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The Snapdragon Story

Snapdragon Online is a business that grew out of the collapse of another.

When I left my academic desk job I wanted to be my own boss, I wanted to work outside - so I trained in horticulture and began growing cut flowers and selling them once a week from a vintage Citroen Van in my drive.

It was a success - lots of Mums called in before the school run, I had a kettle in my van and free coffee and cake, I gave growing tips, I had 40 regulars who turned up every week to buy a bunch of fresh flowers for their kitchen table . . . . I loved it, I got to know my customers, it was a great feel good buzz of a business.

Then mortgage rates went up by 1% - that Friday I had no customers, the next Friday I had no customers.  By the 2nd month it was clear that the business had collapsed. 

I had created a wonderful place to come if you wanted to buy flowers but if you had taken fresh flowers out of your budget - well you couldn't just come for the free coffee . . . I had created a business without browsers, so when things got tight customers felt that they couldn't just pop in.

I changed my business - scaling up the embroidery that I had done in the winter months and over the next 5 years that side of the business has grown and gradually become a specialist in personalised gifts - we now have a team of 4 working in a wooden workshop in a field behind my house.

It is still a buzzy feelgood business - I love my team, I love my customers, we get to hear wonderful stories - but 80% of my sales come through a 3rd party website where there is a barrier between us and the customers. 

I don't like that and this project is about marketing Snapdragon, become visible, telling the story and connecting with people.

Clarity -

What is Marketing For ?- To talk with potential customers, to get permission to keep talking with them, to help them spread the word about what Snapdragon does. To get sales.

What am I allowed to touch? - Absotlutely everything - nothing is sacred and I am in charge.

What can we measure? - Interactions and sales

What can we change? - Absolutely everything.

What should we promise? - That we care, that real people work here

What is the hard part? - Getting permission, creating awareness.

Should we make trands of follow them?  At Snapdragon we are following trends - the trend for personalisation, customisation, small scale production - we add in caring, people rather than computers and customer delight but we are heading in the same overall direction.

Where is the risk? For the customer it is disappointment, us not delivering, not repaying the emotional investment.

Who is in charge here? - ME!

Where are we spending money? - We aren't really - Up until very (very) recently I have been involved too heavily in production and have not invested enough time or cash in marketing.

What's the most important way to spend my time? - Writing, connecting, making things of value that can be shared.

An Action Theory

What emotion? -  We want to create delight - the delight of finding that you can make presents so personal, the delight of it being easy, the delight of the order when it arrives . . . but most of all the delight of giving the gift and seeing people's faces.

Change - what do we want to change? - We want to help our customers give more considered, more heartfelt gifts, to have the confidence to put themselves on the line.

Alert - how do we earn the privilege? This is the tough bit - I would love feedback on this.  We are basically a gift business, we embroider and print a range of products from mugs with inspirational quotes (you get to choose your own) to bags printed with your dog driving a jeep.  In the past I have blogged about the creative process, given away patterns, recipes, done behind the scenes stuff but it has not led to a massive amount of people giving me that privilege.  I think part of this is that I am UK based and there isn't the same level of blog readership but it certainly isn't all that. What would draw you to wanting to hear more from me?

Share - How do we get people to share? This turns out to be a tough bit too . . . apart from being so delighted with your order that you tell people about it . . . . how would you share? As people order gifts that they are going to give to friends and relatives they don't tend to share on Facebook in case they spoil the surprise and then - though the gifts subsequently get shared it as a "look what x bought me" rather than "look what I got from Snapdragon"

Update on Sharing - I was looking at stats and the most shares we got so far were of the free "dogs in vehicle" digital files we make - to give people an idea of how our actual dog in vehicle products work. These have been shared on Twitter by dog mad people (masquerading as their dogs)

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