Know Your Customers: An Intro to Marketing

Effective marketing is one of the essential steps in starting pretty much any small business. In this workshop, we detail the ways in which you can effectively identify and engage your intended customer base. In the follow-up session, we will discuss how to expand your market reach once hitting the dreaded local plateau.


Start Your Marketing Early

Most new custom furniture business owners have already sketched out the nuts-and-bolts financial details in terms of what additional equipment and space they need, if any, and how they might marshal the necessary financial resources to get their business off the ground. You’ll also want to create projections for growth and how your business will manage inventory and costs in its future state. All of this is a critical part of creating a business plan. But our advice is to make sure you don’t give short-thrift to your marketing plan as well….

How will you get your business and brand out there? Do you have a backlog of demand from your personal network and limited means to expand that you can stay conservative with your marketing plan at first? Or are you ready to invest in a new production and storage warehouse where you will want to increase your customer base and sales demand as quickly as logistically feasible? As a consequence, does your business need to invest in a substantial marketing and branding campaign pretty much from the start?


Define Your Niche

A step-by-step plan for starting a custom furniture business should include shoring up any gaps in your skillset, tools, material sources, and other business networking contacts. But when it comes time to start seriously thinking about marketing your furniture business, the first step is to define what makes your company different, or your niche in the market.

It could be a distinctive look, whether it’s based on the materials you use or your aesthetic sensibility. It could be something as simple as undercutting the prices of big-box stores by staying a small-scale furniture business. It could be a niche defined by functional design: Maybe you’re especially deft at helping people understand how best to use corners or rounded walls or high loft ceilings or odd-sized rooms. Your custom-made furniture is available when the cookie-cutter models just won’t cut it. In an extreme case, maybe instead of a workshop, your niche is on-site built-in custom furniture. This is more common and successful if you serve areas with an older housing stock with narrow doorways and unusual dimensions.


Market as You Build

You don’t need to be an eloquent copywriter and marketing expert to define your niche in nifty slogans. You’ll probably want to include captions and short descriptions, but this niche can be largely defined visually through gallery portfolio and a Bio/About page. Don’t assume that “niche” has to mean small. Define your niche, market your niche effectively, build a track record of satisfied customers, and your niche will naturally expand. Quite possibly faster than your business can reasonably accommodate. But that’s a topic for a different workshop.