Aleks Byrd Illustration

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Crafts Council Marketing Yourself Masterclass

Wednesday I spent the afternoon with a group of other talented designer-makers learning to get more sophisticated with how we present ourselves and our brand online. It's an ongoing process and project for me, through a lot of trial and error how to make an impact. I walked away from this masterclass feeling inspired to do more! 

 Photo of materials from workshop taken by Aleks Byrd 2017

Photo of materials from workshop taken by Aleks Byrd 2017

The speakers were Caroline Macdonald of OggaDoon and Angie Parker of Angie Parker Textiles

Caroline who specializes in "guerilla communications" really broke down the process into thought provoking questions to answer:

What is your brand? What is the core of your brand? Brand values?

Why should someone be interested in you and interested in your brand?

What's your story?- what is your history/backstory, what are your passions, where does your inspiration come from, what materials are you using, what problem are you solving or enhancement to daily life is your product making? Most importantly be honest and genuine with your stories it should sound like you!

Who are you targeting?- the customer might be different from the consumer. Imagine who they are and what they look like. Who are the people who can influence potential customers to buy from you?

How do you engage with your target market/ audience? - what reaction and actions do you want people to have to your online content engagement?

And from all of that let's break it down to aims and goals

What are you doing now?

What are you going to do?

What should you be doing?

It seems pretty daunting and also grounding to think and answer all those questions. These questions not only relate to marketing but also the design and research processes of developing a textile collection. Where I am today, I can't fully answer every question. I am pivoting my brand and business from more strictly illustration to inclusion of a more textile based business and practice. It's a transitional period where I want to take the begins of the brand I created with my illustration and current knit textiles of modern, fresh, whimsical, scandinavian/nordic flair into what I'm creating in this textile development and research process. I don't want to abandon the illustration world I've come from but push in further from paper to tactile. Looking back at Caroline's questions ,I think that embracing that illustration background gives me an interesting backstory and framework for my passion and inspiration stories to share and build on going forward.

The other speaker Angie gave a nice breakdown from the perspective of a studio practice and striking the  balance between practice and marketing: 40% making, 40% marketing, 10% administrative work, 10% creative professional development. 

From the studio practice side, it's knowing what to invest in, building confidence, and being realistic with your planning ( make a 5 year plan). Here are a few tips and words of wisdom from Angie:

  • Invest in good photographs of products and making shots!
  • Try to make yourself an expert in a field or specialty and talk about on social media as a way of engaging with a community 
  • Not everybody is your customer
  • What you do with your engagement will make you sales
  • How you talk about your work is half the customer attraction to it
  • Sell dreams not techniques- your selling customers an experience or feeling with your work
  • Don't be apologetic about your prices- Your worth it!

All in all I feel like I'm armed to make a better splash in the world of marketing. I also feel like I have the questions that I really need to ask myself, do a little soul searching, to be a more successful designer-maker, researcher, and marketer. I shouldn't feel embarrassed to toot my own horn!