Saturday, 3 September 2011

Create your brand - check out your buyers - and price it right!

In this post I'm going to take a look at 'branding' and give some pointers on designing the right jewellery for your customer base. We'll also take a quick look at pricing. Phew - quite a lot for one post!

Branding.. branding is what makes 'you', you. It's not something that is only relevant to 'big' companies - big companies do it because it works! If you are stuck for an original theme, think about how you would like to come across to your customers:

  • Quirky

  • Friendly

  • Artistic

  • Ethereal

  • Modern

  • Homespun

  • Classic

  • Edgy

There's no right answer - and those bullet points are just to start you thinking about your business image. When I started madcowbeads my list was.. friendly, zany & memorable. A herd of cows running a bead factory seemed suitably random (and we're in a converted cowshed!) - and I know that it has made the web address really memorable! Once you have thought about your brand, carry this through to your craft stall, your website, any stationery you have, your labels, bags and giftwrap too.

Branding doesn't need to cost loads of money. In most cases you don't need a glossy brochure or a company car(!) and in most craft businesses, being 'too slick' can be detrimental. Here are some effective ideas I've come across:

  • Get small labels printed with your business details (I use Stick these labels on old fashioned brown parcel tags . The ones I saw had thin gingham ribbon instead of the string! These made fabulous business cards for a hand crafted business

  • Decide on your business colours and co ordinate your gift wrapping service (tissue paper is particularly effective, and inexpensive) and your craft stall table cloths

  • Buy plain Kraft card boxes, and use your little labels inside - much cheaper, and nicer than paying for hotfoil printing! Finish with a ribbon in your company colours

  • Consider a 'uniform' for Craft fairs - what could you wear to promote your new brand?

Your intended customers will also affect your branding, so do think this through well. A burlesque theme could be dramatic & very successful in the right setting - but it's not going to be that appropriate at school fetes, where a sparkly fun approach is more likely to draw in the buyers!

When designing your items, you need to consider your sales venue and the type of customer this may attract. If you are running a stall at your local fete, then it would be sensibly to assume that your market is families with young children. Think about what they might buy, and what their budget might be. It would be safe to say you'll do well at this type of venue with smaller, cheaper items that aren't 'time heavy' to make - things like bookmarks, keyrings, zip pulls, stretchy bracelets etc. It's a good idea to have plenty of these available, and then perhaps a few more expensive and eyecatching items to display too.

Acrylic beads and buttons are perfect for these type of items and venues - they are light, pretty and hard to break. They're also really inexpensive, so you can conserve your margins, and offer really tempting prices!

Talking of prices... I know that some crafty folks find it difficult to price their work, so I hope the ideas below help your quandaries!

If you are in business making jewellery to sell, then you need to make a profit! That sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised! Work out the cost of the 'raw' materials and then add an element to cover your 'making' time, and things like pliers, which wear out and need replacing out of your profits! If you attend fairs, there is the cost of the stall, your fuel and wear & tear on your vehicle. Plus you probably need to buy a coffee, or some lunch while you're at the fair. This all adds up and needs to be accounted for.

Here are a few 'easy fixes' to keep your costs down!

  • Draw out a design and make variations of it - with different beads, or in different finishes - this way the 'design time' is lower

  • Use acrylic beads for cheaper items - they look great and don't break!

  • Think about 'economising' without adversely affecting the design - for example, a beaded necklace with a fancy design at the front could have a plain seed bead or 'noodle' side and back - or use suede or ribbon

  • Check your 'assembly time' - if you take ages crimping, don't make items that require tigertail and crimps. Concentrate on what you do quickly and well.

  • Design with one lovely focal and use seed beads as fillers as money savers that still look great

  • If buying online, factor in the postage. Many companies (including the madcows!) charge one shipping rate, so get organised and place one order to minimise your costs here.

If your items are selling really fast, do consider that they may be worth a little more :-) Pricing is your decision, but as a very general rule, charge at least 3 times your 'raw material' costs. On high value designs with branded crystals, or intricate work, a guide would be 6 or 7 times your raw material costs - and the sky is the limit with your handmade, designer one offs!

My personal observation is that many people underprice their work. Why not try charging a little more - you could be pleasantly surprised - and it's easier to have a sale, than it is to put prices up!


Sue said...

Thanks for some really good advice here. I have already created the brand, stationery and colour scheme - even a basic "uniform" but pricing has always been an issue for me. I think I lack the confidence in believing that people will pay good money for my work. The bit about it being easier to have a sale than put prices up has really encouraged me. I have a fair on 18 September so will put this into practice. Thanks again.

Mosaic Tree said...

GReat blog article - well written and easy to read - thanks - from one of your customers!!!

Mosaic Tree

Pauline said...

Love your advice about packaging and branding. I must try harder!