Crafts To Make And Sell

Testing Your Craft Idea

In my last article on coming up with a craft to make and sell, I identified some different ways that companies use, and you can use, to come up with an idea for a craft to sell.

Now that you have had time to think about it and come up with an idea, how can you decide if the craft idea youíve come up with is a good one?

The first part of the answer to that question is to make sure itís something people will buy. You might be thinking ďHa, Ha, very funny. I think we all know that one.Ē But donít be too quick to brush that statement aside.

While it might seem obvious to you for me to make that kind of a statement, youíd be surprised at how many people will pour countless dollars into supplies and effort, only to have a product not sell. They didnít take the time to do the research and find out if people would buy their product, or leave it on the shelf.

In April of 1999 John Hopkins published an article about marketing guru Robert McMath. McMath keeps a museum of failed products as reminders of lessons learned from the mistakes of others.

One failed product he recalled was Crystal Pepsi. After its flop, McMath asked 250 Itheca (NY) college students if they had tried Pepsi Crystal. Thirteen said they had, and 3 said they liked it. This was after Pepsi spent $100 million in advertising, including during the Super Bowl. McMathís response in the article was, ďNow you tell me where they tested it.Ē

So you see, it isnít stating the obvious, even to large companies, to say that you need a product that people will buy. But, how do you figure out if people will buy the craft you are thinking of? How do you know what crafts they will pay for it, or pass it by?

Craft Question

If youíre going to determine if an idea is a good one, youíre going to need to do the same thing that companies with successful products do. Ask people what they think, and a lot of them.

Companies constantly question people as to what they think about their products or ideas. They create all kinds of test groups to get peopleís reactions to their products and advertising.

While you may not going to be jumping out and starting any large test groups, you can certainly do things to get a feel for what people think our your idea.

In the last article I wrote about talking with your family and friends. If some of them helped you come up with the idea, then go to other family members and friends who donít know about the idea, and ask them what they think.

You can ask them questions like:

Obviously the questions you need to ask are very dependent on the type of product you are selling. The more you practice this part of the process, the better you will get. It can be a bit tricky though. Sometimes you can ask a lot of questions, but may have missed some of the most important ones.

To borrow from the soft drink industry again, (I was just reading about them recently) Coke found this lesson out the hard way. When they introduced their product, New Coke, some years ago, they conducted a number of taste tests. Many people said they liked the taste of it. What they didnít tell people was that it would replace the old Coke. Had they asked people what they thought about replacing the old Coke, they could have avoided a train wreck.

Simply try and think of all the questions from different angles. Even ask people if there is anything you might have left out? Give them an opportunity to narrate a bit and see what they say.

In all of this, remember that you are looking for as honest feedback as you can get. You need to be ready to hear that an idea may not be a good one. Donít get your feelings hurt. This is simply the weeding out process. People have tons of ideas everyday. Most of them should receive a pass. You are trying to find out if yours is one of them, and if you should work on a different one.

Sometimes people get attached to an idea, and just wonít let it go. They have become personally fond of it, and will push the idea no matter what. This is certainly a recipe for disaster. If it looks like the idea isnít a good one, move on.

If the idea just needs some alterations (different packaging, better explanation of features, etc.) then by all means, make your changes and move forward. This process is iterative. Your product make go through lots of changes until you finally get it the way it needs to be.

Make A Craft To Show

Something else you should do if the product isnít real expensive to make, is to create a few test items. Hand them out to people and ask them to let you know what they think. Is it useful to them? Did you have any problems with it? As it sat on your shelf, did it grow on you?

This getís people past having to try an visualize things in their mind. If they can see it, touch it, and even try it out, then youíll have a much better chance of getting accurate feedback.

If you canít reasonably make one, can you make a drawing of it and show people? Anything you can do to make it more tangible to them, the better.

One thing you can do is give a few items to people as they purchase something else from you. Ask them if they would be interested in a free item in exchange for just giving you some feedback. I would be surprised if most people wouldnít be willing to let you know what they think. After all, who doesnít like to give their opinion? Who doesnít like to know that their input will make a difference?

Really, if you stop and think about it, giving away a product to someone who has purchased from you can be one of the best ways to get feedback. Remember that we said you want something people will buy. Who better to tell you that than the people doing the buying? If you get the thumbs up from several of them, then it is probably something you should get cracking on.

As a side note, being able to stay in contact with people who have purchased something from you is priceless. It gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them. Instead of a one time sale, you can make many sales. If someone has bought from you before and they enjoyed your product, it is likely they will buy from you again.

You can keep them up to date on your latest items, and when your next shows will be. Itís definitely worth the cost of a few test items.

So these are just a few ways that you can determine if a product is a good one. After reading this article, you might be a little nervous that your idea might be a dud. And, if big companies fail, then what chance do I have? Let me encourage you, if you do your homework, youíll be fine. The reason a lot of products failed was simply because people tried to shortcut the process, and not really do the proper research. If you put the time and effort into testing your idea, then youíll come up with a winner.

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