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    6 August 2012

    Finding an untapped niche in this massive worldwide market, at times, seems impossible – especially when you have a specific idea and you keep your head down. Many people are great business owners, but are they missing elements that could make them true entrepreneurs? Yes, you have to make what you love, but not at all costs – flexibility is a virtue. You have to learn to customize so your customers can see that you really want them!

    Why you must customize

    An entrepreneur has a great idea, and then makes a mad dash to transform the idea into an income-earning business. Not every idea, however, ends up making money or even gels into a cohesive plan. What’s the difference? Passionate and excited people who are successful can also be stubborn; I’m saying this from personal experience. You can stick to your guns and just keep making what you think is perfect, but if it isn’t, your stubbornness may come to haunt you. If you’re so right about what is perfect, you could miss out on variations to your idea that could be successful. This is a key to being a successful entrepreneur. Sure, we’re always “right,” but keeping your head up and your eyes open is critical. What other options does your product have? What other problem is it solving? How can you grab the attention of a completely different demographic or market than the primary one you targeted? If you’re really paying attention to your products and the reactions from your audience, you will see that there are always other avenues to follow. With minor changes to your ideas, you can hit an entire untapped market. Your widget V1.2 could get more play than V1.0!

    How does customization help a brand expand its audience?

    For my market in the handmade indie jewelry business, customized work or creations can really lead to a broad customer base for one’s business. The indie/handmade/eco-friendly/small biz arena is hot right now. (Never mind if you get into the specifics of jewelry or accessories.) It’s hugely competitive, and not in the typical way that iPhones compete with Androids. Everyone needs a mobile, right?

    But does everyone need a new necklace or pair of earrings? Well, of course – but in a different way. We all need special things, but this is such a personal experience that it’s hard to tell what will have the broadest appeal or even attract a specific target. So when you customize items, not only are you trying things out for a see-what-sticks approach, but you are making people feel really special, as they should, when they are patrons of your business. Indie shops are frequented by people who want to set trends and are looking for something unique; they want a gift that says, “Hey, I could have given you a blue box, but this is better! I put a ton of thought into you and not just it!” People have choices when things are custom. They are part of the design and, therefore, have a stake in how the product is viewed when they wear it or use it. When someone asks them about it, they can say they got it from a shop and helped design it. How cool! So now your customer is engaged, as is the person who asked.

    How customizing has changed our marketing

    I recently have started to add charms to some of my collection. Charms? What do they have to do with the traditional, historic, crafted-the-same-way-through-the-centuries evil eye beads that I exclusively use? Everything! Many people like the idea of adding a little luck to their lives with adornments. Why not make that luck carry over to specific parts of their lives? I’ve made bracelets and necklaces with specific themes (horses, animals, peace, or love) that target pretty niche groups. I am me, within a group is an interesting social theory, and it’s a strong desire for many people. Taking advantage of that desire will make your product relevant in any market.

    How can companies find ways to customize their products?

    Customizing your products for impact is easy in many markets, and it can make a big difference in the popularity of the items. Take Dell Computers as an example. Dell knows how to market to niche groups, add what they need, leave off what they don’t, and boom: a perfect computer, just for the user! Don’t you feel that Dell really cares about what you need, just because they asked?

    Also, consider online sellers like Zazzle and Cafe Press. They’ve made a business of personalizing anything and everything you can think of. Great companies have jumped on this customizing bandwagon, like Nike, Vans, Ford Motors, Hallmark, and M&Ms. These companies’ customized campaigns have been extremely successful in bringing their products to new markets and customer bases, which is the only way to survive in the world of capitalism.

    Your idea is unique to you, but you need to make your customers feel it’s unique to them. Give them choices and let them feel like they’re part of the process. You’re small right now and you can use that to your advantage; you can adapt to almost every customer’s need. You can keep your passion and ideas, yet still customize – it’s a win-win for both you and your clients.

    Christine Lorenzo is a Boston-based designer and founder of SariBlue, an earthy, bohemian jewelry collection centered on the Turkish evil eye bead. As a member of The Artisan Group, her collection has been featured at the GBK Productions Luxury Lounge honoring the 2012 Golden Globes, the 2012 Oscars and the 2012 MTV Movie Awards nominees and presenters.

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    15 Responses to Customize Your Product and Make Your Mark

    1. Angie Howard August 6, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

      Christine, would you please come over to my house for coffee? I could use a couple of hours of your smartness on these issues so near and dear to all of use trying to work our way out of the pack, Rock on!

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:51 am #

        Hi Angie!!
        I am happy to talk to you anytime!!
        Coffee would be great!!
        Thanks so much for your support and you are well on your way to running at the front of the pack!!
        xoxo,
        Christine (Sari)

    2. Renee Rokero August 6, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

      Very informative article Christine!

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:52 am #

        Thanks so much Renee!
        So glad you enjoyed it!
        Very best!
        Christine (Sari)

    3. Alexis Gopal August 7, 2012 at 4:42 am #

      Great article! You drive home a very important point, especially to those of us in the jewelry business. Thank you!!

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:53 am #

        Thank you Alexis,
        I so appreciate your support and reading the article.
        Being in this small world of indie creativity is so excellent, I love supporting those who are on the same journey!
        Thanks so much,
        Christine (Sari)

    4. Rosalba Berardi August 7, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Christine! Excellent Article. You are quite the writer. I look forward to your next article.

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am #

        Rosalba,
        Thank you so much for compliments on my article. I hope it was informative!
        Best,
        Christine (Sari)

    5. michael August 7, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

      Hello Christine,

      Thanks for sharing that article you wrote. It was well written and great advice for small business.
      Congrats on your recent success with your collections being featured at the GBK productions.

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:56 am #

        Hi Michael,
        Thank you so much for taking the time to read the article and post! It is great to hear feedback on published articles!
        Good luck with your small business!
        Christine (Sari)

    6. DHgate August 8, 2012 at 3:39 am #

      Our site provide millions kinds of products, thus customizing is of great use for us. Thanks for your excellent post.

      • Christine August 13, 2012 at 8:57 am #

        Hi DHgate!
        So glad you found value in the article!
        Continued success to you and your business!
        Christine (Sari)

    7. Web Development August 10, 2012 at 1:26 am #

      nice post and amazing information for us plz keep up that’s blog is amazing.

    8. Chris August 10, 2012 at 5:38 am #

      This post comes at a great time when we’re looking at different ways to customize our product line. I think customization may actually help you become more profitable since you can charge more for a custom product.

    9. Christine August 13, 2012 at 9:02 am #

      Hi Chris,
      I totally agree, this can help your profit margin, however, it needs to be approached correctly.
      If there are too many choices or the choices are unclear customers can get turned off and may go to another provider. An easy UI is important in all business but definitely when allowing for choice by your customers.
      The type of product is critical, making sure you know your demographics and how they like to shop are important things to consider. If it is a product that you can typically buy quickly, like a one click and done item, there should also be a very simple way to purchase, to cover all your bases.
      Thanks so much for your comment and this is a great point to consider.
      Best,
      Christine (Sari)

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