Welcome to The Artisan Empire

Welcome to the Artisan Empire

” Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

– Pele

One of the first lessons that artisan brands learn when building a business is that perseverance is part of the journey.

It’s one thing to make products that you love, and to turn that passion into a business.

But it is another thing altogether to make that business a success.

A labor of love, a sacrifice – regardless of the label you choose to apply to your venture, you MUST be willing to push aside fear, insecurity and discomfort to see your dream come true.

I often get asked what it takes for an artisan brand to break through obscurity, to become a brand that people seek, and my first response is always perseverance.

Many people are skilled at making products. Many people have talent. However, it is the rare few who will persevere to the degree that entrepreneurship requires.

At the Artisan Empire, we support those who are willing to endure the struggle, willing to put in the time and the energy to take a dream and grow it into an empire.

Welcome.

Using social Media to Drive online sales

Connecting with your target market using social media is one of the most cost effective methods of marketing available. 


The reason that it is so effective is that people can easily learn about you, or your brand, and quickly find your products online and buy them (just a few clicks from stranger to buyer).


UNLESS….


You make this difficult.  

If you make it hard for people to get to your online store, you will lose the buyer and the sale.


How can you avoid this costly mistake?


Prime your profile.  

This means you set up your social media profile to support your business.


For some reason, some business owners have silly reasons for NOT doing this, however, if online sales for your business are important, put those excuses aside.


How to Prime-Your-Profile:


Step 1 – Set up your “bio” to explain what you do (what you offer to people) and links to your business pages or website.  Bio is section in upper left of page under your profile photo. Make this viewable to “public”


Step 2 – “Stack your profile” – Have 3-5 public posts about your products, are written to your target market or otherwise represent your business at the top of your personal profile.  Also make viewable to “public”


Step 3 – Set your messenger setting so that ANYONE can send you a FB message (it will go to the requests folder if you are not friends, so check that folder).  You can simply ignore or delete messages from undesirable people in the event you get them


Step 4 – Make sure your profile picture is a photo of YOU.  People want to connect a person to your company and brand. That starts with your brand having a face, hopefully a smiling face!


Step 5 – Look at your personal profile as an extension of your business.  Don’t post anything there that doesn’t reflect positively on you as CEO of your brand. No complaining about traffic, sharing what you had for lunch or other random things that have nothing to do with your business.  Don’t share links unless they relate to your target market and you have added insightful commentary at the top.


Step 6 – Post often.  Show your target market that you are active, that you are a leader and that you are always thinking of them


Here is how social media marketing can work to help you sell more online.

  1. A person in your target market comes across you, either in a FB group, or through a mutual friend or because they heard about you somewhere
  2. This person (let’s call them Buyer) looks you up on FB.  You are not FB “friends” as they are only hearing about you for the first time.  The only things they see on your profile are what the public settings allow
  3. Buyer can see from your bio that you have a business that sells X to a specific target market. 
  4. Buyer can read a few posts at the top of your feed that show your leadership, the value you are offering and that you are honest, honorable and someone they want to buy from
  5. At top of bio link, they can find the link to your business page, which has an easy to find link to your website
  6. If the buyer had a question, you have made it easy for them to send you a PM that you respond to quickly

When you prime your profile, you welcome new buyers into your brand seamlessly, and at no financial cost to you at all.  This is a very effective way to use social media to build your brand, attract buyers and sell more of your products.

Marketing Funnels for Artisan Bath & Body Brands

I often hear from emerging business owners that they are frustrated with the product sales from their website.  

They feel like people are seeing their social media posts,

visiting their website,

but not buying the products.


When you build a brand, there is inevitably a period of time where most people who come across you have NOT yet heard of your brand.


Every brand starts somewhere, and that place is obscurity.


Over time, as your market the brand and your products, people hear about the brand.  But most don’t buy right away.

Makes sense, right – think about all of the products you bought in the last year.  

How many of them did you buy immediately after hearing about the brand for the first time?


Industry statistics vary, but one reliable source at a recent event I went to cited that people need to cross paths with a brand 9+ times before purchasing.  

This is on average, so some people will buy right away, others will take ages.


BUT – if you plan for the average, and assume that most won’t buy right away, how can you use this information to your advantage and marketing to people with that understanding?


How can you get people into your ecosystem (marketers LOVE jargon like this) and convert them into buyers when they are ready?


The answer here is to create a marketing funnel (another fun marketing jargon concept).  

BUT the idea is to welcome people to your brand, make them feel comfortable, establish trust and when the person is ready, they will buy your products.


One of the rules in selling is that no one wants to feel sold, but people love to buy.


This is so true or shopping wouldn’t be the national pastime that it is.


How can you create a nurture program with a marketing funnel?

Option 1: Email funnel that educates, persuades and creates an emotional connection

What do I mean by educate?

Teach what you stand for, the value of your products, what problems your products help solve and why they should care.


What do I mean by persuade?

Change a pre-existing belief.  Offer a new perspective, offer a new solution.  people have opinions, lots of them, your role as marketer is to challenge some of those and offer an alternative. 


If you are good, the alternative is your product.


What is an emotional connection?

This is a feeling that people feel when they see your logo, photos of your products and other imagery that is connected to to your brand.  It is literally the vibe they get from you.  It is the root of why you like some brands, even if you never bought their products, and why you dislike others (again, without even having an experience directly).


How do you do this in an email funnel?

It is simply a set of emails, sent in a specific order that covers one or more of these areas.  


You can think of it as chipping away at a goal – one step at a time.

Option 2. FB ads funnel – more complex technically but you can target ads to people based on a lot of criteria – visited site, added to cart, abandoned cart, purchased in part, watched a video

Tech aside, you want to make sure that you are patient with your market and see your relationship as ongoing.  


Too many people tell me that ads don’t work for their brand – that is not true, and it usually the function of people expecting someone to see ONE ad and immediately buy.  

It just doesn’t happen that way.


People trust brands they know.

People buy from brands they trust.


People won’t trust you until they get to know you.

How are you build a relationship with your future customers?

Introducing the Artisan Empire Podcast

I am delighted to announce the release of my new podcast, The Artisan Empire. The first two episodes launched together, and you can listen to them here.

Subscribe to the podcast on your favorite podcast app to get updates on future episodes when they are released.

Episode 1: Welcome to The Artisan Empire

Episode 1: Is it hard to sell scented products online?

Why Charging a “Fair Price” for Your Products is Stupid

If you are worried about setting your product prices too high,
and have decided to charge a “fair price”,
you are hurting your business in SEVERAL WAYS.

Here are three reasons
(I actually have more but picked my top 3)

1 – People will think your products are less valuable.

Our society correlates price with quality. When you go to a wine store, you will find the higher priced wines on higher shelves, and lower priced wines on lower shelves.

Most people (myself included) conclude that the wines on the higher shelves are BETTER.

So, when you aim to be the lowest price bar of soap, or the mid-priced jam, you are actually telling the market that you are average, or below average, in terms of quality.

Average and low quality brands don’t create a following.

2 – You are NOT being selfish.

When you charge a price that allows your business to be profitable,
guess what you are probably going to do with most of the money you earn?

Buy stuff.

You are going to support your grocery store (and the people who work there),
the local gas station (and its employees),
and any other place when you spend money.

Those places buy things from other companies,
and have employees,
so the money you earn from your business circulates around to other people.

When you are UNPROFITABLE (from undercharging for your products),
you diminish your ability to support businesses
,
and charities,
that depend on you.

That sounds selfish to me.

3 – Life is hard.

Your customers have a lot going on and live busy lives.
One way that people get enjoyment from life is to use products and services that bring them joy.

Whether this is buying fancy coffee,
or enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant
or taking a shower with an amazing artisan soap,
the experience is influenced by someone PERCEIVES the experience.

That starts with how they value the product.

If you told me that a particular candle is the most amazing in the world for some specific reason (your USP),
when I go to use it,
I will value the experience MORE than
if it were a low priced candle that I got at a “fair price”.

When you undercharge for your products,
you rob your customers of the opportunity to TRULY enjoy them

because they won’t get to feel they are valuable or special.

They won’t see they the product as an indulgence or a treat,
or something that worthy people deserve.

If your customers have modest salaries,
sometimes the only available “TREAT” they can afford
is a luxurious $10 bath product.

* * *
When you undercharge for your products,
you hurt your brand,
devalue how people perceive your products,
damage your ability to support your local economy and
rob your customers of the opportunity to truly enjoy your products.

How is that “fair” to anyone?

Product Pricing: Should You Include Hourly Wage?

There are several ways that artisan product makers could set prices for their products.

One of them involves taking the cost of supplies, adding in an hourly rate cost (based on how long it takes to produce a product) and multiplying that by 2 or 3.

This is a FLAWED method, and I caution you from using this method from determining pricing.

Flaw #1: Business owners do not get paid hourly. Have you ever worked at a large, successful business? Do you think the CEO gets paid by the hour? No, absolutely not. He or she gets paid a salary + a bonus based on performance of the business.

Eventually, you should pay yourself the same way, but when you are just starting out and growing quickly, your best compensation structure will be based on commission (you get a percentage of revenue).

Flaw #2: The hourly rate set is arbitrary in most cases. Soapers who use hourly rate in pricing will try to find a “fair” hourly rate. How does one decide what is “fair”?

How do you get a salary raise in this model? If you do a fantastic job running your business are you going to give yourself a raise from $20 / hour to $25 / hour? When does that happen? Are you going to have to increase your wholesale prices every time you get a raise?

If you don’t give yourself raises, what incentive will you have to push yourself outside your comfort zone (required to become a higher caliber of business owner than you are now)?

Flaw #3: Your business can’t afford you. If my business actually paid me for every hour that I worked, my business would probably go bankrupt. It is not because the business is not earning enough, it is because I work a LOT.

I am continually thinking of new ideas for marketing, working on my professional skills & trying to solve problems in the business. I do those things while driving around, cooking dinner, showering & working out. That time is immensely valuable to my company. Am I supposed to keep a timecard for every moment I focus my attention on how to make my business better?

Flaw #4: How you think about yourself has a HUGE impact on the success of your business. If you consider yourself an hourly employee, you will act like an hourly employee.

If you consider yourself CEO & EVP of Sales, you will act like the CEO & EVP of sales. You will look for ways to become a better leader, a more effective sales person and someone that other people look up to.

This starts with how your business pays you.

Flaw #5: Your business has other expenses. If you are interested in building a financially healthy & thriving business, you will inevitably have expenses other than cost of supplies & you. Eventually you will have the expenses of commercial space (overhead) , labor (staff to help you make products). You also should put aside money for income tax, and you should alway generate profit.

Effective product pricing should take ALL of those expenses into account.

Even though you may not have staff or commercial space YET, you should plan for that in pricing NOW. One of the biggest mistakes I made in my business early on was not accounting for those expenses BEFORE I had them. Because once I did have them, there was not enough margin on some legacy products to pay for those expenses, and that was a problem.

How do you calculate all of the expenses?

  1. You can take the easy route – I put together a very affordable online course that teaches you how to do this in an easy to understand way
  2. You can work out this methodology on your own. First thing is to read Profit First (you can get it on Amazon), and take the concept that they teach about managing your expenses and apply it to product pricing (that is how I figured it out).
  3. You need to create a list of the monthly expenses for your business (you have to estimate future expenses if you don’t already have overhead & labor). In the beginning you will decide what you need to earn, and what you want to set as a profit percentage, and plug those numbers in to see what that looks like. I had to do this many times before I came up with the percentages that worked for me, and my business. But, I have only had to change them once (I was putting aside more for taxes than I needed so I adjusted that %)

If you have any questions to ask me, feel free to do so in the comments.

4 Step Marketing Plan for Artisan Brands

Too many businesses, in their early stages of growth, overthink the marketing plan. Sometimes, there is a fear that a marketing plan MUST be this complex, long and advanced document.

And if someone doesn’t know how to make that type of plan, then, why bother creating any kind of plan?

One important lesson with business – ANY plan – is always better than no plan.

So, if you are just getting into the habit of creating a marketing plan each month, here are a few points that will help.
For artisan brands, a strong marketing program is KEY .


Here are 4 steps you can follow to kick start your marketing program,  and attract more buyers to your brand.


1 – Pick a lane

ONE LANE.

Focus on ONE marketing channel for leads.  Don’t try to grow via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Blog, YouTube all at once. Focus on ONE marketing channel, learn how it works and master ONE platform at a time for getting new people into your brand.


2 – Build a funnel.

Most people won’t buy from you right away.

They need to be nurtured. 

It’s like dating – you wouldn’t meet someone and immediately marry them. You need to date your prospects before they will marry you.

A funnel is simply a process that people go through so that they can: know,  like and  trust  you enough to buy your products.

Funnels don’t have to be technically sophisticated. BUT – you need to map out a process for your prospects to follow that converts them into buyers.  

This is another reason a target market is KEY – understanding how one type of person thinks is a lot easier than trying to understand how everyone thinks.


3 – Add personality.

The worst thing you can be in marketing is boring.  

Boring will get you ignored. people won’t buy from you if they are ignoring you.

You are the biggest asset that your brand has.

You have character, you have a personality  so let it show through your marketing.

Don’t be fake – that won’t work.

Don’t pretend to be someone you are not – that won’t work either. Let people see you, let people get to know you and let them trust you.


4 – Know your strengths.

If you like to write, write.

If you like to talk, talk.

If you like to design, design.

You will be more likely to stick with a marketing plan if you leverage the things you like to do.  

So, don’t create a plan full of videos if you hate being on camera.  

Don’t focus on written marketing if you dislike writing.  

Decide what you like to do the most, and create content for marketing that takes advantage of your interests and strengths.


* * *  Here is a simple plan – it works if you stick with it long enough.

1 – focus on ONE marketing platform

2 – build a funnel that converts prospects into buyers

3 – add personality so that your marketing is interesting

4 – leverage your strengths

The tough part about simple is that it is not always easy.  It takes effort and commitment to set up a system and follow it for months.  


Sometimes the biggest challenge with solo-business owners is that they get in their own way, don’t have accountability and simply can’t overcome fear and insecurity on their own.  

If you would like to chat with me and my team to see how you can build a strong and powerful brand for your products, let’s chat.

When Will My Biz Be Profitable?

If you are in the early stages of growing your artisan product business, you may wonder how long it will take to be profitable. Funny thing about this word, is that it can actually mean different things to different people. More on that in a sec.

First, just to get on the same page – what do I mean by “artisan product” business? I am referring to businesses that make a physical product – like soap, lotion, candles, jewelry or jam. Something you *could* make in your home, and have an amazing product that people want and are eager to buy.

When I first launched my bath products business, I was a hobbyist and not overly focused on profit, however, once, I started to sell, this became a topic I was very interested in. I had heard somewhere that it took YEARS to be profitable when starting a business, which was discouraging. I was under the impression that 2-3 years minimum was the “industry standard”.

The next thing I wondered was “how will I know when I am profitable?”

“Would I wake up one day in 2 years and all of a sudden be PROFITABLE?”

I had a lot to learn back then.

For my first year or so in business, my profit calculations were pretty basic. I took the revenue from what I sold, and subtracted the money I spent on supplies. Whatever was left over was profit. This is in fact, the dictionary definition of profit, so I was not doing anything wrong. TECHNICALLY.

It was at least a year later when I discovered the book Profit First. This book changed everything about the financial side of my business, and I adore it so much that I send it as a gift to all the business owners that I coach & mentor.

The main idea in the book is that profit is a choice. That sounds a little new-agey, I realize that, but it actually is not. The idea is that you determine what you want your profit to be (it easiest to do this as a percentage of revenue), and then calculate your budget for other expenses based on that.

The second idea was HUGE awakening for me – the profit and my salary as the business owner are NOT THE SAME THING. I always assumed (incorrectly) that when I took the revenue and subtracted the expenses, whatever was left was profit which, by default, became my salary.

NOPE.

When I changed my thinking around profit, I learned that I had much more control at my fingertips that I realized.

AND I COULD GET PAID EVERY MONTH. STARTING THIS MONTH. AND NEXT MONTH. AND THE MONTH AFTER THAT.

In the beginning, it is unlikely that you will earn a massive salary, but as the business owner, you should NOT work for free.

Unless you are a charity or non-profit but most of you are not. Most of you have household expenses, rent, food, utilities, clothes & plenty of other things to buy.

The catch is that you can no longer consider all of the revenue you earn as your “supplies fund”. That is an option for a hobbyist who wants a hobby-that-is-paid-for, but if you want to become a business owner, this is the first thing that has to change.

Your salary comes out of revenue before you pay for supplies. Yup. Now, if you spend more on supplies than allocated, you have a problem. You are over budget and can’t pay your bills. This is a solvable problem though, but only if treated as such (spoiler alert – stop buying things you don’t need).

So, what about big investments that you made getting started? You can treat these in a few ways, but the way a large business would deal with it is to make it a line item in the monthly budget to contribute towards, and consistently eliminate pay off the debt over time.

A big business would NOT stop paying the staff or employees because they made an investment in equipment or marketing or real estate. Can you imagine?

A small business like yours will be best off adopting the practices that more established businesses use, as this will give you the framework to become a larger, more successful business.

Lesson: Even though your business may be tiny right now, act like a bigger, more successful business.

So, how long goes it take to be profitable? Not long. As soon as you determine your budgeting allocations, have profitable pricing (this is KEY) and set aside revenue each month as profit. But it will take effort to get this in place, and the knowledge of how to do it.

If you would like to learn how to do this for your business, I have a new course focused on this topic:

Check out course

Is It Hard to Sell Artisan Products Online?

The ecommerce industry is booming, and I don’t know anyone who questions that fact.  Amazon, the largest online retailer, is a household name.  The vast majority of brands who sell physical goods have online distribution.


So, why is it more challenging for some types of artisan products to sell online?  I have spent a LOT of time digging into the weeds in this issue, and often that with e-commerce experts and online media buyers about this topic.


However, I see fewer e-commerce success stories in the scented products space than I do in other categories.


Why is this?  

Well, I can’t make factual or data-supported conclusions, but I have a theory. And I am confident that it makes sense, so here you go.


We shop with our senses.  

When you go to buy something like jewelry, you look at a photo of the item (let’s say earrings), and often see a photo of a person wearing the earrings.  

If I close my eyes, I can imagine what I would look like wearing the earrings.

Same thing with clothes, we almost always want to see a photo of a person wearing the outfit so that we can imagine what we would look like in the same clothes.  

Because of this, many retailers are using different sized models, because  if you are a size 10, and only see the outfit on someone who is a size 2, it is harder to imagine what you would look like.

Now, with a scented product (let’s use a candle as an example) one of the primary reasons people burn candles is for the scent that they contribute to a room.  

So, if I show you a photo of the candle, how does that help you imagine how your house would smell once it was lit?


If its a tropical scent (let’s say coconut and mango), I could show you a photo of a beach, but does that really let you imagine the experience in the same way that the photo of a woman wearing shoes does?


No, not at all.  

This is why there is an inherent challenge selling products that are experienced primarily though smell or taste.


The wine industry has the same challenge selling wine online.  As an industry, they have created an entire language of coded meanings to allow one person to describe a taste in a way that another wine lover can understand with specificity (telling someone it taste like wine is not sufficient).


What does this mean for people who sell scented products?  

Your job is tougher.  

You have to use words, and images in a deeper way than other categories.
People like to use their imaginations, but that is a subjective art form, and as a marketer, you need to control that as best you can.  

For example, back to my tropical candle example – if you tell me the candle a tropical scent, that might mean something different to you than to me.  

So, if I want you to imagine something REALLY specific, I have to actually paint that picture in such a way that you can use your senses to FEEL what I want you to feel.


OK – close your eyes.

Imagine you are sitting until a palm tree, lying on a lounge chair.  A bird is cawing in the background and you watch a gecko explore a pile of rocks at your feet.  It is hot out, but the shade and light breeze protect you from the bright sun.  In your hand is a frozen cocktail that your friend just handed to you, and the first sip is a rush of creamy coconut, tangy mango and juice pineapple.  At that exact moment, nothing has ever tasted more delicious or refreshing. Life could not possibly be more beautiful or magical than it is at that moment. If only it could last forever.

That is an example of how one could create a detailed picture that someone could literally imagine and temporarily feel the feels that you could feel in that situation.

Why People Visit Your Website But DON’T Buy Your Soaps

I often hear from emerging business owners that they are frustrated with the results of sales from their website.  They feel like people are seeing their social media posts, visiting their website, but not buying the products.


When you build a brand, there is a period of time where most people who come across you have NOT heard of your brand.


Every brand starts somewhere, and that place is obscurity.


Over time, as your market the brand and your products, people hear about the brand.  But most don’t buy right away.


Makes sense, right – think about all of the products you bought in the last year.  How many of them did you buy immediately after hearing about the brand for the first time?


Industry statistics vary, but one reliable source at a recent cited that people need to cross paths with a brand 9+ times before purchasing.  This is on average, so some people will buy right away, others will take ages.


BUT – if you plan for the average, and assume that most won’t buy right away, how can you use this information to your advantage and marketing to people with that understanding?


How can you get people into your ecosystem (marketers LOVE jargon like this) and convert them into buyers when they are ready?


The answer here is to create a nurture system (another fun marketing jargon concept).  BUT the idea is to welcome people to your brand, make them feel comfortable, establish trust and when the person is ready, they will buy your products.


One of the rules in selling is that no one wants to feel sold, but people love to buy.
This is so true or shopping wouldn’t be the national pastime that it is.


How can you create a nurture program?

  1. Build an email funnel (another jargon that marketers love) that educates, persuades and creates an emotional connection

What do I mean by educate?

Teach what you stand for, the value of your products, what problems your products help solve and why they should care


What do I mean by persuade?

Change a pre-existing belief.  Offer a new perspective, offer a new solution.  people have opinions, lots of them, your role as marketer is to challenge some of those and offer an alternative. 


If you are good, the alternative if your product.


What is an emotional connection?

This is a feeling that people feel when they see your logo, photos of your products and other imagery that is connected to to your brand.  It is literally the vibe they get from you.  It is the root of why you like some brands, even if you never bought their products, and why you dislike others (again, without even having an experience directly)


How do you do this in an email funnel?

It is essentially a set of emails, sent in a specific order that covers one or more of these areas.  


You can think of it as chipping away at a goal – one step at a time.

2. FB ads funnel – more complex technically but you can target ads to people based on a lot of criteria – visited site, added to cart, abandoned cart, purchased in part, watched a video

Tech aside, you want to make sure that you are patient with your market and see your relationship as ongoing.  


Too many people tell me that ads don’t work for their brand – that is not true, and it usually the function of people expecting someone to see ONE ad and immediately buy.  It just doesn’t happen that way.


People trust brands they know.

People buy from brands they trust.

People won’t trust you until they get to know you.

How are you build a relationship with your future customers?