Identity Crisis: My Ideal Audience
Today I want to talk candidly about something that I believe Sincerely, Jackie has been struggling with recently: identity crisis.
Since launching Sincerely, Jackie, I have had an incredibly clear vision for the type of work I wanted to do, the clients I wanted to work with, and the caliber of product I'd be offering. However, I have been noticing that there is a bit of a disconnect between my vision and the types of inquiries I have been getting. While it was initially exciting that I was getting inquiries at all, the excitement began to wane when I realized that many of the inquiries were falling outside of my ideal types of projects. Eventually, I found myself feeling frustrated with the amount of time I spent responding to things that did not fit what I wanted Sincerely, Jackie to offer. Mostly, people were asking for rush orders, "whatever is cheapest", and help with "DIY" type projects. It became very clear that what I thought I was clearly communicating on my website was not being interpreted or understood the way I had intended for it to be. Somehow, the way I've been representing Sincerely, Jackie has not been connecting with my ideal audience. (let me add a disclaimer here that the clients I have been working with are AMAZING, and I love them, but I have had to weed through lots of inquiries and turn down many projects in order to make sure I am consistently working with my current clients)
My light bulb moment came last week after a consultation with a bride who had already purchased a sample and loved it, but was under the impression that my work would be at a significantly lower price point. She gave me feedback explaining that she was "shocked" by the investment associated with my products, and that she could easily get something similar off the shelf at a local stationery store. Honestly, her comment was like a punch in the stomach - there is nothing "off the shelf" about the products I offer! I felt hurt, angry, upset, sad, and confused. How could my product/website/information have lead her to that conclusion?
I was compelled to understand why she said what she said because, ultimately, it highlighted the problem I had been having. I realized that I was somehow unintentionally representing Sincerely, Jackie to be something lesser than it truly is, and I need to straighten that out as soon as possible.
The first thing I did was lay out exactly what it is that I do, and how I do it.
I offer one-of-a-kind wedding invitations printed, by hand in New York. Each invitation is carefully designed and curated by me, from start to finish. From the type of paper used, the print technique, and the colors of the envelopes; I spend hours pouring over color combinations, finishing options, assembly processes, and timelines. My passion is to make sure that, when you come to Sincerely, Jackie, you are getting the most exceptional product on the market.
Secondly, I acknowledged that I was somehow not properly conveying the value of my product. This is where I struggled the most - it is so hard to look at your own words, description, about page, website, etc with a critical eye and find where the challenge is. So I brought in somebody I knew could help.
I met with my business advisor and we discussed the challenge I was having with attracting the right audience. I couldn't understand why, after having a clearly written process page, readily available price list, and thorough product descriptions, people were still contacting me and asking for me to rush, discount, modify, or alter my products and business model. My advisor gave me the difficult feedback that I was desperate to hear, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Simply put, I sound like a novice, not a professional. She pointed out example after example of places in my website where I sound like I'm trying to convince my audience that I have a good product. Instead, I need to be confidently showing my audience, the unapologetic amazingness of what I have to offer.
Everything clicked for me when I realized Sincerely, Jackie was coming off as more like a Marshall's or TJ Maxx than a Nordstrom or Bloomingdales; I had high end products that people felt they should get at a steal. Now let's be straight - Marshall's and TJ Maxx are fine, but they are not me. they are not Sincerely, Jackie. I have hand crafted, luxurious products and service, and I am proud of that. I am Nordstrom. I am Bloomingdales. I am sophisticated and classic, but modern, fun, and certainly not stuffy. I am Sincerely, Jackie.
While going through any period of identity crisis is difficult, I think it's important to be able to hold up the mirror and take a good, hard look at what it is you're putting out and what you're bringing it. If the two don't match, it's perfectly alright - test the wind, adjust your sails and keep on going.