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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Tips for Promoting your Business

Hi again, 
I posted this blog on but thought you might like to read it, so here goes:

I am going to try and give you some tips for promoting your business, some you may already be using, and hopefully some will be new to you.

Promotion - you may have the best product in the world, at the best price and highest quality, but if nobody knows about it, you will NOT sell it. So how do you promote?

Well there are a number of ways, the most commonly used (and easiest) these days are social network sites; such as twitter and facebook.  Do remember they are social network sites, not just advertising media. Build up a relationship with people, chat to them, get to know them, and them know you. Research shows that people are more likely to buy from people they know and trust.

Have a regular online presence, people that come and go can be perceived as unreliable and that is the last thing you want for your business. If you are going to be away, leave a status telling people or schedule posts/tweets for when you’re away, or alternatively get a friend to do it for you.

Some applications that may help with scheduling are Crowdbooster and Tweetdeck – give them a go, they will cut your work down.

Exposure – Closely linked to promotion; get as much exposure as you can; join lots of different sites. There are loads to chose from, just remember they all take time, don’t over commit yourself, its better to have fewer sites and be on them regularly, then have loads that you hardly ever visit.

Do some local (and maybe not so local) craft fairs, people like to see the face behind the name; and although you may not sell very much, you will get better know, and the one thing people do is talk, make sure they are talking about you (in a positive way of course).

Blog, it lets people get to know you and what makes you tick, also reminds them of your name, (you don’t want to fall into the deepest recesses of their memory); research shows that people only remember 6% of what they are told/read/see unless they are regularly exposed to it; don’t be one of the 94% that gets lost.

Set up a website – it does not need to be expensive, here you have full control over what you sell, what you say, and how you present it. You can also link this to your social network accounts, and maybe even blog from it. I have added a shared links on mine so that I can add sites that I like, and people then do them same for me (increases your exposure again).

Charity donations or running an auction for charity is a great way to get know. People will find you because of the charity (especially if you promote it) and follow you to find out what you’re doing (a well known charity works best as more people can relate to it). Express a personal interest in the charity that you chose, it draws people in. I
 recently ran an auction for Hospice Care and made lots of new friends, both as donators and customers (some have since bought from me) and even got my business name and photo in the Hospice Care magazine; (great exposure).

Customer Service – So important if you want people to recommend you, or become repeat customers. Be helpful, SMILE, accommodate where possible (but don’t take on impossible custom orders – you’ll regret it). Have good follow up procedures in place e.g. an email a week after despatch to check they have received their goods and are happy, maybe a discount voucher for their next purchase. Good packaging is essential; make sure their goods arrive in the condition they left you,

Don’t over charge on p&p people hate it, if necessary add a small amount to the product price to cover for packaging materials, don’t add it to the postage. Always include an invoice or delivery note with your name and contact details on it, makes you come across more professional. Have your details on the outside of the parcel in case it has to come back to you.

Don’t be pushy when selling face to face, but be approachable and friendly, talk passionately about what you do, this can be infectious, if you can get them passionate too, they will buy from you.

Photos/Presentation – well I’m not a photographer (it shows I hear some of you saying – yes I know I need to address this side of my business!!) Remember when selling online, your photos are your shop window. Customers can’t pick up your item and look at it, the photo is all they have to go on, make it as good as you can. Good clear/neutral background is ideal for many things (white is good); just drape paper/cloth (ironed) from your wall across your table and hey presto you have a neutral background ready for professional photos. Some items look better photographed in context, play around until you get what works best for your item. This really is an area a lot of us struggle with (we are crafters not photographers) but it really is important, it’s worth investing some time into (I must follow my own advice lol)

A really bad photo, untidy, disorganised and you can’t even see the quilt properly (seriously I never intended to use this one)
Good natural light is also important, especially in preserving the true colour, the last thing you want is for somebody to receive their item and say “it’s not the same colour as on your website/shop”. It might even be worth noting somewhere that different screen resolutions can lead to varying colour displays.

Another really bad photo, taken at wrong time of day with not enough light

See I can show you want not to do but not so good at showing what it should look like!

This is a better one, but no where near perfect (I’ve got a lot of work to do lol)

If you’re at a Craft fair or similar event, make sure your display looks professional, cover the table (yes the whole table – down to the floor), this looks much tidier and gives you storage room underneath that no one can see. Take boxes/stackers or something similar to put under the cloth, gives it some dimension and allows for better display of your items. Don’t overstock your table as you don’t want it to look like a jumble sale, make sure the items you do put out are clear to see; you can always bring something out from a box under the table if you need to (remember less is more). I sometimes change some of my items over part way through the day so that other stall holders get a wider view of what I have.

Have your name clearly displayed somewhere, people need to know who you are. Have literature ready to hand out, (flyers, brochures, business cards what ever works best for you). I always have a flyer with a discount code, for their first purchase off my website so that it pushes people to take a look at my site; remember you can’t take all your stock to a craft fair, but you want people to see it; encourage them to visit your site (wherever it is, you can put Ebay/Folksy/Website etc on a business card or flyer)

Description – again if you’re selling online this is vital. A good photo with a good description will sell your product. Tell people as much as you can e.g. how you made it, where the idea came from etc; but make sure you clearly describe what it is, what it is for, the materials used, what it is made of and (something a lot of people forget) what size it is; remember pictures can be deceiving; I recently had someone so thrilled because the quilt they brought from me was twice the size they thought it would be. (Again I need to follow my own advice!)

Prices – a hard one this, but my main advice is DON’T PRICE TOO CHEAP. People expect cheap items to be low quality, and unless you are selling very quick easy items (and lots and lots of them) this won’t do your business any good. You need people to appreciate the quality of your work, we are not competing with cheap imports so don’t price as if you are. If an item has a reasonable or cheap price tag, this will reflect in the expectation of the customer. Remember 1 sale with a decent profit/allowance for your time is worth more than 3 sales with hardly any profit.

I am going to stop there as I could go on and on, I may come back and give you some more tips if you’d like me to.

Some sites you might like to try:

Well that’s given you something to do on the internet now! – go check them out, pick the ones that suit you.

Come back and tell us what you think and give us your recommendations, which would be great.

If you have some tips that you think might help us please either comment, or give it a go write a blog.

F xx

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