For those just starting out and selling retail, the best place to start with marketing is locally. It helps build a bond with the community as well as spread the word that you have a product you would like to sell. There are several ways to market locally. I asked the owner of Bizzy Lizzy Creations, Elizabeth Ehlinger, how she markets her business.
Tackling local marketing
Elizabeth started by telling me, “Marketing is something that I still struggle with — I do love the app Ripl and use that for videos and promotions that automatically get posted to Instagram and both my personal and business Facebook pages.” For those who may not be familiar with Ripl, it’s a sort of do-all social-media video app. It offers hundreds of designs and customizable options for creating the perfect advertisement for your business. You can customize with photos, music, logo, and messages. The best part is that you just create one video and the Ripl app allows you to post it on all your social-media sites at the same time. It also has the ability schedule your video posts. This is convenient for people who may forget to post. Ripl does all the remembering for you. The best part of this app is that it analyzes your video posts, measuring engagement and the success of your video posts in order to help you refine them.
Digital marketing set-up
There are a lot of different options for marketing a handmade business. I asked Elizabeth how she markets her business. Her reply was, “I use Facebook and Instagram; mostly Facebook. I also have a website through GoDaddy. I am also on Google.” Elizabeth’s response wasn’t too surprising, since most handmade businesses have a social-media presence. You would be crazy not to in this digital age.
Facebook offers step-by-step set-up for your business page. For someone who doesn’t understand technology very well, it makes the process relatively simple (facebook.com/business/pages/set-up). Instagram also offers a free guide to help you set up your business account — business.instagram.com/getting-started. Another option to consider is Pintrest. If you visit pinterest.com/business/create you can set up an account for your business.
There are a lot of different sites out there, like GoDaddy, for website development. The important thing to consider is if you want to sell retail or wholesale. Personal websites work great for retail, but bigger sites like IndieMe and Stockabl provide a wider audience for wholesale.
Pounding the pavement
There are other ways than online to market locally. Here’s how Elizabeth markets: “I do a couple of local shows each year and am in the process of getting items in the newly opened Country Chic Boutique in Scandinavia, Wisconsin. I put up business cards on local bulletin boards and try to wear my own jewelry as much as possible, to be a walking billboard.”
Not sure where to find a public bulletin board? Try checking out local grocery stores, libraries, gyms, churches, laundromats, coffee shops, waiting rooms, factories, community centers, union halls, beauty salons, bookstores, restaurants, convenience stores, and smaller shopping centers. Just because the place may not pertain to your craft doesn’t mean someone there won’t be interested in it. People almost always know somebody who knows somebody who is looking for something in particular. Perhaps your handmade products are just what they are looking for.
Website woes resolved
Building your own website can be time-consuming and messy. According to Elizabeth, the most important component in building a website is “ease of use. If it’s not something I can update and upload in a timely manner, I just don’t do it. Being able to do everything from my phone for me is key. Having the option available for an online store, if and when I need it, is also big for me.”
A handmade artisan’s life is busy. Trying to manage marketing, making, and selling is a lot to coordinate. Having an easily set up, easy to manage website is key. It seems that everyone is mobile these days, so having a website that can be managed from your phone helps cut down on the time it takes maintain it.
GoDaddy is a good choice for Elizabeth. It’s free to start up and helps with many different areas an artisan may not be familiar with. The company offers help with domain names, SSL security, Office 365, professional email, websites, web hosting, WordPress and more. It has great personalization options and makes your website easy to access from a smartphone. It also formats websites to accommodate smartphone displays as well as computer screens. GoDaddy’s website boasts that it can get you online in less than an hour. It offers fulltime customer service and guides to help you create the best site.
Social promotion works
So, where do the bulk of Elizabeth’s sales come from? According to Elizabeth, “Most sales are fairly local. Due to my Facebook presence, I do get out-of-town, out-of-state orders from time to time. Word of mouth is huge for my business. I have received many orders from people who received pieces made by me as gifts. The personalized pieces and gifts have a big impact on this.” For example, Elizabeth made pieces for a wedding party which led to more sales. When people see unique pieces, they often ask where they came from, which then leads to free promotion of Bizzy Lizzy Creations!
For more information check out the following articles
Finding the Right Online Selling Platform
By Lisa Anderson Shaffer
August 2019 Issue
Social Media Advertising Strategies
By Lisa Anderson Shaffer
How to Work with Social Media Influencers on a Budget
By Laura Fitch