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Useful, Beautiful, or Both? How to Determine the Real Value of Your Work

by Lauren Hoffman
craft & maker, featured

When you’re making the big transition from sometimes-online-retailer to full-on wholesaler, you’re faced with a core question: how do you uncover the value of the products you make? According to designer, wholesaler, and CreativeLive instructor Megan Auman, keeping customer experience at the forefront, even when marketing to wholesalers, is key to the success of your brand.

As an individual maker, you most likely think about the value of your product in terms of the hours, effort, and thought you put into producing a product. But your customer’s perspective on your product’s value is often completely different. Your ideal client most likely doesn’t care about the time you took, the materials you’ve used, or the thought process that went into a design. Instead, he or she cares about how they experience the product.

When you’re thinking about the product you offer in terms of customer experience, ask yourself:

  • How useful is my product to customers?

  • What does the product say about them?

  • How does the product make them feel?

Megan points out that the idea of “usefulness” can be tricky for those who make things that are considered “non-essential.”

“It’s sometimes hard to put use on something like jewelry…but it’s not the only thing that people value.”

Once you’ve considered the base level of your brand’s ideal customer, you’re ready to brainstorm ways to increase the perceived value of what you have to offer. While it’s tempting for you as a maker to focus on how long it took you to make a product. But just because it took you ten minutes (or ten hours or ten days) to make something, doesn’t mean the time you took will translate into the way your customer perceives that product. As Megan’s frequent collaborator Tara Gentile explains, “Just because something is easy for you doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable to someone else.”

Chances are, your customer is most interested in how your product will benefit them. And in a maker field, when you’re offering a client something like jewelry or artwork for their home, the core benefit for your customer lies in how your product makes them feel.

While a focus on an individual customer experience might seem counter-intuitive when you’re trying to make the transition into a wholesaling market, Megan explains that it’s actually essential. “You might be thinking — we’re trying to sell to retailers, so does any of this matter? Absolutely, it matters. Ultimately, your products are still ending up in the hands of customers,” and when customers enter into a store, they’ll think about whether they need what they’re seeing, how it will work with what they already have, how much they’re willing to pay for it, and so on.

Before you can even begin to articulate the value of what you do to wholesale clients, you have to understand it for yourself.

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Lauren Hoffman

Lauren Hoffman lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. By day, she’s a freelance writer and editor; by night, she’s at work completing a book-length non-fiction project, Up High Down Low.