The rise of eCommerce and social media has led to a rapid growth of creative spaces and initiatives across the web. These offer some fantastic opportunities for brands to build communities with like-minded business owners, and to market their artisan products. One such initiative is #MarchMeetTheMaker, a fun and quirky campaign which all creatives should be taking part in!
What is #MarchMeetTheMaker?
#MarchMeetTheMaker is an Instagram campaign started by UK-based artist and illustrator Joanne Hawker. The purpose is to celebrate makers and their small businesses, and to aid them in giving their followers a behind the scenes view of what goes into creating the products or artwork they love. For Joanne, it was also an opportunity to kickstart some inspiration for her own social media content:
"#MarchMeetTheMaker was born in 2016 when I was at a bit of a dead end with content and was feeling a bit lost. I couldn’t find another challenge similar so I went ahead and made one! I created prompts that helped to show the different aspects of my business that I wouldn’t usually talk about. I asked a few friends to take part so that I wasn’t doing it alone, and it snowballed from there!”
For each day of the month, participants post with the hashtag about a different aspect of their business. The prompts set a theme for that particular day, to help makers think a bit outside the box. It could ask makers to show what goes into creating their products, the story behind their brand name, or how they tackle issues such as waste in their operations.
Since 2016, the #MarchMeetTheMaker hashtag has racked up nearly 400,000 uses, helping to form a vibrant creative community of makers who are passionate about their crafts.
What is the maker movement?
The maker movement refers to the growing trend of people launching their own businesses based on what might be considered ‘hobby’ pursuits. Think arts and crafts enthusiasts, bakers, illustrators and stationery lovers. Once upon a time, this might have just been a side passion. But the maker movement is seeing a new lease of life in the age of online marketplaces. It’s easier than ever before for somebody to set up a business selling handmade products. The rise of Etsy, the marketplace specializing in handmade and artisan goods, demonstrates how widespread the maker movement has become. In 2018, over 2.1 million sellers were active on the site, up from only 830,000 in 2012. Etsy’s revenue has seen a corresponding jump, from $441 million in 2017 and $604 million in 2018, an increase of 36% in just one year.
Why you should get involved in #MarchMeetTheMaker
Social media is presenting more opportunities than ever for independent creators
Sites like Etsy have given makers a platform to sell. But it’s the power of social media that’s given them the platform to actually build a brand. In Joanne’s view, this is what has created such a fertile environment for both established and up-and-coming makers.
“Makers have been busy beavering away behind the scenes for years. But social media has really helped to shine a light on it in recent years, especially with more visual platforms like Instagram. It’s definitely made it a lot easier for people to come together, connect over what they love, and form their own little communities.”
The #MarchMeetTheMaker campaign goes far beyond one month of the year - it’s about helping makers and creatives get to grips with the power of social media marketing in the long-term. In 2019, Instagram and platforms such as Pinterest are one of the most accessible ways for small businesses to build a following. But as we all know, putting together a long-term social media strategy isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut of endless product photography on your feed, without really telling your audience who YOU are.
As Joanne says. “it can be difficult at times to big ourselves up, show off what we make and let people in behind the scenes. But this challenge gives you an excuse to do just that. It's a chance to be really proud of what you create, the skills you have learned and to tell the stories behind it all.”
More consumers are choosing to buy handmade
Not all that long ago, most small consumer goods were ‘handmade’ in that each step of the process was done in-house and locally. Now, we live in a world where pretty much everything is mass-produced. We therefore have little insight into the creative process before a product ends up on a store shelf. So, products can often feel devoid of any meaningful story. As a result, there is now a growing demand for products which have a clear connection to their creator.
According to a study by ATYM, 49% consumers say that they plan to buy handmade goods over the next year, and that they believe handmade shopping is going to grow more popular over the next five years. 81% of consumers cited wanting something ‘unique’ as their main reason for buying handmade goods. Other reasons are that it allows them to support small businesses (51%) and that they want better quality goods (38%).
The growth of eCommerce and social media doesn’t just positively impact makers and small business owners, but consumers as well. Online retail makes it easy for consumers to search for makers who fit with their desire to support smaller creators. So, there has never been a better time for makers to be in business. #MarchMeetTheMaker is a fantastic way to flaunt your handmade credentials to a captive audience!
It gets you thinking about different elements of your operation
The whole idea behind #MarchMeetTheMaker is that makers are far more than what they create. There are thousands of talented makers across the world who are curating beautiful things. It’s the ethos that underpins your brand that makes your offerings unique - and how you present this to your followers. This is why the prompts of the campaign revolve around slightly more obscure elements of your business that you may not usually consider sharing with your followers. It demonstrates how even the most mundane area is an opportunity to tell people about your values and what makes you tick. Giving people an inside view into how you pull together your brand is what helps to identify you as a trustworthy and approachable business.
For example, two of the prompts Joanne has added into the 2019 edition are ‘Reducing Waste’ and ‘Packaged’ - right up the street of our customers! As we have talked about many times before on this blog, packaging says much more about you as a creator than you might think. It’s as tangible an expression of your brand as your product range itself, and so it matters just as much in your social media content! Packaging, in particular, is something that Joanne is conscious of in her own operations:
“It’s the first thing you see when you receive a package! At the moment I have tissue paper and paper bags for my orders, but it’s nothing too fancy and I’m okay with that! I’m trying to cut down on unnecessary waste where I can. Although I do enjoy receiving a pretty, well-packaged parcel, I do feel bad about throwing it away. I think that more and more people are becoming more environmentally aware and becoming more conscious about what they’re placing in orders.”
In sum, it’s those less obvious marketing tools at your disposal which will really take your branding to the next level!
The Wrap Up:
With the makers movement taking off and a growing consumer demand for handmade goods, #MarchMeetTheMaker is a great opportunity to showcase what you have to offer as a creator and a small business. Check out the campaign at marchmeetthemaker.com!