Business of Craft Season 3 Episode 6 Business Development 101


Have you been thinking about how your fiber or fabric business can continue to adapt and thrive? Well, you’re listening to the right show because that’s our theme for Business of Craft season three…Resiliency!

A business owner since age 14, Erik Jensen began his entrepreneurial journey via a national juggling business that took him and his brother around the country. Now the Chief Strategy Officer at Predictive ROI, Erik developed the podcasting strategy that helped bolster the agency to over $2M, which was featured in the book Profitable Podcasting. Erik is also a co-author of the book, Sell With Authority.

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#1 Erik, I wanted to have you come on the show today to help our listeners become more resilient by improving their efforts to develop new sales funnels and improve their business development strategies. If we can help crafty business owners become more efficient in finding new retailers for example, or help makers find new customers, that will make them stronger businesses in the long run, agreed? (2:00)

#2 Let’s start with just some general concepts about business development.  I think in our fiber and fabric industry there is a long-standing perception that “if you build it they will come” and putting time and energy into a strategy to bring in customers isn’t really necessary. Why is that faulty thinking? (3:05)

#3 I guess I have a selfish reason in asking that question because I know for my own agency, and for many entrepreneurs, biz dev is the last thing on the to-do list for the day. You would argue that it really should be a higher priority. Is that right? (5:40)

#4 Is there value in being able to turn your biz dev tap on or off as needed or do you advocate it should just be an ongoing effort all the time? (9:10)

#5 Besides not having one, what do you think are the most common mistakes business owners make when it comes to creating a biz dev strategy? (14:25)

#6 One important concept in the realm of biz dev is what’s referred to as a value ladder. What is that and can you give us an example in the crafting world? What would that look like for a yarn company for example? (18:02)

#7 We talk a lot about a customer avatar and really understanding who it is that you are marketing your product to. We say if you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. Why is it so critical to understand your customer first before designing your biz dev strategy? (21:20)

#8 On that note, we also advocate for niching your business. That’s not always clear how to do that when you’re a fabric distributor or a yarn retailer for example and you feel like you’re just another fish in the sea. How do you consult clients to find their niche within a crowded industry? (24:30) 

#9 In the book you contributed to, Sell with Authority, you explore this concept in depth. One of the things you expand upon is how business owners can be honing and sharing your expertise through speaking, writing, and having a point of view. If you’re a Bernina (sewing machine) dealer, for example, you really have an advantage when you can be the one and only shop in your state that has all the machines, offers tons of classes, repairs machines etc. What are some other ways to build your “domain authority” to gain more customers? (30:40)

#10 What advice do you have for the makers listening who are struggling to differentiate themselves in the way we are discussing? (37:30)

#11 So, at the top of the show, I mentioned you used to be a professional juggler. Juggling all the things seems to be one of the biggest challenges for crafty biz owners trying to do it themselves– wearing all the hats. What’s your best advice for juggling success? (43:50)


Key Takeaways:

Value Ladder: Remember that customers will enter your business at different points, and then move up the ladder with you as they get to know, like and trust you more. So you want to create multiple entry points to your product line and stay away from those convoluted hypotheticals (my customer might be in that group?)

Cultivate an audience ecosystem – look for noncompetitive, complementary businesses to align with. Erik calls them peanut butter and jelly relationships. For instance, if you are a shop that sells sewing machines but doesn’t offer service options, can you align with a sewing machine repair shop to send your customers to?

You need to find your niche. What person or problem walks through your door, and you rub your hands together with glee knowing that you can knock this out of the park? Who are your favorite customers and what do they have in common (and what overlapping services do you offer them?) This will help you figure out what type of problems you solve and for whom. This is who you should be “fishing” for. Note: this isn’t just the folks who get caught in your net, this is who you are searching for!

On differentiation: don’t automatically go for price because you’re devaluing yourself and your products and services. You need to find other ways to differentiate: skill level, variety of products, variety of crafts, service, teaching, etc.


Connect with Erik:  Predictive ROI | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube