Pet Prints has kept me quite busy these last few weeks. In this update, I want to share few takeaways I have realized through my iterations of this project.
Don’t assume you know what your target market wants. Gather information in person.
It is easy to fall back on social networking sites like Facebook and Reddit as a way to gauge interest about a new idea, however, it is one thing to say you would buy something from behind the screen of a computer, and another to follow through with a real purchase. This information also tends often viewed through a positive bias as it is clear how many people responded with interest but it is unclear what ratio those people represent in terms of how many people saw it but did not feel strongly about the idea presented.
This is precisely what happened to me when I posted my custom prints idea on Reddit and received 30 upvotes. Without context of how many people saw the post, 30 votes of agreement don’t indicate whether my idea is liked by many or very few, but I read into it as a well-like concept and pushed on without a second thought.
Next time my approach will change to seek out my target market in context to observe them and more ask pointed questions so I can better critique my concept.
View your business from the customer’s standpoint.
As I mentioned in my second post, the ordering process I originally set-forth on my facebook page was difficult to navigate and relied heavily on the customer to reach out to me through email to place an order. This leaves too much ambiguity for the customer to sort through and could easily cause them to lose interest. By looking at this process from the view of my customer, it became clear that I needed a platform where products could be viewed and purchased on the same website. The increase in sales seem to indicate that this change to a new website was a positive one.
Ask your target market what they would pay for your product. Adjust quality and time spent accordingly.
Price point is important. If you set the price point too high, you lose a share of your potential target market who now can’t afford the product or view it as not being worth the amount of money. By gathering information straight from your target audience, you can better structure your business to meet the demand. In my case, I decided to offer digital downloads of my pet prints for less money. Customers can purchase the file itself and do whatever they see fit with image, whether that be printing it themselves or using it as their computer background. This product type ends up being more affordable to customers on a budget as well as less work for me.
Build time in for mistakes.
You are going to fail a few times before you get it right. I was so afraid to make decisions about this project early on, because I didn’t want to make a mistake. Looking back on it, I have realized that the best thing you can do when given a project out of your comfort zone is to just jump in knowing you will make at least a few mistakes along the way, but that the mistakes are part of the process. An efficient use of time and using the right tactics to solve a problem are critical to any business, but both of these skills come with experience. I need to be confident that any experience will shape my strategy positively, even if the experience itself could have been approached better. By building in time for mistakes, it takes the pressure off.
Reflecting on it now, the lessons I have learned from this project are exponentially more valuable than the money earned through my business. I’m guessing that is what Matt, Pat, and Jon hoped we would glean from this experience.