A couple of marketing-savvy Handkrafted makers impart comprehensive, first-hand advice to fellow craftspeople and small business owners alike. Helpful tips on branding, social media, and public relations, straight from the mouths of woodworking professionals.
Australia has an amazingly rich and vibrant community of talented makers who produce world-class goods.
Handkrafted is fortunate enough to feature many of these passionate craftspeople on our platform. We understand that our furniture makers devote their days to designing, innovating, and creating beautiful pieces to last a lifetime. Understandably consumed by hands-on work – the heartbeat of their businesses – these makers often put marketing on the back burner. But, at what cost? If nobody knows of your brand, how will you sustain your business?
In the words of Jason Stancombe of Relm Furniture, who previously spent 20+ years in graphic design and branding, “You can have a great website and put amazing photos up and all the rest of it. But, if nobody’s hearing about it or seeing those photos, they’re not really of any value.”
To help resolve this issue we reached out to a couple of Handkrafted’s marketing-savvy makers, who were kind enough to share their “trade secrets”.
RELM FURNITURE on BRANDING…
I’ve been involved in graphic design and had a branding business since 1998. I worked with a range of corporate, retail, and government clients like Telstra, Tourism Victoria. and Hudsons Coffee. Over that period, the business and my outlook became a lot more strategic, and my offering became more about how corporations are perceived through their visual language.
Things can get a little complicated when you’re talking about branding. To explain the process, it helps to think about your business as a person. When you give birth to your new business, you are giving birth to a new child. Like many children, a young business is wide eyed, but lacking rules around how to behave. Through consideration of your brand, you have an opportunity to create and mould how this person behaves – and more importantly how it is perceived by others.
So, how do you stand out from the crowd without selling your soul?
- Think of your business as a person. If your business was a new person walking into a room at a party, how would others perceive you. Do you make an impact, mingle freely with the room, or play it cool and wait for others to approach you. How do you talk, are your relaxed and comfortable, preaching sales or just talking to the people you know. Just like a person, your behaviour, clothing (aesthetics), opinions, associations and other personality traits influence how others perceive you to be. Carefully consider how you want to be perceived.
- Be authentic. Yep its a buzz word, but being authentic means creating a person who acts within their means and is essentially true to themselves. Just like the joker at the party, people can see through the hype and judge you for who you really are. If you don’t live up to your behavioural promises people look for someone else.
- Clarify who it is you want to be. If possible, write down four or five words that describe these characteristics. For Relm, it’s “Design, Quality, Creativity, and Approachability”. These key words become the values you can then use to define your business.
- Your values underpin everything you do. Start using your values as a set of boundaries. Is the work you’re producing focused on design? Are you being creative enough in your product range? Are you perceived as being approachable? If not, change things to make them true.
It’s important to spend the time to define your key values, and then implement them across all ‘touch points’ or communications with your audience. Consistency is key.
Just like a person, your brand’s personality and behaviour may change over time, as it matures and evolves into different markets. But, it’s important not to constantly change and leave your audience confused as to who you are trying to be.
LIKE BUTTER on SOCIAL MEDIA…
- Instagram has been good to us. Aside from a token Facebook presence, it is all we use. It has been a very organic build, much like the business in general. It started off as a personal account where I posted things I was building or doing and gathered momentum from there.
“I don’t like going for the hard sell. I prefer the ‘here’s some stuff I made’ approach,” Jem Selig Freeman said.
- I think engaging posts require good photography, as well as improvised and intuitive on-the-fly image making. I like to see how other people’s minds work via social media, so I try to keep it quick and creative.
“Consistency is something I admire in other profiles, but it also bores me quickly unless the content is mind blowing. I say mix it up! Life is inconsistent!” Jem exclaimed.
- Sometimes deciding what’s social media worthy is a matter of feeling like I need to post something and looking for a suitable image. But, generally the content makes itself when we have more projects going out the door than I have time to document.
- In terms of social media copy, informal and honest is what I aspire to.
- You have to engage with others to grow your share I think. Go out and admire the work of others! If you’re there to be inspired, people will slowly find you. I’m not in it for the 100K followers, but it’s nice to tick over 5K… to have found a whole bunch of people whose work I really admire and am inspired by.
“The best thing Instagram has done for me, aside from the indirect sales and exposure, is getting a kick up the arse seeing how hard everyone is working and the constant reminder to push harder and do better work.”
RELM FURNITURE on PR…
I did the DEN FAIR with Fred (Handkrafted founder), Christopher Blank, Curious Tales, and Bernard Chandley. That event helped me to introduce my ‘brand’ to a targeted range of people who I felt needed to know about Relm. It enabled me to talk to people about who I was and how Relm was forming, and my approach to design, maintaining quality and creativity, and remaining approachable. I handed out a few business cards, and created a website that supported my key values.
I have also written a few press releases (mainly around my Crop Stool) that introduced who I was and provided a kit of media (high-resolution images and written copy). This makes it easy for publishers to insert your copy and run with your story. Because I supplied the content, it left me in control of how my products were perceived – again reinforcing the brand values.
It’s important to look at unique ways to get your message out there, and having other people tell for story is worth a lot more than standing on a soapbox with some cards in your hand.
Handkrafted is a community marketplace connecting people with passionate makers to commission custom goods. We have brought together hundreds of Australian independent, bespoke craftspeople and artisans who specialise in producing high quality, sustainably made pieces.
Our makers can help you realise your own idea or collaborate with you on a new design. Many also feature a range of original designs that can be made to order or customised to suit your specific needs. Whichever option you choose, we’re here to help make it happen. Support local makers and kick-start your own project today.
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