Many handmade business owners don’t like to market. They don’t spend enough time marketing, aren’t sure what else to do besides post to Facebook, post to Instagram, pay for an ad, etc. And maybe aren’t even sure what exactly marketing is.
I feel ya! Marketing, advertising, branding, social media strategies…there’s a lot to learn and cover as a small handmade business owner.
But without marketing, people won’t hear or learn about your business and products, which obviously affects your sales.
Let me help spark, some ideas to help you market your handmade business and do your best to let your products do all the talking.
In this article, I’m going to share 6 of my favorite marketing ideas for when you don’t feel like talking.
And you can find all 50 marketing ideas in THE SUCCESSFUL INTROVERT.
A few of my ideas involve guerilla marketing, so a quick word about that:
A WARNING ABOUT GUERILLA MARKETING
Some techniques can be considered a form of vandalism even if they’re not permanent (such as yarn bombing or sidewalk chalking…if you can believe it). Always check local laws when you’re dealing with public spaces or with the owners of private properties before taking any action to market your business.
MARKETING IDEA #1 – CREATE A GIFT GUIDE
Put together a list of handmade items that combine your products with other small businesses. Contact handmade vendors with an offer to include their products in your gift guide if they agree to share it with their audience. If you get several people sharing the guide it can reach a large number of people. Those who participate get their business name and URL in the post and a link back to their website as an additional perk (which can help boost their website’s SEO).
Curate a group of products to help shoppers cross each person off their gift list. And be sure each participant provides high-quality photos that will look great in a collage.
MARKETING IDEA #2 – ENTER AWARDS
Google “online awards for ____________ (your product category)” to see if there are any competitions you can enter. Make sure you’re comfortable with the obligations you’ll have if you win. If nominees are required to travel to ceremonies and winners must give a speech, you might want to steer clear. Being an entrant alone can give you some decent exposure when people check out the candidates. And if you win that’s some serious street cred to brag about…not to mention perks the winners receive.
MARKETING IDEA #3 – GET CREATIVE WITH BUSINESS CARDS
We all know to hand business cards to people when the topic of our products or services comes up. But there are other more “oops, did I drop a card there?” kind of ways. Keep a stack of business cards in your wallet and anytime you’re someplace your ideal customer may be, casually leave a card behind. It’s for no one in particular but the right person might pick it up.
Make sure your card has a professional design that catches attention. A basic white card with your business name, address and website will probably get pushed aside or tossed out. Do something out of the ordinary to encourage people to pick it up for a closer look. Be sure the card mentions the benefits of your product (it’s not what you sell, it’s why you sell it).
When we first launched Made Urban and were marketing it locally, we made business cards out of small envelopes. We included the phrase “GROW SOMETHING LOCAL” and placed mint seeds inside. They cost pennies to put together but garnered a lot more attention than a plain business card.
Here are some ideas for places you can leave cards and market:
- Magazines– head to a bookstore and slip your card into the spine the way subscription forms often are. Choose magazines aimed at your demographic.
- Restaurants– leave one with your tip or on the counter of the bathroom.
- Coffee shops– slip one into the magazines they have for patrons, leave one on a table or by the cream and sugar.
- Public transportation– leave a card behind on the seat or on the window ledge of a bus, cab, train, etc.
- Local shops– email boutiques that share your target audience and ask if they’d be interested in keeping a stack of your business cards on their counter. You have to consider what the other business is gaining so offer to include their business card in each of your orders. Or you can advertise their business on your website and social media pages.
- Bathroom stalls– you know those frames on the back of stall doors? Wedge a card in the corner of the frame. People will stare right at it when they sit down.
- Change rooms– not in the shops you want to get your products into; the owner won’t take kindly to you trying to poach their customers. But think of a busy retailer in the mall that has hundreds of people going in and out of the change rooms on a Saturday. Wedge a card in the corner of the mirror or behind a hook.
MARKETING IDEA #4 – PAY IT FORWARD
In Canada, a lot of people “pay it forward” by purchasing a coffee for the customer behind them in the drive-through at Tim Hortons 😉 This is a really nice gesture but doesn’t market your business, unless you ask the cashier to pass your business card on to them. A more effective idea may be placing a lower priced item from your product line in a high traffic area of your city with a note attached.
For example: if you crochet stuffed animals, place one on the edge of a busy downtown walkway with a note explaining how you want your item to bring a little happiness to someone’s day. It may read:
If you’re in need of a little joy today, take me with you. When you see someone else who could use some kindness, pass me on.
Handmade with love by Jane’s Designs
Be sure the item is branded with a label/tag and your business card. Include your website so people can contact you to purchase one of their own. Add your social media pages and ask people to snap a picture of themselves with your item, post it, and tag you. Be prepared, it may not get passed on or shared to social media.
You could go one step further and include suggestions for people to start their own act of kindness train with your products. For example:
Visit my website to purchase your own Pay it Forward Plushie and make the world a happier place.
MARKETING IDEA #5 – SUBMIT TO MAGAZINE GUIDES
You need to stay ahead of the game when working with magazines. They plan issues months in advance so if you want your products to appear in a Christmas gift guide, start planning to pitch in the summer.
Editors are always looking for cool products to feature so search for magazines that reach your target audience and publish gift guides. Appearing in a gift guide typically only requires a couple of emails back and forth (no phone interviews) so this is a great option to gain some big exposure without having to talk.
MARKETING IDEA #6 – SPRUCE UP YOUR SHIPMENTS
When sending products by mail, brand the box, bag or wrapping. Millions of boring- looking boxes are shipped every day, it wouldn’t be hard to make a package stand out. A bright colored box or big bold sticker could do the trick. You never know who might see that package, be curious about what’s inside and check out the website you have printed on the outside.
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