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.