Wednesday, 8 May 2013

How I inadvertently invented a marketing strategy...

Recently I have seen lots of blog posts and online magazine articles about the importance of marketing, and how getting to know your 'ideal customer' can help focus the direction in which your business is going.


I find reading these articles fascinating, as they are describing (in very helpful detail) a process I went through about a year ago.


...Only back then I didn't know I was creating a marketing strategy!


This is the story of how by finding my muse, I inadvertently created a marketing strategy that was the making of made by lolly!

When made by lolly first started back in 2010,  all I had was a hobby that had got out of hand.
I had no business plan, no branding and no idea where I was heading.

Two years pass. I teach myself how to blog, join Facebook and eventually Twitter too. I attend local craft fairs and set up online shops.  I learn how to take better product photos. I begin to develop a brand identity and focus on creating two new collections each year. I improve my packaging and display and hone my prices to achieve realistic profit.

I practice my craft and pride myself on the quality of the items I make.

But - there's a problem. I'm sitting at a craft fair in a cold damp hall, and the only potential customer that I've seen all morning is a soggy dog walker who has come in to get out of the rain. Even if she had remembered to bring her purse, (she hadn't) - this person was not my ideal customer.

That day made me realise that if my business (no longer an out-of-control hobby) was going to grow, I couldn't sit around hoping that a soggy dog walker would buy one of my felt accessories.

Think about it: How many times have you gone out to walk the dog and come home having bought a felt corsage?
Not many, I'm sure!

So, who was my ideal customer, and more importantly, where did she shop?
I used the rest of that unprofitable craft fair searching for my muse.

And I'm so glad I did, because although she is imaginary, and has no name, my muse (or 'ideal customer' if you prefer) has had more of an influence on the direction my business has taken than any other person!

Finding the Ideal Customer

These are the types of things I wanted to know:

  • Demographics: Gender, Age, Marital Status, Location, Education, Income
  • Personal Details: Height, Weight, Hair Colour, Personality, Style
  • Hobbies and Interests: Indoors or Outdoors?
  • Favourites: Book/Magazine/TV/Film/Music/Colour/Restaurant
  • Shopping Habits: Online or in person? Other brands?
  • Social Media Habits: Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest? 

But to be totally honest, for me the most revealing piece of information about my muse was working out which magazine she read. Isolating the elements of that particular brand and understanding where they were positioned in the market place, gave me a much clearer idea of where I was heading, and what I wanted to achieve. I worked out:

  • How trendy or traditional she was (from the styling and content)
  • How much disposable income she had (from the price of the magazine)
  • What kind of hobbies and interests she had (from the content)
  • Where she shopped and other brands she associated herself with (from the adverts)
  • What kind of product styling was in vogue (from the article photographs) 


Why was it so important to focus on a specific Ideal Customer? 


To persuade you how much easier things are with a muse, let me use this example:

When you are present shopping, which do you find easier:
Shopping for your best friend?
Or shopping for a distant relative who you see once or twice a year?

You know everything about your best friend.You know what colours and styles she wears, what she will like and dislike - and in fact you know her so well that you can anticipate how she will react when you show her something new.

Imagine that your 'ideal customer' is the best friend of your business.

How much easier would it be to make business decisions if you could already anticipate how your customers might react?

I have found that over the last year my muse has helped me make decisions on:

Colour Schemes | Pricing | Events | Product Display | Packaging | Social Media | 
Styling | Photography | Branding | New Products
To be totally honest - pretty much every area of my business! 
I now have a focus and an idea where my business is headed.
I have a marketing strategy and a business plan.
Plus I find my muse can be quite inspiring too. If I'm feeling stuck, I might put her favourite music on, or buy a copy of her favourite magazine to see if there are any new trends I should be aware of. Maybe I'll have a play on Polyvore and make her a new outfit (the high tech equivalent of those dress-up paper dolls I had when I was a child!)

Basically, I hang out with my imaginary friend! 

And do you know what?! It's the most rewarding and profitable relationship. Thanks to her my business is getting more exposure and I am making more sales. I have built a website. I have found the courage to apply - and get accepted - for bigger and more prestigious fairs.

But it is a bit of a one sided relationship - and sometimes I do feel 
like it's time I gave her something... 

 ...a name maybe?!

You can find the articles that inspired me to tell my story 
(as well as a lot more information!) by following these links:

 How to Find Your Target Market from the Etsy blog.

Positioning Yourself in the Market from Moyo Magazine, Issue 2 

your-one-most-awesome-customer from build a little biz
I'd love to know if you can guess what magazine my muse would read?
Or maybe you want to share something revealing about your Ideal Customer?

Please feel free to leave a comment below!


  1. Thank you that has set the dusty cogs of my mind whirring. I have always had an imaginary customer but never thought of looking at her in this way. Mine is there to shout at me when I am getting stale and need a swift kick. My imaginary customer is a somewhat amorphous at the moment and clearly having read this it would seem she and I need to sit down and have a good chat about what she can do for me.

  2. Great blog! Great information and advice! Loved reading it!

  3. Fantastic post! You have described exactly all the processes I have been doing, too, except my ideal customer has got a bit hazy of late, explaining why it might be harder to design at the mo. I'm off to set a coffee date with my imaginary new best friend :)

  4. Thank you, I'm not sure I know my ideal customer well enough - I need to spend more time getting to know her better! (at least I know she's female!)

  5. Wooooaaah fantastic post Laura - I am SO getting an imaginary friend, love this approach! pxxx

  6. Great blog! I think your imaginary friend might be similar to mine!! I'm still trying to work out what she reads, but I suspect it is Mollie Makes and Country living! Thanks for sharing this.


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