It’s easy for me to talk about products in a funny detached sort of way; like a soulless robot with giant metal claws only spewing facts when a certain mathematical condition is met.
But that’s really boring to write about each week.
I’d like to shift gears and discuss a creative, right-brained task of defining a lifestyle around your Etsy Shop.
What’s A Lifestyle
A lifestyle is the way someone lives; the manners, customs, preferences, tastes, choices, and culture that make up an important part of normalcy of everyday life.
Someone’s lifestyle can also be a big reason why people want the things they want. Lifestyle can determine how people choose a certain type of beer or what their favorite ice cream flavor is. Down to the brands someone wears and the car they drive, those preferences can be shaped by someone’s lifestyle (which isn’t to say that everyone can or does have the lifestyle they want).
The idea of lifestyle is the sum of culture, identity, and means.
But lifestyle is also a powerful tool for connecting with your customers in a way that resonates with who they are as people.
Why You Should Care About Your Audiences Lifestyles
Remember this fact:
People are attracted to things that reinforce their lifestyle or the lifestyle they want.
Thus you are given an opportunity to create an emotional connection with your audience that transcends your individual products but encompasses the entire “vision” of your brand. You are selling a vision of what it’s like to experience the items in your shop; this resonates with people.
This becomes especially relevant when you sell something common on Etsy. People will and do compare your ceramic gnomes to those sold by other sellers and the right lifestyle could be the thing that pushes them over the edge to purchase your product versus someone else’s.
How To Define The Lifestyle Of Your Audience
Defining and figuring out the lifestyle of your audience is the starting point for recreating that lifestyle on your Shop.
I have a few thoughts on this.
First, this process is inherently about generalizing groups of people and the things they like.
You’re going to be wrong a lot. The point is that this isn’t something you should expect to get right the first time or in 1000 iterations; people are unique and not easily categorized.
Second, there’s the odd concern that generalizing people automatically makes you a bigot or a racist and you shouldn’t do that.
It goes without saying: don’t be an awful person.
But realize that you, as a consumer, are plugged into a data-centric algorithm that tracks everything you like and every interest you have. Your interests on Facebook are mined for ad targeting. Your Gmail account shows ads based on the subject line you’re looking at.
To the faceless machine of the marketing gods you are another thing to be categorized into a, well, category that makes it easy for sales to happen based on spreadsheets.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t be doing the same thing.
There’s different approaches for defining audiences, but my process loosely goes something like this:
What awful assumptions I’ve made.
Who’s to say that anyone likes “Pumpkins” based on their love of PSLs? Or that these people also happen to like fall? Maybe sweaters make them itchy?
You’re guessing, and you’re arrogant enough to assume you have it figured out. But like all guesses, we can be educated about some possible ideas around what our audiences like.
How To Make Educated Guesses
Sometimes you have a hunch about a group of people; perhaps you are one of that group. I feel like I have some understanding of say, rural people in North Carolina; I grew up as one.
Other times, you’re clueless. Here’s some of my favorite tools & methods for getting started:
1. Google AdWords Display Planner
This tool is meant for advertisers that want to buy ad space on various websites. You, however, can use it to learn about the audience of various websites. So, if you have a hunch that your audience demographic may like a particular site – type in the address to see if it’s in within the Google Display Network.
2. Social Mining
Mining social channels for data isn’t new, but consider it for some competitive analysis on a Shop you like. There’s nothing that prevents you from searching on Twitter for retweets from your favorite shops and looking at the type of visitors engaging with that brand.
Pop onto Twitter, Facebook, and especially, Pinterest and look at the engagement users have with that brand. Chances are you’ll discover a commonality between visitors of both the sites they like and the brands they love.
Pinterest, in particular, recently rolled out an Analytics tool for specific to Pinterest that will tell you all about the interests your audiences have.
Content is a proxy for interest. Buzzsumo is a great little tool I recently discovered that let’s you search for content and then see the number of shares associated with it. This is a great starting point for when you have insight into the types of content that your audience likes.
4. Consumer Barometer
Consumer Barometer is a great tool, also from Google, that let’s you see the role of search engine research before product decisions. You won’t be able to pull things like demographics from this, but you can get some valuable insights into how your audience interacts with the Internet before purchasing things.
There’s also some interesting data presented on the “Digital Lifestyles” of various product categories.
5. Google Trends
Where Google Adwords Planner will give you an idea of the “what,” Google Trends gives you an idea of how much. Google Trends let’s you enter in a keyword and see the volume between countries and between states. If you’re into buying local, this is a great way of honing-in on what your area is thinking about your products.
6. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads Tools are another great place to learn the associated interests of your audience. You’ll want to use the Interests and Behavior fields to learn both the activities and interests of your audience. More than any other tool here, this gives you real perspective on who your audience is.
How To Manifest Your The “Lifestyle” Of Your Etsy Shop
All this is great, but how do you actually “do” a lifestyle change? I have a few big suggestions:
Photos are the heart and soul of any Shop. Pictures will always speak louder than any words.
Confession time: I love terrariums. The little glass cages for plants just look awesome anywhere you put them, and happen to be something that I majorly dig. There’s this one Etsy Shop – boxwoodtree – that sells beautiful terrariums and also happens to nail the lifestyle that I’m after.
Here’s what I take away from this photo: urban, trendy, brick, natural, authentic, glass, wood, plants, cool, unique.
This photo nails it and matches the expectations I have for my lifestyle. It’s not just a photo of a terrarium, it’s a view of a lifestyle and a feeling that I could have with this product. It’s not a sterile white photo that’s intended to describe the exact dimensions of the shape — it’s intended to convey an idea.
Every choice about this photo — the brick wall, the natural wood table, the reflection of sunlight on one side, the hint-of-vintage style editing to the colors are tailored to a particular audience that likes all of those things and, by God, could see it in their home.
Photos are the easiest way to manifest a lifestyle. You can imbue them in emotion and feeling that words often fail to do. The goal is to make people visualize your item in their life, and to say “this item is going to help me build the life I want.”
Copy – the words or text on your page – matters. Can you give a dry, robotic description (often like my writing here) of your product? Sure. It will technically do the job, but try taking it further, imbuing your writing with personality and spunk.
I don’t see this from many Etsy Shops, but I think it makes perfect sense for certain audiences who’d be open to that. I think Fab’s item descriptions are especially great (albeit probably for a younger audience).
The playfulness of the ring (it’s a horse ring…) seems even more playful after reading the description. They support each other, which in turn support an audience’s view of that thing and how amazing it would be in their lives.
I write a lot of these posts under the assumption that most Shop owner’s are without external websites. Assuming that’s true, your Shop’s banner and thumbnail are of critical importance to demonstrate the “type” of Shop you want to be.
If your logo looks like you made it (not in a good way), your products will look like it (also not in a good way). Consumers are skeptics looking for a reason to not like you, to move on, to not click another item.
Design, that is, “good” design, is very much defined by what your audience deems “good” or “bad”. The Wishing Elephant does a lot of children’s items and their banner reflects the cute, playful nature of their product and looks professional; just the type of banner I’d use to attract parents.
4. The Bit And Bobs
Finally, we have all the bits and bobs — the last bits of things that make for a nice customer experience when someone receive’s their item — a thank you note or a small card with a coupon code. Down to the quality of your packaging matters and helps reinforce the experience they had online with what they have in person. People like the look of handcrafted – that’s part of the draw to Etsy. They also, however, like a well-designed, professional presentation upon delivery.
Putting It All Together
Lifestyles are a powerful marketing tool to connect with your audience and build your brand. Learning and generalizing about your audience is filled with pitfalls, but is ultimately a way towards tailoring your Shop’s visual assets in a way with which your audience will fall in love.