My mind was blown by Tara Swiger back in October when I attended Schoolhouse Craft in Seattle. She laid out what you need to create a customer path-- a way to figure out what activities you do that will make your customer buy. The systematic approach made an otherwise overwhelming and guess-filled process one you could confidently perform over and over again. When I found out she was going to be in San Diego in January I was thrilled she agreed to do the same workshop with us. If you are in the San Diego area I HIGHLY recommend you sign up for this now!
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you started!
A: Hi! I'm Tara Swiger and I help makers and artists craft businesses they love. We do this by focusing on profitability, marketing, goal-plotting (not just goal making!), and confidence - on my podcast, emails and classes. (Like the one I'm teaching in San Diego NEXT WEEK! Yay!)
I got started talking about business pretty much by accident, after I quit my day job 6 years ago to work full-time in my handmade yarn company. I had grown the company until it replaced my day job salary (I was our family's primary breadwinner) and anytime I mentioned it online or at craft shows, I was inundated by questions: How did you do it? How do you pay the bills? How do you make enough sales?
I was already totally obsessed with learning all I could about small businesses (checking out every book at the library, grilling every full-time maker I met), so I was delighted to talk (at length!) with anyone who asked.
But I realized right away that it didn't make sense to tell someone what works in MY business, which is totally unique (as is yours!) - if you want to make progress in your business, you have to find what will work for you. But you don't have to do it alone - together we can ask questions, dig deep into what's already working, talk about what's worked for other businesses and come up with a solution.
So that's what I've been doing for over 5 years: putting together classes, workshops and communities that guide you to finding your own best business expert.
(My secret mission: Make every maker an expert in her own business, so she has total confidence to thrive.)
Q: What is a customer path and where did the idea come from?
A: I didn't invent a "customer path" - it exists in your business whether you recognize it or not! It's simply the path that a potential customer will follow in order to buy. Sometimes the path is short (I see it! I love it! I buy it!), other times it's long (Oh, that's interesting, I want to learn more! I'm not ready to buy yet, but I want to be reminded and might get it in a month...)
I started teaching about the Customer Path after my book Market Yourself came out. I talked to readers and students about their own marketing and I realized that some readers were getting lost in their own head, waiting to figure out the perfect answer to the worksheets inside. Market Yourself walks you through figuring out the stuff on YOUR end: What is special about your work? Who does it serve? What tools will you use?
But you also need to look at your marketing from your CUSTOMER'S perspective: What do they encounter first? How do they find you? How do they fall in love? How are you staying in touch? When are they invited to buy?
Q: Why is it important?
A: It is VITAL to not just do the marketing you've heard you "should" do. Your business needs you to really focus in on the customer experience, and make it as easy as possible for interested people to find you, fall in love, and buy from you!
Also, I've found that this shift, from thinking about what you want to thinking about what your customer sees, can give new insights and clarity about your marketing and what to spend your time on.
Q: How do makers use it in their businesses?
A: In the workshop we'll not just learn the three parts of the customer path - you'll look at YOURS. You'll get a big workbook with a series of questions to help you identify the customer path you already have, what's working, what's not working, and what you want to do next to improve it.
You'll leave knowing what your customer path already is, and where you can make it even easier for strangers to find you, fall in love, and buy from you!
Q: What is the biggest change you see in a maker's business once they implemented a customer path?
A: There are two main changes: The maker/biz owner has clarity about what tools they're using and why. (No more "Should I be on Periscope? Pinterest? Ahhhhhh!") No matter what shiny new tool is popular next, you're going to know if it's right for you and where it fits on your path. This clarity is HUGE, because it keeps you from wasting time and allows you to spend your energy doing the most effective stuff in your biz.
The second change is that it becomes so much easier for people to walk down your path! It becomes easier for a stranger to find you, get to know the benefits of your work, make a decision to buy (and feel great about the whole thing.) In other words: You'll make more sales :)
And unlike sales that come from a one-time marketing event (like getting press or doing a big launch), this opens the flow of consistent sales, because you've made your system more effective at every stage.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: It's all at TaraSwiger.com!
To get a free course on building your biz confidence, sign up here (you'll also get weekly lessons that I don't share anywhere else.) I'm on Periscope every weekday, sharing tiny biz lessons (and answering your questions). You can also search your favorite podcast app for "Explore Your Enthusiasm" for my weekly podcast!
If you would like to make a customer path for yourself and learn the steps Tara takes to craft one, sign up for our San Diego workshop with Tara on Monday, January 11.