The most difficult thing, but actually the most important and fundamental part of having your own business - is selling. Yes, I admit it, it's not my favorite thing and something I really need to get better at. This first year has been a lot about learning the fundamentals of driving a business, but the selling part has not really been reflected in proportion to its importance. So this year is gonna be all about selling. Well, not all, I need to create and produce things to sell too of course, but you know what I mean.
Selling or marketing is often described in the 4 p's (anyone who studied marketing and read Kotler?):
1. Product. A service or a tangible product. It is important to know exactly what your product is and what makes it unique to be able to market it successfully.
2. Price. Can be based on margins/costs, competition, value and the market - supply, demand and marketing strategy - the brand value.
3. Place. It is often said that marketing is about putting the right product, at the right place, at the right place, at the right time. So it is critical to evaluate the ideal locations to convert potential customers into actual customers.
4. Promotion. Or exposure and communication to potential customers. Talking to them, showing them that you and your products exist and convincing them about why they need and should buy your product.
Ok, so when it comes to Bear Bell Productions:
A) What are my products?
Well, I see it as two product types that I market:
1. Pattern designs and illustrations. This is a design that you (a company) can buy the license to use for a specific industry, market, product, volume and/or time period.
2. Patterned and illustrated things - i.e. physical products that I have produced with my patterns and illustrations on them, such as pillow cases, bags, greeting cards, art prints, clogs and sandals.
It's great to have a broad product range - to meet the needs for many target groups, but it also demands a lot of work and is time consuming. The key is to find products and services that you just need to produce once, and then can sell unlimited, with no roof. Pattern designs are a good example. You can license the same pattern over and over again, to multiple industries. I have recently created another of those "tics" - my Skillshare class. That is a product that will generate revenue for all times forward.
For me (Bear Bell Productions) the core product is the first, designs. This is what I want my business to be about first hand. The second product is really something I do to visualize my designs on real products, and also because it is so much fun making them.
So the product bit is quite clear for me - check!
B) What is my price?
I have one price setting when it comes to licensing of my designs. Usually it is 5% of the sales price for the specific product that is made with the design.
When it comes to my physical products I have to have the cost, my time, product value in mind primarily. Of course the demand and also competition is important, but since it's not my core product I can be a bit experimental. When it comes to clogs I do look at the market price and competitors to match. When it comes to pillow cases and bags the cost for materials and the time it takes for me to make them matters a lot. The profit margins for those two product groups aren't exactly huge... Art prints is based on what I think people are willing to buy them for.
The pricing part is still under evaluation and development. I guess time will tell and it is actually the next step - place - that is crucial for finding the right pricing too.
C) Where do I sell my products?
Today I have really only two sales channels; My Tictail web shop www.bearbell.tictail.com and in person. And this is definitely not enough. Well the web shop could be enough, but I need to get more people to visit and buy there.
Me, myself is a sales channel that should not be underestimated, but it means that I need to get my ass out there, do the footwork, find and meet people and pitch. Not my favorite thing, although, once I'm going it's fun and I'm quite good at it - easy to talk to people. It's that getting started part that is difficult. And I know I'm not alone.
I could definitely expand on my sales channels. And I actually just did by opening up my own Etsy Shop too.
But Tictail and Etsy shops are really for end products like pillow cases, art prints, clogs etc. What I need is a sales channel for my designs.
One option is to make my designs available to order in different pattern banks. And this is what I'm going to do in the coming weeks. Here are two examples:
D) Promotion. Exposing my products. Showing my work. Talking to potential customers and make them want to buy my products. So, as I have three types of products at this point, I need to understand the target groups for those three to be able to find the right communication channels (media) and how to talk to them:
1. Pattern Designs: companies that needs pattern designs for their products. Can be all kinds of industries and products. I have listed some in a previous post.
2. Patterned Things: Consumers that want unique and exclusive home decoration products and/or accessories like shoes and bags.
3. Courses: People who want to learn about design and to create their own designs, drawings, illustrations, patterns and so on.
To be continued....