It's one thing when we do woodworking as a hobby, but we're talking another ball game all together when it comes to actually making a living at woodworking. Today I would like to start at the very beginning; deciding you would like to sell your woodworking projects and how do we let people know we even exist.
First things first; if you are going to sell your products, then you are considered a business and you have to treat it as such. I'm not going into getting your business liscense and everything that is involved with doing it legally, but once you have all that done, how do you let people know what you do and you have projects to sell? We're talking about marketing today.
So, let's start by talking about your business name. What does my company name have to do with marketing and selling my product you ask? Simple; that's the very first recognition anyone will have that you even exist in the market place. Your business name will be what they see on your company sign, your business cards, your letter head and anything else that has to do with your company. Too many times we don't put enough thought into what we decide to call our company. We either want something clever, cutesy or we have to somehow have our name incorporated in it. Nothing wrong with any of that, but we do need to be careful how we present our company to the general public and how they may view our company. Another words, what you or I may think to be clever or cutesy may not be that clever or cutesy to someone else, especially the buying public.
One thing to consider when trying to name your company is to look at what you build and want to sell and who might be interested in buying your product. Let me try to explain; if you are building craft type items, then you would be selling to a totally different market then if you were building high-end custom furniture, so a company name that may be cutesy or crafty and work well for marketing to a customer base that's looking for that type product would not be such a good name for a high end custom woodworking business.
I can give you an example by simply using the name of my company, The Hufford Furniture Group. Yes, I'm one of those that wanted my name incorporated in the business name, but I carried it a little further and decided to add "Group" to the company name and why would I do that? It sounded like a great idea at the time, I had two sons I thought would be coming into the business with me in the future and as the company grew with family members it just seemed natural to call it the Hufford Furniture Group ( I didn't think the Hufford Furniture "Gang" sounded that professional). Like I said, it seemed to be a great idea at the time, but I realized over the years what a mixed reaction I got from talking with my customers and other businesses about what their perception of my company was based on the name.
It worked to my advantage some of the time but others got the wrong impression and it was almost a turn off for them. Some customers, designers, contractors or other businesses like to deal with bigger companies and rarely have anything to do with a small shop or one man shop, so in those incidences it worked to my advantage because when they saw The Hufford Furniture Group, they thought I must be some large company and at least they would check me out and what I did. That also worked in the opposite at times when people would ask me if my "manufacturing facilities" were here in the United States or overseas? Sometimes they were intimidated thinking about dealing with a large company. What?..........I'm a one man shop! Yep, that's right, my sons decided not to be part of the business and I was simply a one man shop. There were many times I had to explain that one!
By the time I realized that my company name could be confusing or giving people the wrong impression I had been using it for a few years and decided I would rather live with it and explain then start all over again with a new name for my company. So you can see that a company name can play a part in marketing. Whatever you decide on, make it professional. Try to make it so people will become familar with it, that it becomes natural for them to think of or remember.
A lot of companies use a tag line below their company name to basically tell about the business in a nutshell, again, I'll use mine as an example.
Your company name can play an important role in marketing you and your company, so don't overlook it or take it for granted. My next area I want to cover in marketing are some of the most basic things you can do, but again, I find a lot of woodworkers either don't think much about it or just take it for granted and they lose out on some simple but effective marketing. We'll cover that in my next series.