Latest posts by Nicola Smith (see all)
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Just today I’ll be Mum, Wife, Daughter, Carer, Me, Business Coach, Marketer, Boss, School Governor, Cook, Cleaner and Tidier Up-er, and Dog Walker, I’ve probably missed a few too! I bet you are the same, but with different ‘hats’.
It’s exhausting, interesting, exhilarating and super complicated all at the same time, but what I find truly and wonderfully fascinating is how a person can change character completely with each different ‘hat’.
I remember first noticing this ‘phenomena’ when I was about 13. A friend of mine, who I adored, became a different, dare I say, actually rather horrid person when her mum came into the room to talk to us. My fun, happy friend would instantly switch into an angry rebellion of a teenager until her mum left the room. It was so dramatic that I can still picture the moment, and it was all down to the change of ‘hat’ from ‘friend’ to ‘daughter’.
And I’ve been seeing it again recently while running the A Handcrafted Business Video Challenge, where I’ve had the privilege of watching handmade business owners discover video as a tool for marketing their business.
Through the challenge I’ve watched and listened as topics outside of business have been discussed, giving an opportunity for passions and personalities to shine through. I’ve had a chance to really get to know people in a way the written word simply doesn’t allow. You can hear humour and wit, pick up on subtle intonations and really resonate with completely different, yet all wonderful, personas and characters. It has been a joy.
But flicking the switch to talk business in the challenge made everything change (temporarily I hasten to add!) The change of hat meant the previous confidence and surety of talking about innocuous subjects disappeared. Changes in tone of voice, the choice of words, body language and eye contact were drastically different and had a massive, negative, impact on the message being given.
For a long time I have had several ‘soap box’ issues for those running their own handmade business.
One is ensuring that you are paid for your work fairly through correct pricing of your products. Another is that you have to believe in yourself, even if it means faking it till you make it.
And the third is that you need to be yourself, because people buy from people they know, like and trust.
As a handmade business owner you have several hats.
You have your maker/creator/artist/designer hat, which I am sure, is your favourite. It is why you started your business; it is you at your happiest.
You also have admin hat, buyer hat, and accounts hat.
But the hat that frequently drains away natural humour and personalities is the marketing hat.
For some reason the dreaded marketing hat turns you, the lovely, confident crafter into a formal ‘business/sales person’. But you don’t actually know how to be that official person.
This is where the panic sets in. The pressure to ‘get it right’ – after all you need to get your marketing right to sell your beautiful handmade wares – makes you forget how to have a normal conversation about the very thing you love. This marketing hat makes you feel a need to use different words, use different phrasing, to worry over minor details, to stifle your personality and to become a shadow of yourself. You start talking at people instead of with people.
The natural affinity you normally have disappears. Your confidence plummets. The desperate ‘sales pitch’ which then ensues puts your audience off. It is the same negative response we all have when answering the door to a double glazing salesman.
But it doesn’t have to be that way!
It stems from either a misconception that the people we want to work with/sell to/market to/be friends with will prefer the different persona through to attempting to cover up a fear of ‘I’m not good enough’.
I believe both are really the same thing and serve you no good purpose at all.
To get past this we need to fully understand “what is marketing?”
Marketing is communication. It is talking about and sharing information about your handmade products to an audience who will have a use/need/want/desire for your work. It is about having lots of conversations with your perfect audience, so they can get to know you, like you and trust you enough to buy from you.
They don’t want to be talked at and especially not by a ‘perfect’ false persona. I call this putting on your telephone voice. It is trying to be something you are not, and all too easily can become something people laugh at and not with – just like Mrs Bucket from ‘Keeping Up Appearances’. She wasn’t a very likeable character. Do you remember her? ( Here is a handy YouTube link in case you need a reminder:
So, marketing is basically talking about your handmade products to someone who loves your products.
It doesn’t matter if you are online, on video, in person or on the phone, or if you are stood in a supermarket queue or at a craft fair, they are the same conversations. And you are the best person to have these conversations because no-one knows your products and services better than you!
Away from business I know you have family and friends who care for you; and you don’t need a telephone voice for them to love you.
In ‘real life’ you are loved and appreciate for the person you are – that’s everything from your humour, your nature, your voice, your wit, your personality and they even really love you for the annoying things you do too, even if they won’t admit it!
You, with your love and passion for your craft, and with your quirks and whimsies, are enough. In fact you are more than enough!
You need to believe in you. You need to believe that you can throw away that damn marketing hat.
Your ideal customer, your audience, your tribe and your fans will be drawn to you when you are yourself.
So let your personality shine through, don’t change who you are!
Each and everyone of us is completely unique. We are not defined by one title or job or one action. We are a sum of all our experiences, our learning, our responsibilities and our understanding. Each of us is different and that is wonderful – we all have something different to offer!
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau.
Never, ever, be afraid to be yourself!