In an effort to explore the marketing challenges today’s small business owners have, here is the second of many interviews exploring a variety of businesses and companies. The goal here is to listen to what they have to say about their world, find out what marketing works for them and find out what how that can help others.
2010 E. Hennepin Ave. Suite #04-023 Minneapolis, MN 55413
Curt Goodrich is a lucky guy. He happens to be a craftsman doing what he has the talent and passion to do; Curt Goodrich is a custom bicycle frame builder. His talent is renown across the country. His frames are highly desirable works of art. They are built to provide their owners exactly the ride desired. Curt delivers frame sets that he has handcrafted from start to finish to those used to waiting in line.
Curt has been building frames since 1995, either for other brands or for his own. That’s a long time to hone your craft. Now he is building his frames in a largely artist community, in NE Minneapolis. His studio has the feel of production; tools and sandpaper cover workspace. Big tooling machinery en-circle a single bike stand holding a bare-metal steel frame.
Curt understands the minds of his clients. He understands their desire for something significantly different than the usual fare, the boring brands that fill the bike shops across the country. His customers are connoisseurs of the craft. And this works to his benefit; they are a determined bunch. They will ride what they currently own, but will eventual settle for their desires. Sure, they expect perfection and Curt can deliver, but they’ll wait for it.
So Curt’s marketing challenge is simple: To stay in front of these people; be present so that when they are ready to purchase, they’ll come to him. That might take a long time- a year, maybe longer, but these are big purchases.
Curt’s marketing plan is two-fold: a website that functions as the main communication tool and the support of a racing team that brings to life his brand on a local and national level.
Curt recently redesigned his website. It is now a harder working tool, interacting with his customers. It requires consistent updating and is built to stay “current”. But other than time, it costs him very little.
Curt’s sponsored race team requires significantly more effort, but not from Curt himself. The team is an outreach to the local community that may not know Curt Goodrich as a brand name. Curt hand picked racers who are community pillars, rather than flash-in-the-pan successes. He goal is to bring attention to the older, smarter crowd (his audience). Success comes easy to the team and to Curt, who now has a state champion on his team.
Curt realizes his audience makes this big decision only once-in-a-while. They find a connection with Curt’s brand and desire his craftsmanship. Not unlike an artist, his skills are highly valued. And to the collecting crowd, or to the racing audience, Curt’s bikes are something to desire.
However, Curt is not immune to the economic tumbles. Last year, Curt received the highest award for the off-road-bike category at the annual National Hand Built Bicycle Show. His brand and workmanship received national attention in major publications, both national and international. Pictures and stories were published, but to this point, not a single frame has yet been sold due all that attention.
In the end, this attention will build’s Curt’s brand as a national talent and this is not lost on Curt. The trick for Curt has been to turn that attention into sales. And for his customers, this spectacle supports the desires to invest in Curt’s talents.
If you are interested in checking out Curt’s talent as a bike builder, head to his website and poke around. If you wonder about his quality, look at the bike that won the MN state championship for the 45+ category.