Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More ideas to ponder

Some of these ideas may take a little reworking to work for you but they should spark some ideas of your own.

42. Get some canvas tote bags printed up with your business information printed on it. Find a few ladies who are very active in your community and ask them to use your tote bag and give it to them for FREE under the agreement that they will use it every time they go out in the community for errands & events!

43. Get a license plate made up for your vehicle! If you have your normal license plate on the back of your car, put your business named one on the front of the car!

You can get one with just your business name on it for about $20-$30 per plate!

44. Wear a business name tag every time you go out into your community! Get a Catchy Slogan printed on it such as:

A. Ask me about (your company name) Products!

B. I work from home, you can too!

C. Earn some FREE when you party with me!

45. Local Area Magazines! Does your city publish a City Magazine? If so, contact them about advertising or if they hold contests for their readers offer to donate a product or service for their contest!

46. Check out your local area State Fairs & Community Carnivals, there are always a lot of them going on during seasonal weather.

Ask about getting a booth or table & set it up with your business information! People love to shop at Fairs & Carnivals and they are looking to spend money

47. Get some Business Card Magnets printed up and hand them out every where you go! Have your friends & family pass them out too!

People are more apt to keep a magnetic business card compared to a regular one which gets shoved into a drawer or wallet. By having a magnetized card, your business is kept in front of the potential customer/client.

48. When you give gifts to family, friends, neighbors, co-workers etc. make sure you give them gifts from your own company! These allow other people to see & touch your gift meaning FREE business exposure for you! (Plus, you bought the gift from yourself so you are saving money!)

49. Invite your spouse's co-workers over to your home for a little mingling party! Serve some refreshments or do a cookout BBQ and make sure you have a table set up with some product displays!

If you sell kitchen or food products, make sure you use them!

50. Do a neighborhood children's shopping party!

I do this before Christmas and again before Mother's Day. I invite the neighborhood kids to come by and shop for gifts for their parents and loved ones. They enjoy shopping on their own and parents enjoy a small break from the children!

To make this successful make sure the products you are offering are economical, I try to keep them under $25.00 each with most being around $10.00 each. Have a table set up with some inexpensive crafting supplies and let the children make their own greeting cards to go with the gifts they have purchased or have a gift wrapping table set up so they can personally wrap their gifts!

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

More Unusual Marketing Tips To Try & Modify

31. Hold a local area community Block Party at your home or local community center! Families are always looking for something to do during the nice weather seasons!

Optional: Attend your neighborhood block party and set up a table with your product offerings or samples. Get out there in your community and get your business seen!

32. Get your business listed in your cities telephone book yellow pages! A lot of them also have a coupon section too!

33. You can take this phone book advertising one step further by finding out what company makes the plastic vinyl phone book covers which have local business ads on them and get your business added to it!

34. Get your business information printed up on pencils and hand them out to local colleges and technical schools for them to hand out to their adult students! This keeps your business information in front of them! (Make sure you only donate them to schools with adult students).

35. Get a vehicle banner made for your automobile. I recommend the vinyl window clings or vinyl cling ones that stick to your automobile but don't scratch or remove the paint. You can easily remove them when washing your vehicle!

36. If your city has a travel guide that tourists request, contact that business and find out how you can advertise in it too!

37. Local City Maps! These days even city maps have advertising on them! You can usually get a small business ad printed on them for an economical price. Don't advertise your personal location. If you don't have a business locations then advertise your website address or email address.

38. Contact local area hotels, motels and bed & breakfast inns and ask them if you can do up a Lobby Basket and leave it in their Lobby.

What is a Lobby Basket? You make up little packs of info about your business & products and put them into the Lobby Basket for their patrons to take.

They usually have a pamphlet wall or area too with pamphlets from local area attractions etc. If they don't have a lobby basket area, inquire about leaving your business info in their pamphlet area.

39. Get your business info printed up on balloons! This is very economical to do! You then distribute them to local community centers, sporting events and other types of places where parents book their children's birthday parties!

These balloons can be displayed at the birthday party giving you business exposure. You can usually get them done for .3-.8 cents each. Your business name & website address is all you need on them!

40. Find a few other self employed business owners in your community and team up! You can all sponsor a local parade float, parade clowns etc. Make up signs with your business info imprinted on them so that you can receive some great business exposure during the parade!

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Monday, April 28, 2008

More Unique Promotion Ideas

22. Small Home Town Newspapers! I don't get too good of a response when I do big newspaper city ads, however... when I target small town newspapers I usually get a great response. I even had them let me place an ad on their wedding and engagement announcements page which I advertised the Bridal Gift Registry.

So if you are going to do any type of newspaper advertising, inquire about getting your ads on specific pages in the newspaper that targets the group of people most likely to buy from you.

23. Get a low cost outdoor banner printed up with your business information on it. You can usually get them done for $55 or less depending on who makes it.

You can have these outdoor banners displayed at outdoor music/concert events, outdoor children's sporting events, outdoor adult sport events, outdoor neighborhood block parties, outdoor community events, carnivals, fairs, etc.

24. Take your business on the road during nice weather. Contact local area parks & community centers to see what their schedule of events are and inquire about setting up a booth or table.

This is a great way to network & market your business to those in your community.

25. Community Clipper Coupon Packs & Sales Flier Mailings. These days a lot of communities have mailings such as these, contact them and see how you can participate and advertise your business.

26. Contact small local area businesses such as hair salons, massage parlors, boutiques, banks etc.

See if you can set up a table for 1 week with 3 of your best selling products on it along with some catalogs, fliers, coupons and your business card. Keep a basket on the table for any customer orders which you can follow up on after you return back to pick up your display. Offer the store owner or manager a free gift for allowing you to do this.

You can also offer to donate a prize for a contest if they let you display the prize donated & get a copy of the contestants entry blanks after the promotion closes.

27. Contact local area pizza shops, diners, and deli's and coffee bagel shops to ask them about advertising on their paper place mats! Customers do read those ads!

28. Contact local area restaurants, bars and clubs and see about advertising on their paper beverage coasters!

29. Local Television Stations are always holding on-air contests & website contests for their viewers, contact them about you donating a prize or gift certificate to sponsor one of their contests! Great business exposure for you!

30. Attend Local Area holiday shopping events. Customers who are ready to spend holiday shopping money turn out for these events by the thousands! You can usually get a booth for less than $50.00 so they are economical to participate in!

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Friday, April 25, 2008

Following up from yesterday’s post, here are some more ideas for you to try

11. Contact your local medical offices, particularly Gynecology and OB Offices and Pediatric Offices and inquire about you leaving information with them.

This is a way for you to target Parents of Children with both the home party opt, the business opt and new customer sales.

12. Donate a Product to your local area Radio Station, they have numerous contests and they are always looking for sponsors!

Your donation can be written off as a tax deduction plus you will get FREE Advertising & Business Exposure for your donation!

13. Donate a Product to your local area Bingo Halls! They are always looking for sponsors of their Bingo Prizes! Bingo is BIG in a lot of areas!

14. Call your Chamber of Commerce and find out about Local Area Job Fairs. Get a booth and set up info about the fabulous business opt!

15. Call your Local Area Colleges and find out when their next job/employment fair is. A lot of times you can get a booth or table for less than $35 and you will get a lot of GREAT new recruit leads by participating in events like these.

16. Contact local area car dealerships. I have 2 in my local area that hand out a small packet that I made up for FREE to their customers who come in to take a free test drive!

17. Target your local area gyms! You can get a table space for $20 or less in most cases! Make sure you have 3-5 products on display, plenty of catalogs, business cards and fliers.

18. Network with others in your community who are in home business. Find out what events and activities that they participate in. They are usually "in the know" and can help you get started in networking in your community.

19. Contact Companies in your area to see if you can come in and set up a table in the employee lounge or cafeteria for a employee shopping break! These days a lot of companies will allow you to do this if you ask them!

20. Does your local area TV cable company have a local information channel? Inquire about advertising! These ads will reach thousands of potential buyers for you! I recommend you only use your website address for these types of advertising and not your personal at home address.

21. Contact local small companies and shops to see if you can offer an exclusive discounts or freebie gift to their employees. Companies are always looking for a way to "treat" their employees to specials from the local surrounding community.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Have you grown tired of trying to figure out creative places to advertise your business? What about plain and simple creative ideas? Let me share with you fifty creative ideas. I hope this list gets your creative juices flowing.

Over the next few posts, I am going to give you some different and unusual ways of advertising your products.

1. Take a small zip close baggy (snack sizes work well) and include the following in it:

Your Business Card, Business Opt Mini Flier a Piece of Candy such as hard candy or a lollipop, mini flier of current host specials, discount coupon (optional) etc.

Hand these out to the bank tellers, retail cashiers, at your kids sport events, every where you go!

2. When I stay at hotels & motels I leave a mini catalog, my business card & discount coupon and the mini coin canister for the maid! I put her tip inside the mini coin canister! I have gotten 3 orders by doing this!

Be creative when you leave tips for Hotel Maids, Waitresses, Waiters, Hair Dressers, etc. Don't just hand them your business card, make it memorable!

You can also buy cute little beaded change purses at your local dollar discount store!

3. Print out fliers with your contact info (not your personal address), your website address & email address along with any current specials you are offering.

Then contact local area mobile home park offices, apartment complex rental offices, housing developments etc and ask them if you can leave fliers in their office or hang on their tenants doors. Give the office employees a free gift or discount on their personal orders.

4. Contact local area bridal supply stores, bridal gown stores, caterers, tux rental centers, wedding dj's etc. Ask them if you can leave your business cards & fliers about the great (Company Name) Bridal Gift Registry for them to give to their customers.

Offer store owners a free gift or a personal discount for helping you spread the word about your business.

5. Daycare Centers! They are excellent to contact and leave business cards and/or fliers at!

I print out fliers of just a few items from our Tupperware Children's line and I attach my business card & a discount coupon. I get a lot of orders by doing this!

So whatever company you represent, find some items that cater to children or to moms and make up a flier!

6. A lot of churches hold a Spring and Fall Fest! Contact them about getting a table or a booth. A lot of times this will cost you under $15.00 for a space!

Make sure you take products with you along with business opt fliers, plenty of catalogs, business cards etc.

Do a contest drawing at these types of events. Make up entry blanks that gather the customer's info so that you can initiate contact with them again!

7. Join your local area chamber of commerce! They are always holding local business events that you can participate in.

8. College Campuses! Dorms & Housing Students are always looking to spend money! A lot of college students are also looking for an extra income so target them with the Business Opt too!

Drop off fliers and business cards to the College Student Center! They usually have bulletin boards, tables and other things where you can leave your information at for FREE!

9. Contact your local area Welcome Wagon or Welcome to the Neighborhood Group! Ask them about you leaving mini catalogs, fliers, business cards, discount coupons, freebie mini gifts, etc with them.

They are always looking for additional items to place in their Welcome Bags!

10. Contact your local area hospitals and ask for Human Resources Dept. The Majority of hospitals hand out New Mommy Diaper Bags filled with products, samples and other stuff for New Moms who just had a baby!

It's FREE for you to add in your information! I have gotten party hosts, new customers and new recruits by participating in these types of programs.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sales Through The Back Door

We have this pizza restaurant just a few blocks from where we live that puts out some of the best pizza’s I’ve ever eaten and I’ve eaten a few in my life time. The also have a full line of Italian selections but pizza is their biggest seller. This restaurant has a nice dinning room that is always full and the service is great also. To top this off, the prices are really reasonable too. Although the restaurant is always full, this restaurant sells more pizza’s out the back door than they do in the restaurant. They don’t have a drive thru but never the less, more pizzas go out that back door than through the front. The biggest problem this restaurant has is that it never has enough parking and it would be near impossible to add any. This problem was the reason the restaurant wasn’t growing a few years ago. It have everything else, good food, good service, good atmosphere and good prices but too little parking.

How this restaurant overcame this problem and developed this selling oddity is so simple it would seem at first glance to that it would never work. They started spreading the word among their inside customers that if they just needed a pizza in a hurry and didn’t have time to stand in line in the regular seating area, just come to the back door. They also started printing this fact on the back of every receipt that they gave out. Word started to spread and within a few months, the back door was busier than the front.

You are probably asking what all this has to do with on line marketing. Actually a great deal. Many don’t see their on line store in the same way as they view an actual Brick and Mortar store. This is a bad mistake to make. When this type of thinking is in place, an on line store usually suffers for it.

Now my example isn’t normally considered the real meaning of Back End Sales but it is a good example for my purposes in this post. Usually when people think of Back End Sales they usually think of trying to sell a customer who has just bought something an additional item or service. Often promoting the new item as an adjutant to the initial item purchased. Actual Back End Sales can and do work to boost sales but there is another form of back end sales that is almost exclusive to on line sellers.

You really can equate Back End Sales to Back Links. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Back Link is any link to your web site that is on someone else’s web site. These Back Links can make or break an on line store for two reasons. First, most of the larger search engines rate a web site higher if they have a great number of other web sites with links pointing to you. In other words Back Links. Second, back links provide passive advertising that require almost zero attention to maintain. Couple with this the fact that when your Back Link is clicked on, it is usually be someone that already has been looking for what you sell. This being the case, it means that they are much more likely to purchase from you because they have a certain degree of trust in the site your web site has the link on. It’s a psychological thing but basically it boils down to the fact that since they trust this one web site, they think it is safe to trust your web site and your products. You have overcome a good portion of the initial sales hurdle.

If your not actively seeking out opportunities to set up Back Links, you are missing out on some valuable advertising opportunities and probably many sales.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Round Business Card

There was a study done a few years ago by the university of CA business college which focused on the use of different types of paper media (not newspaper or magazine type) as used in advertising. I’m not going into all the details but there were some really interesting facts that came out of this study.

One part of the study had to do with the shape of the paper media used. It turned out that odd shaped items were kept by the recipient 47% longer than just plane square or rectangle items were. Now think about this for a minute. What percentage of advertising that is on paper of one type or another that you have seen that isn’t either square or rectangle? No much I bet.

This being the case, why do we always make our business cards, flyers, posters and all the other things we give out to attract customers, either square or rectangle. Why not a triangle or round business card. One thing is for certain, they couldn’t get lost in a rolodex.

If someone gave me a round business card or flyer, the first thing I would think would be “man that person is innovative and has an imagination.”. My second thought would probably be “I wonder what else he makes that is different”. If they were trying to sell me something, they would certainly stand out in my mind above all the other salespeople I run across.

Isn’t that how we want our customers to think of us?

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Time – Bad Time! It’s Show Time

Well the countdown has started. The big Craft Show is just a few days away and that ever present thought keeps popping up in your head. Am I ready you ask? Oh heck no! I don't have enough product, I'm not organized, and I'm not sure of my set up. Funny, but I'm not really worried about any of that. I am worried, however, about the weather. Mother nature can do brutal things to outdoor markets, and my main enemy: wind. The tent turns into a giant kite, and I turn into Mary Poppins, holding on to the center, ready to fly away. Not to mention displays and signs can blow over.

Weights: check! Walls: check! Heater: check!

We have been doing raft and other types now for probably 15 plus years and I thought I would pass on a few things we learned. Often the hard way.

  1. Have lots of change. Then, when you think you have enough, get more.
  2. Put your companies information on the customer copy of your receipt book before you start, you can use a stamp or print labels, this way, if somehow they don't get a business card, they still have your info.
  3. Make a price list with tax and total, And make sure you bring a calculator.
  4. Have things in different price ranges. I like to have available impulse items. People like to have something to bring home when they've been enjoying themselves and these small items can fit the bill easily. There is nothing wrong with inexpensive items for this purpose. .
  5. Have discounts for multiple item sales. Many of our products are prices the same so it is easy for us to have a 3 for price on most of our items. Along with this, if you want to save yourself some headaches, price your products in even amounts, $1.00, $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, ect. This also make giving change much easier.
  6. One of the biggest mistakes I see at almost all shows is that the tables are too low. Raise your tables. This makes a huge difference. You can used pvc pipe as “stilts” or extension to raise the table up to 36” or even 40 inches. The idea is to make the table high enough so people don’t have to bend over to see things and this also helps keep those little sticky toddler fingers from grabbing things as easily.
  7. Put as many things as possible at eye level. You want something interesting to draw people to your space. Whether it’s a colorful sign or a hanging display, it will make your booth more interesting.
  8. If you are using a tent, get a banner for the front of your tent. Make one if you have to. Create brand identity and get your name out there. If you are inside, have a banner for your tables. They don’t have to be the same thing but one of them should loudly announce your company name.
  9. Our products are not the type that people wear but if yours’ are, give your customers the option of wearing their purchase or carrying a nice bag. Have your company info pre-inserted into your bags also.
  10. Dress appropriately, layer, particularly if you are outside. You never know what old mother nature might throw at you.
  11. If you are at a really hot show, customers may be spending more than they intended. Know where the nearest ATM is, especially if you don’t take credit cards.
  12. We like to have a sign-up book for e-mail mailing list. You can let your customers know about new items, special sales, or send them coupons for their next visit.
  13. I know it sounds silly and you may feel silly doing this at first but if you are one of these people that doesn’t smile naturally all the time, practice in front of a mirror for a few days. Learn to smile when someone asks how you make things or other trade secrets (I’m still working on this one!) It’s okay to make a joke or be evasive about answering, just don’t be rude.
  14. Remember I said to have your tables higher than normal. If you vary the levels on your display tables it will provide more visual interest as well as giving you more room to showcase your wares. Adding risers, even if they are nothing but old shoe boxes or an old shelf from the closet can bring a whole new appearance to your displays.
  15. This is one we learned the hard way. Bring your tools so you can alter or adapt things if need be. Floors are not always level and Murphy’s Law always seem to be in overdrive at shows.
  16. Don’t just sit behind your table, get out and greet people. This is why it is always a good idea to have more than one person doing the show. Walk around and interact! Hand out your business cards to anyone who will take them. Invite them over to see your products.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Friday, April 18, 2008

Are you forgetting an important group you should be marketing to?

What is the average age of the average on line individual merchant? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answer. I don’t know it either. I’m sure the figures can be easily found but it’s really not the point of this post anyway. The real important fact is that virtually every age range is represented. I would however lean towards the 20 – 25 year old age range if I had to take a guess.

The reason I bring this up is that I am seeing a very large segment of the buying audience somewhat being ignored when most companies start thinking about the marketing techniques. More and more of what is found on the internet is geared towards individuals below the age of 50. Considering the fact that the over 50 age group is becoming the largest group in the country, it seems pretty foolish not making serious efforts to market to them more aggressively.

Older web surfers are thirsting for more age relevant content according to a recent study and a majority feel that online advertising is out of step with their age group.

Burst Media recently conducted a survey of over 13,000 Internet users aged 18 years and over regarding their views on age focused online content, website design, and targeted online advertising.

While the majority of people up to the age of 44 feel content on the web is relevant to their age, only 35.4% of the 45-54 year segment believe online content is focused on people in their age bracket. Even fewer respondents aged 55 years and older agreed. This attitude extends beyond content and to design; even more so.

Equally as important for those of us involved with online business, over two-thirds of respondents 45-54 years, and more than 80% of respondents 55 years and older say online advertising is focused on people younger than they are.

The Internet is certainly not just a playground for the young any more, so I feel that many web marketers are leaving cash on the table by not being more responsive to this group. After all, it’s the mature age members of our society who tend to hold much of the wealth.

The last figures I remember seeing were from 2005 and they indicated that seniors control over 70% of all disposable income and at that point were spending over $7 billion online each year.

As the years go by, a senior citizen scared witless of the Internet is becoming increasingly uncommon. Most of the older folks I know are into it in a big way. These people have time on their hands, cash in their wallets and will spend it with you if you approach it the right way. While they may have the luxury of more time; they are also gun-shy, so making things difficult for them or alienating them with hip language and attempting to force youth-oriented messages down their throats will send them running. They want a good deal, but they also want substance, respect and for you to have credibility. Keep that in mind the next time you write your ad copy.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Zero Cost Magazine Advertising

Coming up with new and innovative ways to advertise is one of the biggest headaches any seller can have. If you’re smart, you will start a data base or card file of all the ideas you have. Even if you don’t plan on using them right away. I even keep track of the really crazy ones. You never know when they can be the catalyst for a new idea themselves.

Here is a tip that almost anyone can use to help get your stores’ name infront of the public. I have all my neighbors save their old magazines for me. If your neighborhood is anything like mine, you will probably have more magazines accumulate in a month than you could imagine.

I take these magazines and do two things with them. One, I take and staple or glue (I like staples because people can remove the cards for their own use) these cards to several pages in some of these magazines. Then I take and donate them to local doctors’ offices for their waiting rooms. Another place you can take them is community centers. You probably have other places around you that would love to have old magazines given to them.

The other thing I do with these magazines with a business card in them is to also insert a ½ page flyer between a few pages. These I like to leave libraries or other places where the magazines will be read.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is There An Elephant in the Room With You?

It’s the elephant in the room — the thing no one wants to really talk about, for fear of being forced to admit it’s real.

… But the fact is, the U.S. economy (and by extension, the global economy) is experiencing a downward spiral right now, and the ripple effects are being felt by everyone from Bill Gates to the smallest home business owner.

However, hiding your head in the sand isn’t going to change things!

You can’t just act like everything is "business as usual" and pretend it isn’t happening.

Many of your customers are going to be forced to tighten their belts. You may find that people are going to be less likely to make a purchase online than they have been in the past. But that doesn’t mean you should close up shop!

The best way to deal with an economic crisis is to FACE IT HEAD ON and look for ways to make it work FOR your online business — instead of against it. By tweaking your sales message to speak to the financial challenges your customers might be facing, you will get a better response out of them.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

1. Emphasize the VALUE of your product — and the amount of money people will save in the long run by buying it. Emphasize value on your website… in your newsletter… in your pay-per-click ads — everywhere you reach potential customers. By showing them how your product will help their bank balance rather than harm it, they’ll be far more likely to make a purchase!

2. Offer special discounts and free trials — The best way to appeal to people on a tight budget is to offer them a great deal. And there’s no better deal than free! A great way to convince people of the value of your product is to let them try it out for free for a limited period of time. It’s far more difficult to say "no" to a great product once it’s already in your hands! Also consider offering other perks, such as free shipping or free gift wrap. You could also include more free bonuses with your main product. By offering "added value" items like these, you’ll set yourself apart from your competitors and encourage more people to buy from you.

3. Focus on your existing customer base — The greatest asset of any business is its customers. These are people who have already shown they trust you by buying from you once — which means they’re far more likely to buy from you again. … And THAT means it will cost you less money to convince THEM to buy, compared to someone who’s never even heard of you. Work hard to build a strong relationship with your existing customers. Offer them lots of free valuable information, combined with special "customers only" discounts to encourage them to buy.

Above all, make sure they haven’t forgotten you — and that they always think of you as the person who "sends them all that interesting and useful stuff!" By staying on their radar, you will guarantee that when they do decide to open their wallets, your site will be the first place they go.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You Say Marketing With Email ??????

Email marketing has developed a really bad image because of all the spam we all are receiving these days. In fact many businesses are becoming extremely leery of doing any form of email marketing. This is unfortunate as using email effectively can result in increased sales with practically no effort on a store owners’ part.

The effectiveness of the technique I am about to describe will be proportionally effective based on the amount of email you receive and reply to plus the amount of regular email you generate yourself. The more you use email, the more effective this technique will be.

Practically everyone who uses email has a Signature on the bottom of their email. Most times it is simply text and text links. That was the only way you could have it for a very long time because very few people could see any graphics in an email. Today however, most email users are using email software that allows them to see a rich variety of graphic and even verbal content.

I received an email the other day from a store that had the right idea. Besides text and text links in their Signature, they had a linked graphic of some of their products which when clicked on took them to their web site. The graphic wasn’t obnoxious in size but sure caught my attention just like it was intended to. The graphic was a simple picture of several of the stores products. What made this stand out wasn’t its size of the products themselves but the fact that it was there in the first place took me by surprise.

Below is a workup I did using our email Signature. Our Signature isn’t normal. It’s much bigger than I would recommend for the average store owner. It will however give you the concept. If you want, you can ad some text above the image also.

If you don’t know how to slide a graphic into your email, your email program will have instructions on how to do it.

Copyright © 1988-2008, The Hand Made Product Directory / New Creations Consulting, LLC

All rights reserved

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two Unusual Ways To Increase Sales

As most producers and sellers of handmade and hand crafted products have learned, you can’t depend solely on online sales and marketing to make a living at your chosen craft. It takes a combination of the real world and internet to succeed. Here are a couple of ideas that the reader might find useful. One is for the real world and the other for on line.

When I was young, I had an uncle who had a hardware store. My uncle not only was he a marketing wiz, but his ideas worked. He grew a small store into a medium sized chain in a little more than a decade, using marketing ideas big and small.

I loved the time he had his business card printed on one side of a card, with the other side printed to look like a folded $20 bill. He would then hire me and some of my friends to drop the fake $20s near the store, and people would get $20 off when the cards were "redeemed."

Now $20 isn’t a magic number. It could be anything from $1 on up. The amount would be determined by your individual product pricing. Although this idea is related to the real world, with a little variation, could be utilized for on line sales simply by adding a unique number to the card that the customer would use to redeem their discount.

This next idea isn’t mine. It is however an unusual but effective on line marketing idea that might work for the reader if your product is right. There is an e-tail site called But don't yawn yet until you've seen it. They sell one thing each day. That's it. It changes every day but they only ever sell one thing. The prices are not spectacular, but the writing is hilarious and the key difference (a one-product store!) is brilliant.

I’m not suggesting that you go out and create a one-product store, but you can learn a lot from how the people at Woot did it. They don't take themselves too seriously and they have cleverly highlighted their point of difference. Do you have a point of difference that will let you stand out from the crowd? If you don’t know, you should be investing a significant amount of your energy into developing or discovering one.

Just a note on the lighter side. Most customers consider themselves to be pretty smart shoppers. Whether that is a truth or not of course depends on the individual customer. The point is that as a retailer we can’t take this fact as a truth. There are times when you run across a customer that just doesn’t know up from down. This isn’t something new. These types of customers have been around from the beginning. This is supposedly a true fact that on the side of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt, a hieroglyph actually reads "this end up

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Using The Wonderful World Of Social Media

Like it or not, if you sell on line, you need to be involve the wonderful world of social media. As with search marketing, there is both an “organic” and an advertising component to marketing on social networks, news and media sharing sites.

As social media usage increases month over month, marketers have found a way to use these popular sites as channels for promotion. Companies have been using MySpace for years to create custom pages for their promotion and making friends with current and potential customers in and around their target demographic.

Now that a savvy online marketer can build a profile, network and strategically contact said, it is time to bring in the advertising. Here are 5 things to know about social media advertising.

Understand your targeted social media channel –

By knowing who is using which social media site, you can promote your products to their targeted audience on the appropriate social site. Just as a point of interest, Facebook users represent an older, more mature crowd than MySpace users, so if you were advertising rap music it might not be the most appropriate content on Facebook.

Target the correct users with your message –

I some times think you need to have a degree in psychology when it comes to advertising particularly since when using social media’s you are really trying to get into the heads of those who will be viewing you material. How you phrase your ad is often more important than what is actually said. Who are you targeting? Young affluent customers, middle age blue collar workers, senior citizens, ect.. You get the idea. When my children were young and I just teaching them how to fish, I would tell them that if you want to catch fish you use the bait that the fish are striking on.

Ensure the advertisements are supplementing the present content on the social site –

If your social media location is primarily made up of young singles and most of the conversations taking place are about dating and such things, it doesn’t make much sense to be placing advertising there for children’s clothing.

Have a social networking presence –

Integrating social media advertisements with social media usage is just plain smart: two impressions are better than one. And because searchers seeing either a brand name or a company name, PPC ads are likely to then click on the organic results for the same company, social media users could see the advertisements and search for the same company as a user on Facebook, Flickr or

Another interesting thing is tha seeing a company successfully networking with the opinionated and persnickety social media community can really boost their reputation as being a caring company that is just “one of the guys.” Many people respect companies that are more down to earth and that interact with their customer base.

The time to get on board the social media train is now –

Just like with social media networking, the early bird gets the worm. Being one of the first to successfully use social media as an advertising vehicle shows innovation and understanding who will respond best to the advertisement’s messaging.

Incorporating social media advertisements with social media networking practices can give more impressions to the companies’ targeted users as well as a channel for users to connect with the company they trust.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Email And Your Marketing Efforts

The concept of using email as part of a marketing plan can be a touchy subject these days. The fact that we all are flooded with Spam these days is a growing problem for us all and no one wants to be tagged with the title of Spammer. So how do we use email effectively in our marketing efforts?

Let me dispel a common myth held by many on line merchants. Particularly those that have their store on sites like ebay or any of the many other Cyber Mall formatted store hosting sites. Most of these sites have given way to the pressure of some buyer advocate groups and forbid a seller to contact a customer they have already done business with. In the first place, that customer is yours as the seller. Not the hosting site’s. In most instances the hosting site did little if anything to bring that customer to your store. It is bad enough that these hosting sites charge some outrageous fees at times, what they really want to do is run your business. Don’t let them. I’m not saying that you should abuse your rights as a seller and bombard a previous customer with solicitations either but when used properly, email can be an important part of your marketing.

One of the first thing you should remember is that you should never use a store’s hosting site’s communication system to conduct business with your customers. After the first initial contact, all communications with a customer should be done using your own business email. If a customer isn’t willing to provide you their email address, there isn’t much you can do about it. Not everyone feel like this but any customer who isn’t willing to provide us with their email at the initial sale isn’t a customer we really want to do business with in the future. It just leaves the entire sale process open for problems if you can’t communicate with a customer. I always ask myself, “are we being scammed” and that feeling doesn’t go away until the money is in the bank. These types of customers are also the type that usually cause you problems in one form or another.

All this said, there are some real advantages of using email as a part of your marketing. Stefan Pollard from

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Think Marketing – Think Out Of The Box

With all the different traditional marketing methods available to any seller these days, why should we do something different? I think the simplest answer is that for those in the business of selling handmade and hand crafted products, the traditional methods of marketing are not producing the results most of us would like to see. In fact, for some sellers, they aren’t working at all. My goal in this post is not so much to tell you how to do something as it is to help you start a thinking process.

It has been said that there really aren’t any new ideas, just modifications of ideas that someone else has thought of before. I don’t know if that is really true or not. I do know that I have seen some very wild marketing done in the last few years and just a few years ago, no one would have ever thought of doing some of the things that are done today. Maybe it is that the changes we are seeing in our society make these unusual marketing techniques acceptable today. No matter what the reason, they seem to work. Isn’t that what counts anyway?

What we as business owners need to do in today’s market place is not necessarily scrap the old traditional marketing methods but to twist, bend, tear, stretch, add to, subtract from, combine or other wise modify them to work for us. We might as well face the fact that most of us are not marketing geniuses. In fact for most of us we don’t like marketing at all. We would much rather be creating than selling. The fact that we are creative can be a really big advantage for us compared to the average business owner. We are used to using our imagination more and that is exactly what we need to do.

Some years ago I developed a little mental exercise to help me come up with new marketing ideas. It isn’t really anything extraordinary and probably a good many people have used it before without ever giving any thought to it. He concept goes like this:

1 – Think of the most outrageous thing you could do to market your product.

2 – Take and write out all the aspects of this idea. Every little detail.

2 – Now Disregard the main idea itself because you probability don’t have the courage to do it.

3 – From what you have written down however figure out just how far with the plan would you really be willing to go.

4 – With these details you have the basis for your very own Thinking Out Of The Box marketing plan. All you have to do is refine it so that it is really feasible for your needs.

One of the best ways to get started here is to keep a little note pad handy at all time. Any time you think of a really crazy idea, write it down. You might not want to make the contents of the note pad public because some people may think you have gone off the deep end. You don’t want a paper trail just in case.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Let's Look At Pricing Strategies

Pricing something you have put time and sweat into creating can often create psychological dilemmas for many artists and crafter's. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University wrote and article on “Pricing Strategies for Start-ups” which although not necessarily written with on line sales in mind, has some very good information that is worth reading.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Getting Your Stores Name Out To Those Customers

Getting your store's name out in front of the public is one of the most important things that any store owner can do. In fact it is essential for a store to make it these days. You can't depend on walk in traffic like a B&M located on a busy street can. You have to aggressively go after customers.

Being listed in general search engines and ordinary internet directories is important and can generate traffic but it is the old shotgun approach to advertising. This is fine for your average chain type of department store or grocery store. The experts are saying however that for many businesses and especially for those in niche categories their best results can be obtained from targeted customer marketing. This appears to be true as in this day and age more and more buyers are turning to specialized Shopping Directories when they want to buy on line.

For any store owner, the cost of advertising your store is something that every store owner has to figure in to their operating costs. It can be expensive but it doesn't really have to be. Compared to many traditional advertising methods, online advertising can seem downright cheap. One of the advantages of the internet is that there are many places to advertise at zero to very little cost. Using a well thought out mix of zero cost and paid advertising provides most store owners with a well balanced marketing plan. One that allows for flexibility on a day to day basis.

Another advantage of marketing in specialized shopping directories is that they also direct their marketing efforts to targeted viewers and potential customers for those listed in the directory. Targeted marketing generally has a better rate of return for the marketing dollar spent than most other forms of advertising. You simply are not wasting advertising dollars on people who have no intention of buying from you.

It has also been shown that no store is going to be able to depend solely on zero cost advertising to draw in customers. Advertising sites that offer a mix of zero cost and reasonably priced paid advertising also provide the average store owner with more flexibility. This is even more important in an up and down economy.

Being able to pay a reasonable price, one time, for an honest and affordable given period of advertising time and exposure also provides the store owner with the ability to develop continuity of visibility for their store. When a buyer is used to using a given shopping directory, and they see a store’s name appear over and over again in that shopping directory, it tells them the business is stable and trustworthy. This encourages them to buy from that store.

Pay Per Click advertising sites make a big issue of being able to offer a wide variety of tracking methods. They don’t make a big issue out of the fact that Pay Per Click fraud by many sites offering these services is one of the industries biggest problems. Of course it is important to know that your advertising dollar is bringing in sales but there are other ways of determining these facts. Most store owners who have their own web site are provided with the ability to determine these figures simply by going into their web site’s “stats” on their web site control panel. Internet mall types of shopping sites often have these figures available for those in their mall or shopping site. Those that don’t have these features available at present will be before very long. They will have to if they want to be competitive and continue to bring in more stores.

How any store advertises and spends their advertising dollars is of course the prerogative of the store owner. Smart ones are going to try and get the biggest bang for their advertising dollar as possible and do it with the least amount of hassle. Don’t forget the time you spend keeping up all those advertising sites is also costing you money. Take advantage of those zero cost opportunities when possible but don’t forget that you will also need to spend a few dollars also if you expect to draw those customers.

Visit The Hand Made Product Directory and obtain your Free Link to your store. Having a sale? Promote your sales for all to see. Let others know about your blog and list it also. Having an event in your area you want to promote? You can also list it. Plus find other resources for store owners.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Using Testimonials To Increase Sales

Like many readers, I don’t always get to keep up with my reading on a daily basis like I would like. I did however run across this article on Using Testimonials for sales purposes. It’s worth reading.

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Friday, April 4, 2008

There comes a time in every business persons’ life that they just feel done in. Too much work, too much stress, not enough time for anything including your self. It’s not unusual and in this day and age, it becoming more and more frequent. This article out from Entrepreneur.Com has some very good tips to help you get back on track.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

I ran across a very good article on a web site called Taming The Beast. Although not directly related to the handmade or hand crafted producer and seller this particular article has some of the best advise for those who find themselves in that old Dead End Rut that we all get into at times. I recommend reading this article to help clear out those old cobwebs that develop from time to time. Here is the link to the article.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

What To Do When The Buyers Seem To Have Deserted The Ship

Anyone who has ever been in retail for any period of time knows the frustration of the Down Times. These are the times when it seems like no matter what you do you just can’t seem to make those sales. Most retail businesses, and online selling is retail selling, have Fast, Medium and Slow sales periods. Under normal circumstances each business knows what time of year is the worst for them and they adjust accordingly. Historically, the first 3 months of the year are usually the worst times for most retailers. This year however, the words Slow Sales should probably be No Sales for many online sellers.

I was reading this article in a magazine while waiting for a extremely slow car dealership to finish a simple lube and oil change the other day. In this article, the author quote some federal economist saying that February and March retail sales were going to be coming in 30 plus percent below average this year. The main reason is the economy. People don’t feel comfortable with the economy right now and they are simply not spending like they normally would. These experts predictions were that it would be well into April and possibly May before the average buyer seriously would start letting loose of their cash. For those of us who sell online, this is not good news. For some sellers, it is disastrous.

It may have been coincidence or the magazine may have planed it this way but the very next article I read in the magazine just happened to be written by a marketing psychologist. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. Considering the list of credential in his bio and the big name companies he had done work for, I guess he is considered an expert. It seems he goes into these big companies and tells them what to do when sales aren’t going well. My 14 year old grandson could tell them that and for a lot less money. Anyway, this “psychologist” was quoted in this article as saying that besides preparing for when the slow down ends, anyone who sells, should be using this time to focus in on their marketing. Getting you name out in front of as many sellers as possible now. The reasoning is that the more often they see your name, the better chance that when they are ready to buy again, your name will be the first one that comes to mind. Makes sense I guess if you think about it a little.

I learned this fact however when I was in high school. I had this job after school working for an uncle who was an insurance salesman. He drummed into my head his simple but profound philosophy of work. As he put it, “If your not doing business, your business is creating new business”. Uncle Chuck didn’t have a PhD either. I’m not even sure he finished high school now that I think about it.

What I’m driving at here is that although some sellers are doing good right now, a much larger number are not. Since the likely hood of sales picking up significantly real soon, it seems that a sellers time might be better spent in the area of marketing for the long term instead of trying to get the proverbial blood out of the turnip.

Being the first name that comes to a buyers mind when that buyer is ready to buy is a very good thing. The trick is how to accomplish that and do it without taking out a second mortgage. That’s the challenge. Since each product type requires slightly different marketing techniques and strategies because of the products uniqueness, it would require a book to cover everything that could be done. I would however like to focus on just one thing in common that every retailer could do during these slow times.

The two biggest assets any online seller can develop are having a large number of links pointing to their store and a large number of people who talk about their product in the real world. Developing a large number of links to your store can be accomplished by either paying someone to do it or doing it yourself. Under the present circumstances and conditions, many sellers have more time than money. As such, developing as many back links as possible will require the seller to just sit down at the computer and start searching out places they can swap links with. Submitting their store’s URL to as many search engines and directories as possible. I know that many of the so called SEO experts say to just try and get yourself listed in the biggest search engines and directories because no one really visits the smaller ones. I disagree.

Volume is the key here. Most large search engines like Google, are spider types of search engines. Their spider goes out and retrieves information from all over the internet. The more often it sees a specific URL link, the more credibility and weight that search engine gives it when they start compiling all the spider’s data. The simple fact is that the more links you have pointing to your site, the better chance you have of showing up higher in the larger search engines. Directories are a little different, but they too place more weight on any given URL if they have a large number of links pointing to them.

Another thing to remember is that spider type search engines pull information from many different sources. That includes blogs, forum posts and other social networking sites. In fact, at present, blogs and forum posts can be one of the quickest ways to develop these back links. However, links in other search engines and directories are stable links and these search spiders see them over and over again. Day after day, week after week.

I have a big problem with most search engines and directories that want you to pay to be listed in them. They hand you this line of bull that paid listings get better visibility. That may be factual but to me that make that particular search engine or directory manipulative. It is saying that those using that search engine are just plain stupid and don’t know what they want so the search engine is going to show them what they think they should see. Although search engines usually have a larger number of entries in their data bases, most of them are never seen by the average user or for our purposes potential buyer. Personally I like directories that follow the old fashion hierarchal method of listing those in the directory. Yes it takes a little longer to drill down in a directory to find what you are looking for but you get to see every listing without being manipulated. If the directory is really organized, listings are in alphabetical order so jumping a few pages isn’t difficult if you have a company name to work with. Another thing, most directories have site search engines that are capable of bringing up everything in that directory that is relevant to that search word or term.

More and more internet users have savvied up and now use specialized directories and search engines when doing any serious searching. Some of the first to realize this were those that developed the big Shopping search engines and directories. Unfortunately for the most part, the big ones have been bought out by the larger general search engines or their subsidiaries and have become just as manipulative as the search engines themselves. Money talks as they say.

What many shoppers are discovering these days is that the smaller specialized shopping directories provide the potential buyer with a better quality of product selections than the larger ones do. This is good for those of us who sell handmade and hand crafted items. What all this means is that we have a better chance of being seen by potential buyers if we are in these specialized shopping directories. There is nothing wrong with being in the larger ones, I just have to ask myself, “what am I gaining if no one sees me?”. Another advantage of the specialized smaller directories is that there is usually no cost involved in listing your store in them. Personally I like anything that is Free.

So, if you are finding your sales just aren’t there these days, you probably should be spending as much time as possible on the marketing end of your business. It certainly is time better spent than worrying about the lack of sales. Get your name out anywhere and everywhere you can. If you can do it at no expense the better. Save your real advertising money for when the sales have picked up. Don’t waste it when the sales just aren’t there to begin with.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New Way To Advertise With Business Cards

For those who sell handmade and hand crafted products, obtaining visibility for their store or shop can be slightly more daunting than for those who sell mass produced products. Probably the number one reason for this is the fact that those selling mass produced products have a two-fold advantage that we don’t have. It deals with marketing. Usually those selling handmade and hand crafted products don’t have major bank rolls for advertising and their products don’t get the general advertising (TV, radio, magazines, ect.) that mass produced item one would find in a Target or Wal-Mart store. The companies that sell these products have large advertising budgets that the average crafter will never see.

There are a number of ways however that the average crafter can obtain more visibility without taking out a second mortgage on their home. Most of them you can do for very little if any outlay of cash. Most crafters have realized that having business cards are a very inexpensive way of advertising. Many however are not using them to their fullest potential. Sure you can put them in the package when you ship a sold item and you can hand them out to everyone you come in contact with but have you thought about instead of just giving a single card to a person, giving them 2 cards. You ask them to give the second card to someone they think might be interested in you products.

Another way of using business cards is to simply leave one with every store employee you talk to when you go shopping. How about when you stop at an ATM? Leave one sitting on the ledge of the ATM machine. Give them to bank tellers, put them in the envelope when you pay your bills by mail. Leave one in the shopping cart after you have loaded your groceries in your car.

Anytime you go to the movies, leave one on the seat when you leave. Give one or two to the cashier when you by your popcorn. If you are real brave, you could even leave one when you visit the restroom. All these same tactics can be used at restaurants and other places you visit.

Business cards are just one of many avenues open to you for inexpensive advertising. The whole idea, is to get them to either buy from you in person or visit your web site.

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