Saturday, July 17, 2010

"Everybody Wants One. . . Everybody Needs One"

Jackie Wampler
Promoting and marketing your product is key to sales. If people don't know what you have to sell, well, they can't buy it. So a big part of the business falls into the promotion and marketing of your product--what you are selling. We are selling paper dolls and other paper creations as well as some fabric creations. A number of promotional and marketing techniques are available but we have to consider how much we can afford in terms of money and get the biggest bang for our buck.

After you get your business plan written, your money accounts in order, and all of your licenses finalized, it is always a good idea to begin deciding to whom you will be selling your product, how you will be selling your product and at what price. How to promote your business is something that you should be thinking about now day and night because with the paperwork under control, your business will need to make money to pay the bills and give you a profit. I know it seems that I talk about money a lot but actually that is a large part of the business side: keeping track of it, selling your products so you can pay for the supplies it takes to make it, and if your business is not home-based like ours you will have in addition rent, utilities, insurance, etc. to pay on a very regular basis. Besides which you will want to make a profit so your business will stay healthy and so you yourself can make money to pay your own personal bills. So as you can see, making money in your business is very important.

If promotion and marketing doesn't happen, even the best product will flounder and die before it even makes an appearance on the market or at least much of one. I am only hitting in a very simple manner some of the strategies of marketing that Megan and I might consider. Entire books are written on this subject so you might go down to your local library and check one out.

First we decided who our customers were; who will be the most likely to buy our product. This might be a good time to think a little while abut your potential consumers and what makes your product different from your competitors. Then think how to get your product out there so these people know about it.

Our target audience--the people most likely to buy our product--will need to have a love for paper dolls and other paper or fabric creations. Others may buy our paper dolls--as gifts for someone else, for their granddaughters, and so on. But mostly the people we target will be those who buy paper dolls and keep them for themselves. So how can we get our product out there?

Etsy has a kind of built in help for us there. Put in paper dolls and we should pop up (just as soon as we get our shop set up on Etsy). Business cards are another way. You never know how much good a small card can do as it journeys its way across the country. Every time someone buys something from you, enclose a business card and for as long as you can time wise a little thank you note is always nice, too. Just good business practices especially starting out when you are an unknown. Also, you can have your web address for your blog on your Etsy store, too. People love to read blogs and see how things are accomplished.

Brochures and flyers are great at craft shows and special events. They don't have to be a lot of work but a little style is nice. You just need to get your business name out there. A newspaper interview would be really great if that can be managed. In a small town it is probably more likely but who knows?

To push your sales higher you could use discounts, free items, or contests. I've seen contests used a lot as well as free items. Using discounts at the beginning is something to think about--can you take less money for your product and still do okay? Hmmm. Maybe, maybe not.

One of the most important things to do is to tell your customers how your product is different from all the other products on the market that are similar to yours and why they should buy it. Good marketing strategies are based on many things but these two ideas are a good place to begin. Marketing can be simple but not for long. So begin to find out all you can about it. Megan and I will be sitting down in the not too distant future to discuss the various ways we want to market our products.

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