Avoiding the Three Common Marketing Mistakes

Creating your products is just the beginning of having a thriving product-based business.  Marketing, which is the next important component in your business, encompasses a wide range of techniques and tips that I will not go into here.  Let’s just address the three most common marketing mistakes.

Artsy Shark’s guest blogger Kimberly Houston describes the 3 mistakes as follows:

The Three Marketing Mistakes

The three marketing mistakes are: #1, not knowing who your ideal clients/collectors are #2, not knowing what your USP (unique selling proposition, or what I call your “meaningful difference”) is, which leads to #3: generic website copy that lacks a clear, persuasive marketing message, the kind that compels your visitors to stick around and explore your website, your work, and become interested in buying.

Let’s address each of these mistakes individually:

Not knowing who your ideal clients/collectors areAvoiding the Three Common Marketing Mistakes

You need to conduct your marketing in an orderly fashion.  In other words, once you develop a product or line of products, you don’t start out with trying to pitch Walmart on stocking your items.  I highly recommend you first exhibit at a farmer’s market, craft fair, or mall kiosk.  These venues are typically affordable and will allow you to connect one-on-one with your potential customers.  While you engage with your customers, you will hear wonderful comments and feedback that help you discover who your ideal customers are and hear some interesting suggestions on how to make your products more saleable.

Not knowing what your USP (unique selling proposition, or what I call your “meaningful difference”)

Along with discovering who your ideal customer is, developing your unique selling proposition is the next important step in your marketing process. Your USP is the ‘meaningful difference’ that makes your product stand out from the other products in the marketplace.

So what is different about what you create?  Maybe you use organic or specialized ingredients in your gourmet food products; or you use an antique method for creating your handcrafted items; or maybe you use special-cut gems or minerals in your jewelry.  These are all USP that should be included in your marketing materials.

Generic website copy that lacks a clear, persuasive marketing message, the kind that compels your visitors to stick around and explore your website, your work, and become interested in buying.

Nothing deters sales more, in my opinion, than looking at a website that screams buy me, buy me to anyone scrolling through your site.  Your first page, in particular, should speak to your ideal customer explaining your unique selling proposition.  People need a reason WHY to buy your products!  What will your items do for THEM?

Read the full article for more tips

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When Should You Plan Your Product Releases?

The first quarter of every new year is probably the best time to plan new product releases.

Retailers are always looking for new items — which does not mean they plan to replace their best sellers!  Buyers are constantly on the look-out for When Should You Plan Your Product Releases?new and unique products — especially if they are a smaller or locally owned shop.

According to The Arts Business Institute…

Most retail stores depend on repeat customers. Those shoppers come in to see the latest and greatest new merchandise that the store has to offer. If they keep seeing the same old merchandise, they move on to new pastures.

NOTE:  This is also true for buyers.  If they keep seeing the same old products that aren’t selling well in their stores, they will move on to a new line of items.

Stores also need to replace slow selling lines that they no longer wish to carry. This means the store must keep moving forward with updated designs and new lines on a regular basis. As one of their vendors (or as a prospective vendor) you must keep this in mind and have new collections for them.

Although stores look for new items year round, the best time to introduce new products is in the early winter when buyers are restocking for the new year.  Often, this is also the time for most winter trade shows where some buyers attend in the hopes of finding new products for their stores.

The Arts Business Institute goes on the explain…

Wholesale buying goes in cycles – and that cycle will depend on your industry. Is Christmas a big selling season for your line? The new release for fall and winter should be ready to display and take orders in June or July at the trade shows, when those orders will be placed.

January is another perfect time for new product releases, as the buyers must fill their shelves after the holiday season – and they will be on the lookout for fresh merchandise! The next time a buyer asks, “What’s new?” you will have an exciting collection ready to present, and sell.

Although we are late in the buying season, my Idaho Gifts Wholesale site continues to generate orders and will probably continue until May or so. Trends depend on your product line and the type of stores you sell to.  Nothing is written in stone — these are just guidelines!

Read the full Arts Business Institute article

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What are the Important Elements of a Website

Website and web marketing has exploded in the 16 years since I created my first website!  At that time, web templates were expensive and greatly limited to those, like me, who did not want to hire a webmaster.

Today, most e-commerce sites are fairly simple to create and are affordable for nearly any small business.

But what are the important elements of your website?

Artsy Shark features an artist perspective on setting up your own website.  Here are his tips:

What are the most important elements that every artist website must have?

There are many elements that an artist website needs to have and the complete list is too long to reproduce in this article.  However, the top ones are as follows:

  1. a simple way to join the artist’s email list
  2. a design that allows for easy viewing of high-quality images of your artworks and products
  3. clear call to action on what steps to take next if interested in purchasing
  4. a professional design that works seamlessly on mobile devices
  5. hosting on your own domain name
  6. served securely over https (especially starting in July of 2018)

There are several more elements that you should have to achieve your goal of projecting a professional image, but just nailing these six would get you quite far.

Our first website is still hosted on the original template we purchased many years ago:  Idaho Gifts Wholesale.  Although the site was fairly easy to use, you can probably see that the ‘bells and whistles’ are limited.  And the site is not the most appealing site on the web.  Since I am only targeting specific wholesale customers, I chose to leave the site on the old (and outdated) platform.

A few years ago we discovered 3DCart. We fell in love with the platform and migrated two of our e-commerce website to 3DCart.  It was one of the best decisions we made that year!

If you would like to check them out, here they are:

Before we decided on 3DCart, we checked out several other e-commerce options and found them wanting in one form or another.

Here are some of the feature-rich, “off the shelf” shopping cart features we enjoy with 3DCart:

• REASONABLE pricing!
• Effective RETAIL AND WHOLESALE pricing — on the same website!
• Ability to drop ship directly from vendors – with Automatic Notifications to them!
• An INTEGRATED affiliate program!
• ROBUST shipping options!
• An integrated GIFT REGISTRY!
• An integrated Auto-Responder email system!
• Rich SEO (Search Engine Optimization) options!
• Integration with major SOCIAL MEDIA

If you are interested in more information on 3DCart check out the following articles:

 

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Best Email List Opt-In Options

I’ve read tons of information on-line on why to have an email list and how to write a good email, but what about how to get visitors to your website to sign up for your email list.

Artsy Shark offers some of the following options:

How do you gather email subscriber names and emails Best Email List Opt-In Optionsonline?

Your website should have an opt-in form, preferably popping up when visitors come to your website. That opt-in form needs to give them a reason to subscribe to your email campaigns … Here are some incentives artists have used to gain subscribers:

  • Subscribe to get an exclusive preview of your newest work
  • Subscribe to receive free shipping on first purchase
  • Subscribe to be invited to VIP events
  • Subscribe to receive invitations to your shows and fairs
  • Subscribe to receive a discount on first purchase
  • Subscribe to get a free download of your art to use as wallpaper

Other options to build your email list would include the following (that I have personally used:

  1. Offer a free report or tips sheet
  2. Offer a limited email subscription to an industry-related ‘How To” series
  3. Offer a list of industry-related tools

The options are endless, if you give it much thought.  In my case, I just needed to remember what challenges I faced when I first started in the field and what I wished I knew at the time that I know now!

There are plenty of email service providers to chose from and each supplies instructions and tutorials on how to use them — so I won’t go into that at this time.  But I will refer you to the Artsy Shark article for more information on where to place your sign up forms:

Where else can you place opt-in forms on your website?

A popup form is a nice start, but there are actually lots of other places on your website where you can solicit email subscribers. Here are some of them:

  • Place a subscriber offer in a colored bar that sits above the header at the very top of your Home page.
  • Put a subscriber link or form in a sidebar if you have that in your site layout.
  • Place a subscription offer on your About page.
  • Place a subscription offer on your Contact page.
  • Create a full “landing page” on your website for the purpose of attracting subscribers, telling your story, sharing your art, and extending your offers.
  • Got a blog? Ask subscribers to sign up through a link at the bottom of the article.
  • Or, place a subscriber request in the middle of a blog post.

Make sure to read the full article

 

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Promoting Your Website

Promoting your website, along with your products or services, is a number one prioirity for small business.  In the sea of wholesale/retail, a small producer can get lost among the ‘big boys’ of retail.

Long gone are the days of ‘build it and they will come’ with websites and online marketing.  Back 14 or so years ago when I first went online with my wholesale and retail business, a good URL, a few keys words, listing in the Promoting Your Websitesearch engines was all you really need to drive customers to your shop.  Not anymore!!

Listing tips to marketing your website now can easily fill a book!  But instead of a book, I want to share Alyson Stanfield’s article:

20 Ways to Lure People to Your Website

Add some of these ideas to your marketing mix for more eyes on your art (and creative products).

Best, Basic Practices

1. Write a newsletter article with a hook, which requires recipients to visit your site to read the end of the article.

2. In your emails and social media posts, tell people why they should click. What’s in it for them? Why should they interrupt their focus and visit your site?

3. Give something away to people who visit your site and sign up for your list.

4. Mention your website address on your voicemail.

5. Add your website address to the back or underside of your art (or on your label)! If an attached piece of paper disappears, the website will still be with the piece….

6. Blog regularly. People are more likely to return if they know there is going to be fresh content…..

Alyson’s list goes on to suggest Social Media Stradegies and other excellent suggestions.  Make sure to read the full article.

Other techniques I use to promote my website, in addition to Alyson’s suggestions:

  • Adding my URL to my email signature.
  • Posting appropriate information on industry facebook pages and groups where I am an active member (notice I said ‘active member’!).
  • Setting up a LinkedIn account with my website contact info.
  • Cross promoting with my ‘competitors’ (which are mostly my friends in the industry).
  • Handing out my business cards (which include my website URL) at industry related events and shows.
  • Offering personalized services where possible….

Of course, the list is endless, but there should be a few suggestions you can implement immediately!

Note:  If you do not have your own website, let me encourage you to set one up as soon as possible.  I consistantly use 3DCart for my product based businesses.  Here is my review of the software:

Amazing E-Commerce Shopping Cart Software

Building Your Own Website

 

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