If you build it, they will shop. That’s how the saying goes right? Well, not exactly. Once you have your shop set up and ready for that first sale, you might just find yourself in a slump. The sales don’t just happen, you have to get people to your shop before you can start cashing those checks. The key to doing this? Marketing. That’s right, some things never change. Marketing is and will likely always be the key component into making your business successful. Here are my best tips for how to market an online shop.
Marketing for your business can be broken down into two main components. Free marketing and paid marketing. Since I am assuming that those of you reading this are small business owners and crafters without much capital, let’s start by exploring free marketing. Because you have to make some sales before you can afford to pay for exposure. Within the last 10 years, the boom of social media has taken free marketing to new heights. Right along with setting up your online shop, you should also set up social media accounts for your business. Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook are three of the main social accounts every online shop should have.
#2: Social Media Marketing
For Instagram and Facebook, you will want to use images to tell the story of your business in photos. Don’t just post product images and stock photos from your site and sell, sell to the people coming to your page. You want to engage the audience and tell the story of both your brand and the story of your target customer.
If your target customer is a college aged girl, then maybe you will appeal to her carefree attitude, time spent with friends, etc. By emphasizing how she can use your products and photographing them in use at Football games, out on the town, or basking in the sun lake side. Use compelling photos to tell the story and make those who view your Instagram photos want to be a part of your brand story. If your product appeals to moms, show why your products will make their life easier, less chaotic, etc.
To help tell your brand’s story, share behind the scenes looks at what it is like to be a small business owner. Share the process of you making your products (or how you take time to carefully select everything you carry if you don’t hand make them). Share the design process, why you are passionate about what you sell, how every sale helps your family and brings you closer to your dreams.
Don’t forget to use Instagram stories and Facebook lives to chat more informally and directly to your customers. Ask them what they love about what you sell, what would they like to see more of, etc. This engagement helps build a bond between you and your customers that helps them feel connected to your business and more likely to shop.
To get even more out of social media, try talking to bloggers or social influencers about sending them a free gift for a shout out on their stories. Some will ask to be paid, but you may find a few that love your product and would be happy to trade a shout out and link for a few of your products.
Pinterest is another great marketing tool that is free to use. Be sure that your online shop has a Pin It button. Regularly pin products to your business Pinterest boards to get them seen in front of thousands of Pinterest users. Be sure to pin other products and ideas you love too to really grow your Pinterest audience.
#3: Traditional Marketing Techniques
Aside from social media, there are other, more traditional marketing techniques you can try. Attend local craft shows and creative business meetings and pass out business cards. Make sure to ship your products in pretty packaging with business cards so existing customers tell their friends about your shop. Word of mouth was my primary marketing avenue for 10 years, so it really does work! One huge free marketing option is to reach out to magazines for placement in features and gift guides. Look in the magazines that best fit your product line, then search in the front for the list of editors. The assistant editor is your best bet for reaching out to. Search them on LinkedIn and send a quick email introducing yourself and asking if they are working on any stories or features that you could pitch them a product for. Keep following up and you might find your work or product featured in a magazine! This is a great way to get your shop in front of a lot of potential customers!
#4: Paid Marketing
Once you have exhausted the free marketing options, you can work your way into paid marketing with Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest ads. As well as magazine ads, radio ads, and sponsorships of conferences and events. I haven’t yet broached the paid marketing arena, so that will be a discussion for another time and business owner.
Good luck with your marketing ventures and may the sales be ever in your favor!
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Kara designs and sells everything from wrapping paper and throw pillows, to cocktail shakers and flower vases. All with the signature colorful bold patterns Kailo Chic is known for!