Marketing and Selling your woodworking #5: Image (finding the right market)

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Blog entry by huff posted 07-02-2013 12:08 PM 5558 reads 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Shows Part 5 of Marketing and Selling your woodworking series Part 6: Galleries, Consignment shops and more »

I mentioned very early in my series that image is so important when it comes to marketing yourself and your business.

Too many times a woodworker overlooks two very important factors when trying to market and sell their work.

1. Image; The typical woodworker thinks they are only selling their woodworking. Don’t forget; you’re selling yourself, your business, your image and your professionalism as much as you are selling your woodworking. Your overall image a customer has of you and your business will play a major roll whether they have confidence in buying your product.

2. The biggest mistake we make is only looking at our woodworking and business from our perspective. We never take the time to look at what the customer sees from their perspective. We never give much thought of the image the customer has of us and that can be a fatal mistake!

(This is for grown-ups; parental discretion advised)

. Why did he have to call me a wood whore?

Yep, that’s right; a professional woodworker came into my shop one day and said I was nothing more then a wood whore! Not only that, he was curious as to what kind I was.

What? The nerve of that guy! And I’ll have to admit; I was quite offended.

Well, after taking a few minutes to calm down and regain my composure, I did allow him to continue the conversation.

Before it was over, he had me laughing at myself and realizing he was making a good point. He was telling me something I’ve heard many times before, just put a little differently. I will have to admit; what he said has stuck with me for years.

His point was………..What kind of woodworking do you do and how do you market yourself? How do you want your customer to perceive you and he did that by comparing two of the oldest professions known to man (prostitution and woodworking) and how they are not all that different, just a different product!

So let’s do a little comparing. When you look at the two professions, both professions may offer a bit of variety in their products and services, but when all is said and done, it’s pretty much the same product. Women are women and woodworking is woodworking. Some are small and some are large, with a wide range of quality and services.

Some look great when there is make-up and finish applied and some, there’s not enough lip stick in the world to make it look good and it really boils down to the image you are trying to create and who you’re trying to market to.

Are you trying to peddle your goods and services to the average Joe on the street knowing he’s more interested in the price then quality or service and you know you will be competing with everyone; including the hobbyist and the ones that will be willing to give it away for free? Or, are you more interested in marketing to the high end customer where you can charge a lot more for your product and services, but they will expect that quality and service in return, or maybe somewhere in between?

The competition on the high end of the scale is a lot less, but you have a much smaller market to target. You need to know what your product and service is worth and who your “buyer” is.

Let’s be honest, a hooker or a high class call girl is selling basically the same product and service, so why does one get $20 bucks and the other gets $2,500? Marketing and knowing who to market to!

It’s pretty much the same for the woodworker, I’m not trying to insult or offend anyone here, but you may need a wake up call and realize you’re worth a lot more than what you’re trying to peddle your goods for.

If you don’t have the confidence in your pricing, your product or yourself then you will always be stuck at the bottom of the barrel.

You really need to learn where to market yourself and where you want to be. What’s the image you want to set for yourself and your company?

That’s totally up to you.

I’m sure the hooker that makes $20.00 thinks that’s all the market will bear or that’s what all the competition is charging so she can’t charge any more. She may convince herself she’s only doing it to support her habit or if she gets enough clients it will all be worthwhile, but then again, I would bet the high class call girl that makes $2,500 thinks pretty much the same way, but finds a better market!.

Any of this sounds familiar?

It really made me take a look at myself and my work and how I wanted to market myself. I took a long hard look at my business and my woodworking and decided I didn’t have to give my work away, I was better than that and I was going to change my image and clientele.

This really came to light when I had a conversation with a very successful business man one day and the best advice he said he could pass on to me was to always remember we are in the “people” business. It doesn’t matter what we build, sell or service, we are in the people business.

He stated the reason most businesses fail is because they forget that one important factor. People are who you build something for, people are who you sell your product to and people are who you give service to. He taught me a valuable lesson and I put it to good use.

So quit using the excuse; I have to sell my work for that price because that’s all the market will bear. If that’s the case, you’re not marketing to the right customer.

Quit using the excuse; I don’t live in an area that can get that price for my kind of woodworking. If that’s the case, you may need to find the area that does!

Quit using the excuse; Competition won’t allow me to sell my work for more. If that’s the case, you need to change your image. You’re telling yourself and your customers you are no better then you competition.

The competition should be trying to compete with you not the other way around!

Quit using the excuse; nobody will pay for quality anymore. If that’s the case, you’re looking in all the wrong places and you’re definitely trying to pigeon hole every customer into one category.

Take a few minutes and look around. If every business used those same excuses, then everyone would eat at McDonald’s and never eat at a fine restaurant.

Every car would be a Prius and there would be no Mercedes Benz.

There would only be little row boats and no yachts.

Every house would be a little shack and nobody would buy a million dollar home.

Everybody would shop at Dollar General or Wal-Mart and nobody would pay $100 for a pair of Jeans.

So what makes you think woodworking is any different? If you’re not willing to find the right market that fits your woodworking then you won’t be in business long. It’s as simple as that.

And if you want to find the right market and have that market take you seriously, you may need to change your image.

If you build a quality product, whether it’s a yo-yo or custom cabinets for a million dollar home, you have to find the customer that is looking for that quality.

You should already know “who’s not interested in quality and willing to pay a decent price for it”! Hanging out at the flea market, sidewalk sales, Craig’s list or the Wal-Mart parking lot is not where you will find the customers you want and need.

You need to be looking for the individual that doesn’t have to ask you to sell your product for $20.00; because that’s all he has on him, but the customer that will ask you if you can break a $100 bill; because that’s the smallest bill he has………..Get my point?

And trust me; the customers that may be looking for a nice gift for a house warming, a wedding, graduation, birthday, Christmas, or maybe just for themselves; don’t waste their time shopping at the flea market or from a card table with a table cloth on it.

We spend so much of our time talking about qualifying our prospective customers that we tend to forget the customer is also qualifying us.

What image do you think a customer has when they meet you; when they look at your business name or your business card? What image do they have when they see your company sign or displays in your booth at a show? What image do you project with your web-site or the pictures you use to show case your work?

Is it an image that gives a customer the confidence to spend their hard earned money with you for your product?

Does your image give you the confidence to sell your product for a fair price and make a profit?

Don’t be afraid to change your image.

Next time I would like to talk Galleries and Consignment shops and a few other ways to market and sell your woodworking.

-- John @

5 comments so far

View barrye's profile


13 posts in 3048 days

#1 posted 07-02-2013 04:01 PM

good blogging. As a remodeler I have come to believe that other remodelers are not my competition…I am my competion, it’s the same in woodworking.

or as Seth Godin says ”....the opportunity is to actually create something that people choose to talk about, regardless of what the competition is doing.”

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4087 days

#2 posted 07-02-2013 05:20 PM

Huff, (John)

Again excellent points. Has me thinking. Need to be working more than thinking though. LOL! I was told it’s about the customer, always about the customer. I learned about image from a well known woodworker who builds unique furniture. He like you was in the selling of a high end business when he decided to become a full time woodworker. He invites clients to his beautiful well lite studio/shop ( off the river) and sets out a wonderful brunch when they come to see their work in progress. He also dresses like a 50’s hippie artist! Told me he does that for a reason as well.

I meet clients for the first time with a tie because that’s what is expected the first time when you see someone about a problem. After they feel comfortable I get comfortable. :>)

I apply the lessons gained from selling the products made in wood backwards to my other work.

Now I really have to give some thought to the where when what and how in custom furniture. My biggest town nearest where I live has only two public galleries. The next one is ten miles further north. Looked for private galleries in this area. None! So I have to think more like the traveling salesman? But you already have shared that experience.

Thanks for triggering my neurons with my morning coffee.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View GenerationWW's profile


521 posts in 3494 days

#3 posted 07-02-2013 10:08 PM

Thanks for post, very good points and has the wheels in my head turning!

-- list your handcrafted treasures @ for free!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3935 days

#4 posted 07-03-2013 12:48 AM

This has been my favorite segment so far! Looking forward to the next one. And thank you for taking the time to do these.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View john111's profile


72 posts in 3230 days

#5 posted 09-08-2013 01:52 AM

I need a new image!

-- john111

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