See my introduction post about writing a business plan for your creative business. We discuss question #1 here and question #2 here. Time to move on to question #3!
#3. What am I selling? Both literally and figuratively.
Like question #2, this question also has dual meanings. First and most obviously, it’s asking what exactly you are creating and putting up for sale. What is your product? What are you good at making in an efficient manner that results in a high-quality, sell-able product? What do you enjoy making? At some point, it is wise to make sure that the things you are selling are actually generating a profit and thus worth creating for your business…but that’s a whole other story about pricing and sourcing and expenses and what not. Just something to keep in mind!
Your business plan should include a succinct description of the product(s) you offer for sale, preferably in a single sentence. Being able to boil down your products to simple phrases or key words will also be important when we talk about SEO and tagging. I sell many different types of jewelry, but I can describe each of them in short key phrases – rosette studs, vintage crystal earrings, bunting necklaces, etc. Do this for your products by product line or type.
You can also leave room for those “dream” items you want to make and sell in the future. Maybe you are prototyping a new design. What do you have on the backburner that you are experimenting with and hope to sell someday?
Second (for the “figurative” part), what is the experience, value, emotion, or feeling that you are selling via your product and brand? Does your product appeal to a customer’s senses, values, or emotions? This will influence the best approach for both marketing and selling your products and your brand.
For example, someone who sells luxurious, high-end or high-priced custom jewelry pieces might try to appeal to a woman’s emotions. They might use language like “spoil yourself” and try to convey the idea that every woman deserves to splurge on a little piece of something sparkly. For my simple, inexpensive rosette stud earrings, my strategy changes to appealing to a woman’s sensibility. I hone in on how the little rosettes are perfect for adding a budget-friendly touch of color to your daily wardrobe. Knowing what your product appeals to will help you talk about your product in an effective way.
To what sort of mentality do your products appeal? Do they make your customer more efficient? Stylish? Practical? Eco-friendly? Glamorous? Find what emotion or value you are appealing to and capitalize on that in your marketing strategy. If you aren’t sure, ask friends and family what words, feelings, or values pop into their head when they see or use one of your products. Does it make them feel happy? Useful? Trendy? Now’s a good time for some product research; have fun with it!
This question should get the wheels turning in your head about what the best “pitch” is for your product. Include these ideas in both your business and marketing plans.
Over the next series of articles, we’ll discuss each of the W’s and H’s individually. Feel free to click here to download a pdf of the business plan questions.
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Crafting a Business 101 : Series with printable business plan worksheets