Published on March 22nd, 2012 | by Jill Bastian2
5 Things Small Businesses Can Learn from Knitters
I know that title makes you think I’ve either lost my marbles or we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for blog ideas. But if you read on I think you will see how this statement is actually true and how these ideas can work for your small business. I recently attended a knitting convention, and yes, I am not making that up. Knitting conventions really do exist and I went to one. While looking at all the pretty yarns and tools I noticed some great things these small businesses were doing to get the attention of ‘super fan’ attendees. All industries have these super fans, people who are fanatical about specific products or services and are willing to go the extra mile to find them. While your business may not have anything to do with knitting, you can still use these ideas to help bring more attention, and business, to your company.
1. Know Your Audience – This is in no way, a new idea, but are you taking advantage of what you know about your customers? At the convention there were a number of booths that were selling lovely yarn of course, but also fancy chocolate. Yarn AND chocolate? Seems like an odd combination at first glance, and potentially a very messy one. But these businesses were smart and knew their customers. I would say that 98% of the attendees at this conference were women. And women like chocolate. Adding a few bars of fancy, fair trade chocolate brought additional attention to their booth and their products. Plus, delicious chocolate increased word of mouth so these booths were always busy. Chocolate could work with a variety of businesses; I know wineries do this a lot. Macy’s sells bottles of water at their cash wraps because shopping is a thirsty business. What would your customers find convenient, useful and maybe unexpected at your business?
2. Photo Booth – I thought this was a great idea, and one that could be applied to a lot of small businesses. This booth had set up an area where customers could have their picture taken while wearing some of the patterns the knitting designer had for sale. She hung up some cute paper as a background and had lots of garments available for shoppers to try on. She even had a printer there to print out the pictures and included where the photo was taken and the name of her company. Smart idea! The customer has a fun memento of the show plus a picture of what they will look like in the garments if they buy the patterns. Even if they don’t buy right then, they’ll still have the picture to remind them to buy it later. This could be applied to a lot of businesses, obviously retail stores would benefit from this, but wineries or just about anyone at a trade show could use this idea to their advantage.
3. iPad – Most booths that were selling yarn also had various garments on display made out of their yarn. Good idea, inspire shoppers to buy a bit more and make a sweater or scarf. But one booth took this idea one step further and showed the actual patterns on an iPad. Anyone in the booth could easily find how much yarn they needed for a project, ask about anything tricky and buy the pattern. A little extra handholding can go a long with a potential customer. Plus, iPads just look cool and have the added bonus of giving the opportunity to sign up to receive emails, all in one spot!
4. Ask for Input – One of the booths and businesses that I gave in to and made a purchase from, was handing out bags with inserts asking for some help. The owner wants to be where her customers are, so she asked what events her customers wanted her to be at, what stores her yarn should be sold in, and she told them that she loves doing custom orders. Plus, she included lots of ways to find her including Facebook, Twitter, her blog and Etsy. Wow. Simple, straightforward and easy. Wondering what your customers are looking for? Ask them! Is there something they need in your product line-up or services offered? Ask them. Do you need more feedback on your products? Ask. This wasn’t something really difficult to include in a bag, just a printed card, but you can bet she got feedback. I can tell you that I went to the Etsy store and followed her company on Facebook for more updates. If you have an online business, use a short survey to get feedback. People like to be asked about their opinions and will happily help you out.
5. Technology is Useful – I did buy a few things at the convention (I am a knitter, there is no way I wouldn’t!) and one designer had a great idea. I purchased a pattern from her, which had lots of different versions included so I didn’t have to do the math to make changes, and she offered to email me a digital copy. Did I take her up on that? Heck yeah! A paper copy of a pattern means I am one spilled cup of coffee away from buying it again. I bought a few patterns but this designer was the only one that offered this very helpful perk. She can now update me with any changes to the pattern, and just by asking if I wanted to get some emails from her, I’m now on her list. And she did the whole transaction on her cell phone, no pieces of paper to keep track of. Just a couple of small things set her apart from everyone else but they made a big impact for her customers.
There you have it, 5 ideas to help your small business get the attention it deserves. You don’t have to be a knitter to use these ideas of course, but there are always classes near you if you want to take up a new hobby. How can your small business implement these ideas?
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