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What I've Learned: Audience

February 5, 2013

A few weeks ago I went to visit my local SCORE adviser to get some tips on how to handle (or if I should handle) a trade show. While their advice was . . . sometimes not applicable, I found their insistence on getting to know my target audience – my demographic, to be particularly helpful.

See, I’ve always had a feeling about my demographic. Ha! What does that mean?! I don’t know. I figure my audience is generally people like me (that’s a mistake!) who Love books and reading and writing and well, basically everything to do with the book as a form of art. Now, part of that is true. But, that part about saying your audience is like you, that’s not. I should have learned that long ago after watching Megan Auman’s video on Pricing for Profit. “You are not your audience!”

So, if I am not my audience (and thus YOU are not YOUR audience) who is it? Well, I’ve been doing craft fairs and art shows for the better part of four years (oh my! really?) and I’ve come to know the people that walk into my booth/table. I know for the most part when they are going to buy, and what they are going to buy. I know if a conversation will begin their transaction, end it, or not even be a part of it. I know if they’ll stay in contact, if they’ll come visit me again, or if they’ll stalk me on the web. And I Love it. My dedicated audience then has become a relatively recognizable ‘type’ of person and I’ve learned that through paying attention at my retail shows.

Note: RETAIL SHOWS.

Do you know that not everyone goes to indie craft fairs?! I know, right? Why not?! But, they don’t. There’s a HUGE demographic out there that doesn’t even know WHAT an indie craft show is! Some of them then travel to art fairs, but those two demographics are highly overlapping. There are some people that don’t go to either! Indeed. That doesn’t mean  these people aren’t your audience though! And if you’re leaving those people out, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Those people that might not have the energy or time to visit our impeccable, enjoyable indie craft and art shows instead visit amazing, designer-friendly, posh stores and boutiques that might carry your work on wholesale or consignment. And thus, are a whole new audience to reach. Each store, of course, will be host to a new and interesting audience – someone you might never have reached before.  Investigate your stores to find out.

Note: RETAIL STORES.

And then, there is the wholesale market where we sort of combine the first two. At a wholesale or trade show we meet Buyers who represent the shops that will carry our work – these buyers may or may not also be your target audience at a retail show, or perhaps, their target audience is the audience of a retail show. Nonetheless, it’s a whole new market. A whole new audience for your work.

At my first (hopefully of many) trade show this past January, I learned a lot about my Buyer Market. Before this show I primarily sold consignment at Indie Craft/Art type stores.They are AMAZING venues for selling your work because they are so supportive and often have a similar audience to what your retail show might have. They know what it’s like to be an artist and are there to support you. At a trade show you’ll meet even MORE buyers who want to support your work – buyers that have never heard of Etsy, buyers that have never dreamt of Renegade, and buyers that Love Love Love your work and want to sell it in their store.

I think I had always pigeon-holed my audience – had always imagined them as all indie craft fans – but that wasn’t fair, to my work, or to my audience.  I learned at this show that my audience is so much wider, so much more diverse. There are shops out their that specialize in housewares and interior design that want to carry my work, florists and spas, chic gift stores and mercantiles that appeal to completely different markets.

It was such an amazing experience to meet all these people who were interested in my work – that could see My work in THEIR store. That alone is such a compliment.

So, at the end of the day, my advice to you is this: don’t pigeon-hole yourself into a niche market that you’re better than. Sure, your product is individual, amazing, and one of a kind (and handmade to boot!) but that doesn’t mean only one kind of person could/will appreciate it. Quite the contrary actually. Open up your mind – and your audience will follow.

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