The internet has given us an entirely new opportunity for marketing and selling.
It gives us the ability to reach millions of people around the world with a simple click of a button; to be able to sit behind a keyboard and reach out and touch everyone……………..if it was only that easy.
But it is true that the internet has given us the ability to reach a greater number of potential customers without ever leaving our home.
So let’s talk about some of the different ways you may be able to use the internet to your advantage for marketing and selling some of your work.
Like I said before; marketing in general is nothing more then getting your name, your business and your product out there in front of the buying public. Letting the buying public know that you exist and you have a great product and how they can buy it. How we go about it and who we target for our marketing varies greatly and the internet is just another tool in our arsenal that we can use to do exactly that.
Let’s start with some of the free stuff you can do that can be used for marketing. We all like free!
Social Media; the social media is the big winner here; face book is probably the biggest one that comes to mind to start with, but there are plenty more that you can use as a marketing tool. Twitter, blogspot, Linkedin, Pinterest, MySpace and DeviantArt are just a few more. The whole concept is exposure.
Even large Companies have learned the value of using the social networks to get their names out there in front of people. Just for an example, Coca-Cola uses the social networks and here’s a company that’s been around for many years and known throughout the world yet they know the internet is another way of reaching more potential customers and giving them more exposure and another way for product recognition.
Before I go any further; let me clear something up before you think the internet is the best and only way you need to market. You will never see Coca-Cola drop all their other marketing venues and rely totally on the internet for their marketing and sales………..and either should you!
E-mail address; You’ve probably never thought of your e-mail address as a way of marketing, but it should not be overlooked or taken for granted.
It’s another way for a customer to be able to contact you and communicate with you without having to pick up a phone or leave the house. The greater the distance between a potential customer and you the better chance a customer would use your e-mail to contact you.
You should have a separate e-mail address for your business and keep it professional. Think about that for a moment; this is an address that should be used on almost all of your other marketing venues (business cards, rack cards, invoices, web-sites, etc.), so it should be as professional as any other part of your marketing.
Web-Site; not free, but can be done in many different ways with many different cost factors involved.
You will want to determine what you expect from your web-site and build your site from there. You can use your web-site for strictly a source of information for a potential customer to visit and learn more about you, your business and the products you sell, or you may want to make your web-site a “buy now” location, so if a customer likes what they see they can buy directly from your site.
Either way, you have to realize there are millions and millions of other sites on the web fighting for the same thing. You can definitely build and manage your own site and save money, but you better know what you’re doing and have lots of time to invest in developing and maintaining it, or the best thing you will ever create is a web-site for yourself because nobody will ever find you through random searches.
I would suggest that if you would like to use your web-site as a strong marketing tool, then you should have it built and maintained by a professional web developer.
Selling on the internet; this can be done many ways and there are plenty of sites that specialize in doing it.
Besides doing it directly through your own web-site or e-commerce; you can also use sites like EBay, Craigslist, Etsy, Artfire, Amazon and Custom Made. There’s many more, but those are the ones that come to mind to start with.
Each one is different in what they required to be able to sell on their site. Some are free and others charge a fee. Some will be more localized and others will cover a much broader buying audience, so make sure you check each one out first before deciding if one of the sites would work for you, but this can be another effective way of getting your products out there to the buying public.
It would be very helpful if you could talk with a number of woodworkers that use sites like that and get some helpful hints on how to be successful selling that way. So far, this is the only area I have not used for selling my work, so I have very little advice to give on any of the sites.
Pictures; they say a picture is worth a thousand words and that may be true, but a poor picture is like bad grammar, it won’t do much to impress anyone!
It doesn’t matter if you are using pictures in a portfolio, on your rack cards or brochures, on your web-site or any other source of marketing, they should be a quality picture. Never use pictures taken with your phone………..that’s not a camera! That’s great for taking pictures of your vacation and showing your friends and relatives (it’s only going to bore them anyway!), but for show casing your woodworking, a quality picture is worth a thousand words.
YouTube or Podcast; another way you can market your woodworking and your business through making your own videos. You can even create your own channel.
Merchants Circle; This is one every woodworking business should be a part of. It’s a great way to connect with other businesses and potential customers. Your customers can do reviews for your business.
Potential customers can go to merchant circle and ask questions and if it’s something that’s related to your type business, you will be notified and you have the opportunity to help the customer by answering their questions.
There’s so many things going on with Merchants Circle that can help you with your business, it’s definitely worth checking out.
On line Classified Ads; I mentioned earlier in my series about advertising in the classified ads in your local paper or weekly advertiser, but today a lot of newspapers and the weekly advertisers have their publications available on line also. This can also be another way of marketing your business and your products.
More and more people are using the internet for their source of information then ever before and it will continue to grow.
Don’t be afraid to spend time on the web and search out different ways the internet may help you in marketing. I’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to the internet.
Tomorrow we’ll give some final thoughts on marketing and selling.
-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com