Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Steering folks to your business...

Okay, so for most of us that are out there selling our handmade products, sales are down. Even if you don’t frequent places like the Etsy forums, Twitter or Facebook, you probably know that based on personal experience. If you’ve had a great selling season and don‘t feel this post will apply to you, “Congratulations!” Now, please tell us what you are doing to make those sales?

We’ve all heard the economy is down, money is tight, folks are not buying the “extras.” BUT, and that’s a big “but“, folks still do need things for everyday living. They still give birthday gifts, wedding gifts, shower gifts, graduation gifts, etc. Their children are still outgrowing their old clothes and toys and need new ones. I haven’t noticed any ladies give up wearing earrings, necklaces or rings because the economy is “tight.” The problem simply seems to be steering
these folks to our businesses.

So, what are you doing about that?

If you frequent the Etsy forums, you’ve heard tons of whining about the almost nonexistent views or the very limited time an item appears at the front of new listings. The fact remains, there are millions of online shoppers who have never heard of Etsy and can’t take a look unless they realize it’s there. The bad economy has actually created a huge number of new sellers on Etsy as folks look for a reasonable means of supplementing their family incomes. Etsy remains one of the least expensive means of selling your work.

This translates into, literally, thousands more listings on a daily basis. Traffic is heavy and items zoom along the new listings pages at an unbelievable pace. I recently watched one of my own new listings appear almost instantaneously on the first page and found it on page 17, less than 9 minutes later!! There is no easy solution to that. If there were a specific viewing time period on that first page for each item, new views would be running days, if not weeks, behind. As it is, folks complain if it takes 15 minutes or so for their new listing to appear.

Whether you have an independent website, an Etsy account, are on 1000 Markets, Artfire, or any of the other hundred or so craft marketing sites, you need to get your customers to the site, in general, and to your personal shop where they can eagerly hand over their cash to you.

You need to step away from that site itself and venture into new sites, meet new friends and tell them about your business and what you’re selling. Invite them in to take a look. Be sure they know where to find you.

If you are not using Twitter, Facebook, My Space, and other social networks, you may actually be hindering your own sales. If you are using those social networking sites, please use them responsibly. They are called “social” and not marketing for a reason.

Don’t jam your business down everyone’s throats 24 hours a day! I, personally, have blocked a number of so called “friends” or “followers” who did nothing but push their product. Many were using automatic posting devices to spam the networks every so many minutes.

We’ve all had acquaintances in the real world that drove us nuts because every sentence they said was a statement promoting themselves. They didn’t want to waste time finding out how your family was, how your day had gone or what you were up to. Haven’t you also dealt with “friends” who began selling products like Tupperware, Amway, Avon, etc. (Don’t get me wrong, these companies all offer excellent products!) and we purposely tried to duck them on regular basis as we didn’t want a sales pitch? Wasn’t the sole purpose behind the Government’s Do Not Call List to stop unsolicited sales pitches?

A rule I follow myself, is that less than 20% of my posts on any of those sites can be business or product related. Know what? Even limiting the self-promotion angle, they are helping get people to my business. BUT, another big “but”, I’m not just counting on my computer to get me customers.

Here's what I'm doing about it:

I’m also doing offline promoting. I’m handing out bookmarks, business cards, free gifts, participating in charity auctions, swag bag opportunities, posting fliers and brochures and working the conversation around to mentioning my business at some point when we are in crowds. (The latter has been coming up naturally lately. Make sure you hang with a few friends who love to rave over your work.)

I have many sales that do not go through my Etsy shop as I do various craft shows, parties and other personal sales. My friends are aware of my ability to customize gifts specifically to their needs and they come to me with such requests.

Again, I'm asking, what are YOU doing about the situation?

1 comment:

readingsully2 said...

The only thing I am not doing right now is selling somewhere else.:)