The #1 Marketing Strategy For Creative Businesses & 5 Reasons Why It Works
Marketing was one of those things that I didn't quite "get" when I first started my floral design studio, Lime Tree Bower. Having no solid experience in the field didn't help, and like many people, my business started off as a hobby, turning into a side hustle and ultimately my full-time career.
After initially sharing photos and updates of what I was doing on weekends on my personal Facebook account and Instagram, there then became a need to go beyond my own network of friends and acquaintances...
Marketing strategies for my business became something that I really needed to figure out in the early days. I tested a number of different marketing ideas, some worked well and some didn't. I experimented a lot and learned a lot in quite a short time period.
If there's one thing that I truly believe every new creative business should do when they're just getting started - whether you're a florist, baker, stationery designer, whatever - it's to go and do a local market.
Now I don't mean a wedding or trade expo, I literally mean a local market. You know, those ones where people can sell anything ranging from clothes, to candles, to stationery, to flowers!
It is the most affordable way of getting your name out there when you're just starting out, and it helps you in so many more ways than one. Let me explain...
#1: Easy feedback loop
If you know what who your target audience is, your ideal persona that your brand is targeted at, then it should be pretty easy for you to figure out which markets to try out. Being at the right market will then allow you to gain feedback on what you're selling and how your brand is received by the masses.
Markets are perfect for facilitating and observing market research. You get to see what type of people are attracted to your brand, who's not interested, and what type of questions or comments they're making at your stall.
If you find that the type of people who's interested in what you're selling and your aesthetic is completely off to what you had in mind, then that's a signal that there's likely a disconnect between the type of brand that you're building and how it's actually perceived.
#2: Upping your sales game
A lot of the time when we think "sales", we think sleazy car sales or real estate agents, hey? But that isn't the only way to do sales, and depending on your personality, the way you "sell" will differ.
Doing markets gives you the opportunity to practise and improve your direct sales game. It can be ridiculously daunting at first - I know how shit scared I was when I did my first stall. But after doing a few, you'll notice that you begin to find your voice. You'll notice the type of questions to ask and what not to ask. And you'll learn how to make potential customers feel at ease, but without feeing too in your face.
Building this skill is useful for when you ultimately decide to do wedding fairs and expos, and for when you have future client meetings. It's a great skill to have and only gets better with more practise. So what better time to do it than when you're just getting started and don't have much to lose?
#3: Building confidence in your craft
Markets are a great way to help build your confidence. You'll receive feedback and interest from people outside of your friendship network, which will make you feel amazing. And yes, whilst there will be people that don't like what you do, you need to keep that in mind that your purpose is NOT to please everyone.
The power in a brand is to attract a niche of people that love what you do and your aesthetic. With that means that there will be people that don't have a similar taste, and hence will be disinterested. And that's totally okay. Have a think about fashion brands you like vs dislike - it's no different!
#4: Affordable marketing
Unlike print advertising and large expos, local market stalls are generally very affordable. Depending on the size and popularity of the market, they typically range between $50 - $300 for a spot for the weekend.
This makes local markets an affordable and easy way to market your business and brand. You'll get your brand seen in front of a whole audience of different people, ages, genders and personas.
The key to the market is not to make a profit - you probably won't after taking into account labour and time - but if you can give away a handful of business cards every hour and receive a wedding or event lead from each one that you do, then that's what I'd call a successful market.
A lot of markets also allow you to share a booth with a friend, so you could even split up the costs and do two booths in one. The only thing to keep in mind for this approach, is to ensure that your brands gel in some way, aren't in direct competition with one another, and are of a similar aesthetic.
#5: Gaining market set up experience
If you're in it for the long run with your floral venture, then no doubt you've got ideas of potentially being involved in a larger expo or fair down the track. In this case, local markets are your godsend!
Markets can be your way of testing your set up, booth styling and logistics, before you do it at an actual expo. It's a cheap way of making mistakes (and learning from them), so that you're more than ready by the time the big expo comes along.
The first time I set up a market stand, I went all out and learned a whole heap afterwards.
I learned that less is more when it comes to the market stand (having too much stuff overwhelms people), and creating elevation in your display helps catch passer by's eyes. So each following market stall that I participated in, I tweaked my set up as I learned more about what worked well and what didn't. I gained experience in styling my stall and also created market-specific signage too.
The first time you do a stall, you don't really know what works and what doesn't, so with time comes experience. Big wedding expos are a much larger investment, so you want to make sure you get it right when you do it.
Just getting started?
We know it's incredibly hard when you're just starting off with your new business. There's actually a lot of simple and inexpensive things you can do. We share 7 actionable steps over 7 days through our free email course, that's designed to help you start taking baby steps towards landing your first wedding, or event!