I have a coat. It’s stunning. It’s handmade, unique and interesting. I get compliments on it every single time I wear it. I’m constantly asked where I got it from, and I’m certain that the maker would be raking in the sales from referrals.
Want to know the tragedy? I can’t and won’t tell people where I got it from. The maker of the coat flubbed up on marketing, big time. Let’s all learn a lesson from my coat’s maker.
Where I got my coat
A while ago, I went to a silent auction. A friend of a friend had begun making interesting coats from recycled sweaters. I’d seen similar items on Etsy, and I immediately fell in love. I put in my bid, and won.
I love this coat. It has a big hood that neatly folds down over the shoulders and thumb-holes so that you can wear the sleeves like hand-warmers… and look how interesting it is!
So… what’s wrong?
The day after the auction, I went to pick up my coat. I was so excited to have won!
I picked up the coat and nothing else. There was no tag, no business card, no information about the maker. I have no idea who made it. I can’t recommend her shop to the dozens of people who ask where to buy my coat.
Furthermore, once I wore the coat, I discovered a couple workmanship flaws. Nothing major, but holes where the serging of pieces together had not been completed. So, even if I had the maker’s information, I’m not sure I would recommend the shop.
My suspicion is that the maker was asked to contribute something to the giveaway, and not wanting to donate something too valuable, gave away a piece that wasn’t quite perfect enough to sell. Makes sense, but a huge marketing mistake.
What can we learn?
The silent auction could have been an amazing promotional opportunity for my coat’s maker. With a quality piece and a card/label, she would have gotten a customer for life, as well as a number of referrals. But, alas, the event did not go that way.
Fortunately, we as crafters can learn a few important lessons from my coat.
- Always include a card with your contact information with every item you make. Even better, add a sewn-on or permanent label. Don’t assume that it’s ‘obviously your style’.
- Always put your best foot forward. It’s easy to donate a less-than-stellar piece to a school event or giveaway. But every single piece is a representation of your work. Don’t let a piece reflect poorly on you!
- If you must sell less-than-fabulous pieces, considering adding a ‘seconds’ label to your work. This is what outlet shops do. You’ll notice that a piece from the Gap Outlet has a different tag than a piece from a normal Gap store. It reminds customers that the item was purchased at a discount.
- Consider if an event/giveaway is worth it. If you genuinely believe an event/donation request has little likelihood of bringing in new customers, politely decline. It’s better than compromising your work.
With these few tips, you’ll never miss a marketing opportunity, again!
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