Sunday, 6 February 2011

Brand (new) Competition

For the past month or so I’ve been branding my business, it’s supposed to have been re-branding but since I started I realised I had never really branded my business in the first place.  The idea behind branding via a questionnaire came from a website called Copyblogger and a series about branding your business on there. Since then I have been working my way through all of the steps he suggests and I’m putting the step-by-step online. It’s a very useful site. Have a look if you’re interested/involved in small business marketing. This is the fifth part, the first is over here and the second is here, the third is here and the fourth is here

Blog number four was actually the most popular and people seem to be finding this format useful – that’s no compliment to me but all credit to Copyblogger for the fab idea but I’m thrilled people are seeing my attempt as an incentive to do their own branding. 
As a side note, obviously I am not allowed to use pictures from my competitors and this blog is all about competition so the eye-candy for this one is taken from my giant trip around Europe in 2005. Look out for the super-cheerful chap!

51. Who is your competition?
Selling on one of the most popular places to buy crafts makes you very aware of the amount of competition that you have. I have just checked and there are 120,796 items when you search Etsy for handmade collages. In the original collage (my section, obviously) there are 9558 pieces. Crumbs!
So my competition is the same as every person in my village listing three collages. Again, crumbs!
I try to keep a good eye on my competition on Etsy as well as in local shops and at the craft fairs that I attend.

52. What makes them a competitor?
There are a lot of people who are selling original handmade art collages, me included but I’ve yet to find someone else who uses collector-grade stamps, text from gravestones, photographs, print from antiquarian books and photographs all at the same time. They are my competitors because they are people who I compare my work to and they are good alternative options for people who are possibly going to buy my work.
53. How do they describe what makes them unique?
I think that the unique part of selling when you are an individual rather than attached to a company comes from the story that you tell with the piece. Where the materials came from, what inspired you to make the piece, where you learnt the technique and what each item means to you personally. Tags and titles used well can also make people stand out from the crowd, but with 9000+ people to stand out from it's pretty tough to be completely unique. For people looking to buy on Etsy, if you're looking for a completely unique piece then try searching for OOAK (one of a kind) as sellers tend to use it as a tag rather than 'unique' which is ironically never unique. I don't think I could adjust my branding because to be more different online because as soon as you strike out too far then you lose the ability to be found.

54. What do they offer?
I suppose that anyone selling artwork could be a competitor although if someone is likely to buy my collages then I’m not competing with still-life photography for example.
I think this is more to do with services. I am working on expanding what I sell to include triptychs (to sell in person, the frames are too weighty for shipping) and as I keep harping on about - the cards are almost ready to go online. Rather stupidly it will be too late for Valentine's Day but never mind, hopefully lots of people will want them for other occasions!

55. Do they charge for what they offer?
Yes. I offer free gift-wrapping. Is that relevant here? I use pretty ribbon.
56. Are they marketing to the same audience as you?
Good idea – will work on this. I think my brand is generally broader than most - and I intend on keeping it that way.

57. What are they better at than you?
Selling. Nah, only kidding, but I'm new at this. I know that my weakness lies in the business side. While I have been making jewellery and collages for over six years now I have only been doing marketing and accounts for six months and am at a bit of a disadvantage there. I'm signing myself up for various marketing courses and individual sessions to try and work on this. I think that my non-professional approach (non-professional, not un-professional I hope!) does mean that people know it is just me and they are getting something very different and personal.

58. What are you better at than them?
Hugs. Washing-up. Making pancakes. Quoting movies. Spending too much time and money on eBay. Writing letters.
Relevant things? I am better than anyone else at showing how I view the world and understand things within it through creative means. And really that's all I am trying to be better at than everyone, I'm not trying to be the best at art or collages just making the best of my art and jewellery.
59. What colors do they use in their brand?
I think with art and jewellerypink, until it gets to February and then pink and red are everywhere. More on this soon as I build up to Valentine’s Day (I mean business wise...of course!).

60. How would you describe the design style of their brand? Is it modern, conservative, futuristic, or funky?
All of the above. Not all at once but I don't think that my competition are limited to one type of design.
61. What kind of Internet marketing presence do they have?
This splits into two clear sections. My online competition on Etsy definitely has a strong internet presence and they probably have all of the same things that I do, and for this reason I try to keep all of my various internets up-to-date. With the embarrassing exception of my website which I am working on as we speak (almost, it's next on my to do list). Most of my competition at craft fairs are barely online at all, some have email addresses and some have websites, or Etsy pages but rarely do the people I see at local events sell internationally over the net. 

62. Are they trying to attract an audience from a specific geographic area?
I think this is covered in the last one. Etsy - no. Craft fairs -yes. (See, I can be concise)
63. How active are they in promoting their brand? Is their brand a household name in your industry, or has nobody heard of them? 
I don’t believe that I am competing against ‘brand’ name jewellers or famous artists for two reasons, 1. My target market is people looking for individuals who are selling their creativity and a story & 2. If I did try to compete it would be really depressing and well, I would fail. As I said in #58 I am trying to make the best version of my work, not the super-very-best in the whole world.

Okay. This is the penultimate one and the last section is tying everything up with a few final questions. I have 20 cards to photograph and another eight collages to make before dinner tonight. And in completely unrelated news I am addicted to the new Sara Bareilles album. It's been playing in the background for the past day or two while I've been working.


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