Have you noticed that some designer-makers and artisan brands always seem to get the press mentions, the maker interviews, the product gift list inclusions and more? That is not down to luck, but rather understanding that successfully running and promoting their businesses requires an insightful, planned approach. That insight is part instinctive and part recognising what they need to learn and do to make things happen. Having connected with, and observed 100s of designers, makers and artisan businesses, we’ve noticed that the successful high-end artisan businesses have several powerful qualities in common. Qualities that make them visible, and earn them the respect of their customers and audiences.
These powerful qualities are not secrets that only the privileged few can access. They are accessible qualities that every creative business owner can use to create their own successful brand. No matter what stage your business is at, you can cultivate these qualities too. So, what are these qualities?
The qualities we have identified are:
1. A people-centred ethos
Successful high-end artisan businesses recognise that people are at the heart of their business success, and are known to take a people-centred approach. That means caring and looking out for those they work, collaborate and come into contact with, and treating everyone with dignity and respect. Many artisan businesses strive to make a positive difference, this could be by preserving an endangered craft, or uplifting their local communities by providing income opportunities. Successful high-end artisan businesses know that they cannot do it alone and will seek to make connections with like-minded people.
2. A strong sense of purpose and a compelling story
Successful high-end artisan businesses have a clear understanding of why they do what they do. Their purpose fuels their passion and remains true to a set of well-defined core values. This gives them a strong sense of integrity around their work and brand. Their strong sense of purpose helps to create and strengthen the emotional connections they have with their customers. Successful high-end artisan businesses know that one of the best ways to share their purpose is by having a compelling story. Their story tells the background and history of their business and craft, why it exists, the people who founded it, and those who work in it. Successful high-end artisan businesses use their story to take their customers on a journey. This helps to make their customers a part of their business. For more on harnessing storytelling to generate sales read Want to boost your sales? Sell the story not the product.
3. Knowing their customer, and delivering exceptional customer service
Customers are one of the most important parts of any business. Without them, your business won’t survive. Successful high-end artisan businesses understand this. They work hard to serve their customers, keeping them front and centre of all that they do. Successful high-end artisan businesses don’t blindly sell to everyone. They find out all that they can about their customers by engaging with them and regularly reviewing data and analytics. Successful high-end artisan businesses ask, listen to and observe their customers, taking note of their likes and dislikes, what they do for work and play and so on. They then use the information to create products and services that serve the needs of their customer. For more about knowing your customers read: Do you know who you are selling your handcrafted products to?
4. Maintaining consistency in all that they do
Consistency is crucial to building a successful business. It creates familiarity and helps to reinforce your brand in the minds of your customers. Successful high-end artisan businesses know that an inconsistent brand strategy is confusing. It can stop their customers from engaging because they will not know what to expect each time they interact. Consistency means that when their customers see or experience certain elements of the business they immediately recognise it as belonging to that particular business. Successful high-end artisan businesses maintain consistency across their:
– visuals and graphics – what they look like
– messaging – what they say and sound like; and
– behaviour – what they do and how they treat their community of customers and collaborators
5. Having a professional-looking website to attract partners such as galleries, stockists
With so many promotional platforms to choose from a website can be seen as an option rather than as an essential business tool. Successful high-end artisan businesses invest in having a professional-looking website. They understand the power a website has to act as a virtual shop window to the world and how it provides the opportunity to control and maintain their digital brand by getting it to look exactly the way they want it to. This is something that is not always possible with social media platforms that get us to conform to their rules. When it comes to getting PR or securing retail stockists more often than not journalists and buyers will check to see if an artisan business has a website. A website can give out the message that you’re serious about building a business with a stable foundation, and that is what will attract and reassure those you want to partner with.
6. An ability to plug into trends yet remain timeless
In fast-moving marketplaces and rapid changes in technology, successful high-end artisan businesses know that their success depends on how up-to-date they are with what is going on around them. They always review their market, to make sure that they keep up to date with news, innovations and other important developments in their industry. Successful high-end artisan businesses use their insights to create relevant products and promote their creations effectively. Successful high-end artisan businesses get rid of what is no longer relevant and improve on what is working well. Successful artisan businesses are always on the lookout for opportunities. They are not afraid to innovate, to switch things up, and to find ways to serve, surprise and delight their customers.
7. A responsive and proactive attitude
One of the greatest strengths successful high-end artisan businesses have in common is a responsive and proactive attitude. Whether they are interacting with their customers, retailers or press, successful high-end artisan businesses always display an exceptional level of professionalism, which shows an understanding of the high level of organisation required to sell their crafts to collectors and affluent customers. They are respectful of other people’s time and don’t need to be chased, they make a note of what they need to do and do it. For example, when contacted for press requests they are on it, replying to emails and messages in a timely manner and supplying what is needed when it is needed. Successful high-end artisan businesses do not wait for opportunities to fall into their lap, they go out and find them.
These are just some of the key qualities that successful high-end artisan businesses have in common. Qualities that help them to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
– The Wonderfully Well Made Team