Exercise: Personal Focus Group


How to Build a Business While Learning Your Craft


Lesson Info

Exercise: Personal Focus Group

- [Megan] I will show you this thing called the personal focus group. And so it starts... The whole idea of choosing the right strategy starts with understanding how other people see your products because that's going to put you in the right place. So the first question you want to ask is, "Is it searchable?" So if you can optimize something for search, you should, because it brings you a flood of customers who are interested in buying. So if there's any way to make your product searchable, now, not every product is, not every product works for this, but if it is, you want to go there. So the question is, "Can it be easily and consistently described with a short phrase?" If you show it to 10 people, are they all going to say the same thing? Because that's what they're going to type into Google. So that's the first question and we're going to look at these in a little bit more detail. Next one is, "Is it media-worthy?" So, is it interesting or unexpected or clever? So for the record, cl...

ever is my least favorite word in the English language because when I had that product and I had the cozy cuff, people would come into my booth and be like, "Oh, that's so clever." I was like, "Really? You can't think of anything better to say about it?" It turns out that clever is the trick to getting press, because it means that people haven't seen it before. It's a new idea. And magazines, blogs, newspapers, they want to write about things that are new and interesting. So are you hearing things like that? Are you hearing things like clever or interesting or, "Oh, I've never seen that before," or you fill an unexpected need? That makes it really media-worthy. Or is it really based more on aesthetic or visual qualities? Is it just beautiful or interesting, or whatever adjectives that you're going to describe it that are really based on those visual qualities? So the best way to do this is to actually literally have a personal focus group where you show your product to 10 to 20 people. We want a big data sample here, which is why I've been throwing out that number, and ask them to describe it in a few words. Now, here are the rules for the personal focus group exercise. Number one, do not do this exercise on social media for a couple of reasons. One is that, we don't want people to know what anyone else said, that's rule number two. Ask people individually and do not let them know what the others have said, because they're going to influence each other's opinions. On social media, obviously, they're going to see what someone else said. Rule number three, do not do this exercise on social media because in addition to seeing what everyone else said, it's just... People, they're not going to do it right, it's going to be hard to interact. Just find people in real life and ask them. Okay? So talk to people without a screen in-between you. I know that's really hard, but that's our goal for this one. And then you're going to compare the responses. So what you're looking for are things like, are the responses consistent and specific? Are you seeing similar language come up over and over and over again? And the truth is, you're probably not going to have 20 people who say, "Those are thin gold hoop earrings." But what we're looking for is, do certain words and phrases pop up again and again? And if that's the case, you're a great candidate for search. Or maybe you're hearing those phrases like "clever" or "unique" or "I've never seen anything like this before. This is so new, I don't know how to describe it." If so, press could be a really good option for you. And then, of course, if you're getting, "It's pretty," or, "It's beautiful," or really just a huge range in responses because people don't know how to consistently describe it, then you're probably looking at visual content creation. Now, obviously, for this exercise, we didn't talk about shows and stores because really any of those descriptors could work for shows or stores as long as you have a more fully developed body of work and you aren't comfortable utilizing an online audience growth strategy. And really, if it comes down to it, not all of those online strategies are that online. Obviously, visual content creation requires a lot of time on social media. But like (inaudible), you might focus on press and that means you never have to touch social media but you can still sell online. Right? So that is one thing to keep in mind if you're like, "I really don't want to spend all my time at the computer. I might think about these." And then in that case, usually a good place to start is, for most product types, it's actually easier to go to shows before stores. So to your question, Jordan, about the online thing versus that, what I have found is that not that stores need you to have done shows first, but doing a lot of shows gives you more feedback on your line that then gives you information to present to buyers. And it's not always the option for everyone because not every category works for shows. I think, Denise, with you, there's not a lot of shows that are like, "Here's our category for bath and body products." Right? Do you find that or you went straight to wholesale anyway? - [Denise] I've actually had a lot of success with shows. - Oh, good. - We just did Renegade in Austin last month and... - Perfect. Yeah. - We usually get really good feedback just because it's clean and simple branding, people seem to be drawn to that. - Awesome. - But yeah, I'm wanting to move away. Like you said, it just takes so much time and energy and bulk preparing things... - Yeah. So much work. - ...that you may or may not sell and I'd rather just go straight to the wholesale. - Right. And so what I recommend for a lot of people is, if you do want to go to wholesale, give yourself... You can give yourself a short time frame for shows. So I lasted about a year. It was two summer seasons. By the end of the second summer season, I was canceling shows. I was like, "Nope, nope, nope." Like, "Sorry. You can have..." - Yeah. It's overwhelming. - "You can have my deposit. I don't care anymore." And then I transitioned that into stores. But when I started then selling to stores, I had a lot more data about what customers were responding to. So you may need to stair-step that strategy. That said, of course, you can ignore stores and just do shows. Stores do work best for easily repeatable products. And this is the other reason that it can be nice to go from shows to stores if you're just starting out, because if you're just starting out, you're doing a little bit more exploration, things tend to be more one of a kind, and you can do that at shows because you've got that freedom. And then over time, if you realize that there's room in your line to make it more repeatable, then you can, again, transition to stores. So, I'm not saying you have to do that order, but it does work very well. Jordan. - [Jordan] Do you find that shows may be not as good for a higher-priced item? With mine, I started out at a lower price and then went a little bit higher and people at shows were like, "Oh, that's a lot," but it's because everyone around you is knitting things while they watch TV and want money for the yarn or whatever. - So what do you define as higher price point? Where are you at in your price range right now? - I started at 45 and I'm realizing I have to charge closer to 80 to 90. - So that's not an impossible price point at shows, but you do have to be a little bit more selective. The other thing that I have found is that with a higher price point, shows can be a little bit demoralizing even if you're actually making as much money as the person next to you because they're busy the whole time, right? They're like boom, boom, boom, boom, and you're going, "Okay. Here I am." And then someone comes and they drop $300 and you're like, "Yes." And then you realize that your neighbor who's been hustling has actually only made $100 in that time. So it is one of those that you're going to sell less but you could still make more money. - Okay. - One of the other things to think about is, as your price point gets higher, are there impulse-buy things that you can add in? And then your higher-price-point things become things that people look at, they take the card, they think about, but you're still making some money. In my case, I don't do many shows but there's one that I still do. And so I was like, "Okay, I'm starting to get really high in my prices here, like 150, 200, 300." It's not craft show price point really anymore. I was like, "Okay, let's do these stacking metal rings that I can sell for $15 a pop." It was like candy. I'm like, "Okay, here I am, making some money." And then I can still talk to people about the higher price point. So that's another way to solve that problem. - Okay. - Any other questions about any of these strategies or even hybrid or blending them? Yeah. - [Woman] Just quick question. I was always been wondering. So when you work with stores, how do you plan for what if they sell a lot and how will you make that many pieces? - I love your guys' fear of success question. - Basically, yes. - So what I have found is that if you are a solo show or a maker or a small business, there's usually a certain type of store that's going to gravitate towards that, and they're really understanding. So first of all, most of those are small stores and they're not going to turn things over crazy. It's not like they're going to suddenly explode and you're going to be like, "I sold 50 of your necklace in one day," because they're probably not. Where you might see that is if you're working with bigger stores like department stores or things like that, and those have a longer lead time for orders. You always have the option of saying no. I know that's really crazy because you're like, "But I'm turning down money." But sometimes a big order, even though it sounds like a lot of money, doesn't net you a lot of money. So I know people who have said yes to an Anthropologie order. Anthropologie talked down their wholesale price because that's what Anthropologie does, and that's what most major retailers do, right? They're going to want your wholesale price to be lower because they want to make more money. And they're saying, "Hey, we're ordering a thousand of these so we should get a discount." And I'm like, "Well, it's Anthropologie and look how much the end price is going to be. This is how much I'm going to get. That's awesome. I'm going to take the order." And then you put in all this time and energy and you didn't actually make any money. So when those things happen, you have the ability to say, "You know what? It's not going to work for me." And you can say no. But I would not worry about that problem because you have lots of options. You can cross that bridge when you get there because probably you're never going to get to that bridge. Not to say that people aren't going to order a lot, but you're not going to have a store on a panic run. And again, you can say no or you can change the terms. I had a store that had not bought for me for a long time, and then they placed a huge wholesale order. And when they sent me the PO, I looked at the order, I was like, "Eight thousand dollars' worth of product and you want it next week?" I was like, "A, I'm out of town. B, I make this stuff, it's a human. Someone needs to make it." And so I literally just sent...I sent an email back and I was like, "This is great. Here is when I can have it done by. Does that work?" They're like, "Oh, yeah, of course." And as a reminder going forward, my turnaround time is four weeks. So you can negotiate. You don't have to say yes if it doesn't work for you.

Class Description

Are you a maker in the first phase of starting a business? You have a great business idea or beautiful product to sell, but not enough time to focus on both your craft AND selling your product. Well, this class is for you. 

Considered one of the most respected crafters in the business, Megan Auman will show you how you can concurrently work on your craft, grow sales, and focus on marketing initiatives that will get customers in the door. Megan is a designer, metalsmith, educator, and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for great design and sustainable business. Her designs have been featured in Design Sponge, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, and more. 

In this class, she will show you:
  • The who, where, and when of your business; who you should be selling to, where you should sell, and the right time to launch 
  • How to adapt your business and your product line as your business grows 
  • How to make money in the beginning stages of your business that allows you to justify spending more time on your craft
Learn the essential skills needed for having a successful craft business. There's no better time than now, so reserve your spot and turn your craft into a profitable business.


Kristen Girard

Fantastic class! If you have never taken a Megan Auman class, this is the perfect one to start with. It filled in some knowledge gaps that I didn't know I had. Lots of great basic knowledge that I haven't been able to find elsewhere. Super helpful!

Maike Armstrong

First of all, it's so fun to learn from Megan! She is so motivating and enthusiastic – making you feel great about your business even when you are just starting out. The class is well put together, easy to follow and has simple, actionable steps to follow in order to actually move forward. I definitely recommend you check it out for yourself!

Shelby Anderson

Megan's class has given me such a great start and very practical how-to's for starting as a solopreneur. I've been so overwhelmed by all there is to do and all the tips, tricks, and knowledge; she was great at explaining and giving some real life and real time examples of how to step out and be great as a creative. Thank you Megan!