Got ten minutes? Here are some quick marketing tips that work

ten minute marketing tips, perfect balance marketing, mini-goals clock MaryKateMcDevitt{mini goals clockboard by MaryKateMcDevitt}

by Lucy Thornton of Perfect Balance Marketing

Last month, Joanne Gilbert wrote an inspiring post on OMHG about how to get involved with the local community to gain customers.  Many of her suggestions were free and took just a few minutes to do.

So I got thinking.

If you’re anything like me, you have a list – maybe it’s a neat and tidy numbered list of to-dos, maybe it’s crumpled scraps of paper stuffed in your bag with urgent tasks scribbled on each, maybe it’s a virtual list that is managed by your Blackberry.  Or maybe it’s just a vague panicky feeling that you’ve got a lot to do.

While life is happening around us, it can be difficult to find time to put together a plan to promote our products.

So here are five things you can do this week, each taking just ten minutes, that can bring more sales for your business.

1.   Make them an offer

If you’re a regular reader of Perfect Balance Marketing, you’ll know I like to make offers.  That’s because the more offers I make, the more sales I make.  Try it for your business and see what happens.  First off, send an email to your previous customers, thanking them for their business and telling them about your latest product range.Include a clickable link to one of your new products, where they can get a 10% discount if they purchase within the next 24 hours – this encourages them to take immediate action and drives traffic back to your site. Just be sure that your offer is genuine – if you say it’s 10% off, you need to offer it for sale at full price on your website.  If you lose their trust, you’ll rarely get it back.

2.   Spread the word

One of the challenges of building a business is getting people to know about it.  While you’re quietly creating masterpieces in your workshop (or your kitchen, your garage or dining room) and adding them to your website, nobody knows about it unless you tell them. Social media is one way (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) but if you don’t already have those set up, you’ll need a bit longer than ten minutes, so let’s look instead at the more traditional ways.

Keep business cards with you (one of Joanne’s tips) and give them to anyone who admires that lovely stylish bag you‘re carrying, or the pretty cobalt blue earrings that match your eyes (that you made!).

You could also drop a pile off at relevant local retailers or community venues.  Perhaps you sell handmade soft toys – leave some cards at the local library, where parents may visit with their children.  Maybe you make hand-painted wooden frames – leave some business cards at the local school.

ten minute marketing tips, hooray for you, perfect balance marketing{congrats card via orange twist}

3.   Take the praise

Look back over your previous sales and collate positive feedback into one single document.  This way, you have a wealth of testimonials to use next time you are writing a sales letter, talking to a potential customer at a craft fair, or writing a promotional brochure. Plus they’re great to use in your product descriptions.

Compare the following:

1.  The bag is made from canvas, with two internal pockets and an adjustable strap.

2.  “The bag is perfect!  It’s tough enough to carry all of my baby’s essentials and looks stylish enough to take to the office – my friends are all after one.  Please bring out a matching journal!” Sarah, 27, London

Which is more effective?  You can’t beat a detail-rich endorsement from a customer, so when you get one, use it (with their permission of course).

4.   Picture perfect

While flicking through Red magazine in the hairdresser’s last week, I came across a full-page advert, featuring a bright red post box in a little country lane, with brightly wrapped Christmas gifts stacked next to it – it was advertising a stationery store that sold wrapping paper, cards and string online.  It struck me as a wonderful piece of advertising: simple, striking, effective.  The colours of the gifts were bright, the environment impressive, the framing perfect.

When photographing your products, how often do you go outside?  Next time you go to the park, or the beach, or the countryside, take the camera and some of your products, and capture a few photos of them in a different setting.

Make the most of the natural light.  Look at the colours, the lighting, the shadows, the sky, and have some fun with it.

Get up high and photograph from above, get down on the ground and photograph upwards, using the blue sky as a backdrop.  Shoot through the trees, through a fence, through the long grass.

Even though you won’t use all photos in advertising your business, you can still make good use of them.  Use the pictures in a blog post giving your readers an insight into a photo shoot on location in [insert name of town/beach/city] or tweet about your day out photographing your products.

5.   Ask what they want

The idea of ‘market research’ to many of us conjures up images of clipboards, over-eager researchers and lengthy questionnaires.  Ewww.  But if done properly, the insight you can gain is priceless.

What is the one question you’d like answered about your business?  Perhaps how your customers find you?  Or why they buy from you rather than your competitors?  Or maybe you’d like to know which elements of your designs are most important to them? Whatever it is, once you’ve identified it (and you can do this in your head while doing the school run, having a bath, or shopping in your local supermarket) you can ask your customers and others like them to give you the answer.

Use online forums to start a discussion; email your customers and ask them your question; ask colleagues, friends and family what they think.

Still not sure you’ve got the time to market your business?

Time is a resource that few of us can squander, but by focusing on just a few key activities, you’ll  be surprised what a difference you can make to your sales. And if you’re still not comfortable trying any of those, try Joanne’s suggestion and join a group of artists in your town – great for sharing the challenges of small businesses and meeting people who get why you do what you do.

Or join the OMHG community here and add a comment below – I’d love to hear what you find most difficult about marketing your business, so join the discussion and I’ll write a post about the most popular (or unpopular!) issues.

Byline: Lucy Thornton, founder of Perfect Balance Marketing, helps small craft businesses grow, by building relationships and helping business owners spread the word about their products.  Check out her free ebook ‘41 Fresh Marketing Ideas for Your Business’ or grab the RSS feed from her website here.  From her home in Cornwall, England, Lucy helps businesses build their sales through social media strategy and effective copy.

  • http://www.punkinthreads.blogspot.com Melissa

    Great article, thank you! My biggest challenge is engaging people with social media. I know 20% should be self promotion and 80% content, giving something to your followers.

    People who ‘like’ me on facebook are potential buyers (but honestly just the same people that i’m friends with my personal account). And people that may end up following my blog are crafters.

    Facebook followers don’t care about the newest Anna Maria Horner fabric that I just can’t get enough of. And people who may follow my blog, wont really care about purchasing products, because they can just make it themselves!

    And of course time….always gets in the way doesn’t it!? 🙂

  • http://www.anotherdonkeydesign.com.au kate @ another donkey design

    Great article- you make it all sound so easy! I have issues accepting praise and handing out my business card – but I am going out tonight and will make sure i take some with me!
    One thing i do with offers is put a one month voucher in when i send out all my items to encourage repeat business.

  • http://drawntoletters.etsy.com Joanne

    Lucy thanks so much for the extra nod and new tips. I will be paying more attention to my repeat customers and adding more quotes to my listings. Thanks!

  • http://newjerseyknits.etsy.com allie

    right now, for me, it’s the motivation of the pursuit. I’m not sure i’m ready to be fully committed to my sweet little shop.

    If I decide YES it’s time, then I want to be able to do it whole heartedly. I’d imagine that the hardest part of marketing would just be finding the time and realizing that marketing is just as much of your business as the product you sell.

    In the meantime, i’m storing all of these tips in my head and as bookmarks for when i make my decision 🙂

  • http://www.relique.co.nz Julia Banks of Relique Vintage Jewellery

    Your posts are so interesting and always get me thinking. The hardest thing I find about running an online shop is to think of effective marketing that will turn traffic into sales. I do markets a couple of times a year and get a lot of customers saying they are weary of buying online because they are not sure what they will get. I offer a money back guarantee and have past customer testimonials but I still get a lot of traffic that should turn into the checkout isle but dont at the last minute???

  • http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com Lucy Thornton

    Hi Melissa – just checked out your blog & your makes are just gorgeous (couldn’t see a link to your shop though – until I checked out ‘contact’ – don’t forget to add a prominent link your blog when your shop’s stocked up!).

    You can change your blog readers to potential buyers by changing what you write about – things that are interesting to your target audience. If they’re moms, write about weaning, sleep routines, getting ‘me’ time, encouraging creativity in your child, where to buy great kids’ clothes, etc.

    I can’t help much with lack of time (if only I could!) but I’m publishing a post next week on how to use facebook to get customers – subscribe to Perfect Balance Marketing so you don’t miss it.

    PS And if you get a min, check out one of my previous guest posts about getting to know your customer – http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/2010/contributors/how-to-increase-your-sales-by-187-or-%E2%80%98the-one-with-the-customer%E2%80%98/

  • http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com Lucy Thornton

    Thanks Kate – it definitely isn’t easy but it is possible – I love your voucher idea – what results do you get? Do the vouchers get used?

    PS You should take the praise – your shop is gorgeous (especially the sailor fabric gift tags!)

    And if it’s easier, pretend the products you make are made by your best friend – then you’ll find you’re bubbling with enthusiasm about them and more than happy to hand out business cards about them! And let us know how you get on tonight taking a handful with you, Lucy

  • http://www.weddingbellsofky.biz Kim C

    Since my business rarely ever deals with repeat customers (I plan and coordinate weddings) I have trouble constantly marketing to new clients.

  • http://darlingpressandstationers.com Alia

    I love articles like this! I always finish reading them with a feeling of “what can I do right now??!” I’m really looking forward to a whole month of business improvement emails showing up in my inbox. Thank you so much!

    My biggest struggle right now is getting people to come to our website and sign up for newsletters/blog following. Once I feel like I have a substantial audience I will feel more confident about sending the love to everyone. Currently, that’s my biggest business struggle (well, maybe not the biggest struggle, but it’s certainly one of my biggest goals).

    Thanks again for all this great information!

  • http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com Lucy Thornton

    Hi allie – totally understand the attraction of building up your business slowly until you’re ready to concentrate on it.

    At this stage, probably a good idea make contacts, build up a base of potential customers, & find your niche – then when you’re ready to push the business, you already have an army of potential customers.

    Thanks Julia – glad you like the post – converting traffic is always a challenge.

    Think about having a targeted landing page that people come to when they click links outside your site.
    – have a clear call to action on that site
    – highlight your guarantee
    – include testimonials on product pages

    What path might people may take when they arrive on your site?
    eg. landing page – product pages – testimonials – money back guarantee – back to product page – buy!

    Help them follow this path with clear links so they can’t get lost.

    When you do markets do you collect customer data? Once they’ve seen your products in the flesh, they may be more likely to purchase at a later date, so get their details if possible & keep in touch.

    Can I refer you back to a previous post on OMHG (see link below) – when you know who your customer is, you can hang out where they do (online), build your reputation & establish trust – then when traffic lands on your site it’s already aware of what you do.

    http://www.ohmyhandmade.com/2010/contributors/how-to-increase-your-sales-by-187-or-%E2%80%98the-one-with-the-customer%E2%80%98/

    Same for Kim – who’s your customer? Be where they are, use social media to establish a reputation as an expert in your field, & offer incentives for recommendations.

    Good luck with it and if you need any help check out my latest Little Black Business Notebook: http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com/you-love-your-customers/ (discount for first 100 buyers!) Lucy

  • http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com Lucy Thornton

    Wow – long reply – sorry! Just get a bit carried away when talking to people about their businesses!

  • http://www.relique.co.nz Julia Banks of Relique Vintage Jewellery

    Thanks Lucy! Will put all those into action now 🙂

  • http://www.beaderbubbe.blogspot.com Beader Bubbe

    Thanks for the advice. Every little bit helps. I just tried one, the 10% discount…am calling it Mad Mondays, will post on Mondays a blog with a link to an item and will give 24 hours to purchase for discount. Will let you know how it goes….starts tomorrow…

  • http://whatsoeveryedo.blogspot.com Miss Sarah

    Thanks for the tips. Marketing is my weak point. I love to sew and create special outfits especially for little girls, but marketing is hard. I’m shy and pushing my business is definitely out of my comfort zone!!

    You mentioned leaving business cards around town. Do you know any specific places that usually let you do that? I’ve thought I’d like to do it, but I don’t have any idea where.

  • http://www.perfectbalancemarketing.com Lucy Thornton

    Good luck beader bubbe – hope your promo goes well. Let us know!

    miss sarah – be brave – see if your local primary schools would mind pinning some to a noticeboard in reception, or ask your local post office (they have info boards in the window), or supermarket, or maybe the library, or leisure centre – anywhere your potential customers go. You know where I am if you want any help pushing your makes, Lucy