For a short period of time, I was a business major while at the University of Alabama.
While in business school, I learned one thing from my Marketing 101 class: the ingredients required for a successful marketing plan. The ingredient I want to focus on today is “distribution”. When developing a marketing plan, you have to create a way to get the product to market. This includes how to sell the product – how to create interest and desire.
I was reminded of this today while talking to my Dad about my failed attempts at teaching SketchUp. The plan was for me to teach a series of three classes, one per month, at my local Woodcraft store. Teaching a class at Woodcraft was born out of a conversation I had with a fellow woodworker on Google Plus. He suggested I contact Woodcraft about teaching SketchUp.
I remember thinking, “I can do that.” I am certainly capable of teaching at least a basic class on SketchUp. I saw teaching a class as a way to help others learn SketchUp skills, especially since understanding this program without instruction is almost always frustrating. I also wanted to gain some teaching experience and I hoped to make a little woodworking money too (I never saw this as a big opportunity to make money).
“Are there any sign-ups?”
After scheduling two classes, I have had no sign ups – zero. And when considering what is not working, I have to say my method of distribution is horrible. Woodcraft has left selling this class totally in my hands and I have totally depended on Woodcraft to do most of the selling. Somewhere in all of this, Marketing 101 isn’t happening.
I have been disappointed in the lack of interest from Woodcraft to see this class succeed. They must have a pretty good direct mail list. They must have a pretty good email list. My classes have never appeared in any of their direct mail pieces or any of their email marketing. I offered to write a paragraph or two for them to use, but they did not bite on this idea. The classes did appear on the local store’s class schedule, but the link is hard to find.
In fairness to them, they were willing to let me teach in their store and they did allow me to demonstrate SketchUp at a recent sale event. This was pretty cool to do, and there was mild interest in learning SketchUp, but only one person expressed a desire to actually pay for a class.
Keep at it.
In my day job, I am a salesman and have been one for all of my professional life. In sales, you have to learn to take a “no” and deal with it. So the lack of success with this class just means I need to adjust and try again. I do have a plan and I will continue working on it after the holiday season is over.
If there is one takeaway from the experience, and something to pass on to other woodworkers who want to create a product to sell, it is a reminder that “build it and they will come” almost never works in business. The better plan is to find a need, build to that need, then make sure as many people know about it as possible. The demonstration I did shows there is interest in learning about SketchUp, I just need to do a better job of marketing my class.