Author Topic: Looking for marketing/small business hep  (Read 3405 times)

Offline Heinrich

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Looking for marketing/small business hep
« on: December 08, 2016, 01:39:10 PM »
Howdy SD brethren,

Mrs. H makes some pretty nice jewelry sets. She has been hobbying around for a few years and makes a few bucks here and there. We would like to expand this and make it a side business. We need ideas on how to do this.

What we will not do: Etsy. Too expensive and layered. Craigslist: weirdos.
Want to keep trying ebay, but that has never really worked for us. I tried the name brand from thrift stores buy low sell high approach a few years ago and along with Mrs. H's jewelry, ain't nothing sold. I remember Greg lampooning me for not being able to sell on ebay, even offering the anecdote of his neighbor making stone upon stone of sterling selling on ebay. Not sure what the trick is. Open to Ebay, but it is not a priority right now.

We have a name for the company and would like to get cards, a business/tax number, etc. Any other suggestions? Thanks!

--H
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline JubilateDeo

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 02:09:52 PM »
Are there any holiday craft bazaars near you?  Or farmer's markets, or craft fairs?
 
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Offline Lynne

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2016, 02:11:42 PM »
Are there any holiday craft bazaars near you?  Or farmer's markets, or craft fairs?

or possibly consignment shops?

artisan co-ops?
In conclusion, I can leave you with no better advice than that given after every sermon by Msgr Vincent Giammarino, who was pastor of St Michael’s Church in Atlantic City in the 1950s:

    “My dear good people: Do what you have to do, When you’re supposed to do it, The best way you can do it,   For the Love of God. Amen.”
 
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 02:12:50 PM »
Yes! Thanks. Consignment shops, craft shows, and markets are great ideas that we will forward with.
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline Akavit

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 02:14:45 PM »
I'll post more once I'm done with my bookmarks organization.  I've got dozens of links to resources dealing with this sort of thing.

Two brief things to consider for now.

  • Why should anyone buy what you are selling?  What makes you different from the 1,000's of alternatives?
  • How are people going to find you in a sea of similar sites and online stores?

And one piece of advice: don't sell to friends or family.  No prophet is without honor, except in his home town.  People in California will pay me well for a job that the guy next door won't give me $100 to do.  At least that used to be the case.  Once the people in California start buying, the locals suddenly become more interested.  Nobody wants to buy from the local yokels unless they get a bargain.
 
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Offline Lynne

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 02:17:22 PM »
Vista Print is an online company that I've used in the past for inexpensive business cards.

A tax ID number (EIN) is essential for getting your supplies wholesale. You want to reduce, as much as possible, the cost of your materials. You can get one online at irs.gov.

You have lots of write-offs too, when you have a home-based business. Meet with an accountant or at least look for a good book on craft businesses.
In conclusion, I can leave you with no better advice than that given after every sermon by Msgr Vincent Giammarino, who was pastor of St Michael’s Church in Atlantic City in the 1950s:

    “My dear good people: Do what you have to do, When you’re supposed to do it, The best way you can do it,   For the Love of God. Amen.”
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 03:18:31 PM »
Found an interesting video so here's a quick follow-up regarding marketing.

The reason most people fail to do well on sites like Etsy and Ebay is because they rely upon the internal search engines to drive traffic.  The problem is these sites are so loaded with sellers it's impossible to stand out and attract attention.  The better approach is to think of those sites as a shopping cart for customers to check out.  The actual selling happens elsewhere.

So someone sets up an Etsy store and gets zero sales.  Most people give up there but the proper thing to do is start utilizing social media to drive large amounts of traffic from multiple sources to those "checkout" stores.  Marketers call this a "funnel".  You need to spread a wide net that catches as many people as possible and directs them to a single destination.  The best sites to use vary depending upon the target market but Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are classics for artsy products targeting a female clientele.

Youtube is also a great sales tool.  This guy posted a video, got a quarter-million hits and decided to put his idea into production.


I believe I'd contemplated making and selling those since they'd be so easy to crank out on a CNC.  I don't like directly copying other people's ideas though and the barrier to entry for that product is far too low.  Almost anyone can make one.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 03:20:05 PM by Akavit »
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2016, 12:46:11 AM »
Here's a more comprehensive post.

Start by defining stuff.

What are you selling?  A product, a service, a lifestyle image or yourselves?

Product
If you are selling just a product, your customers will be shopping based upon how much value they get per dollar unless you have a monopoly on a unique product.  This will put you in direct competition with China and that is a very hard place to be.  One might think, "I'll just make higher quality goods that are better than China's offerings".  This can work but bear in mind that it's very difficult for a small time producer to build quality goods and keep prices low enough to capture middle class customers.  You're almost forced to sell exclusively to the wealthy at this point.

Service
This is how most successful small businesses escape overseas competition (this is the first half of my own business model).  Think of stuff you can offer that mass-producers cannot provide.  Customization, personal sizing and fitting, customer support, generous return policies, etc.  It takes creativity to think of these things but it helps a lot.

Lifestyle and Image
Many luxury brands (Dolce and Gabbana, Prada, Trump) sell an image that people aspire to achieve.  People pay $350 for Dolce and Gabbana eyeglass frames to belong to a certain type of lifestyle.  The frames themselves are cheaply-made and not that much better than dollar store frames.  This marketing approach is insanely profitable to companies that pull it off because it permits ridiculous mark-ups on products that cost no more to produce than conventional goods.  The cost in advertising is tremendous however.  I don't like this approach myself because I don't agree with luring people into spending sprees to chase after a worldly and vain lifestyle.  Plus, I don't have millions to spend on ad campaigns anyway.

Bear in mind though, that even if you don't try this marketing approach, you will be competing against these companies if you are targeting an affluent clientele.

Marketing Yourself
Most successful small businesses leverage their personal connection to the client (second half of my business model).  If your products are similar to other people's products, this is a proven method of distinguishing yourself and capturing some loyal customers.  Once people establish a personal relationship with a company, they will keep buying and refer new customers your way.  Use social media to show how the business affects the lives of real people and how the owners are actively involved.  Respond to every email, talk to clients on the phone, drive to their homes and attend conferences and shows.  This approach has done wonders for me and roughly 85% of customers will make more than one purchase.  That's very good in the high dollar market I'm in.


The point of the above is to help you determine your customer demographics.  Where do they live and how much money do they have.  Once you know this you can avoid wasting time on pointless marketing endeavors.  If you live in a low income area, don't bother with local shows if your client base is upper middle class.  Do shows in wealthier areas.



General Marketing Advice
Get a real website.  Chances are you won't get much search engine traffic unless you know what you're doing but that's not the point.  You need the legitimacy that it offers.  Get your own domain name and not a blogspot.jewelry.com site.  Hostgator offers shared-hosting packages for $150 a year that serve the purpose and you can setup your website with a content management system like Joomla or Wordpress (what I use).  Whenever you're talking to people that express interest in what you do give them a business card with your site address.  Make sure the website name is easy to pronounce and remember.

Get skilled at taking pictures.  Without good photos, you won't sell much.

Every craft show has an average price range for the products that tend to sell.  Be sure to investigate this and find out if your products fall within this range.

It's a common phrase in business that a customer never buys until they've heard three positive references.  So don't get discouraged at a lack of immediate response.  Keep seeking feedback, make minor adjustments and keep trying.  After people have seen you around for a couple years they'll pay a lot more attention.  When I first started my business, many people had an "isn't that nice" sort of response.  Three years later that has totally changed.


Financial
Most businesses fail within 5 years because they run out of money and not because of a major flaw in the business model or the product.  Reality is, it often takes that long to build a client base and get costs under control.  If you want to pull it off, keep an eye on the long haul and keep an especially close eye on cash flow.  If you run out of cash doing a successful show, you'll be hard pressed to fill orders afterwards unless you can inject new funding into the business.

Lynn mentioned an EIN number.  Depending upon your state tax law, you may also be eligible for a reseller's tax number which will allow you to avoid sales tax on supplies purchases to produce your products.  In Illinois, sales tax is only paid by the end-user.  So I pay tax on my router bits but not on the wood used to make products.  This will add to your paperwork burden so it may not be worth the effort unless you're buying a lot of supplies.

If you hire a CPA firm to prepare taxes, some might request that you use Quickbooks.  If not, the free GNUCash is a decent piece of software for basic bookkeeping.
 
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Offline Akavit

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2016, 01:02:33 AM »
Useful links:

Help a Reporter Out

If anyone has read through my website they may have seen that I've been quoted on well-known sites like Monster.com and the Staples blog.  It looks impressive.  That was accomplished by subscribing to the HARO newsletter and checking for pitch requests that fell within my realm of knowledge.  It takes patience to wait for a promising lead and most pitches will be rejected.  I almost got into Popular Mechanics magazine but failed to make the final cut.

Copy Writing Tips

Developing writing techniques that attract attention takes study and practice.  The goal of internet marketing is to put out content that other people want to share so you get tons of traffic from minimal work.


Free Stock Photos

Don't randomly download other people's pictures and put them on your own social media.  It's a good way to be sued (though it probably won't happen).  I only use my own pictures or royalty-free pictures or content that I've obtained permission to use.


IFTTT Recipes

If you're a tech-oriented type, automated tools like IFTTT are handy.  I need to start doing more of this myself and so far I'm just using it to locate Craigslist sales for tools I need.

Offline dymphna17

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #9 on: December 10, 2016, 01:49:08 AM »
Boy!  Where were you all when I was trying to start a business?  I would just add a couple of things.

Does your area have a craft mall?  These are permanent structures that you can set up a booth in that people know will be there day in and day out.  There is always someone there to provide security, can guide customers to your booth, frees you up to make more jewelry or to find other avenues to sell to.  Often they have counters that can be locked and whomever is on duty will have the key.

Does she or can she specialize in a particular style of jewelry?  Such as items of a Native American style could be marketed at a pow-wow, a Renaissance Fair would have alot of traffic, if your church has a book store, a good value in Catholic things sell well, etc...  If you find a couple of niches, you'll be doing well enough to build inventory for another one.

Don't forget to check out the towns next to you to see if they may have something going on.  Even small towns will have the occasional craft mall. 

I was making shadow boxes for various events in people's lives that could be customized to their specific orders. Such as one lady's Grandmother had died and she was very close to her.  She brought me a tube of her lipstick, a bottle of fingernail polish, letters from various places since she was a world traveler, a handkerchief that her Great Grandmother had embroidered and given to her on her wedding day, and a couple of pictures.  I set up a shadowbox incorporating these items and the lady loved it.  She gave me the idea to go to funeral homes and offer my "wares", so to speak.  I never got to it, but I did run it by the local funeral director, and he loved the idea.  It was an open avenue for me.  Then some life happened and I didn't get back into it.  I'm just saying that you always want to be on the prowl for new way to sell your items, even if it means diversifying to find buyers.  Prayers for you all to be successful in your endeavor.
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2016, 06:53:15 AM »
Y'all be awesome. May God reward you and yours.
Schaff Recht mir Gott und führe meine Sache gegen ein unheiliges Volk . . .   .                          
Lex Orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.
"Die Welt sucht nach Ehre, Ansehen, Reichtum, Vergnügen; die Heiligen aber suchen Demütigung, Verachtung, Armut, Abtötung und Buße." --Ausschnitt von der Geschichte des Lebens St. Bennos.
 

Offline Akavit

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2016, 12:59:23 AM »
She gave me the idea to go to funeral homes and offer my "wares", so to speak.  I never got to it, but I did run it by the local funeral director, and he loved the idea.  It was an open avenue for me.

Every three years or so, one of the local funeral homes places an order for several dozen flag boxes.  They can mark up their retail prices high so selling wholesale to them is pretty profitable.

Offline Greg

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2016, 12:20:17 AM »
The "trick" is making stuff people want to buy and then making sure that enough of them are aware of it for you to turn a profit when they buy it.

That's all there is to it.  When businesses fail it is usually because.

1.  Not enough people wanted to buy their stuff.
2.  Not enough people were aware they had stuff for sale.

Focus on these two problems and it will succeed.

Make wanted stuff.
Make people aware of it.

Tip.  There are billionaires who focused on number 2 more than number 1.  There are paupers and bankrupts who focused on number 1 and ignored number 2, thinking that number 1 was so great in their case that number 2 would take care of itself.
 
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Offline james03

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2016, 01:28:12 PM »
Akavit has been in business for himself, it shows.  Mostly a repeat:

1.  Ebay is not where you sell.  Ebay is your back office that takes the orders.

2.  Look at blogging, that would be your wife.  It could teach people to make jewelery.  That's the difference that makes the difference and provides additional value to your customer.  Most people make the mistake: If I teach them to make the jewelery, they won't buy from me.  No.  99.5% will listen to the podcast, say, "that's great", have a positive regard for your wife, and click the link to buy.  They don't have the time.  Build repoire (sp?) with customers.

3.  Did I mention podcasts?  The blog is homebase.  But you need at least a podcast.  Make it weekly, announce when the new one comes out, and make sure you deliver.  Youtube is even better.

4.  I'd incorporate "Colorado" into the brand.  "Colorado" is now edgy due to the legalization of pot.  The rest of the country thinks of you all as the hippy state now.  That's actually a good thing for artsy jewelery.  Remember women follow the herd and are slaves to trends.

5.  Think of yourself as building a brand that provides value to your customer.  NEVER scam or use tricks.  Always be thinking, what value are we delivering?

6.  In every blog post, youtube, or podcast simply ask the people to buy and also rate you.

7.  Make buying easy.  Keep in mind a lot of people aren't net savvy, so explain just hitting a link and going to Ebay doesn't mean they have to buy, it just lets them look at your offerings.

8.  Always let the customer know you don't scam or track them.

9.  Advertise.  Prep a 300x250 ad that links to your wife's blog.
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Looking for marketing/small business hep
« Reply #14 on: December 25, 2016, 04:15:28 PM »
4.  I'd incorporate "Colorado" into the brand.  "Colorado" is now edgy due to the legalization of pot.  The rest of the country thinks of you all as the hippy state now.  That's actually a good thing for artsy jewelery.  Remember women follow the herd and are slaves to trends.
That's a horrible idea. It might help to sell the item, but even if it does, all you're really doing is reinforcing the modern attitude and contributing to the destruction of culture.

This is why there's no real art anymore. Because good art isn't intrinsically trendy, and it doesn't sell to modern art collectors, so real artists are either forced out of business or else they are forced to find some some sort of a compromise between making good art and making trendy garbage. I met a local artist who used to make beautiful religious icons. But each icon took him several weeks to make, and could only be sold for a couple hundred dollars. So from a business perspective, it wasn't worth his time. But he is a good businessman and he knows how the moderns are, so he switched over to a more gimmicky / less traditional style of painting, and the subject matter itself is far less noble (trees and animals and nature and stuff). He can paint one of those in a matter of days, and sell it for a price in the thousands. (And they are decent paintings, but not even close to what he could be making.) Now on the one hand, his duty of state is to provide for his wife and kids. So I suppose he is making good use of his talents in that regard. And I'm not saying his art is as bad as Picasso's or anything, but it's such a shame that his skills are not helping to make the world a better place :(

Now I realize what I said isn't completely relevant, since you were only suggesting that Heinrich / Heinrich's wife change the branding rather than the product itself, but still...

edit - On second thought, you might be on to something. Perhaps you can use trendy branding to grab the customers's attention and lure them in. And then you could sell them the product while keeping the product itself intact. (Though, that still isn't really helping to change society's attitude overall. And it doesn't seem right to even be playing by their rules in the first place. But I don't know...)
« Last Edit: December 25, 2016, 04:28:10 PM by Daniel »