If you’re like me and have a strong dislike for social media (to put it mildly), you’ll appreciate these marketing alternatives.
Social media platforms are often here today, gone tomorrow. And during their time in the sun, they make changes overnight that can cut your reach in half or make it hard to grow your audience.
Trying to keep up with the latest social media platforms, staying on top of posting best practices, and let’s not forget…dealing with social media trolls, can easily become the most stressful part of running your business.
You may find these marketing alternatives less stressful and more effective.
1 – SEO (search engine optimization)
Optimizing your website or online shop for search engines is an effective way to reach more consumers.
And the best part is, you’re reaching them when they’re actively searching for your product or service. So they’re closer to the buying stage.
Most people log onto a social media platform to be entertained, motivated, inspired, etc. They’re not there to shop.
Although a business can pique a social media user’s interest with a promotional post, it’s harder to take someone from watching a funny video to being ready to buy a product.
Search engines can also be fickle with their constant algorithm changes, but I personally find search engines easier to understand.
The job of a search engine is to match the best result to a user’s search query.
For example, if a user searches “yellow flower stud earrings”, the search engine is going to prioritize the webpage that uses those keywords, has images that matches those keywords, incorporates synonyms for those keywords, links to similar or related products on the same website, etc.
Search engines are fairly straight forward and easy to understand. The real trick is knowing which keywords are being typed into search bars by your target market.
If you know what your target market is searching for, and you create online content that matches those searches, and you use the correct keywords in the correct way, you’ll please the search engine algorithms and your online content is more likely to show higher in the results.
Every business should implement SEO, regardless of how many other marketing tactics are used.
2 – Blogging
Blogging goes hand in hand with SEO. When you set up a basic website to list your products, there are only so many opportunities for you to add keywords and provide context to search engines.
When you add a blog section to your website, it not only helps you add more content and keywords that benefit you SEO-wise, it also helps you show consumers that you’re an expert in your field.
Blogging about topics related to your products provides more opportunities for your business to be found online.
Let’s say, as a consumer, I’m dealing with a skin issue. So I head to Google and type “why is my cleanser making me break out”.
And let’s say you sell cleansers and have written a blog article title “3 Reasons your Cleanser May Be Causing Breakouts”.
I click on that article and learn about common ingredients in drugstore cleansers that can cause breakouts and how some oil cleansers can be a gentler way to cleanse.
That article also mentions what to look for in an oil cleanser and links to different oil cleansers for sale on your website.
Although I wasn’t shopping for an oil cleanser, I stumbled upon your website, you showed your knowledge on a subject and gained my trust, and I discovered your products.
A blog can help you reach a wider audience at different times (e.g. when searching for a solution to a problem rather than a product).
If you do start a blog, it’s important to be strategic. SEO must be considered and implemented for each blog article.
If you have a skincare website, you cannot blog about your family pet or latest vacation and expect to get high-quality and relevant traffic to your website.
You must know the types of phrases your target market is typing into Google (or another search engine) and write well-composed articles on the topic.
3 – Guest posting
If you’re not quite ready to start a blog, consider reaching out to an established blogger with a similar target market as yours and asking if you can write an article for their website.
Keep in mind, most bloggers get dozens of guest post pitches per week, so you must be targeted with your approach and pitch an article that’s relevant to their blog and will be beneficial for their audience (and for their blog’s growth).
Meaning, you can’t write a 500 word sales pitch and expect them to publish it on their website.
Get to know bloggers within your community and build a relationship with them before reaching out.
You may follow them on social media and (genuinely) comment on their posts (don’t make the comment a promotional message), and perhaps even reach out through email to introduce yourself before pitching a guest post.
When the time is right, pitch an article you believe will be interesting to the blogger’s audience.
For example, if you’re reaching out to a local fashion blogger and you sell jewelry, you may pitch an article about Fall jewelry trends.
You may have the opportunity to share a picture of your jewelry or link to a product listing (that’s related to the trends you list), but your business/products cannot be the focus of the article.
You must provide value to their readers first.
4 – Press release
Similar to a guest post, you may send a press release to media outlets (e.g. newspapers, news stations, magazines, etc.). However, a press release should be more formal as there are more strict guidelines to follow when dealing with the media.
The best press releases that get picked up tend to focus on a good story, rather than self-promotion.
Unless it’s a small media outlet and a slow news week, they’re not going to cover a story on a basic business starting up.
There must be a unique and interesting angle to your story.
For example, a local jewelry business that gives back to a local charity is more likely to be picked up than “Jane started a jewelry business”.
If you’ve never sent a press release before, it’s best to do your research first or hire a PR company to compose and send press releases for you.
5 – Email marketing
Starting a newsletter and sending a weekly email is my most recommended marketing method. Along with SEO, it’s a technique EVERY business should implement.
It’s much more effective than social media marketing and there aren’t any complicated algorithms to keep up with.
You send a newsletter and no matter the time of day or content (as long as you don’t trigger spam filters), your message shows up in the recipient’s inbox.
It’s easy and cheap (even free through some platforms) to set up a simple landing page for your newsletter signup form, where you can start collecting email addresses.
The key is to offer something your target audience will find valuable.
“Sign up for my newsletter” is not an incentive. Everyone gets more emails than they have time to read.
Know your target market and what they might be interested in receiving each week, outside of sales emails (because no one is going to open a sales pitch every week).
>> If I sell skincare products, my newsletter signup form might read “Sign up for weekly tips on non-toxic skin care”.
>> If I’m selling fashion-forward accessories, it might read “Stay on top of fashion trends with my weekly trend report”.
>> If I’m selling art, it might read “Discover easy and cheap home decorating tips in my weekly newsletter”.
Here’s how to quickly set up your newsletter today: How To Start a Newsletter for your Handmade Business
And here you can find a year’s worth of newsletter ideas: 365+ Newsletter Ideas (for your handmade business)
6 – Events
Selling at events is a great way to reach a local market. It is really important to choose the right events and watch your bottom line.
Preparing for a craft show is labor intensive (for most businesses) and there are many expenses that can accumulate. >>>>
And if you attend an event and don’t reach your target market, not only will you not make many sales to cover your expenses, but your marketing will be ineffective.
You should be able to make sales and market to those who don’t buy, in hopes that they’ll find your business online and buy from you in the future.
Outside of craft shows and markets, you may find it beneficial to attend speaking events, conferences, and networking events.
7 – Referrals
If you have a way to reward customers for referring someone to your business, you can get your customers to market for you.
A referral system can be as simple as handing out coupons to craft fair customers who can write their name and email address on the coupons and pass them on to friends and family. When someone turns one in, you can contact the original customer and present them with a gift/offer.
If you sell online, you can set up a more advanced referral system so referrals are automatically tracked and rewards are automatically sent to the referrer.
If those two options are too hard for you to set up right now, you can simply include a few business cards with each purchase along with a note letting the customer know you appreciate people helping to spread the word about your small business and asking if they could pass your business cards on to people they know.
8 – Be word-of-mouth worthy
An ordinary business doesn’t get talked about; an extraordinary business does.
Although it’s not a simple task, building a business and creating products that are worth being talked about is a great way to get your products in front of new people.
To be talked about, you must be doing something different or better than what’s already out there.
Knitting scarves, painting pictures, or making jewelry isn’t out of the ordinary. You must think about an angle that is new and that people will care about (i.e. are willing to spend money on).
For example, knitting matching dog and dog owner scarves is out of the ordinary. Not every scarf business does that and people love to spend money on their dogs and treat them like one of the family. Plus, it would be pretty noteworthy when an owner is walking their dog and they’re wearing matching scarves. You can imagine most people would ask “where did you get your scarves?!”.
Building a unique business isn’t easy, but it is worth it.
Explore ways to stand out and create products that are likely to get people asking “where did you get that?”.
9 – Cross Promote
Similar to guest posting, you can work with another business to take advantage of their platform and audience, while offering the same to them.
You don’t want to work with your direct competitors, but rather, a business that’s targeting the same audience with a similar but different offer.
It’s also important that both parties have the opportunity to benefit (fairly) equally from the partnership. Choose a business that’s similar in size to yours and pitch a deal that makes it likely you’ll both win.
For example, let’s say I make dessert-themed jewelry and I sell at a local farmers’ market each weekend. I might reach out to a small local bakery, since we both target people with a sweet tooth, but offer different products.
On average, we might reach a similar number of people each week, with 100+ people coming through the bakery’s doors and 100+ people stopping at my farmers’ market table.
I might ask if they’d be willing to house a small display of my jewelry or a stack of my business cards in their bakery and in return, I would have a small display promoting their bakery on my farmers’ market table.
This can be done online too by approaching website owners with a similar size, and similar type, of audience.
Again, if I sell dessert-themed jewelry online, I might offer a banner ad on my website to a dessert-themed recipe blog and ask for a banner ad on their website in return.
Get creative and explore businesses you can work with that aren’t your direct competition.
10 – Paid ads
If your budget allows, you can always pay to get your business in front of more people.
It’s important to know where your audience is and the best time to reach them.
For example, when advertising on Google, you need to choose what type of searches you want your ad to appear during.
Let’s say I sell charm bracelets. I could have my ad appear when someone searches for “Tiffany’s jewelry”, but I’m unlikely to get any leads from that ad. Those people are searching for high-end jewelry and a brand name.
On the other hand, if I set my ad to appear when someone searches for “Mother’s day charm bracelet”, that searcher is more likely to click on my ad that has those keywords and/or has an image of a charm bracelet.
Make sure you’re able to reach your target market at the right time when spending money on ads.
If you do want to use social media for marketing, even though you despise it, you may find this article helpful: How To Market a Small Business if you Hate Social Media
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!