Friday, August 19

Market research and cake

What an interesting evening. And I must say a huge thank you to my parents for their constant support. I casually mentioned that we could do with doing a focus group of some sort to gauge people's reactions to our products and next thing Mum has rung round her friends and organised just such an evening for us - how supportive is that? Slightly nervous as one of the couples had known me since I was 10 and didn't want them to think us unprofessional - but they were all so helpful.

Top tips for anyone else doing this:
1. cake always helps!
2. we gave everyone a thank you gift for giving up their time which was well received
3. be clear about what you want to get - we took ages to plan the questions and so glad we did
4. be prepared for some to have nooo idea what you're trying to do and be polite!
5. read up on a bit on how to manage focus groups
6. don't have more than 8 people as the discussion get too hard to manage otherwise
7. have a strategy in mind for those that talk lots and those that don't talk at all!
8. don't be shy about bringing the discussion back where you want it - this is your chance to find out what your customers think not what they had for tea!
9. plan the order of questions or sections, we deliberately asked the same question in different ways at the start and end to check pricing bands

What we did:
We showed people pictures from our website and just asked them for their opinion of the photography, the piece and how they felt they would use it or who they would buy it for. Any more questions and we would have overloaded the discussion so less is definitely more when it comes to asking people to write things down. We then asked them what they thought our logo was - most said Hippo and luckily most said it looked a happy hippo which was good to know. One lady there knew I was little hippo and started giggling as soon as she saw it and had to say stop it, you have inside information! The other amusement came from one person being a teacher who had worked with the (now infamous) geography teacher who told us to stop giggling all those years ago when the nickname came about - think she's already called him to say 'do you know what you created?'

What was really evident was that people love colours - was pleasantly surprised at which pieces were best received and kept being asked if we could do things in brighter colours. So, we have some tweaking to do on wording and a few photos but it was really useful and I would urge anyone else starting out to do the same. We're planning another one soon with a different age group to see if the comments are similar or different - and yes, cake will be provided (but can't make coffee cake like my Mum, best give her a call now!)

All that said, the evening was good fun and people want you to succeed. Comments or criticisms were only raised so that we could make things better - don't feel bad about what could be considered negative comments. We're always told to listen and respond to customer comments but chances are if you're selling online you don't often get the opportunity to take feedback off someone that hasn't bought from you so trap them with cake and get their opinions - you may be surprised what you learn! Angie xx

Sunday, August 7

Clearly incapable of buying stuff unless it's pink!

Apologies, but this appears to be a running theme of mine - buying shoes! However, in my defence these are for camping and actually have some grip. The last time I went camping was to Lake Bala where someone kindly took me out on their catamaran. I only had my grotty trainers on that have absolutely no grip which was drastically shown to be true as I went happily down the entire side of the cat and the chap had to grab my other foot to pull me back on board! Slightly unerving to say the least, so have now purchased shoes that actually have some grip.

Also, as it gets quite cold in the evening we have discovered a love of burning things while recanting the entire Monty Python skit about burning witches, again a slight oops moment - however we like burning things and it keeps us warm.

And the other good pressie of the week courtesy of friends that used to live next door. While rootling round the old stuff their previous home owner had left they found this - and thought of me, how cute! I actually remember having one of these as a child, and driving my parents mad painting strange little bowls and not understanding why they weren't getting as excited as me - so I guess the love affair with ceramics goes back quite a long way! Dutifully trundled off for batteries and fantastic, it still works. One of the first pots still sits in their cabinet at home, will have to get a photo to show you - or maybe not as I was only 7 at the time!

Angie xx

Wednesday, August 3

Went out to play and found bumper boots!!

We've been thumping buttons for so long now that we needed a day out! Thankfully the website is now starting to look and feel as we first wanted it and gradually managing to get all the current work photographed and on there. Also, now that we're out of geek mode (apologies to all the serious coders out there) we can go back to creative mode and work on new pieces.

Bumper boots - many call them baseball boots but for some reason I have always called them bumper boots! No idea why, just that's what they've always been and over the years have gained and worn out loads of pairs. Today was another good day for the collection:

How cute are they? Think I lasted all of 10 seconds thought time before finding my size and trying them on. Not normally a Mickey Mouse fan but just loved the old style cartooning on them :)

Got another Hippo to show you -

This picture was painted for me when I lived in Brighton and working for an odd company (that's the polite version!). At the time I lived in a shared house and the chap that painted this did covers for magazines such as 2000AD and was such a fantastic artist. I came home from work and it had been slid under my door with a note that said 'hope this cheers you up' now that's what you call a housemate! It's been making me smile ever since.

No more buttons to thump so can get back to the sketching to make new pieces, Angie xx