What does your customer think about your brand? Ask yourself these 5 questions and find out.

How does your customer see your brand-


Have you ever wished you could stand in your customer’s shoes and know what they’re thinking when they land on your site? Me too!

What is it that makes them stay, and what makes them turn off and click away?

Fortunately, with a good checklist and a bit of smart thinking, you can make some fairly accurate guesstimates.

I’ve got 5 questions for you to ask yourself today in order to get clear on what your customers think of your brand and business.



1. Ask yourself, who is your customer?


Is this a totally obvious question? It totally should be!

And unfortunately, many businesses only think they’ve answered this question. Sadly, I’ve come across lots of small businesses who’ve only got a super vague idea of who their customer actually is.

But knowing this is the essence of having a business, surely!? If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

The more you understand specifically who your customer is and what’s in their head, the better you’re able to communicate with them and give them the exact product they’re looking for.

When I started on Etsy in 2009, my idea of my customer was fairly non-existent – if anything, I thought it was just like a mini-me – if I liked what I made, then of course they’d like it too. End of story…. {um…. no.}

Your customer can be a lot like you, but they’re not usually you. Perhaps they’re you from a year or two back, perhaps they’ve got more disposable income than you, maybe their work situation is different to you so that they have more time to themselves.

Focus hard on what makes them tick and get beyond the demographics – demographics are important to be sure, but you need to dig down deep into your ideal customer’s head. What hobbies and interests do they have? Do they have a similar world view to you? What motivates them? What are they currently worrying about? What makes them swoon?

The more specific you are the better – use your knowledge of what they like to appeal to them. Whatever you do, do it with your beautiful, ideal customer firmly in the front of your mind.

Seriously, the worst thing you can do for your biz is to try and be a generalist – to try and appeal to everyone. You KNOW you can’t, so don’t even try.



2. Does your site look neat and orderly?


Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

When people land on your site, they take SECONDS to decide whether you’re right for them, based purely on how you present yourself visually. There are a whole bunch of things that contribute to this, so let’s go through them one at a time.

  • Colour – Do you have a distinct colour palette that you use for all your graphics? A limited palette of 1 – 6 colours (not including black and white)  is great for making your visuals hang together. Not only are you sure that every time you make a new graphic that the colours work well together, but you save a bunch of time because you’re not scrabbling around in the colour charts, trying to find a workable combination. When it’s done well, colour can be one of the most important identifying factors when it comes to business branding (think Cadbury – think purple).
  • Fonts – Same goes for fonts – having a basic ‘wardrobe’ of no more than two fonts (OK, maybe three at a super-stretch) helps keep your text looking clean and orderly, and you save time because you’re not always choosing things afresh. More than three fonts starts looking very messy style-wise, but if you need to add variety, consider simply changing your font size, using bold and italics, or even changing the colour of the text (and any combination of these).
  • Image style – Think about the business personality you want to project. Is it slick and high tech? Down-to-earth and friendly? Childlike and fun? Whatever you choose, make sure your images match that personality. Generally, don’t try and mix impersonal stock photos on your site with casual snaps you’ve taken yourself – the style difference is glaringly obvious and looks unprofessional. Tie all your images together by mood and/or styling.
  • Alignment – This is the super-power of graphic design. Nothing looks messier than elements that aren’t all aligned – whether you choose centred, left- or right-justified, make sure the edges are all in a straight line!! Same goes for borders that don’t line up, or using lots of different sized things. I know it’s not always possible with everything, but if you’ve got a bunch of photos for instance, crop them all to the same size and put ’em in some kind of orderly grid.



3. How well can you solve their problem for them?


So, now you’ve got their attention, you have to deliver the goods. There has to be some substance behind the gloss or they’ll give up and go elsewhere. It’s here where you let them know that you understand exactly what their problem is, and that you’ve got the perfect solution.

Because customers have a problem to solve: that’s why they’re buying something – and their problem’s usually quite specific.

Perhaps they need new earrings to go with their wedding dress, or a small waterproof toiletries bag to take camping with them, or a casual wrap to keep their shoulders warm while they do the weekly shopping. When you customer comes to your handmade soap shop, what are they looking for? Something beautiful and luxurious to give as a thank you gift to their bestie? Or something super mild and allergy free for their sensitive skin?

There’s a story for every product that connects you to your customer – tell it.



4. Is it obvious what you want people to do? And how easy is it for people to ask you questions if they need to before they purchase?


The totally awesome Seth Godin once wrote about the problems he experienced in trying to navigate a particularly difficult-to-navigate website.

His message, as always, was spot on.

“Show me where to click.”

Whenever you set up a site, however you lay things out, always make sure that it’s obvious what you want your audience to do next.

They don’t know your site, they’ve not visited you ever before. And they don’t know you!  So, put your menu in an obvious spot.

Make your “Buy” buttons stand out (use contrast – it’s really that simple); put the link to your mailing list near the top of your sidebar; make your contact forms and your email addy easy to find.



5. How can they trust you?


Lastly, people need to trust you before they buy – and this is especially true of online transactions. People hesitate if the thing they want to buy has risk attached to it – “what happens if it doesn’t fit when I get it?” or “I’m not sure if that colour will look OK on me”, or even “I’m not sure if your coaching packaging is right for me and my biz”.

How do you build trust? Through social proof. This is simply other people who are unconnected with the business, recommending you – word of mouth is the best advertising you can possibly get (and you get them by delivering top quality product with top quality service, paying attention to every aspect of the customer’s experience).

Collect testimonials and put them up on your site.

What if you’re just starting and you don’t have testimonials? Your About page is the perfect place to start to building a connection between you and your customer – did you know it’s the second most-visited type of page on any site (next to the home page)? Tell your customers the story of why you do what you do – how you started and what it means for you. Make it personal, because people love connecting with people.

Offering guarantees is yet another way to inspire trust in prospective customers – 30 day money-back, exchanges, or extra bonuses are all ways to help lessen the perceived risk for customers.

So, take a step back from your site, and pretend that you’re encountering it for the first time.

Go through each of the 5 questions in turn and adjust your site accordingly, and you’ll be sure to end up with a site you customers will thank you for.


Now, I’d love to know – What are some of the worst, and the best sites you’ve visited, and why?

Your answers here will help everybody make their sites lovelier, so fire away!


5 Things Bloggers Look for When Choosing Work to Feature





guest post - november

Ever wondered how you get your fabulous designs/handcraft/artwork featured on blogs? How come you see some makers/artists get their work featured in lots of places all the time? How do they do that?

Or are you even unsure of why you would want to have your work featured – surely the fact that you’ve got an online shop and people can find you with just a few clicks is enough? Ha! The obvious answer is that unless you get yourself out there, nobody knows you even exist…

There are MAJOR benefits to having your work featured, because there are so many other things competing for your customer’s attention. Having your work featured by bloggers regularly can be a huge boost to your business in terms of visibility.

Getting a feature means that not only do potential customers see your work on those blogs, but if they like your work enough, they might also share it on their social media, such as Pinterest and Facebook. And that snowballs. The more places the better I say! Best of all, getting your work featured on blogs is most often free.

So, after featuring hundreds of artists over the past (almost) three years of blogging, and being disappointed many times by great work with poor photos and/or information, I thought it would be useful to write a post on what bloggers really look for.

The number 1 thing is to create beautiful, shareable images. Now of course, that means you have to have great photos of your work – but it’s not the only thing.


1. YOUR PRODUCTS have to be excellent.

Good design and good craftsmanship are the foundation of your business. A good photograph can help sell your product, but it still has to be an honest representation. You don’t want your customer to be disappointed when they open your package, do you? Think quality, always.

Bloggers also value originality. When your work has a particular style that is unmistakable, that’s fantastic. It makes it easy for the blogger to pick a group of work and write a cohesive post about you. When your work and your images look like a mixed lunch, that makes it a whole lot harder for them. And when your work and your presentation look like a hundred other shops, well, they might just move onto something more interesting.


2. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS are the real clincher.

(You knew I’d get to them, didn’t you!?) When it’s online, it is visual impact first and foremost that you should be thinking about, and your image needs to be beautiful in order to compete.

It really should go without saying that your product photographs need to be crisply focused and in good light. The styling of your product images needs to be consistent too – this doesn’t mean that all products need to be photographed on exactly the same background at the same angle. You could for instance, have a “family” of backgrounds (perhaps 3 – 5) which work together in terms of colour and props.

Create & Thrive has some EXCELLENT tips on getting your photos looking fabulous with the Create & Thrive Product Photography e-book.

Another thing that makes me cringe is large, obvious watermarks on your images – especially ones that slash right across the centre of your pic. I won’t feature your work, no matter how beautiful it is.

I completely understand that it’s important to state your ownership for some things (especially photographers’ images), but you can still get your message across with a smaller, softer watermark in the corner of your image. Wouldn’t you rather receive a heap of publicity for your fabulous work, instead of it languishing alone in your shop? You need to realise too that a watermark is an inconvenience, and not a permanent deterrent to stealing your images/ideas. If you are really worried about people copying your work (and remember that 99.9% of population don’t!), don’t put it out there at all.


3. YOUR DESCRIPTIONS might not be as important as your images for convincing bloggers to feature your work, but if you can tell a good story about your pieces, it most certainly helps.

For instance, if you make and sell girl’s dresses, that’s OK, but not very interesting. However, if you sell girl’s dresses that are made from fabric that is handprinted by a textile artist you met at uni a few years back and now you collaborate on the designs – that really gives your work a whole different dimension.


4. YOUR ARTIST BIOGRAPHY is a great way to generate interest in your work.

Again, it’s a lot to do with stories – if you’ve got an interesting story to tell about what drives you, and/or how you ended up where you are, then tell it! Be passionate; don’t be shy about what you’ve done and especially about why you do what you do. Share some of your techniques and inspirations too. People love a good story, and bloggers love having something to write about.


5. BE PROACTIVE. Last but not least, help yourself.

After you’ve got your work and photos in order, be proactive and approach bloggers to feature your work. There is SO much out there for them to choose from, the more you can reach out and say “Hi!”, the better it is for you. Not everyone will say yes, and that’s OK because each blog has its own particular flavour and you may not be a great fit for them. When that happens, just try another blog.

Often when blogs accept submissions, they’ll have a list of criteria they are looking for in work to feature, as well as a list of what they won’t accept, so do spend some time checking that out too.

Don’t be afraid. Us bloggers are generally a very approachable lot – as long as you treat us like real people!! Don’t address us as “dear sir/madam” – at least spend a few minutes finding out a name to address your email to. Introduce yourself and what you do briefly, and explain why you think your work would be a good fit for that blog. Include 5-6 of your (top-quality of course!) images at medium resolution (around 600px wide is a good size).


If you don’t hear back, wait for a week or so before contacting the blog again – don’t hassle us! But DEFINITELY send a reminder if you need to, as sometimes we get sidetracked and crazy busy and forgetful because we’re human…

So what are you waiting for? Go to it!

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