When I decided to focus on Pinterest as a tool for promoting my business, I made a very conscious decision. I wanted to really focus on attracting customers for my jewelry and other products, rather than my peers.
Because of all the teaching and speaking I do, it’s not surprising that many of my followers on Twitter and Instagram are fellow designers and makers. And I’m not complaining. I certainly use those spaces to promote everything I do here on Designing an MBA.
But I wanted Pinterest to be a different space. Something that would really be all about attracting the ideal customer for my jewelry.
When Pinterest first came on the scene, I know a lot of designers and makers were nervous about the platform, partly out of a fear that you would just be fueling your competitors.
“What if my images are just shared as inspiration for other designers?”
“I feel like it’s just other people looking around trying to copy my designs.”
And while there’s no way to prevent other makers from pinning your designs as inspiration (just as there’s no 100% way to keep someone else from copying you) the best way I’ve found to minimize this is to really focus on pinning for your ideal customers, rather than pinning content for your peers.
So how do you make the shift from pinning that attracts your peers and competitors to pinning for your ideal customers?
Here are four ideas to get you started:
1. Keep resources and industry stuff on secret boards.
If you started using Pinterest for mostly personal reasons, your Pinterest boards are probably filled with tips and tricks, techniques, and business ideas.
That’s the trouble with Pinterest. It’s a great place to catalog your own ideas and information, but by pinning that kind of content, you’ll just attract more of your peers and competitors.
Thankfully, now that Pinterest allows for unlimited secret boards, you can still use it as a tool to catalog anything that helps you run your business or create your products, but the outward focus can be on things that your customers are interested in.
Create secret boards for all the things you want to catalog that might not be that exciting or interesting to your ideal customer. (I have secret boards for business resources, photo styling, new collections I’m developing, recipes that aren’t aesthetically pleasing enough to make my public feed, and any other resources that don’t fit with my public brand.)
Shifting all the things that you want to remember (like techniques and business ideas) to secret boards still lets you use Pinterest as a powerful learning tool, while focusing your public boards on your ideal customer.
2. Build boards around your products in use, not in production.
In order to attract your customers on Pinterest, you need to think about the life of your products after they leave your studio. Your customer doesn’t care what kind of hammer you used to make those earrings. She cares about what she’s going to wear them with.
This doesn’t mean that every image you pin to Pinterest has to be of your products in use. (In fact, you’ll build a following faster by pinning lots of other images too.) What it means is that you should build boards around the broader use of your products.
For example, a ceramic artist could create boards for all the different ways a customer might enjoy her products. A board devoted to relaxing with a morning cup of coffee. A board full of kitchen and dining room inspiration. A board for dinner parties and entertaining. A board of soup recipes that would all look lovely in one of her bowls. Farm to table and locally sourced food. Hopefully you get the idea.
The goal is to think about the broader life of your products, and help inspire your customers to see how those products fit into their world.
3. Pin your products across multiple boards.
Just like you want to create boards that reflect multiple uses for your products, you also want to make sure that you’re pinning your products across multiple boards.
Because users have the option of only following specific boards, by relegating all your product pins to a single board title “My Products” (which is a terrible board name, if we’re being honest), a majority of your audience may never see your products.
Instead, pin your products across as many of your boards that makes sense. While this may mean creating additional product photography, it can often be as easy as writing a great description that highlights why you’re pinning that product to that board, such as “This bowl would look lovely filled with some homemade butternut squash soup for fall!”
4. Name your boards so that your customers will actually find them in search.
I mentioned that “My Products” is a terrible name for a Pinterest board. That’s because it doesn’t reflect what customers are actually searching for on Pinterest.
So even if you are creating a board specifically for your products (in addition to all the other boards you might pin your products to), describe what’s actually in the board. “Jewelry by Megan Auman” at least carries key words that customers might search for. Even stronger would be to list all the different products a customer might find on that board, like “Mugs, Cups, and Bowls.”
While it’s ok to infuse some personality into your board titles, you never want to get so clever or cute with your board names that customers couldn’t find them doing a basic Pinterest search.
Pinning with your customer in mind doesn’t mean taking the fun or personality out of your business, and it doesn’t mean you can’t use Pinterest to catalog resources for yourself. But by following these tips, you can help ensure that your time spent on Pinterest is attracting people who could potentially buy your products, not just your peers and competitors.
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Want even more help using Pinterest to market your business? Check out my class on Creative Live, Pinterest Marketing for Makers + Designers.Pin It