There are courses and webinars by the dozens out there to assist creative entrepreneurs produce, market and sell digital sewing patterns. I’ve listened to and read most of the information they provide on how to build a successful creative business. One chapter or session is always dedicated to identifying my perfect customer. The exercise takes me through steps to describe her, exactly who she is and what I can do to attract her to my products. The exercise helps me find a way to convince my customer that she needs my products or services in her life.
But at no point, does the exercise take me through the steps of identifying what my customer expects from me. In some ways, the current methods are basically shoving my goods down my customer’s throat and telling her why she should like it. Have you ever tried to do that to a college student?
My day job has been to attract college students to the technology and resources that the campus academic library has to offer to assist them with completing their assignments. I could identify my college student customer all day long and go to many lengths to convince him to use our services but until I listened to them, met them, spoke their language, I was wasting my time.
I liken it to visiting a foreign country. One can stand on a street corner in a foreign city, holding a sign or bull horn and shout all day long in English about what one has to offer and I would wager, one would find very few customers. If one wants to “pitch” something to someone, one must learn their language and one must go where they are, into their community or social gatherings.
I’ve seen no evidence of this in the sewing community. I see all kinds of designers churning out and posting .pdf patterns for everything under the sun. I see lots of promotion of said patterns; slick graphics, professionally shot photos, and complicated social media campaigns. They are spending a lot of time following the advice for creative entrepreneurs. In my academic library, we searched out the college students and researched how to communicate with them in their own language and through the avenues that they preferred. We met with them and their instructors in their classrooms and we did surveys to find out exactly what they needed from us. We made many amazing discoveries that allowed us to get our message out to more college students.
So have any of the designers ever thought about asking their customers what they want? Or are designers just designing simply trying to find that pattern that will sell for them?
As I begin drafting and writing my first pattern, my natural instinct is to ask “what does my customer want from me as a designer and pattern seller?” I know as a sewing pattern customer, I have certain expectations and several problems with digital sewing patterns as they currently exist. I wonder if other digital sewing pattern consumers feel the same. The best way for me to learn how digital pattern users feel about digital .pdf patterns is to ask. So I asked. And boy, did I get answers. I got so much feedback, it is quite obvious that this community has never been asked what they want in digital sewing patterns.
So follow along as I write a series of posts on the survey that I conducted and the amazing answers I found.