A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending Makers Summit in downtown Greenville at the ONE building. My main goal in attending was to network with entrepreneurs and learn about how they design, produce and make.

What Is a “Maker”

Simply put, a maker is a producer of handcrafted goods. Makers may not craft every aspect of their product, but they do directly oversee design and production. A maker can be a potter, calligrapher, fashion designer, jeweler, baker, painter, candle maker, or any other 2D or 3D artisan.

What is a Makers Summit

Makers Summit was started by the Makers Collective in 2013 as “an annual business conference for creative entrepreneurs”. The Makers Collective connects artists with the community through their festivals and pop-ups like the Indie Craft Parade, which they launched in 2008.

For the summit, makers gathered from across the country to learn how to promote themselves and their craft, increase sales, and network with other makers. I was impressed by the reach of the summit as I met people from across the Southeast, Texas, and even Minnesota.

The two-day summit focused on teaching attendees to navigate the world of entrepreneurship through keynote speeches, panel discussions, makers talks, peer groups, workshops and one-on-one expert sessions. This year the speakers included: Phil Sanders from Citizen Supply, Jen Gotch from ban.do, Jeni Britton Bauer from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and Matthew Moreau from Dapper Ink and The Landmark Project. Attendees had the opportunity to customize their schedule by choosing the expert session and the workshops they attended.

While I learned a lot at Makers Summit, it also reinforced a number of things that I already knew, especially that everything is made better with pie (Friday’s schedule included an amazing mid-day pie break from Pie Bar!). Below are my top three takeaways from my time spent with makers from all walks of life and stages of their business.

makers summitTakeaways From Makers Summit

1) Telling Your Story Connects You With Your Audience

I mean, we all knew this, right? I heard this advice repeated all weekend long. Everyone said some variation of “storytelling is important to branding”. My job at EVG is to help craft high-quality content to tell a brand’s story. It was really affirming to hear this same focus on storytelling encouraged, as it is what I work on with my clients day in and day out.

Consumers want to hear your story. They want to connect with your brand and know more about what you do and why. They want to see the process and feel invested in the product. Tell your story! Be a part of the marketing! Write blogs, create newsletters, take pictures. Share this content with your consumers and allow them to engage with your brand.

2) Brand Consistency Is Crucial To Setting Consumer Expectations

Jen Gotch said that she got tired of her company’s use of bright colors, so she created a line that was primarily black. Sales tanked. Why? She deviated from what customers wanted and expected from her brand.

Brand consistency lets your audience know what they can expect from you. You may get sick of your brand and posting the same type of images or using the same colors, but your consumers won’t get sick of it. They want consistency.

3) Use Your Company Mission Statement as a Guiding Force

One of the reasons I fell in love with Jeni Britton Bauer, aside from her ice cream, was the way that she clearly, unequivocally, lives her company’s mission statement. She truly wants to set the standard for American ice creams. It was refreshing and inspiring. And it wasn’t just Bauer. Others said that when they failed it was because they lost sight of the mission, and they repeated the importance of having, and adhering to, the company’s mission.

You will fail but learn from those experiences. Figure out what your mission/vision is and work toward that every day. Stay true to who you are an what you want to be doing.

Go Out and Make

After the summit was over, I was ready to go create consistent, branded content and write mission statements for everyone! Sometimes we get stuck in the details and the doldrums of every day, working life. It is important to refuel and recharge. During his speech, Phil Sanders asked, “What is the one thing that only you can do?” In other words, find the thing that you are good at and do it. Then find others who can do the marketing and the accounting so you can focus all your energy on that one thing.

What are you making? Do you need help with the other pieces? Let us know how we can help you create.

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