We have a strong commitment to creating a community FOR makers that also includes people who are their cheerleaders and support system. Today we have a member, Jeff Daigle, who helps members get their website act together-- including dreaded aspects of figuring out how to setup your own ecommerce. He shares how design thinking can be used in your business. Jeff has also been active in starting the seedlings of a community in Denver which will hopefully turn into a chapter soon. Thanks Jeff!
Q: Please introduce yourself.
A: I’m Jeff Daigle, and my company is Denver Business Design Consulting (or dbdc to its friends). As you can probably guess I’m located in Denver, where I’ve lived for the past ten years. I grew up in New Hampshire but have called Colorado home since 2002, and since I’m married to a native Coloradan I don’t see myself leaving any time soon!
For over twenty years I’ve been designing and building websites in a career that’s included Higher Ed, Systems Administration, Internet Marketing, Software User Interface and User Experience Design, part time freelance Graphic Design and Web Design, and Architecture (the buildings kind, not the software kind). I finally made the leap to full-time consulting as dbdc in September 2015 with the mission of helping other people start and grow successful businesses doing what they love.
dbdc helps artists and makers achieve sustainable growth for their handmade businesses. An unfortunate side effect of success is that many handmade business owners find themselves so busy with the tasks that go into running a business—fulfilling orders, tracking finances, marketing and social media, keeping their website and online store up to date—that they don’t have the time or energy to keep doing the creative work that is the whole reason they started their businesses in the first place.
I help artists and makers take control of their businesses with consulting services that include refining Pricing and Positioning, streamlining Business Processes, updating or building brand-new Websites and Online Stores, and Social Media/Online Marketing strategy.
Q: What experience helped shape your business?
A: About two years ago, when I knew I wanted to leave my full-time job as an architect and become a small business consultant full time, I spent several months researching an idea called “Business Design.” Business Design treats an organization’s development, structure, and activities as a design problem that can be worked on using “design thinking,” i.e. the creative process of ideate—>prototype—>iterate.
But as I shopped the idea around, I realized that almost nobody had any idea what I was talking about, let alone any conception of how it could help them as an entrepreneur. So eventually I took all of the writing and planning and designing I’d done around the idea of marketing “Business Design” consulting and went back to the drawing board.
Q: What did this teach you and what effect did it have on your business?
A: The lesson I took away is that unless you’re pitching a screenplay or a novel, the idea isn’t what sells. instead of trying to sell this concept, I now sell the results and the application. The business development consulting that I do with artists & makers uses the principles of Business Design to help my clients Design a business that will achieve the financial and personal goals that they have.
Q: How does identifying your ideal customer and defining your brand play into selling the results?
A: In order to market yourself based on the results your customers get from working with you, you need to know what your customers’ pain points are. And you can’t accurately and specifically target pain points without knowing a great deal about your ideal customers. What do they do every day? What tools and strategies do they use? What big, expensive problems do they have that you have the skills to solve?
Once you’ve got a laser focus on the niche where your ideal customer lives you can get to work defining your brand in a way that will be accessible and understandable to them. Your company needs to speak your ideal customers’ language, from the design of your logo to the tone of your writing. Describing your customers’ pain and how you can fix it using their own words improves your trustworthiness and communicates to your customers that you’re on their side.
Q: How do you demonstrate/provide value to prospective customers?
A: Some of the things I do have results that are easy to measure: more orders, higher revenues, increased website traffic, that type of thing. And those are things that just about everyone selling products online wants.
But there are other outcomes that people get when they work with me that are harder to quantify but are just as important, such as reducing stress by setting up a strategy for marketing online, or getting more time to work on your craft by automating more of your activity on your website or online store.
To demonstrate the value of those results, I try to help my potential clients envision what their lives would be like if they weren’t always worrying about their website or if they should be posting on Instagram or Snapchat or Vine or all three. I want to get them excited and inspired about their business, and help them make their goals happen.
Q: What advice would you give to makers who may be struggling to communicate what they offer in a way that speaks to prospective customers?
A: First, get out of the house! Take your wares on the road, whether it’s a craft fair, art show, urban market, or just a table set up in a busy spot. Watch and listen to how people react to your products. How do they touch them? Look at them? What questions do they ask you? What do they say to their friends?
Second, get online and figure out where your ideal customers hang out. What blogs or forums do they comment on? What’s on their Pinterest boards? What are they talking about when it comes to topics related to what you’re selling?
Third, take a look at your competition, online and in stores. How do they talk to their customers? Obviously you don’t want to copy someone else’s branding and marketing wholesale, but there’s nothing wrong with seeing something that’s working and finding a way to adapt it to your brand.
Again, the goal is figuring out how to speak your ideal customers’ language so that your message cuts through the noise with an authentic voice.
Q: Where can people find you online?
A: People can visit my website at http://dbdc.us/ I’ve got dozens of articles about running a business online, a customizable eCommerce Fees Calculator that lets you see what your monthly fees would be for 12 different eCommerce platforms, and a free eBook called The Website Manual for Artists and Makers.