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Marketing and Selling your woodworking #3: Printed Material (more ways then you may think)

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Blog entry by huff posted 06-30-2013 11:23 AM 2032 reads 6 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Marketing (the basics) Part 3 of Marketing and Selling your woodworking series Part 4: Shows »

In the last series I talked about some of the basics when it comes to marketing. We talked about a business name, signage and one of my favorite marketing tools; Business Cards!

Today I would like to talk about other forms of marketing using printed materials. We’ve already talked about business cards, but here are some other ways of marketing with printed material.

Rack Cards; If you’re not familiar with rack cards, they are typically 4”x9” cards printed on heavy stock with a glossy finish.

These are usually displayed in racks that are supplied by an advertising agency and are placed in high traffic areas like a shopping mall, tourist attraction or someplace like that and you have to pay to have your cards displayed on their rack. Personally I never liked the idea of having to pay someone to put my rack cards in their racks competing with 30 other businesses doing the same thing, but I love the size of rack cards and I found other ways of using them.

I really like using the rack cards for shows, if I have a display at a gallery or even if I can find a place that will let me put then free. I typically use them in place of brochures.

You can build a nice holder for them (same as you would for business cards), but the size of the rack card allows enough space for not only quite a bit of text, but also room for a few pictures of your work.

They can be printed on both sides or left blank on the back with simply your return address so they can be used as an oversized post card or flyer.

Brochures; a brochure can be a very professional way to promote and market your business, but it can also be very expensive to have a tri-fold brochure done professionally (and that’s the only way I would recommend having a brochure done). A home made brochure can look even worse than a home made business card.

A brochure sent to a contractor, designer or professional person can send a strong message for your business, but the cost factor usually prohibits a part time or small business from doing so.

I’ve used Brochures before, but knowing how much each one cost, I had a tendency to hold on to them being afraid of handing them out to just anyone. (That’s why I like business cards and rack cards so much)!

Mailers; you can use anything from a post card, rack cards, brochures or flyers that you send directly to prospective customers. There’s a number of ways to develop a mailing list to get addresses. You can buy mailing list that will target different markets or you can build you own mailing list.
You can use addresses from previous customers or you can ask for addresses while working shows (or offer a drawing on something for a give away so people will have an excuse to give you their name and address).

I like to make my own mailing list by getting information from public records on-line. Creating an effective mailing list takes time and effort but if done correctly, you can really target a specific customer base.

Flyers; This can be a very economical way of promoting and marketing your work. This is usually something you can do on your computer and print yourself.

You just have to realize that it is economical, but not the most professional looking.

Newspaper, magazines, weekly advertisers; these are all ways you can advertise your woodworking, but can also be very expensive for display ads.

Instead of a large display ad in a newspaper, you can do a small add in the classified section. More people read the classified section in the paper than any other section.

Magazines; advertising in a magazine is usually done more by the full time professional. not unless you can get one to do an article on you and your woodworking. That’s free and great exposure, but very hard to accomplish.

Weekly advertisers; can be a good place to have small ads for your business. Again, they are almost like the classified section in your newspaper and people have a tendency to read them from cover to cover.

Phone books, Yellow pages; This might be good for the furniture refinisher or repair man, but for the typical woodworker it’s very, very expensive and most calls will be for price only.

Restaurant menus and place mats; I’m sure you’ve seen that done, especially in local restaurants. It’s not really targeting any particular customer base (other then hungry people), but I’ve done it with one of my local restaurants. It was more for support for them, but also it gave me more exposure.

Embroidered name on shirts, jackets or hats; Jeff Foxworthy once said; you can tell everything about a man simply by looking at his collection of tee shirts and hats. You will know his favorite beer, the brand of cigarettes he smokes, his favorite sports team, his tractor, car or truck he drive, his chain saw and his favorite NASCAR driver.

I learned a long time ago that Dale Jr., John Deere, or Budweiser made plenty of money without me promoting their products on my hat or shirt.
If I’m going to promote anyone on my clothing, it will be promoting my business!

If you want to promote your woodworking every day of the week, buy a few shirts and have your company name embroidered on them.

Every tee shirt I wore to my shop, every polo shirt I wore as casual wear and every button down collar shirt I wore to a customer’s house, or wore at a show had my company name embroidered on them. I even had a light weight jacket with my company name embroidered on it.

If I went shopping with the wife, I wore a company shirt, There were very few times I went anywhere without wearing a company shirt.

I remember one time standing in a furniture store patiently waiting for my wife while she was shopping when a young sales clerk approached me and said the manager would be right out to see me. I asked her why; and I was informed that she went and told the manager one of their factory representatives was waiting to see him. I simply told her; yes, the Hufford Furniture Group was my company, but I was not one of their factory representatives. (I didn’t know if I should laugh, or feel embarrassed for her!)

I even had a couple shirts embroidered for my wife; since she would help me at the shows or if she went with me on an installation or delivery. I even had a couple shirts done for a friend of mine that would volunteer his time to help me at some of the shows.

If you don’t think it will get noticed, I challenge you to have a nice shirt embroidered with your business name (ABC woodworking, or whatever) and wear it for awhile and see how many people when you are talking with them, lets their eyes drift down so they can read what’s on your shirt. It never fails!

BTW; if they ask about the name on your shirt, you better whip out one of your professional looking Business Cards and tell them about your business.

I’ve never been a big fan of hats, but I do know a lot of guys wear them, so it may be another piece of clothing to consider having your business name on.

Here’s a business tip: If you rent uniforms for your business, you can write that off as an expense, but typically you cannot write off clothing for business unless it can only be used for business.

Having your company name printed on your shirts, tee shirts, jackets and hats are then considered part of a company uniform and can be written off as a business expense.

I know I’m going to wear this word out before this series is over, but keep it Professional looking. Have it done professionally!

Promotional material; If you’re a full time business, you may want to consider doing some promotional items once in awhile. Calendars, yard sticks, hats, coffee cups, key chains and a thousand other items that promotional companies offer.

I’ve tried a number of those over the years, but for me, the best bang for the buck was being more personal with my customers.

I personally keep track of all my previous customers because they can be your best source for new business.

A simple “thank-you” note to your customer after you’ve finished their project is a great way to keep that relationship open.

I send out Christmas Cards each year to all my customers (and you would be surprised how many Christmas Cards I get back).

About once a year I like to send a personal note to each of my customers; maybe telling them about an upcoming show or event and inviting them to stop by and say hello, or if something eventful has happened with my business. It’s personal and it’s a way of putting my name in front of them again.

It’s amazing how many calls I get after I send out cards or a personal note to my customers and they contact me; only to tell me they had been thinking of me and meaning to call about another project and was glad to hear from me. Basically I got the ball rolling without asking for more business.

Repeat business can be the easiest “new” business you can generate! The reason it is usually the easiest way to generate new business is;

1. They already know you
2. They already know your work
3. They already know your pricing………..and that’s why I say it’s never a good idea to low ball your pricing just to get a job or get to be known.

Your reputation is built on those three factors and if you start with a reputation of giving your work away, that’s what all your referrals and repeat business will be based on.

You may be able to convince yourself you will be able to raise your prices later and that may be true for a new customer that’s never heard of you, but for repeat business or referrals, forget it!

And remember; you started by giving your work away so you could get to be known! Known for what, a low ball price?

You can make your customer feel special without giving your work away for little or nothing.

Tomorrow, let’s talk about shows! Hope you will follow along.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com



8 comments so far

View jerrells's profile

jerrells

868 posts in 1639 days


#1 posted 06-30-2013 12:52 PM

I have been in sales for 30, or more, years. I am always wise enough to continue reading and learning. I have followed you series of articles and have learned, or remembered, a few things. It is always good to keep refreshed. Thanks.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3220 posts in 1241 days


#2 posted 06-30-2013 01:03 PM

Excellent information! I am an avid reader looking for more!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2039 days


#3 posted 06-30-2013 01:08 PM

jerrells;
Thanks for following along.

I found when I started writing this series; each time I would write a thought down, another thought would pop up that I had either forgotten about or just took for granted and had to remind myself that no matter how basic some of this information is, It may be able to help someone.

Pricing, Marketing and Selling is the same as our woodworking; it’s a never ending learning experience.

Thanks again, I always look forward to your comments.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View DocSavage45's profile

DocSavage45

5388 posts in 1597 days


#4 posted 06-30-2013 04:05 PM

Huff (John) Cost and return? What we spend for our advertising and what it brings back to us? I was looking for ways to be independent while starting a furniture building business. ( Naïve inspiration) My carpenter skills are more advanced than my dovetailing. LOL! Asked some professional women where they shopped for contractors. And I was directed to a free weekly. Also did a yellow pages add. It went well for a year. Then my insurance cost tripled! Cost benefit? Stopped the advertising, but The Yellow Pages Ad goes on forever, as it was continually picked up by companies who were promoting contractors. 7 years later…getting calls from across the country!

What are your thoughts about an online Webb page?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2039 days


#5 posted 06-30-2013 05:23 PM

Doc;
Good question; I found over the years I averaged spending between 8 to 10% of my gross revenue on marketing and advertising.

I read in some of the trade magazines that 8% was about the average for a cabnet shop. Can’t say I planned mine to fall in that same percentage range, but that’s what it seemed to average each year.

As a start up company, you may need to invest more into marketing, but it’s hard to pick a percentage if you don’t have any sales to base anything on. (I guess that’s why I’ve always liked the “old school” way of networking using strictly myself and my business cards). It doesn’t cost much and for me, it’s always been very effective.

I’ll be doing an entire segment on marketing on line in a couple days, but to answer your question in a short version now; yes, I believe a good web page can be a strong marketing tool.

Since I’ve retired, I simplified my web site quite a bit, but I still like having one for keeping my information out there for people to find.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

11555 posts in 1444 days


#6 posted 07-01-2013 01:28 AM

Several good ideas I would never have thought of. Thank you.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View miles125's profile

miles125

2179 posts in 2760 days


#7 posted 07-01-2013 12:21 PM

Your advice sounds excellent but there is a downside to successful marketing to the general public for some segments of woodworking. You can end up spending an exorbitant amount of time fielding phone calls and chasing down leads of little old ladies wanting a casket made for their recently deceased cat (I actually got that call), or to build a bread box the layperson thinks can be custom designed and made for roughly the same price as one can be purchased at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

The time honored solution to this problem has resulted in some of the best woodworking operations around don’t even have so much as a yellow page ad or deal much with the general public….in general. They instead focus on dealing only with professional contractors who act as an excellent buffer to weed out the unserious and under funded consumer of woodwork out there in the big wide world.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View huff's profile

huff

2810 posts in 2039 days


#8 posted 07-01-2013 04:20 PM

miles125;

You made me laugh when you mentioned little old ladies wanting a casket for her cat.

Been there, done that!

I’ve been in my booth at a high end Home Show with $25,000 to $30,000 of my Custom made furniture on display and have a lady ask me if I could build a “tater” box to put potatoes and onions in.

No matter how hard you try to target your market; you will always get asked to build something stupid….......or is it really a stupid request? I’ve also had, what I thought was a stupid request in the beginning turn into a great paying project.

For me; after 27 years doing custom work, I would much rather filter out my “little old ladies” then let someone else do it for me.

I guess it depends on who we like to deal with. I’ve had a lot better experiences working with the general public than contractors.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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