plants. You might need to cut back something you used to love, or totally transplant something that’s not serving you anymore.

3. Fertilize. 

When you’re struggling to give everything the sunshine and water of your attention, it can seem impossible to make the time to fertilize your inspiration. But this is when you need it most of all. The fertilizer of your business is rest, inspiration, and connection. Even when you’re at your busiest, you’ve got to take time away from the business in order to have energy when you are working. Soaking up inspiration will brighten your own light. To make sure you’re not comparing (the ultimate light dimmer!) your work to the inspiration – look outside your field of work. I like to look at paintings when I’m burnt out with writing, or go running with music after a day of business-flying.

What do you do to tend your garden during periods of intense growth?

PS. Need the help of an experienced gardener? Check out a Flight Plan session for plotting your next Big Project.

Come chat with Tara Swiger and #OMHG from 1-2pm EST this Thursday (April 25) on harvesting our creative bounty and strategies for surviving success!