When I started in the industry, nothing that I did related to scrapbooking was online. I shopped in my local scrapbook store (I worked there and got a great discount). I only scrapped with paper, not digitally. I did not visit message boards or galleries, and as a very busy graduate student, I wondered who had time to do all of that anyway. I secretly judged those who carried on conversations offline about stuff they read on their favorite message board.
Today, I still rarely visit message boards. I have always found them overwhelming, and still just can’t get over that feeling. But I no longer judge those who do use them.
That’s not the only thing that has changed. I now do a lot of my scrapbook shopping online. I do have a local scrapbook store about 30 minutes from my house, but they do not carry everything I want and I do not always want to drive all over the place to get supplies anymore. I also now dabble in digital scrapbooking.
And of course, I visit blogs. I subscribe to blogs. I write a scrapbooking blog. I love scrapbooking blogs.
It has taken me years to go from exclusively offline scrapbooker, to someone who shops, hangs out, consumes, and even creates online scrapbooking content.
Once we get immersed online, we tend to forget that there is still a whole world of people who are not online. They might have email and a Facebook account, but they do not use the Internet to support their hobby in any way. Those of us online, however, begin equating online scrapbook trends and offline scrapbook trends. I hear it all the time. “Scrapbookers do this….scrapbookers do that…look at how the hobby is evolving…” But then the evidence given is evidence from the online world of scrapbooking. The next sentence might be: “I don’t read the magazines…or attend crops…or shop offline…” If that’s the case, then how do you really know what is going on in the huge offline world? Most likely, you don’t.
It’s easy to get into this mindset, if like me, you have a tendency to think subscribing to a 100+ blogs is something everyone does.
So what’s the point of all of this? Online business owners have to be careful about equating what happens online with what happens offline, and offline business owners should do the same. The reason for this is simple: In order to attract more customers, you need to make sure you are providing something that new customers might want. If I want to grow online, I need to get more people online. If I want to grow offline, I need to figure out what the needs of offline scrapbookers are. In order to access the needs of online and offline scrapbookers, I need to go where these groups are and even though there might be some overlap in their wants and needs, there may be important differences that matter for your business.
Are you ignoring the specific preferences of the offline scrapbookers in your customer base? Maybe you should think about what you can do to better reach them.
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