Simple tips to help your online marketing…
Selling your own handmade items can be a profitable way to turn a hobby into a viable business – using the power of the Internet. But, as powerful as the World Wide Web may be, it’s hard to get noticed by potential customers when there are thousands of other people trying to get their attention too. Just how can you harness this to work for you and your business?
You may have the best products in the world, but how can you successfully let the world know about it if everyone is shouting at once? If your potential customers don’t know you exist – they aren’t going to buy from you. Simple right? Maybe so. But, as simple as it seems – it is a very real problem that faces many independent crafters with online stores. Whether you’re selling bespoke gift cards or grunge jewellery – you need to find a successful marketing mix and use the right tools to help you along the way.
So, just how can you go from zero to hero with little-to-no budget to invest in online marketing? Using relevant tools and tech available to you, you can make the difference between your business flourishing or flopping. There is never a definitive answer when it comes down to marketing your own online business, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy. It needs to be as unique as your business is. You may be an expert in your craft, but have no clue about successful marketing. So what do you need to do?
There are 5 points that you should address even before you decide to set up shop – and they all start with a ‘W’. They may seem obvious, but you may be surprised at the amount of questions these points then generate themselves. The 5 ‘W’s’ should act as core business questions, and you need to ensure you can answer each one to lay solid foundations before you add in a marketing strategy. So, let’s take a deeper look into what they each mean;
What are you going to be selling? Identify the type of products that you want to stock, and set them to a theme that matches your brand. If you’re selling jewellery, for example, do all of your pieces fall into a general theme? If not, perhaps you should consider setting up collections. If you sell one off pieces, why not focus your brand around you as a designer? Establish a tone for your business.
TIP – Take a notepad and a pen and begin to draw what you think your business would like like if it was a person. Are they serious? Glam? Quirky? This can be a fun little exercise to also help determine who you’re going to be selling to. Which takes us to…
Who are you expecting to want to buy your product? How old are they? What is their income? Are they likely to be tech savvy – would they have a Twitter account, or Instagram? Perhaps they’d be more likely to warm to a Facebook group. Identifying your target audience is crucial before you can start figuring out where you want to market your items. Do you have an awareness of the kind of messages these people will be receptive to? If you’re not a member of your target audience – chances are you won’t. You’ll need to research similar companies’ tactics to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
Where will you be selling your items? Are you going to sell on a platform such as eBay or Etsy or do you intend to set up your own website? Perhaps you’ll need to employ web designers? There are pros and cons to both – and you need to accurately weigh them up before you make a concrete decision. Are you going to ship globally, or in a specific location? If you only ship to the UK, you’ll want to make sure you aren’t promoting to non-UK residents inadvertently. Are you going to focus on one particular Social Media channel, such as Facebook, or are you going to cast the net wider to cover 3 or 4?
When are you going to launch your store? When will you promote your items, and how long for? If you aren’t initially able to set up paid advertising, you won’t be able to choose targeting and times. Does this mean you are going to be more active during the night, or throughout the day?
Why are you going to do the above? What will be the results? For example, if you decide you want to use Instagram – is this because you believe your target audience are actively looking to purchase on there, or just for brand awareness? Any time you invest into promoting your business should be justified. Make sure you have targets in mind for every element of promotion that you choose.
Top Tech Tools
Knowing how to use Social Media, send emails, and take photographs is just the tip of the iceberg. How can you maximise on all of these skills and turn them into money-makers? Here’s a few of my favourite tools to get yourself marketing your online store.
All of these are free for basic versions, which should be more than enough whilst you test them out.
1. Email: MailChimp
In this day and age, email is one of the top methods businesses use to get in touch with their customers – not only is it quick, it is also cost effective. You’re probably signed up to some of your favourite store’s emails’ yourself – what attracts you to them? Have you ever made a purchase directly from an email? What would make you remove yourself? These are questions you need to consider when creating your own email campaigns. Building a mailing list and sending out exclusive offers, new product info and news can be great to drive sales. But there are cons, too.
You don’t want thousands of people on your list who probably won’t go on to purchase – quality is everything. Offer an incentive for people to join your list. This could be a percentage off their first order, or a free delivery code. This way only the people who would consider themselves as potential customers will join your list. Giveaways are quite popular to entice people to sign up to a mailing list – but is this really going to attract relevant people? You want these people to stay on your list and ultimately, make a purchase.
MailChimp is a powerful, yet simple to use, email marketing platform. For a beginner, it is perfect. You can have up to 1,000 subscribers before you have to pay a subscription fee – which should be more than enough for you to get started and start to see the results.
MailChimp uses a simple step-by-step process to get your emails set up. When you’re producing the email, it’s simple drag and drop editor is the perfect set up for even a beginner to use. Here’s a couple of screenshots with a test email showing the initial set up page and the editor in action.
2. Photography: PicCollage (App)
You don’t need to be a trained photographer to take photographs that sell products. Most smartphones these days have a more than adequate camera quality, at least for when you’re starting out! Play around with what you have and read up on how to get the best results.
Product photography may work for your website images, but you need to go one step further to stand out on Social Media. One of my favourite apps is PicCollage, it’s a simple yet effective app allowing you to combine multiple images together, clip out sections of your images to create ‘stickers’, add text – and much more. The free version does add a subtle watermark, however you can turn this off by paying $1.99 (around £1.27) which I’d recommend. There’s a cheeky way around paying this which involves simultaneously pressing two buttons on your phone – but I wouldn’t want to encourage that…
This app is brilliant if you’re planning on using Instagram, but also helps create pretty visuals that people will want to engage with for other Social Media channels.
Get it here for iPhone and iPad
or here for Android devices.
3. Workload Management – Trello
Running your own business can leave you rushed off your feet. With so many things to manage, it’s easy to forget things that need to be done. This is where Trello steps in and makes everything a breeze. Trello is a dashboard that lets you set up tasks in handy ‘to-do’ list styles. You can open up these task cards and add notes, dates (it will alert you if the deadline is running out), and even invite other people to join the list.
This can make organising your workload much easier, and even works for your home life too. I’ve used it to collect recipes, shopping lists, voucher codes and more. It’s completely free to use. Here’s a little look at one of my ‘boards’ and how you could make it work for you. Handy, huh?
Although running an online business can be difficult at the best of times, hopefully putting some of these things into place will help you achieve success in your venture. Don’t be disheartened if certain things don’t work for you – tried and tested is always the most reliable method. Keep on moving forward with your marketing efforts and you’re sure to see the rewards!
Are there any tools you currently use that aren’t on this list?
Drop me a comment below!
Speak to you all soon,