The Delicate Art of Tooting Your Own Horn

We had a fantastic day out last week, taking in the terrific talent on display at Wonderwool Wales. As crafters, we love to be inspired by the creativity on display and by the materials themselves: the colours, the textures, and even the beauty of the tools. Yes, we did some shopping, and we came away with some lovely new materials to play with.

We also came away with renewed zeal for spreading the word about how crucial good marketing design is in promoting creative industries. As artists, designers and makers it is very easy to assume – or hope – that the beauty of our creations will “speak for themselves” and that we can get away with neglecting our marketing images. Surely, that kind of design is not needed to promote products that are so beautiful in and of themselves, right?

If only that were true. The truth is, in the digital age we have so many opportunities to promote and sell our wares beyond our traditional local markets - which is great; but it also means that the marketplace is so competitive, now, that you have to step up if you want to be seen. Your product can only be appreciated if potential customers get to view it. In a crowded space, you have to help customers find you.

Craft festivals like Wonderwool are like a physical embodiment of that online marketplace. Many retailers providing similarly themed goods are all on display together – like a real-life Google search. (Other search engines are available…) Too often at Builth Wells we saw really talented producers with great products (often some of the best offerings at the show) sitting at stands empty of customers. While we’re sure everyone who exhibited at Wonderwool had a great show - because fibre artists are a knowledgeable and enthusiastic bunch and form a hugely supportive community - we also came away feeling that not everyone had made all the sales they deserved, simply because there was no visual “Hello!”, no front-and-centre display working to attract the eye and invite the customer to come and see. Too many beautiful creations were shyly waving from the back of the booth as their would-be new homes strolled by. (sniff...) There was not a loud enough “toot-on-the-horn.”

Even if we do know that this marketing design is important, there is a further temptation to think we can and should do it ourselves because “we’re creative.” In reality, we know how hard it can be to let people know how great you and your own products really are. We all feel intimidated by the idea of self-promotion. No-one likes a show off, right? The balance between a brash blare and a timid squeak on that horn can be elusive. That is why you sometimes need someone else to write the tune.

When selling someone else’s product it is relatively easy to identify, advocate for, and promote their best features. But many of us in small business are effectively selling ourselves – our skills, our services, our creative efforts. It can be hard even to identify our strengths objectively, much less to boldly proclaim them. Learning to market those strengths in a way that attracts that right target audience is an art that few small business owners have the time or confidence to invest in.

At the risk if tooting our own horn, that’s why we are here. We love nothing better than to get to know and get to show the best side of you and your business. Perhaps, on reflection, your business could benefit from some fresh design input? Catching the eye of the right potential customers for your product is the key to taking your business to the next level of success. We invest in helping you to reach those customers with the good eye and good sense to recognise a high-quality product and to respect its value. Why not get in touch so we can chat about what we might be able to do for you?

The Days of New Beginnings

So. Starting a business. Not an undertaking for the fainthearted (#understatementoftheyear). Some days, frankly, it feels rather like an illness… or being a new parent. Having had five babies, the symptoms are surprisingly familiar: seeing 3am wayyyy too often; a nagging background drone of anxiety; second guessing every decision you make and every action you take; a kitchen that is not so much the heart of the home as a disaster zone briefly dashed through to grab hastily prepared nourishment. And then there’s “baby brain” – or in this case, “baby business brain” – characterised by a single mindedness bordering on obsession, mingled with brain fog and the absentmindedness of lost keys, lost glasses, lost thoughts…. Where was I again?

It sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? And there’s no denying that the days of new beginnings are tough indeed. You have the natural uncertainty and apprehension of your first days in any new job, and you are kind of on your own to find out what you don’t know, to make all those decisions… the buck stops with you.

Those days of trial as a new parent are survivable because of their cause – that darned cute scrap of humanity that we pour ourselves into, love and nurture and wonder over. Those babies are our hope, our future, our life. So too (albeit to a much lesser extent!), as we embark on a new adventure as a family trying to create our own business, it is important to reframe the challenges that come in light of their cause. That sense of being alone is actually the quest for independence and self-determination. That sense of uncertainty is the natural feeling that comes with learning new skills. Mistakes and wrong decisions are – ahem – “learning opportunities”!

Just like new parents, it is important that we tap into the experience, wisdom and advice of those who have done this before us, using that knowledge as a frame of reference for forging our own path.

If we are lucky – and diligent – perhaps we will be rewarded by experiencing growth, skill development, new relationships and community, and the delight of seeing what was once just an idea become a reality… a vision realised.

If you are in the throws of starting your own new business, why not contact us to see if we can help take some of the strain. Branding and logo design are a special interest for Gareth and he loves to see his work help new ventures on their way to success. We would love to hear your own experiences of starting your own new ventures, past or present.