Business Plan Basics For Artists and Creative Entrepreneurs – Your Product List

An important part of developing your business and marketing plans is to develop a list of the products or product lines that you sell. The idea is to segment your various products so that you can match them with your customer groups and competitors. Once you have matched your product segments with your customer groups you are now ready to develop custom strategies for each product/customer pairing. You match you product segments with your competitors – what are they doing well, poorly, and how I can I take advantage of their weaknesses to grow my business. This is an important activity – don’t take it lightly!

My Artrepreneurship students at the Center For Innovation (MSCD) are required to prepare their Product List as one of the first steps in developing their business plans. It seems easy, but trust me it will require some thinking and examination into what products you make, what they are used for and who the end user is. The process usually goes something like this:

Neil: Ok Suzy, what products do you sell?

Suzy: Jewelry.

Neil: Any particular kind of jewelry?

Suzy: Rings and necklaces.

Neil: What kind of rings?

Suzy: I like to make wedding and engagement rings, they seem very popular. And I also make less expensive rings for daily and special occasion wear.

Neil: Who buys your rings, men or women?

Suzy: Well mostly women but I have made and sold men’s rings. I think I could do more, maybe create and sell both rings as a set.

Neil: So are your customers young or old? Are they just starting out in life or are they people who are getting married later in life?

Suzy: Well my wedding rings are custom designed and made with precious jewels. They aren’t the most expensive rings but they also aren’t cheap.

Neil: So your customers need to have a good amount of disposable income to afford your rings?

Suzy: Yes, I don’t compete with stores and other jewelry designers who sell inexpensive rings.

Neil: Tell me about the rings that your customers buy for everyday wear and for special occasions.

Suzy: …………

Ok, you should get the picture. Develop your list of the products and services that you sell and segment them by their intended use, customers who buy them and the function they provide. If you do this exercise right, you should be well on your way to answering the what, who, why and where of your product or service offerings.

Here are some examples for artistic or creative endeavors:

Visual Artist

  • Art for commercial advertising uses
  • Art for collectors, galleries, public spaces, gifts or fairs
  • Art for offices or homes
  • Original works or prints
  • Art by type/style – abstract, landscapes, still life, etc.
  • Art by size, price, and materials used.
  • Whether the overall , regional or local market for the product segment is growing, stable or declining.
  • Whether my sales for this product segment are growing, stable or declining.

Sculptor

  • Sculpture for collectors, galleries, public spaces or fairs
  • Sculpture for office, home or outdoor.
  • Sculpture for collectors, galleries, gifts, public spaces or fairs
  • Sculpture by type/style or function
  • Sculpture by size, price, and materials used.
  • Whether the overall , regional or local market for the product segment is growing, stable or declining.
  • Whether my sales for this product segment are growing, stable or declining.

Ok you should now get the idea. Start putting together your product/product segment listing. You are going to need it to develop your business and marketing plan – go for it! If you have any questions or examples of your own please send me a note or post them in the comments.

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About Neil McKenzie

Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations. He is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto