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? Marketing a SMALL (one man) fine/custom furniture making/woodworking business ?

by steve
posted 02-02-2013 01:11 AM


25 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#1 posted 02-02-2013 02:26 AM

Direct marketing to architects, interior designers and contractors.

SEO is almost a waste of time for a small woodworking business.
It will not bring the right kind of traffic.

To get the right kind of traffic, you’ll need to drive it in
other ways. Postcards and cold calling the “gatekeepers”
I mentioned above work well. They have access to clients
who are actively spending money on furniture.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View BBrown626's profile

BBrown626

37 posts in 685 days


#2 posted 02-02-2013 02:38 AM

Customers are your best advertising. To get started try a classified ad in the services section. I started with penny saver. If things slow down a bit, send out a letter to past customers.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#3 posted 02-02-2013 02:50 AM

Read Jim Tolpin’s book on professional cabinetmaking too.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View RonInOhio's profile

RonInOhio

720 posts in 1588 days


#4 posted 02-02-2013 02:59 AM

Concentrate your efforts more locally. Websites can end up being time consuming and likely won’t get
you on the radar locally.

Some ways to advertise your business .

Always have some business cards in your pocket to hand out.

Craigslist

Donate some of your time and talent to benefits,charity,and churches.
It could bring unforeseen customers to you from word of mouth.

View MNgary's profile

MNgary

235 posts in 1141 days


#5 posted 02-02-2013 03:07 AM

Loren, what is SEO?

Also, Loren, I’m not seeing the “I mentioned above”. Would you mind re-enterring ‘the above’?

Thanks.

-- I dream of the world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2372 days


#6 posted 02-02-2013 03:07 AM

SEO: search engine optimization and submission

above: ” architects, interior designers and contractors”

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View RonInOhio's profile

RonInOhio

720 posts in 1588 days


#7 posted 02-02-2013 03:09 AM

SEO is Search Engine Optimization. Its used for getting your site indexed higher up within search engine results, so your page isn’t buried 20 pages back or more.

Typically and quite simply the keywords (tags) or meta info in your page is compared by the search engine for a particular relevance or match to a search term.

There are whole books and many so-called experts that specialize in optimizing a web site for better rankings on search engine results.

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112544 posts in 2301 days


#8 posted 02-02-2013 03:16 AM

Be careful about signs on your home it can void or get your home insurance canceled,unless you have a commercial endorsement.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View steve's profile

steve

339 posts in 717 days


#9 posted 02-02-2013 03:39 AM

Thanks, but I have no issues like that in my City, or with my insurance.
I have a small (resembles an old type Doctors Home Office) sign, and it’s been there for a while.

Regardless, I am seeking advice on better ways to get my message to people who desire woodworking services.

-- steve/USA

View huff's profile

huff

2808 posts in 2009 days


#10 posted 02-02-2013 03:40 AM

Joe,

Tell us a little more about your business and what you build.

The more ways you can get your name and your company name in front of people the better chance to make a sale.
1. Never rely on only one or two sources for marketing.

2. Your Company name/logo should look the same in all marketing you do. Signs, flyers, brochures, business cards, web-site, face book, paper ads, etc. The more continuity you have the easier it will be for a prospective customer to recognize you each time.

3. Business Cards This can be one of the least expensive, but most effective marketing tools you can have…...........But make sure you have them printed professionally. You can use an on-line printer like Vista Print and have 250 – 500 cards made. (order premium card stock). I would recommend NOT making your own cards. Home made business cards unfortunately look like home made business cards and that should not be the impression you want the customer to have of you or your business. The more professional you look the better. Hand your business cards out like candy. I can find more excuses to get one of my business cards in someone’s hand. I’ll write a note on the back of one of my cards, write directions, give a phone number, a favorite restaurant, my mechanic, my barber, my doctor, my vet, etc. You’ll be surprised on many will keep your card and end up referring to it later on…......Don’t be bashful! It may not be an immediate sale, but you’re laying the ground work and that’s what marketing is all about.

4. Marketing is a full time effort. You can’t do it just once and expect endless results. You’ll be doing marketing the rest of your life, or at least the rest of your business life if you want a successful business.

5. Think of places you may be able to put some of your work on display. Galleries, Consignment shops, etc. They get a strong commission for selling your stuff, but you don’t have to have a retail store yourself or man it.

6. Like Loren said earlier; Designers, Architects, and Contractors. They can be some tough characters to work for, but they can help you generate business.

7. Craft shows, home shows, exhibits or any other venue you can set up a display and sell your products.

8. Word of mouth advertising will always be one of your best sources for marketing, but will also take time to build and develop.

9. I would be leery of Yellow pages in a phone book, very expensive advertising and usually most calls will be for a price only.

10. Your web-site, face book, a blog can also be an effective way of getting your name out there.

11. You can also sell on Custom made, Etsy, Craigs list, E bay and some of the other sites on the internet. These will all have a fee for selling, but another avenue to consider.

12. Any free publicity you can get is good….........if it’s good publicity! See if you can get your local paper to do a write-up about you and your company. Sometimes donating to a local event can be helpful, but that’s more for good PR and getting to be known in the community.

13. If you are in a town or city, get involved with community projects and other business people. Local Chamber of Commerce, Town events, etc.

14. Friends, neighbors and relatives; Not as customers, but promoter’s ! When I first started my business, my neighbor was one of my best promoter’s. She worked at a large Hospital and once she told some of her fellow workers, I had steady work from one to another for most the first year I was in business and got referrals for years.

Good luck!

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

View steve's profile

steve

339 posts in 717 days


#11 posted 02-02-2013 03:41 AM

seems like there are the same 6 people that comment on any/all threads on this site…
strange

-- steve/USA

View steve's profile

steve

339 posts in 717 days


#12 posted 02-02-2013 03:43 AM

good stuff huff, thanks

-- steve/USA

View jap's profile

jap

1237 posts in 778 days


#13 posted 02-02-2013 04:21 AM

word of mouth…

-- Joel

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

345 posts in 1668 days


#14 posted 02-02-2013 05:42 PM

In my opinion, the marketing and sales of your products is more work than actually making the products.
Huff put up alot of ways for you to market yourself. Not all of them will be appropriate nor work for you. But you never know which will or will not work until you do them.

Another thing to think about is who is your customer. You didn’t list your products so it is hard for someone to give you the best idea. For example, I make puzzles and someone else makes cabinets. We are both woodworkers but looking at totally different markets, ways of advertising and customer.

I presume that you are making some sales. Determine why they are your ideal customers. Then using those traits find other people similar. Once you do that, market to where those types of people are. One of my tricks is to market to stores that are near luxury car dealers. I sell high price/quality items for my category, so my ideal customer has a fairly high income. Luxury car dealers put themselves where these people are located.
I also look at home prices in communities. Same reasoning applies. I know what is the minimum value house that the people who buy my products usually have. So I look for stores and art/craft shows in those areas.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is. However, once you get it up and running it gets easier. You don’t waste time talking to someone that probably is not your ideal customer. I want to talk to people/stores that will have the best chance for me.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

View Richforever's profile

Richforever

739 posts in 2444 days


#15 posted 02-02-2013 06:32 PM

One suggestion: zero in on as few markets as possible. This increases sales and word of mouth advertising and reduces your costs.

Know what the folks in each market buy. It is one of three feelings that are associated with the product or service (in that particular market). Set the prices to be at the level that those in the market are used to spending in order to get that particular feeling. Those customers will be yours for life.

If the marketing is done, sales is easy and fun. If marketing is not done, sales usually does not sustain the business.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View ScottinTexas's profile

ScottinTexas

108 posts in 672 days


#16 posted 02-02-2013 06:41 PM

WWTWWD. :-) See if you can figure it out.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2847 posts in 972 days


#17 posted 02-02-2013 07:13 PM

Steve (I don’t know why you opened a new account with my name, I guess I am flattered a little), those “same 6 people” gave you some good advice. I’d also like to add social networking. You have a website? put it in your signature here.

You are probably wondering “why the eff would I do that? Everyone here makes their own stuff!” Lumberjocks post come up in just about every google search you can possibly do and they are readable by the public

Get a facebook page

Get a place to feature something you made. A friend of mine sells a lot of art that way. She “donates” them to doctors, dentists, restaurants, anyone with a busy local establishment. It gets displayed with her contact info and sometimes a price.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View SamuraiSaw's profile

SamuraiSaw

486 posts in 688 days


#18 posted 02-02-2013 07:23 PM

Personally, I avoid craigslist and any other advertising along those lines. Typically the responses I’ve gotten are the folks looking for bargains. Even etsy can be difficult. The vast majority of my commissions come from word of mouth referrals. The suggestion to place items in high visibility areas is a good one. I’ve put items in art galleries and a couple of museums with the stipulation my contact information be displayed. I’ve gotten several calls from those displays.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas.... www.awwtx.com

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

505 posts in 2041 days


#19 posted 02-02-2013 09:24 PM

Not knowing what types of furniture you make or the local market in which you live, it’s really hard to offer suggestions.

In general, though, I’d say the biggest marketing challenge for a furniture maker is getting either your process or your product seen – and seen by the right people. If you could move your shop to a high traffic (preferably foot traffic) location or display some finished products in high visibility spots, it would make an impact. Moving your shop is probably not possible, and displaying some products in high visibility spots can be expensive. But, if done thoughtfully and strategically, product placement can give you a lot of bang for the buck.

I remember a story I heard about a startup florist who had no funds for marketing. She sent her daughter each day, carrying a fresh floral arrangement (and a pocket full of business cards), to nearby office buildings to ride the elevators. As people would enter the elevator car she would just smile and mind her own business. The people would, almost without fail, comment on the flowers and how pretty they were and how lucky the person was who was about to receive them. The daughter wouldn’t push anything onto the people but, if they asked, she would tell them the name of their shop and hand them a business card. You can’t ride elevators carrying a headboard, but you can make and donate a piece of furniture to a local home show or parade of homes, or a podium or music stand to a local church. Our local PBS station conducts a telesale each year where local merchants or service providers donate items to be sold during a 5-night on-air auction (with all proceeds going to the station).

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

535 posts in 1623 days


#20 posted 02-03-2013 12:37 PM

Well joe I dont know about the other’s but you got to get picture’s of your work out there ya Im not in the news paper or the internet I just made up some note books with picture’s of my work from begain to the end poeple what to see how it’s made before they buy it but this is one way of doing it. It take’s time . oh one other thing I bit with you living in the city you would make a killing with thsos Tall Boy dresser’s with all these small apartlment’s just thinking.

View tenontim's profile

tenontim

2131 posts in 2468 days


#21 posted 02-03-2013 01:20 PM

You have a web site, post your web address in your signature line. You’ll get linked traffic from LJ’s each month, and that will move you up in the search pages.
Make sure your title pages on you web site have good titles for what you’re selling.

Submit once to SEO’s, Don’t pay a yearly fee. Once you’re there, you won’t drop out. I host with IPower and they check my sites submissions to the various search engines monthly.

Unless you’re in a big city, I don’t know the value of a large Yellow page add. Same with the newspaper, although I’ve had better luck with the local paper, but nothing to write home about. Nearly all of my business has come from the web.

I don’t have a sign, due to the taxman and insurance increases. My shop is also at my home.

Happy customers are good advertisement, although some will not want to share you with others. They like to have the prestige of having their own personal furniture builder.

If you do cabinet work, do business with, and get to know the folks at your local lumber yard. They will refer business to you.

View richardwootton's profile

richardwootton

1414 posts in 679 days


#22 posted 02-08-2013 02:35 AM

As a former marketing professional I would say huff pretty well nailed it. One thing I would add to his list would be having plenty of lunches, drinks, coffee and dinner with the people who know people. A follow up email or call after meeting one of these folks for lunch at your favorite delicious dive joint goes a long way towards your name being first in their mind for what it is you do, as well as a good opening to a new friend.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10219 posts in 1342 days


#23 posted 02-08-2013 01:30 PM

I’d add real estate agents to the list of people to know in your town. They are in touch with people talking about changes within their home, items needed in their new spaces (like built-ins), etc.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View steve's profile

steve

339 posts in 717 days


#24 posted 02-08-2013 08:29 PM

good advise!

-- steve/USA

View john111's profile

john111

68 posts in 709 days


#25 posted 02-22-2013 01:07 PM

These are all good points! Thanks Guys!

-- john111

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