Monday, July 7, 2008

How to best advertise your very cool products?

Despite encouraging sales figures in our first month, Laura and I have been grappling lately with how to best go about marketing her products to the world. We obviously have to say something, we're just not sure what to say, how to say it, or to whom it should be said.

So what's our next step?

We consulted a wise man on the mount, but even after a lot of climbing, the only thing he could offer us was the meaning of life (which, by the way, is surprising and has something to do with the number 42). A voodoo priestess in the French Quarter read our palms, but all she could tell us was something about really long life lines and lots of money. Blah, blah, blah. We also consulted the Magic 8 Ball, and it just said, over and over, that "it is decidedly so" (which made absolutely no sense, considering the question).

Finally, we turned to the Etsy forums - an online board where sellers and buyers alike trade tips, quips, jibs, and jabs - for advice. While the suggestions offered have ranged from the obvious to the sublime, we have soaked up every word of it and are working to incorporate these pointers into how we present our products and market our work.

However, one post in particular really stood out, and I wanted to share it with our readers. BeaG (pronounced Bay-Yah), one of Etsy's most far-flung international members (located "in a lovely village near Gent, Belgium) and maker of a huge assortment of all sorts of goodies (you gotta check out this little guy), has a sales record that would rival most retail shops, so I figured if anyone knows something about something about selling, it's her. Here is what she had to say about being a successful Etsy seller:

1. Have truly unique products that are both pretty and functional and that people want to own.

2. Present them in the best way possible (perfect pictures, clear and to the point descriptions, appropriate tags, etc.)

3. (Re)list often, to get more exposure.

4. Let as many people as possible know about your products (also known as: promote, promote, promote).

5. Have excellent customer service, so your satisfied customers will return and will spread word of mouth.

6. Don't ever think you are done, but keep improving your products, your pictures and the overall appearance of your shop.

7. Never be negative in public, don't complain about lack of sales on the public forums, don't ignore (not answer their questions) or disrespect your potential customers.

8. Don't go sit and wait around during slow times, but instead use that time to work on new products and on improving your listings and existing products.

Here are a few other suggestions from in and around the forums...

** If you're listing on Etsy, make good use of you shop sections. As eneefabricdesign points out, some buyers jump into a shop and then jump out, so offering them the option to view the items they are looking for in one place may increase your chances at a sale.

** SugarAndSpice, a talented dollmaker on Etsy, suggests doing your homework. Read books and websites focused on running a home business is a definite path to success.

** Looking at it from another perspective, FearlessFibers, yet another incredible Etsy seller, suggests a new seller should "step away from Etsy, go to the library, find good informational sites, get a mentor through your local SBA, or whatever else you can think of and get yourself armed with the knowledge to develop a solid plan."

All good ideas, indeed.

So, all my fellow Etsians (and to any other readers out there contemplating starting your own online business), there you go. Words of wisdom from some of the greats.

If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to be a better online seller of your own, feel free to share! Leave them as a comment and, if we really like what you have to say, we'll highlight it in a later post.

Now, get crackin'!