Craftsmanship is a dying art. Words like ‘hand-made,’ ‘artisan,’ and ‘custom-built’ are slowly but surely losing their impact in the marketplace. And why shouldn’t they? After all, craftsmanship does not sell itself. And the people who offer craftsmanship as a feature are not doing a particularly good job at selling it either.
Like it or not, craftsmanship has competition. And it is not just the younger audiences that see it. Craft is slow and inefficient, unlike automation which is much faster. Craft is limited and expensive. Automation is plentiful and affordable. Craft is imprecise. Automation is exacting. Craft is labor intensive. Automation is less so. Craft makes quality accessible to a few. Automation makes good enough products accessible to the masses.
Craftsman branding is often associated with Made in America branding. But by now, we know that some of the finest consumer electronics are made in Chinese factories by Chinese hands. And in the global society, we may need to evaluate branding that touts products manufactured in the wealthiest country in the world for the wealthiest people in the world.
Failure to recognize this shift in sentiment is just one of the reasons fine craft is struggling. Here are some suggestions that will help you more successfully market your unique selling advantage:
Speak Directly to Your Niche.
As a craftsman, you know that you cannot fulfill mass orders and mass shipments. If you have a mass-appeal campaign that tries to target everyone on the internet, you are making a huge mistake. Craft is a niche appeal. And it has to be marketed to a niche audience.
The best thing about marketing to a niche audience is they will come looking for you. They want to find you as much as you want to find them. You just have to make it easy for them to find you. That means taking full advantage of everything local search engine optimization has to offer.
When people search for items that are made by hand, you want to land on the first page of those results, the higher on the page, the better. Getting that kind of placement also takes special expertise. SEO is as much a craft as wood carving. There is specialized knowledge, and finely honed skills that come into play. If you want to be successful at the business of craft, you have to make it easy for your niche to find you.
Sell the Emotion of Craftsmanship.
You will never sell craft over automation if you are relying on specifications and functionality. That is not a winning bet. Everyone can make things with high specifications that are functional. What you have over automation is heart. The advantages of craftsmanship come down to heart over machinery.
There is a human being behind a precision mechanical watch. Quality is measured in how a thing makes one feel about one’s self when they own it. Value is about one feeling like they have made a smart purchase. The advantages are emotional. And you should use that when selling something made by hand, with passion.
Uniqueness Is a Feature.
It is a blemish to the untrained eye. But to the connoisseur, it is character. A machine will spit out perfect, soulless clones, mere objects, things. A craftsman makes something that is one of a kind, something special, something unique. Everybody has an iPhone. But you can have a unique iPhone by installing it into a one of a kind case. Suddenly, it’s special.
Imperfection has its own kind of elegance when viewed a certain way. Exotic rug makers have known this for ages. Thus, the practice of leaving intentional imperfections. Those small uniquenesses are literally what what makes a valuable rug priceless. As a craftsman, you are not selling perfection. You are selling uniqueness.
In this world of soulless automation, there are still plenty of people who appreciate fine craftsmanship. Make it easy for them to find you with proper SEO. Sell the emotion, not the object. And sell the uniqueness, not the perfection.