Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TpT Tips Tuesday - Finding your Niche and Branding!

I'm back and it's almost time to go to press. A word or two about Branding and Finding Your Niche.


1. How do you find your niche? We've talked a lot about two things: being yourself, and about giving the customers what they want. This may sometimes be at odds. It is a struggle. I sell high quality, challenging, writing products. Many of these are fiction writing materials. I have to accept that these may not sell as quickly as the items in other people's stores. My most popular item ever is my "Teaching the Writer's Workshop" product. If I do more of this type of product, I may stumble upon my niche.

 Take Away - Do What You Love, but, 
                      Do more of what sells best

2. Be prepared to be patient. Is there anything more painful than how wonderful February was (fill in the month of your own choosing that has been your best selling month so far), only to see the next month slump and stagger to its knees? What went wrong? You advertised, pinned, blogged, so what is the deal?

Take Away - Yes, when top sellers go onto the forum and tell you it's a process and it doesn't happen overnight, it may also apply to you despite your protestations to the contrary. Sometimes the sales are slack because of what you are or are not doing right, or enough of (perhaps you are not doing a linky or a frenzy and it might be time). Sometimes, it might be because of a holiday or the weather, so it is no use feeling bad. Patience and redoubling your efforts is the way to go. 

3. When it finally happens! When you find what you are great at - poetry, crafts, organizational items that truly fit the needs of teachers in a unique way, you will know it, because people will respond. If it happens overnight, God bless you. If you like many of us have been working and you stumbled upon that eureka(!) moment where it all clicks, that is sometimes even sweeter. It doesn't mean you won't have another brilliant "line" of best sellers, either. But it is a great sign that you're on to something that affects people in a positive way, and it feels very affirming. 

Take Away - Though it may happen right away or take awhile, it is worth it to find and then develop and strengthen your niche of products. It becomes what you are known for.

The Importance of Branding 

 Believe it or not, the photos inside the picture banner you see below you was my first attempt at a banner. It is a picture of my writing room - well, my bookshelf anyway, - that makes PerfettoWritingRoom what it is. This long photograph of books was very cool in my opinion, and in many respects I still like that picture of my books. It was the banner I used to open my store at teacherspayteachers.com. The PROBLEM was that it said NOTHING about me. Oh yeah, and it wasn't very memorable.

What you see above was my SECOND ATTEMPT. It's tre Fifties. How cool. Notice I kept the books. I really was stuck on those books. Do you know that I love books? I I liked the retro vibe, because retro is very NOW-TRO. But you cant really read my store name. I changed the background to a light gingham check to make it even more cute and easier to read. But this brings me to the point.

What is Branding? Why is it Important?

Love or hate Coke, you know it. You know so well in fact, that people you know may ask for a "coke" whenever they want ANY generic dark-colored soda pop. THAT is the branding power of Coca-cola. That is its advertising might and ubiquity in our society. I'm not here to tell you whether that's a good or bad thing.
     I am here to tell you that when you start out as a teacher, or a gardener, or a circus performer, if you want to be the best you can be and make people remember you, you need to differentiate yourself. You can be great, but it isn't worth much if you don't stand out. (my books for example?)There are BILLIONS of people on the planet.
     I'm sorry, out of all the hamburgers in the world, do you need to eat at Mcdonald's? How many places just might be doing it a little better than they are? But you recognize those golden arches I bet. You sure know who Ronald McDonald is. Are those burgers really more delicious than Smashburger, Fuddrucker's, Five Guys, or any of the other more "curated" burger joints popping up that are little less "fast-food-y"? But somehow, because McDonald's is so recognizable, people still eat there. They go there, cram their face, say "I don't why I eat here, the burgers are really just OK," but they are still eating the burgers! 

                The entire experience comforts them. The arches are absolutely a part of it.

TAKE AWAY ONE -  I'm not suggesting your products can or should be mediocre, but if you just look around at "sold on TV" items  (the snuggie or slanket, anyone which let's be frank, were just robes you wore backwards? Is anyone going to tell me that no one knew this?) and the fast food examples, mediocre products make millions everyday, and amazing products LANGUISH and go out of business. If you want to succeed, when you are ready, get a brand idea together that is cohesive and advances who you are and what you offer.
Take Away - If you make great products, a Brand or Logo makes people remember you and your great products. This means they can buy from you again and again. Give them this opportunity. YOU choose what they will remember and what your niche will be. 

What should I Do?
This is your decision. But know that 
Branding May Include:

  1. Photo you consistently use
  2. Logo you consistently use
  3. A combination of both in a square or circle
  4. The way you choose to consistently design your cover pages
  5. The way you choose to consistently design your Terms of Use
  6. The way you run your company (what does brand and brand loyalty mean and how will you develop your brand and your top-selling lines?)
  7. A consistent sign-off you use in your product descriptions (just like mama made, from our classroom to yours, for ex.)
  8. A subtitle under your store name that is always there.
Remember consistency is KEY. Just like at a chain store, your products must instill comfort and confidence because all of the attributes on one product are then on the other products. 

Photo or Logo?? And What About Color?
Many companies use an official logo, and then use a human spokesperson for other things to add an element of warmth. Wendy's and E-Harmony are two examples that do this.  One of the vacuum cleaner companies just started to feature a member of the family in the commercials.  
 But there are many more companies who use an acronym or a decorated logo for branding with a very consistent color palette
      When you see that color palette (gosh Fedex, but that isn't a good thing), you know what company it is. The flower company FTD is pretty memorable as is Edible Arrangements.
       Once you really know what your business is, what it does, and what you want it to look like, you can settle on a logo and a color palette. If you have more than one line of products, the colors may be different, though your logo will be your logo. 
       Just as BANDS shift over time, you might do that too. We all evolve after all. It's all good.

Take Away - When you first begin, you may want to use your own picture, get to know and interact with buyers and fellow sellers. Only once you have some solid ideas will you get your plans together for a unified plan which MAY include: logo; where you will choose to use your own picture (if at all); color palette; a unified design choice for your product line.

Are There Any Downsides to This?
When I started I wanted everything perfect, right away. I didn't even know what I didn't know. Of course if you have a business background, hit the ground with your running shoes. Otherwise, you may end up making a "brand" that isn't true to what you ultimately will sell or what you want your store or products to look like. Wait until you have time to think about it.

Did I Follow This Advice?
Each time, I thought I was done. And each time I get better. Here is my latest. You let me know and visit my store. Congratulate me on my Liebster Nomination. I accept! and visit my store. Follow for even more goodies to come, and best of luck to all on the sale. 

Here's my latest attempt,   MY STORE!

What do you have to say about 
Successes and Failures
Advice to Readers
Finding YOUR NICHE (and what is it?)



  1. Good points about brand!

  2. Hi, Gina!
    I just went back and read through all of these posts {with a cup of coffee, of course! ;) } So much thought-provoking information! My favorite takeaway from this post was "Do what you love, but
    do more of what sells best". That is definitely my weakness! Sometimes I get carried away creating something that I love, but in the end have no idea how to title it, promote it well, or even write a description that does it justice. So it just sits by it's lonely self in my store. Must discipline self to create what sells best!!
    Thanks for your great insights! I hope to see you at another Jersey meet-up sometime soon!
    Linda at Primary Inspiration