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Forum topic by nate22 posted 06-03-2011 08:58 PM 1906 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nate22

453 posts in 2342 days


06-03-2011 08:58 PM

I am sure this question has been asked before but what is the best way to advertise to stores and people. I got a uncle that owns his own business, I would ask him but the ways he did it I don’t think would work now a days. I think he used to go out and hang fliers and had brochures he handed out and then people just called him. Does some of those ways still work like making a brochure and handing them out to stores and has anyone tried makeing up a flier with there phone number on it where people could take the number and call. Does that work or not. I am tring to find ways to advertise and get my name out to more people. I know a lot of people don’t know I make furniture because they either don’t have a computer and internet and if they do they don’t sit on it 24 hours a day and 7 days a week like some people do. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks in advance.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.


8 replies so far

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DLCW

530 posts in 2121 days


#1 posted 06-04-2011 01:05 AM

I place business cards and brochures in the local builders supply store and hardware store. I attend several local and county craft and trade shows and hand out a lot of cards and brochures there and talk to a lot of people. I also attend large builders shows and talk to a lot of people and hand out a lot of information. I’ve worked with local businesses to help promote my business while I promote theirs. For example I use a local upholsterer in town. They hate woodworking and I hate upholstering. Perfect match. They steer customers to me and I steer customers to them. I’ve also placed cards and brochures at Real Estate offices and bank lobbies. I belong to a couple of builders associations and attend their networking meetings so I can press the flesh with many area builders. I’ve gotten several jobs this way. My best advertising is till – word of mouth. That’s where I get most of my business. Very little over the internet even though I have a website.

Just remember that people do business with people they like and trust. It is important to build relationships first and the business will follow. I talked with several builders for a couple of years and now I’m doing business with them. Another thing that people look forward is longevity of your business. How long have you been around. Most people are a little leery about doing business that might not be there in a year or two. I was in business for 4 years before things really started picking up. Yes I had other employment along the way to help with bills. But it seems once I crossed that 4 year mark I’m getting a lot more interest because figure I will be around.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - http://www.dlwoodworks.com - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

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Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#2 posted 06-04-2011 02:48 AM

yeah, fliers work. Lots of legwork.

I recommend advertising as a custom wood shop. It will
be trial-by-fire because you’ll get asked to do stuff you’ve never
done before, but if you take the jobs and execute them well,
read a lot of books about the craft and get the right tools
together, in a few years you’ll be thoroughly qualified to do
any work you’re asked to do.

if you just want to make bunk beds people will ask if you can
do other stuff and you may be flat-out unprepared to bid the
jobs properly because you haven’t developed your knowledge
to do any and all residential millwork, cabinetry and furniture.

In any case, if all you’ve got to sell is bunk beds or whatever,
you’re going to have to work very very hard to get the customers
because most people who could be a customer for custom
millwork don’t need a bunk bed

So the question is, what are you in the business of manufacturing?

Match the marketing to the focus. If you can do it all, you can
advertise your capabilities with confidence and get a lot of work.

If your capabilities are limited and all you can do is bunk beds,
focus on wholesaling to stores. You’ll have to sell the beds much
cheaper to allow the store to mark them up and still be price
competitive. Selling a limited product range of a bulky
wood-product direct to the consumer is problematical because
people won’t pay for shipping so your market is geographically confined.

Ultimately, if you want to “kill it” in the pro woodworking game,
you have to be either seriously entrepreneurial and able to ship
competitively or you have to be able to do the custom jobs
woodshops get asked to do.

I’ve personally never built a bunk bed. I was asked to once
but the guy’s ambitions were too big and his budget too low. That
can be one issue with targeting a market of people with little kids –
they’re not flush with dough.

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BobTheFish

361 posts in 2018 days


#3 posted 06-04-2011 05:48 AM

I work in a home furnishings shop. Despite the amount of stuff we get from bigger companies, we do try to make an effort to carry things from local vendors and employ local services when we can. We keep on file two local upholsterers and a person who specializes in farm tables created from reclaimed materials. Though local woodworking has never sold for us (we have tried, but their designs rarely have been cohesive with the shop, and prices aren’t always competitive, or, simply, our customer base has given us a weak response). Because the bulk of our custom orders are in upholstery, and because we have no product catalog of sorts to show our customers the custom tables, the upholsters are often employed, and the gentleman who does tables doesn’t get any real business outside of when we can place their pieces in a design services oriented setting.

Generally our local vendors are people who carry small items at low prices or artwork (which occasionally we sell to someone looking for a beautiful piece of art and can afford the several hundred dollars an original piece goes for).

Despite how much we do like carrying locally made things, I see the same mistakes made over and over again by people who come in to offer us their products:

1. DO NOT come to us at peak hours or when we are busy!

I cannot stress this enough.

If there’s a store full of customers, even if we aren’t looking like we’re assisting anyone at the moment, our eyes and ears are on the showroom floor, and we’re concentrating on servicing our customers. 90% of the people who approach us, do it on a weekend when our shop takes on over 60-70% of our weekly traffic in about two days. Our primary concern is, as awful as it may sound, is to provide our customers with service and products that will make us money, and in turn, YOU money. They’re our primary concern.

2. Build a relationship as a customer or client first

As someone already stated, it’s a gamble taking on a stranger and doing business with them. Are they really reliable? Do they stand behind their work? In general, are they just good people? It sounds silly, but but like with all things in life, it’s just easier to take a chance on a friend than some guy off the street. It doesn’t mean we won’t take that risk, but it helps your chances if we know you.

3. Does your product fit?

I knew a woodworker who tired to sell accent tables to a clothing shop. I know the woman who owned the shop. She tried to sell the tables. she had them prominently displayed, she talked about them to customers that seemed interested. I think only 2 tables sold in the 12 months she was in the shop.

You just can’t expect that sort of thing to work.

If you make rustic pieces, don’t sell them to a store selling ultra sleek modern furniture. If you make modern pieces, don’t sell to a shop that sells reproduction highboys or tables with claw feet. It just isn’t going to work. Their customers like a particular style, and not only are your pieces going to stand out like a black sheep amongst the arctic tundra, those customers just aren’t looking for that look. Your pieces probably aren’t going to sell. Fit is a pretty important thing. Also don’t just say to yourself, “well, they have this one piece that’s kind of rustic, so they’ll be able to sell my rustic furniture” if the rest of the store is a different look. It may just somehow “go” with the rest of their look, or maybe it’s just an oddball great selling piece. Try to take in the whole style of the shop before you make that decision.

4. Be prepared.

Dress nicely (you don’t need a business suit, but be somewhat presentable, show is part of sales, and though, some of us aren’t too discerning, you will encounter shop owners more superficial than us), have pictures of your products, business cards, and if possible, some sales material on hand to give to us.

Websites are nice, but I’ll let you in on a secret: having those printouts and a separate price list on hand give us something to show a customer, and tends to mean that we can sell your products without worry that some of our craftier customers are going to try and cut us out of the equation. We had one person sell his wares to us at a particular price, and then had a site that he promoted on all his wares where he was selling to consumers at the same price. We didn’t carry his stuff for long. If we’re working hard to sell your stuff, we need to be paid for our time and effort (as well as rent and other bills) as well! And we like knowing that our store carries a unique product.

5. Know who already carries your products

We don’t often mind that you sell to other people. It’s great that you’re being an entrepreneur and we want to carry your products. But if it’s a small town, we’re very mindful of our competitors. Even the big wholesale companies offer us some degree of product line protection so we aren’t competing with the guy next door. Also, we’re mighty neighborly with other local businesses. We might refuse you if you’re already too close to our area. It’s sort of a respectful thing to do and encourages cooperatoin.. Besides, it’s just kind of a neighborly thing to do.

I hope all that helps. I know that I’m happier than can be when I find out another local is making money rather than some CEO or a factory worker in Malaysia…

View Loren's profile

Loren

8313 posts in 3114 days


#4 posted 06-04-2011 07:20 AM

Jonathan,

You’re asking about marketing a commodity – hence price competition
will be a factor.

If there is one piece of advice I can offer to businesses with small
capital, it’s stay away from commodity type products – instead create
something which has both demand and limited, ovepriced, or incompetent
competition. There you will find markets.

In general, finding markets is tough, but very, very smart.

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

411 posts in 2410 days


#5 posted 06-04-2011 03:29 PM

Before advertising, determine what is your Unique Selling Point. What is it about your product line that sets you apart from the competition? Who is your target market? What is their socio-economic level? Does your product line fit what they can afford? Where do these people live, shop, congregate, websurf, facebook, etc.?

Once you answer the questions, marketing to them should be easy as you know exactly who, where and how to target.

One other idea before you get started is to look at what some of the other people on this forum and other businesses market. what is their USP? Who is their target market and how do they find them? How do they market to their customers? Nothing about marketing is new. The secret is to find your market.

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

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2317 days


#6 posted 07-19-2011 08:05 PM

Pardon the horn tooting, but my company was just profiled in Ruralite Magazine, July.

I did not front load this; the writer called and made an appointment. I asked him how he found me, and he said his editor “keeps a list of interesting article ideas, and your name came up.” All along I was kind of ho hum about the whole thing, assuming the Ruralite was Oregon alone. Turns out it goes to over 324,000 addresses! Whoa!

Most likely the reading of another article about my product got Barker on the list.

In the early history of the company, we did a lot of press releases and got articles and reviews in a number of regional magazines, including the Horizon Air inflight mag, and of course in the trade magazines, which are always looking for unique features about woodworking and woodworkers.

If you want to explore this, have a conversation with someone who could write and submit (and likely photograph too). This might cost you up front, it might not, but it’s worth the conversation and questions if you think you could value from this sort of exposure.

One of the trade writeups was directly responsible for a custom order from a man who owns a high end millwork company on the east coast. Not even a bass player, he wanted one to hang on the wall for the art of it!

The Ruralite article has netted a number of inquiries and one sale. So far!

Set your self-consciousness aside and ask, “what kind of buzz about myself and/or my product(s) would do me the most good?”

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Wood_smith's profile

Wood_smith

252 posts in 2491 days


#7 posted 07-26-2011 03:19 AM

DLCW, you said “I also attend large builders shows and talk to a lot of people and hand out a lot of information.” Do you mean you exhibit at these shows? or just attend? The shows I’ve inquired about exhibiting at told me specifically they do not allow attendees, or guests to hand out information for a business that isn’t paying for booth space.
More power to you if you can get away with it, but I don’t think that would always work.

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch, http://www.kerrywoodworking.com

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jonnytranscend

96 posts in 2006 days


#8 posted 07-31-2011 01:38 AM

Word of mouth. But to have that work you have to first build a customer basis. Get on the web and list your business everywhere possible. When someone googles you its best to have a presence anywhere you can. Next social networking sites have really brought be a good deal of business. I you decide to use door hangers or direct mailing the key is saturation. You need to continue with the advertising for months in order to get proper exposure. Also maybe donate some work or services and have a small local news channel or paper cover it. Be creative and dedicated and you will see results.

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