Marketing is nothing more than different ways of letting the buying public know that you exist and what you are selling and the reason they should buy your product.
Marketing is also setting the image for you and your business. That’s such an important element of marketing and I’ll spend a lot of time talking about that throughout this series.
Too many times we overlook the most obvious and easiest ways of marketing. So let’s start at the very beginning with the very basics and build your marketing strategy from there.
There’s a number of ways of marketing that every business should start with whether it’s part-time or full- time.
Number one; if you are selling your woodworking then you are a business and a business operates under a business name, so that should be your starting point.
Business name; Most people don’t even think of their business name as a marketing tool, but your business name is usually the very first impression a customer or prospective customer has of you. Whether they look you up in the phone book, sees your Company sign in front of your business, finds you on the internet, picks up one of your business cards, receive a mailer or brochure in the mail, or meets you at a show; your business name is the first impression you’re going to leave with them.
Keep it simple and professional. If you already have your business name, then I hope it is professional.
If you haven’t decided on a name for your business yet, write down some of your ideas and run them by some friends or other business owners and get their opinion on the names you’re considering. Be sure you get friends that will be honest with you and not just agree with you because you’re friends.
Nothing wrong with being creative but be careful not to get too cutesy or clever. A name you may think is really clever may not be viewed the same way by the buying public.
Never pick a name that you have to explain to everyone what it means, or names that the average person can not pronounce or could never remember how to spell. Remember, your business name is what you will be known for the rest of your life, or at least the rest of your businesses life
Company Logo/Signage; This will relate to anything that has your company name on it, whether it’s a sign for your business, signage for your vehicles, your business cards, invoices, receipts, letter head, signs for shows, brochures, flyers or anything else that will have your company name on it.
Whatever you pick for your company name and logo should be consistent on everything. The font you use, the tag line you may have or line art that you incorporate into your Company name should always appear the same on everything you do.
Consistency will help build product and company recognition.
Business Cards; This can be one of your strongest marketing tools you’ll ever have for your business and it’s the one that seems to be taken for granted and never used to its full potential.
Here’s where I’ll probably step on some toes, but I feel you need to hear this whether you agree or not.
I would not recommend making your own business cards! We’ve all done it, it’s so easy to make your own on the computer and just print them off. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they look like.
When someone hands me a home made business card, all I can think of is that poor car salesman that’s new at a dealership and he hands you a generic business card with his name written on it and he has to tell you his new business cards are not ready yet. You instantly know he’s new and probably temporary so it’s hard to have much confidence in spending your money with him. That’s the same impression you can give a prospective customer with your hand made business card and is that really the image you want to instill in a potential customer mind?
Do you really want the customer to think you’re temporary or new at this? Is that really the professional image you want to leave with them?
If you think your business cards are totally professional, then go ahead and use them, but each time you hand a card to someone, ask yourself if that is really the image you want them to have of you and your business.
You can have 250 business cards professionally printed on quality stock for very little money. There are a number of on-line printers, like Vista Print that offer specials all the time if you don’t have a local print shop that can help you out.
Just remember to order a premium quality card, not some bargain basement promotional deal.
Now here is why I think a good quality business card can be one of your strongest marketing tools.
For a business card to work as a marketing tool it has to involve YOU!
Sure you can leave your business cards lying around and hope someone will pick one up, but nothing is more effective than you personally handing a business card to an individual and introducing yourself and your business.
It’s called NETWORKING! The problem in today’s society is we think the only way to network is through social networks and a keyboard. Nothing wrong with that and I’ll cover that later in my series, but for now I want to talk “old school”.
“Old School” is simply getting off your lazy duff and out from behind the keyboard and actually meeting people face to face. For the typical woodworker, this can be one of the best ways to market yourself and your business.
When I started my business, I lived in a small rural community in North Carolina. It was mostly a farming community and I could have used that as an excuse why I wouldn’t be able to design and build custom made furniture for a living. But instead, I used it to my advantage.
I got involved; I got to know the other business owners in our small community. Here’s just a few ways I got involved and I got to know others through networking and they actually became customers of mine or referred me to someone that became a customer.
I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and a year later was asked to serve on the board of directors (which I did for 8 years).
Members on the board of directors I got to serve with:
Owner’s of a couple of the local restaurants
Owner of the local Western Auto store
Owner and Pharmacists of the local Drug Store
Managers for a couple of the local Banks
Owner of a clothing store
Owner of a local service station
Owner of a local surveying company
Manager of a local Farm Supply Store
Owner of a fabric store
Every one of the above became a customer of mine or referred me to their circle of friends or both.
I was also active in the local Lions Club and was introduced to many other business people in the community.
Every place I did business, I took time to get to know the people that owned those businesses and of course they got to know me and my business by simply introducing myself and handing them a business card.
The local convenience stores, the local tire store, grocery store, church, fire dept., police dept., people at city hall, all the local restaurants, barber shop, the local newspaper and print company, just to name a few.
I helped organize the first 4th of July picnic and celebration for our town and it’s still an active town event after 25 years.
I volunteered each year to help put up the Christmas lights for the town and helped with the town Christmas parade.
I volunteered each year to help the local cub scout troop to cut out their pine wood derby cars (Which was always a fun evening at the shop with all the boys and their fathers).
I volunteered each year to help the local churches with their fund raisers.
I could go on and on, but I hope you’ve got the idea; all you have to do is stick your hand out and introduce yourself. It shouldn’t matter where you are or who you’re talking to, but make sure you have a business card to hand them.
My wife was one of my best advertisers also. She always carried some of my business cards and was always back getting more.
My wife had terminal cancer and I remember times going to the hospital and having one of the doctors, nurses or technicians ask me about my woodworking because that’s what my wife talked about while she was there and yes; she would give them one of my business cards and I ended up doing a project now and then simply from that.
You should be handing business cards out like they are candy. You may not see instant results, but trust me; it will pay off big time down the road.
Over the years I’ve had a lot of customer come to me from doing just that; simply introducing myself and my business and handing them one of my cards.
It doesn’t matter if you are doing woodworking full time or just on the side, if you don’t let people know what you do and that you’re passionate about it then I don’t know how you expect people to do business with you.
And don’t forget, you don’t do that just locally; you should be introducing yourself no matter where you’re at. (Maybe that’s why I’ve done work in 13 states).
With all that being said, it’s probably hard to believe I was very shy and bashful at one time in my life. If you’re using that as an excuse not to talk to people, then I would suggest you get over it. Put your “big boy” pants on and get out there and meet people.
Nobody will ever be a better salesman for my work then me!
And as Forrest Gump would say; “that’s all I got to say about that”.
Tomorrow, let’s talk about print advertising and how you can make that work for you and your business of woodworking.
-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com