Jump Start Your Marketing Initiatives by Avoiding These 4 Key Pitfalls
Starting a candle-making business is exciting, but the secret to success is about more than making gorgeous candles. If you want to set your business up for success, you'll need to think strategically about marketing and establish a marketing plan to get your candles noticed by customers that adore them. Succeeding in this competitive industry means thinking strategically about marketing and carving out a strong presence.
Stay ahead of the competition by dodging these 4 common marketing mistakes and watch your business flourish.
1. No buyer persona
Successful marketing starts with developing a strong understanding of your target audience. If you can't identify your target audience, then your marketing efforts will likely be in vain. To do this, you must create a clearly defined buyer persona that is searching for a product like yours to enhance their life or solve a problem they have.
With a buyer persona, you can build more effective campaigns that reach the people most likely to buy your products. When you know exactly who you’re targeting, you can adjust your message accordingly, whether it's social media ads, email campaigns, or even in-person events. Every campaign resonates with your buyers, so they feel compelled to buy from you.
How to develop a buyer persona:
A buyer persona is an avatar of your ideal customer. Creating a buyer persona will give you an idea of who your target audience is and what kind of message resonates with them best.
To create one, start by asking questions such as:
- What is their age and gender?
- What is their location?
- What are their needs?
- What is their income level?
- What books and movies would they enjoy?
- What problems are they trying to solve with your product?
- What type of lifestyle do they have?
- Are there any cultural or religious considerations I should be aware of?
Next, research where they hang out online. Are they active on Facebook groups or Twitter chats? Do they prefer Instagram stories or YouTube videos? Knowing the social media channels they use will help inform where you should focus most of your time and energy when advertising your products.
Buyer persona do's and don'ts:
When creating a buyer persona for your business, there are some dos and don'ts to keep in mind.
- Clearly define the purpose and goals of your buyer persona.
- Survey existing customers to identify key traits they tend to share.
- Base the persona on research and facts, not stereotypes or assumptions; this ensures that it accurately reflects your target audience.
- Regularly update buyer personas with any changes in customer behavior or preferences over time.
- Use generic statements such as a list of traits and interests; rather, fill in the blanks with deeper insights such as demographics, values, needs, etc.
- Rely on "gut feeling" instead of actual data when creating buyer personas.
- Develop buyer personas based on a single individual and assume everyone fits that mold.
Having an accurate buyer persona ensures that every aspect of your marketing plan is carefully crafted with the customer in mind. It allows you to create targeted campaigns that resonate with your buyers so that you’re reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. With an accurate buyer persona you can tailor your products according to the needs and desires of your ideal customers, making it easy to close those sales.
2. No clear USP
As a candle maker, you want your brand to stand out from the competition and make sure that customers choose your product over any other. The best way to achieve this is by creating a unique selling proposition (USP). A USP is a statement that identifies the value of your product or service and makes it stand out from the competition. They are a key part of any successful marketing strategy as they allow you to clearly communicate the value of your products and services to potential customers.
Your USP should be specific and focused on what makes your product or service different from others on the market.
How to create an effective USP
Creating an effective USP requires some serious thought and planning. Start by researching the competition to see what kind of value they are offering their customers. Try to identify any areas where you can provide more value than your competitors—for example, higher-quality ingredients, craftsmanship, unique scents, or stellar customer service. Once you have identified these areas, use them as points of difference in crafting your own unique selling proposition.
The very best USPs carefully show your ideal customer exactly why your product is a good fit for them in just a few words or phrases. Be concise and specific; your USP should be short, sweet, and to the point. It should also speak to your target audience, so don't create your USP until you have created the buyer persona. Then craft the USP to appeal to what matters to them.
For example, "Our handcrafted candles are available in seventeen different designs" looks like a reasonable USP.
However, if your buyer persona is someone who prioritises value for money then this USP may not appeal to them as much as "Our seventeen designs are made with slow-burning wax for double the burn time."
Use your buyer persona research to help you answer the following questions from your ideal customer’s perspective:
- Why should I buy it?
- How will it make my life better, easier, or happier?
- Why buy from you instead of from your competition?
The answers to these questions should form the basis of your USP. With an effective USP in place, you can make sure that your target audience knows exactly why they should choose your product over the competition.
3. No branding
Another common mistake that impacts business owners is not having a clearly defined brand. Building a strong brand requires more than just creating a great product; it involves establishing an identity and a voice that will resonate with your ideal customers.
Branding is more than just a logo or color scheme, it’s the entire package that makes up your company’s identity. It includes everything from your company name and tagline to your packaging, website design, voice and tone, and customer service philosophy. A strong brand can help differentiate you from competitors and make it easier for potential customers to find you online.
Examples of strong brands
Businesses with strong branding that have a distinct voice and visual personality stand out in the minds of their target customers. Two examples are IKEA, the Swedish homeware company, and Yankee Candle, an American candle-making company.
IKEA is renowned for its simple yet stylish Scandinavian designs. Their visual identity is characterized by their signature blue-and-yellow color palette, bold typography, and minimalist illustrations. They create a distinct voice with a clever combination of Swedish words and English terminology in product names.
Yankee Candle, on the other hand, has a warm, homey visual identity that is characterized by its iconic apothecary style jars and instantly recognizable labels. Their voice is friendly and heartfelt, appealing to their target audience who are looking for an emotional connection with their products.
Tips on creating strong branding
Branding is more than just a logo or tagline—it’s the entire visual and verbal identity of your company. It’s what makes your product unique and memorable. Your brand should represent who you are as a company, what values you stand for, and how customers can expect to feel when using your product. When done correctly, it can help differentiate your product from others on the market and create an emotional connection with customers.
Here are some ways to create an effective brand identity:
- Understand your target customer. Your branding should be tailored to appeal to your buyer persona. For example, if your buyer persona has conservative family values, your branding should be more conservative and traditional.
- Develop a strong brand name. Your brand name should be easy to remember and relevant to your business.
- Develop a unique logo and color scheme. Your logo should stand out and be easy to recognize. Choose a few complimentary colors that represent your company identity, such as blue for trustworthiness or green for eco-friendliness.
- Create a visual style guide that outlines the specifications for all branding materials like fonts, color palettes, and iconography. Use this to create consistent visuals across all platforms—this includes everything from packaging design to website design to social media graphics.
- Create a written style guide that outlines the voice and tone of your brand. This should include word choice, sentence structure, grammar rules, and other guidelines for any written materials you produce.
Your brand should represent who you are as a company, what values you stand for, and how customers can expect to feel when using your product. When done correctly, it can help differentiate your product from others on the market and create an emotional connection with customers.
4. Not mapping the buyer journey
For small business owners like candle makers, understanding how potential customers interact with your brand and make their purchase decisions is critical. The buyer journey is the process that potential customers go through from initial awareness of a product or service to making a purchase.
Mapping the buyer journey begins by identifying all the steps that customers take in becoming aware of your product, evaluating it, and making a purchase decision. This includes everything from the initial online search to any customer service interactions along the way.
How to map the buyer journey
To create a buyer journey map, separate it into three sections:
- Awareness. This is where customers first discover your product and brand. This could be via an internet search, social media, word of mouth, etc.
- Consideration. This is where customers are actively looking to discover which brand or product meets their needs. Touchpoints here may include viewing product information on your website, contacting you with a query, or reading customer reviews.
- Decision. This is where the customer decides if your product is what they are looking for and chooses to purchase from you. The touchpoints here are usually your check-out process and receiving the product, plus any communications in-between.
Under each section identify the main touchpoints for your business. Each time a customer has any kind of interaction with your brand, this is a touchpoint. For the awareness touchpoints, your goal is to move as many customers as possible through to the consideration and decision touchpoints.
Once you have identified all possible touchpoints, you can better understand which marketing activities have the most impact, what points of friction exist, and what you can change to increase conversions and sales.
For example, you may discover that customers are dropping off in the consideration stage due to a lack of information. You can then address this by providing more detailed product descriptions on your website or emailing them further information upon request.
When you know exactly where customers get stuck, experience pain points, or simply need further assistance, it can help you tailor buying experiences that are enjoyable from start to finish and turn buyers into repeat customers.
Taking these 4 major marketing mistakes into consideration will help you develop a successful and effective marketing strategy for your small business. With a defined buyer persona, a clear USP, consistent branding, and a focus on creating a smooth and enjoyable buyer journey, you can create an effective overall strategy that will help your candle-making business grow.
Author: Juliana Walckoff, Village Craft & Candle's Head of Marketing.