Strategies, Scaling Your Business

The Maker's Growth Strategy with Megan Auman of Designing an MBA

Episode 125: Show Notes

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for art, commerce and visual content creation. AKA, she rocks Instagram and Pinterest! In addition to running her eponymous jewelry line, you’ll find her on Designing an MBA talking and teaching about the intersection of art and business.

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for art, commerce and visual content creation. AKA, she rocks Instagram and Pinterest! In addition to running her eponymous jewelry line, you’ll find her on Designing an MBA talking and teaching about the intersection of art and business.  |  The Strategy Hour  |  Think Creative Collective

In this episode, we will be looking at how to use Instagram and Pinterest to see a return on investment and grow your email list. We will even be getting some tips on what to do with New York Now, how to plan a holiday marketing strategy and why keeping it simple is key. So hold onto your panties! As a trained and practicing metalsmith, Megan is a great person to help those entrepreneurs who are specifically hand-makers trying to grow a handmade business. So jump in and take a listen!

A Brief Intro To Megan’s Business Journey

Like a lot of makers, Megan was not taught anything about business. She has a degree in metalsmithing but didn’t quite know what to do with it so she decided to get her MFA too. While she was at art school, she got into jewelry making and sales. After art school, Megan decided to try her hand at craft shows and markets. She started using Etsy and later built a website called Design an MBA as a way to figure out what she knew and what she didn’t know about running a handmade business. She then realized how valuable the information she was putting out was to others and started teaching through the site as while as running her jewelry business. But today, the jewelry business is Megan’s primary business and she learned how to master that too!

The Beginning Stages of Megan’s Business And How It Has Changed

Megan quickly realized doing craft shows was not the right thing for her. Megan then got a call for a booth at The New York Booth Fair and decided to give the craft show scene one last bash. Megan did her first trade show in 2008 and it launched her whole business. She then started building her entire business around wholesale and for many years this was her main focus. She had a small presence online but wanted to drive business to her own site. So she moved from Etsy to Big Cartel and then to Shopify, where she is currently. The important thing to remember is to just pick a platform. Just start. You can then tweak, change and adapt. The point is to get going, knowing that starting on a platform is not a lifelong commitment. You can change it. Spaces evolve.

What Megan’s Creation Process Looks Like

When Megan participated in The New York Booth Fair, she started in a section called Handmade. Here, buyers know you are not a factory and accept that there is limited quantity. Megan started out making everything herself but launched a few aspects of her business that were designed to be manufactured, such as her home décor line. For a number of years, Megan also had a production assistant who made a lot of her wholesale jewelry. Then as her business evolved, she ended up letting her go because it was just not the right fit for the business anymore. Megan realized her design process comes from her doing the manufacturing process. So today, her business is half wholesale and half online. Which assists in balancing out the profit margins. The point to emphasize is we need to try out what process works for us and our creative personality. Because you don’t know what type of business owner, entrepreneur or creative you’re going to be until you try something new. You have to test it to find out!

The Role Of Instagram and Pinterest

Instagram and Pinterest play different roles within your business. One of the things Megan loves about Pinterest is if you are still struggling with the aesthetic of your brand or finding your visual voice, Pinterest is a way to start building that. Pinterest is 90% about curating other people’s content, so if you’re overwhelmed by the idea of creating your own content, like on Instagram, Pinterest is a good place to start. It’s about putting your work in a bigger context which is often a lot easier than wondering what the heck to post to Instagram. Instagram feels more personal. You might not grow on Instagram as quickly as you will on Pinterest, but the people who do follow you on Instagram follow because they love your work. So it is much easier to turn them into buyers.

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How To Grow Your Business With Instagram and Pinterest

One of the biggest mistakes Megan sees, is that people use Instagram to go directly to the sale. Megan herself rarely goes from Instagram straight to a sale. She goes from Instagram to mailing list to the sale. And shifting your mindset really helps. Megan mostly uses a pre-launch strategy, where she is talking about the launch, say a sale, on Instagram and inviting people to be a part of the mailing list so they can get more details and stay up to date. It’s really about pushing people to the list. 80% of Megan’s sales come from the mailing list, which came from Instagram – because that’s where she was promoting it.

On the other hand, if you want traffic, Pinterest is the way to go but people need to understand traffic is going to convert at a lower percentage. Megan gets less traffic from Instagram, but it converts higher because it is more personal. But the benefit of Pinterest is if you engage with a pin, it remembers and will keep showing you photos of that thing. Which means, if someone didn’t buy it the first time, chances are they’ll see it again later and might buy it then. Both Instagram and Pinterest work very differently but both can contribute to sales.

Other marketing tactics Megan uses is making use of hashtags, blogging, talking about her product on various media platforms (like this podcast!), as well as sending her products to specific influencers, such as one of her stylist friends. The point is, however, there is no single magic marketing tool!

Tactics For Growing Your Email List Via Social

The language Megan uses to get people to sign up for her mailing list is: “Be the first to shop new designs and exclusive sales.” When she is doing a specific launch she will then say, “Hey, sample sale. You get to shop first.” If you are a maker or an artist, you don’t want people on your list who want your information. You want people on your list who want your product. So it’s about making the people on your mailer feel the love and get first priority.

Megan wants to dispel the freebie myth. She has tried and tested this myth and the results were super clear. Megan tries to email her list 2-3 times per month and she does a sample sale and a birthday sale once a year. Often, people over-stuff the email stocking. Where Megan does the opposite. She tries to be as minimalist as she can. A little bit of text, one picture and a “shop now” button. That’s it. Megan found the more images she put, the less they got clicked on. So again, just test things out and look at your numbers.

Developing Brand Consistency By Choosing What To Post

40-50% of the photographs on Megan’s Instagram is product photography from her website. She believes if she has created all of this content already, then why not put it on Instagram? Megan is not the type of person who likes to take selfies for example, but often she’ll take a big batch of photos with her DSLR and post them out, one by one. Megan has a rule of conversational copy and it’s what she lives by on Instagram. She’ll post according to what she feels like that day, for the most part. It’s thinking about what photography you already have that reflects your mood and attitude for that day so you can be genuine in your posts. But is it an easy way out to just use all of your product photos and dish them out over Instagram? Well, not really. People often just over-complicate things and it’s not as difficult as people make it! The proof is in the (Christmas) pudding...

‘Tis The Season: Holiday Marketing Strategy Tips

How do we prepare for holiday season and what can we do to take advantage of people buying more? Well, Megan believes the first thing you have to do is think about what the lead time is with your marketing strategy. Megan started doing some really aggressive pinning all the way back in July! Because there is such a lag on Pinterest, you have to think in advance there. The second thing is getting people on your email list and actually emailing your list. The third thing is actually understanding your production. Make sure you have enough product to sell over the holiday time! Lastly, understand who your buyers are and what their buying habits are to setting your deadlines in a way that makes sense. If you are going to run a sale, does it make sense to run it when everybody is doing it? Think through your sales because you don’t have to run them at the same time as everybody else. For example, Megan runs a birthday sale at the end of October and then a post-Christmas sale. Again, try it and see! Happy holidays!

Highlights

  • A brief intro to Megan’s business journey and how she got started on her path. [0:03:15.1]
  • The beginning stages of Megan’s business and how it has changed over time. [0:06:00.1]
  • What Megan’s creation process looks like and answering the question, “Is she hand-making it all?” [0:10:45.1]
  • The role of Instagram and Pinterest in your business and how they are different. [0:13:45.1]
  • How to grow your business with Instagram and Pinterest outside of clicking ‘Add To Cart’. [0:17:15.1]
  • Tactics for growing your email list via social media channels. [0:21:05.1]
  • Developing brand consistency by strategically choosing what to post to Instagram. [0:30:30.1]
  • Tis The Season: marketing strategy tips for the holiday season ahead. [0:38:29.1]

#TalkStrategyToMe [0:49:35.6]

  1. Set up your email list.
  2. Email that list.
  3. Find your zone of genius.
  4. Designate marketing mornings.

Today’sGuest

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Megan Auman

Designing an MBA

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Megan Auman is a designer, metalsmith, educator and entrepreneur who has built a multi-faceted business around her passion for art, commerce and visual content creation! (Which is just a fancy way of saying she's obsessed with Instagram and Pinterest.) In addition to running her eponymous jewelry line, you’ll find her on Designing an MBA talking and teaching about the intersection of art and business.

KeyTopics

  • Sample sales.
  • Email list.
  • Art and business.
  • Jewelry design.
  • Designing an MBA.
  • Hand-made product.
  • Pinterest marketing.
  • Instagram marketing.
  • Setting price points.
  • Holiday marketing.
  • Online sales.

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