Today, we’re going to tackle something that many new business owners say they struggle with the most – marketing.
The first thing you need to do is get comfortable with the idea of yourself as a salesperson and marketer for your business. Many of us feel a bit ‘icky’ about this part of the process, because we have an idea in our heads about what those words connote.
I used to have a really negative reaction to these words myself. Selling is pushy. Icky. Inauthentic. Smarmy. All those 80’s Glengarry Glen Ross stereotypes. Right?
Well… no. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Ironically, I internalised this perspective growing up, even though my father, one of the best men I know, was a salesman! I had absolutely zero interest in going into business or sales when I grew up, it seemed not only boring, but had a kinda negative connotation for me, though I couldn’t really pinpoint why.
I guess life had a different idea, and here I am today, happier, more joyful, and I believe, doing more to serve others than ever before in my life – through doing business! Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not me 10 years ago – if you told her what I’m doing now, she would have raised an eyebrow at the least, or laughed outright in your face at most. And yet, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Amongst other things, I’m a saleswoman. The thing that makes me okay about being a saleswoman is simple. I believe that what I’m selling is good. And by good, I don’t mean a good product (though it is that, too), I mean it’s good for you, good for the world, and good for me, too. I believe that my work fulfils a need, makes people happy, adds nothing but good to the world. And that, dear reader, is why I’m happy and proud to sell it.
You, too, need to reframe the idea of selling and marketing as coming from a place of service. It’s simply the process of helping people who need what you make find you, so you can serve them.
Put in another way, marketing is simply the process of telling your story, and helping your ‘right people’ find you via the connection they make to your story.
We’re going full circle here people, right back to week 1, where you wrote your own story, and clarified what makes you awesome to your right folks.
So, once you’re comfortable with the idea of sales as service, and clear on your story, how do you go about telling it?
I’m betting that you, like me, don’t have a heck of a lot of money to spend on advertising, right?
That means we need to spend time, rather than money, marketing our indie businesses.
There are two great ways to do this, and chances are you’re probably doing them already. Yep, I’m talking social media and PR.
Social media is you getting out there and telling peeps about your business and building community. PR is getting OTHER folks, usually folks people like and trust, to tell people about your business.
A few tips for making social media effective, fun, and non-time-sucking (because we’ve got other work to do!).
First, remember that social media is exactly that – social.
Don’t be that person who is always just talking about their business and nothing else. People who buy handmade do so because they are interested in more than just the fact you’ve got a new thing out, they want to know how you made it, why you made it, and who you are. They really do!
Be social. Interact, make friends, and enjoy yourself!
Second, the key to killing it on social media is to choose one or two that you actually, genuinely enjoy, and jumping in the deep end!
Whether that’s instagram, facebook, twitter, pinterest… whatever floats your boat and meshes with your personality and product, go with it.
Don’t be all over facebook just because you think you ‘should’ be. Don’t try to keep up with all of them at once, you’ll just stretch yourself way too thin, burn out, and give up on all of them.
Your time is stretched thin as it is, I know, so be strategic and authentic with your use of social media. If you enjoy it, fit it into the ‘gaps’ of your day – when you stop for a coffee, waiting to pick the kids up at school, waiting in line – there are scores of opportunities to fit in a few minutes of social media use. Just take a bit of time up-front to get clear on the types of content you are going to share, so you have a bank of ideas and aren’t having to come up with new ideas each and every time you want to post something.
Public Relations (PR)
PR is actually really simple. All you need to do is send a quick, informative email to folks that you think might like what you do. They might be magazine or blog editors, or social media influencers, or maybe journalists.
Remember that these people are getting pitches all the time, so make it easy for them! Be succinct, be on-task (don’t tell them your life story) and make sure to include a few low-res photos of your work so they can see immediately if it jives with their audience.
Do your research and make it personal! Use their name, know what sort of stuff they look for, and only contact people who you think will genuinely like what you do. They’re a person doing a job, just like you, and their job is to find awesome content. Your job is to help them by giving them awesome content.
A simple initial email might go something like this (remember to be genuine here, and modify it to be true to what drew you to their blog/publication):
I came across your blog, ___name of blog____, recently, and it stopped me in my tracks – I really love your posts on ____category/style of post. I dig your eye for design!
I actually make eco-friendly sterling silver jewellery for everyday wear under the Epheriell label, and based on what you’ve shared on your blog in the past, I thought you might connect with my work. My jewellery is modern yet classic, and is effortless to wear – perfect for the modern, busy woman who appreciates a minimalist, clean style aesthetic.
I’ve attached photos of a few of my pieces, and if you like the look of what I do, you can see more of my work in my Etsy shop here: http://epheriell.etsy.com. I’d be happy to send you high-res photos and answer any questions you might have about my work if it appeals to you.
Thanks for taking the time to read my email, I really appreciate it!
Simple as that. Straightforward, friendly and honest. You’ve made it obvious you’ve done your research, you’ve made it easy for them to find your work and investigate you further, and you’ve made it obvious you’re happy to share good quality photos (a must for being featured in a quality publication) and to talk about your work.
Other Marketing Avenues
There are, of course, other ways to market your business for free (or cheap).
I highly recommend starting a blog if you haven’t already, it’s the perfect platform to tell your story in long-form, something you can’t really do anywhere else.
I’m also a huge believer in the power of a mailing list. At this stage, Etsy doesn’t have an inbuilt email capture system, so you can only invite your customers and potential customers to sign up for your mailing list (never, ever add a customer to a mailing list unless they have given you their express permission, preferably via a mailing list client like Mailchimp or Aweber).
You can ask me about both of these avenues in the Facebook group if you want any further info on what I recommend!
For now, focus on getting going on at least one social media platform, and choosing a blog or other publication to write your first PR pitch for.
Homework: Exercise your new PR skills! Reach out to a blogger who you think might be interested in featuring your work, or write a press release and issue it to your local paper/a relevant magazine etc. Share what happens with the group!