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Archive for September, 2008

These are uncertain times. Stocks are falling, banks are failing, who knows what the next president will bring to the table? I’ve spent more time reading the news and watching CNN than I ever have. I’ve never been more interested in what our next potential presidents have to say.

And I’m worried. I’ll admit that when I went into my own business, I left a job and mortgaged my house for more than I should have (20/20 hindsight) and now housing prices have fallen. I have more debt than I care to be carrying. My savings are weak at best. And my ‘real’ job is tied to advertising dollars and if things get much worse….who knows?

So what am I looking for in these uncertain times? Comfort. I want to feel safe and secure. I want to be surrounded by familiar, happy things. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve noticed (and I’ve seen this before), as the economy sinks lower, my sales on Etsy, eBay and my website have gone up. People don’t stop shopping because banks are failing. Some don’t have to. There are still gifts to buy. People need some comfort, some escape from the bad news that’s around them.

What better place to get that than a craft site like Etsy? Even if it’s just to go there to browse, who knows what they might find and have to have.

Etsy is not particularly political. For the most part, buying something on Etsy is not going to break the bank. And there’s lots of warm, fuzzy things that people make with their own two hands there. It takes people back to a simpler time. It’s relaxing.

I’m going to work on my Etsy store this weekend, and my eBay listings, to make sure that my copy, my photos, my titles offer my photo albums as an item of comfort…a special gift….a keepsake…something invaluable that will last a long time and can remind my potential customers of easy, fun and not so scary times.

The economy is not in great shape. But instead of pulling back and not advertising my albums because “who the heck is going to be buying them now?”, I’m going to make an extra effort to make sure they are available to those people who want a break from the worry and want to remember or celebrate good times.

I’m expecting to have a good holiday season this year because I’m going to make the effort to offer customers something they need right now…comfort.

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On Friday at work, one of my coworkers and I were passing in the kitchen and we exchanged the usual “Hi, how are you?” Of course the answer we always expect is “Fine” or “Good, and you?” and we move on. This coworker jokingly asked me if I was going to wait around for the answer. We were crazy-busy and I was walking as I was asking.

It’s become a joke between us and that’s fine but it did get me to thinking. Are we really listening? Are we really doing the things that our customers would like to see? Or are we doing what’s easy and what we love. I get that as artisans, the whole point of creating is that we love what WE are doing. I’m not suggesting that if one of my customers (I’m a bookbinder) wants jewelry, that I’ll switch gears and start making jewelry. But if a customer asks for a slightly different style book or a fabric I don’t normally showcase, I see if I can do what they are asking or find that fabric. I’m not always successful, but I do listen to suggestion and I always try. I’m fortunate. I create custom products a lot of the time and I have to listen to my customers. But, I get really great ideas from them.

What I’m proposing for this holiday season is that maybe we should ask our customers what they’d like to see…what will get them to click on the “BUY NOW” button…..what they will be willing to spend their disappearing dollars on?

Have a mailing list? Send out a survey to see what people are looking for? Figure out the trends. Pay attention in convos. You may just find the “next big thing” that way.

And when you have a consensus about a color, a pattern, a style….try it. Someone out there will notice you listened and be happy to spend their money with you.

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