So what kind of marketing do you do?

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Forum topic by christopheralan posted 10-06-2008 09:11 PM 2775 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1126 posts in 3894 days

10-06-2008 09:11 PM

Just wondering what everyone else is doing to promote their work.

-- christopheralan

23 replies so far

View Allison's profile


819 posts in 3973 days

#1 posted 10-06-2008 11:28 PM

I have no clue either, I hope you get some response from this as I would also like to know certain things about this aspect

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3822 days

#2 posted 10-06-2008 11:42 PM

Ah…. that’s the $64,000 question now, isn’t it?

Depends on what you want to do. If you are set up to do cabinetry
it’s a good idea to get yourself known to local contractors and
architectural firms, especially in cases where the architect
supervises his or her own projects. I used a direct mail system
to get clients and it worked well.

When I was doing a lot of woodworking I seldom did spec work and
when I did I seldom sold it. Custom work is often not much fun
because it runs to heavy cabinetry – but that’s where there is
money to be made with the least struggle.

I’ve known guys that did a lot of outdoor fairs and things. It’s a good
idea to put some nice work out there but at the end of the day
people are mostly going to leave with a birdhouse or turned pen…
so make sure you have inexpensive things for them to buy –
jewelry too.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4066 days

#3 posted 10-07-2008 03:01 AM

The first thing you need to understand about marketing is that it is voodoo magic. What works today, won’t work tomorrow. It’s a perpetual journey of trying different ideas and mediums while managing the financial success or failure of your efforts. (Yep, it confuses me too, and I’ve been doing this for seven years).

As a cabinet maker with a niche in custom closets, I got my start by advertising in subdivision homeowner newsletters. This let me specifically target high-end neighborhoods for a very low cost. These newsletters are generally published once a month and the cost was $25 – $50 per month for a business card size ad. This is how I started getting my first jobs. The next thing that helped was participating in home shows. Atlanta has two each year that are quite large. The cost ran $1000 – $2000 for a 10×10 or 10×20 booth, but I usually generated $20,000 plus in work from each show that ran four days. I no longer do them because they are a lot of work and very difficult to do with one person. I also have a 6×10 cargo trailer that has graphics on three sides. This continues to pull calls. People will see me going down the road and call me on their cell phone on an impulse.

I wasted thousands on slick, four color, regional magazines with virtually no return on my investment. I did the Val Pac thing (coupons mailed to the home) with no ROI. Newspaper ads suck worst than anything. The experts say that you have to run these type of ads for four or five months straight before you start seeing activity, but this type of advertising is very, very expensive. Direct mail was a hit and miss thing which also has to run continuously to be effective.

By far, the best advertising is word of mouth. Until the economy recently fell apart, I had not spent a penny on advertising for the past three years. My business was growing 30% per year strictly on word of mouth and repeat business. Once you start finding customers, and if you do good work, new customers will find you.

I have recently embarked on a new venture this year to find an additional revenue stream to supplement my cabinet business by making end grain cutting boards and dipping boards. I’ve only been going at it for about 4 months and I intend to start blogging about my adventures later this year. Building and selling “widgets” is a whole different animal than doing $10,000 cabinet jobs. However, the concept of selling a job is no different than selling a widget. You have to generate a lead to close a sale.

I have had limited success on Etsy and my ecommerce web site. I have generated a lot of interest from Flickr posted pictures with sets attached to the appropriate groups. Of course, craft shows are the best. I stay away from “country craft” shows and concentrate on fine craft shows. They do the best. I have had a few phone calls after a show with people asking for a custom item so I always make sure people leave my booth with a business card. It’s real interesting that in these bad economic times, people still pull out $100 bills to purchase my boards rather than use a credit card.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3728 days

#4 posted 10-07-2008 09:32 AM

My only marketing was making stuff for friends and family as b-day and Christmas gifts. I also used Craigslist but that was hit and miss. I only woodwork for profit very part time but if you’re talking about marketing, you have to think about who your target audience is and think about what marketing venues would appeal to them.
For example, let’s say you want to sell a quilt rack. Who buys quilt racks? If I play stereo types, that would mean I am primarily selling to older women. This means advertising in media for older women such as newspapers and women’s magazines.

View NY_Rocking_Chairs's profile


516 posts in 3771 days

#5 posted 10-07-2008 11:06 AM

I started out by talking to the local galleries (furniture, art, crafts, etc.). I placed a chair in each one that would have one. I also started placing smaller items in them as I got them done. A few of them love to get the “Under $100” items for around xmas time, they sell fast.

I don’t get as much money per project when I sell through a gallery due to their commission, but the gallery is much more visible, and they pay for all the marketing, insurance, etc. Also, once my reputation is created with the gallery, that gallery passes on any custom work they get. I am open to any project idea and if it is something over my head or something I just don’t have time to do, I tell them and they shop it to someone else. Also, people expect to pay more at a gallery since it is now “retail” pricing so the markup doesn’t always hurt me so much.

Through the galleries I have sold about 3 chairs, from word of mouth of those customers I have orders for 4 more, which sold directly through me so I don’t pay the commision to the gallery on those. So it was well worth the investment of the commision for me.

So my keys to success were getting the product out there so it is visible, establishing a reputation with the local places for 1) quality work, and 2) timely work. I have been told that I am the most reliable and schedule concious woodworker some of the galleries have, which means I usually get first pick of the projects, and then providing top-quality craftsmanship and product.

There is enough local work (by local I span a 200-mile radius in western NY to various galleries and customers) to keep me occupied, but the word of mouth thing (and web site) has sent my chairs North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, and now CA.

Hope this helps, good luck.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

View Ryan Bruzan's profile

Ryan Bruzan

153 posts in 3069 days

#6 posted 02-21-2011 04:36 AM

Here is a topic in another community where I threw in my own two sense on marketing on a tight, yet intelligent budget. Many other ideas as well from others who ask the same question.

Best idea for marketing in the down economy

Another idea that I used before with another service was letting others do the advertising for me. Interior designers and design stores, your own competition, non-competitive supply shops, etc. Now that I am confident in my cabinetmaking, casework and custom built-in skills, I am targeting my next group of those who value value.

I think a very powerful way of marketing is by helping others succeed. Pay attention to other people starting their ventures, perhaps a young person going to college, working at a gas station and doing leatherwork to help pay the bills (for example). Feature his or her service on a special page of your website. Mom and dad are certain to thank you by telling their friends of the unconditional assistance you are providing to their child. I wish someone would have done that for me, but since no one has, I will.

Be creative in every aspect. Be confident, but don’t be arrogant. Research guerilla marketing. You don’t have to spend a lot to be successful, but only you can define your own success.

Build a network. This can be tough sometimes, but there are people out there who have the same forms of passion and drive that you do. Support them. Give them a good public word. Help them build their businesses. Become a team, local or national.

Educate. Teach someone a skill. Perhaps a neighborhood full of kids who would love to have a nice little airplane you built from your scrap pile. Imagine all those kids 10 or 20 years from now calling you for their next big project. Education is investing in their futures, but yours, too.

Enough for now; my brain is tired. I ate too much at the Paula Deen Buffet.

Luck is by chance; heart and soul is by nature.

-- No matter how many factors go into thinking about a project, there is always one important new discovery to be made.

View thom's profile


5 posts in 2798 days

#7 posted 03-21-2011 03:40 AM

I usually use ebay to market my ideas, it is not totally accurate way to calculate demand though. I usually try to start small and start throwing things out there. I started making boulder sinks that way. what I have found is that quality is very important. Also What would you like. how do you like to find products, put yours there. If you have something people want, you just have to find your market. If you google boulder sinks and do a image search I am one of the first results, i’m the creativecustomfurniture result . I can sell more than I can make. all that is just from doing the best I can with quality and searching for the right product. I do believe that it all started with asking God for something that would work out for me. I give Him the credit.

-- Thom custom furniture and custom sized poly-wood

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3721 days

#8 posted 03-21-2011 05:44 AM

Craigslist. This is hit or miss. Direct calling list. And location on major thoroughway. Have decent success. But always look for improvement.

-- .

View lumberhack's profile


37 posts in 2798 days

#9 posted 03-21-2011 07:30 PM

I ask every client how they found me, and found that I receive approx 90% of my business through word of mouth. To build on this, I started a “referral rewards” program in which I will give my clients and other tradesmen a card telling them how much I appreciate their referrals and offer them a 10% “commision” on any work they send my way. It has been an enormous sucess with most clients sending me at least two refererrals. What really surprises me is that most of them won’t accept any payment

View Wood_smith's profile


260 posts in 3199 days

#10 posted 03-22-2011 04:44 AM

I have to agree with closetguy on the magazine advertising- I spent a couple thousand in 2009-2010 and got more results with the free online classified sites (similar to craigslist, but I never tried it).
I guess I figured once everyone saw my ad in the woodworking magazines, they’d beat a path to my door and I would have a problem keeping up with the demand for my pouches!
I’m not overly convinced of social media marketing either- Facebook is great for staying in touch with friends and family, but unless you friend a gazillion people, how do potential customers find you? I tried a Facebook ad for a few months, not a great cost, but very few clicks on my website.
You can get exposure joining woodworking forums, but most of them don’t allow any commercial advertising in their classified sections, and no blatant promotion in a post (like saying here “check out my pouches- the most innovative new products in years!) ;-) you get the point. I’ve had some luck with word-of-mouth, and similar to lumberhack, I offer a referral reward, nothing great, just $5 cash for every pouch someone orders and mentions the referrer’s name.
Good luck!

-- Lloyd Kerry; creator of the Kerry-All Pouch,

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 3049 days

#11 posted 03-23-2011 01:20 PM

I found out the way to go is on the internet. Putting ads in papers and handing out fliers doesn’t work. But the best one of all is word of mouth.

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

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

85 posts in 2799 days

#12 posted 04-14-2011 06:56 AM

A website is a goodway to go. Even if the site is just a show case to show some of your work. Then the can contact you from there.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

View Eutree's profile


18 posts in 2833 days

#13 posted 04-15-2011 07:10 PM

For us its been word of mouth. Happy customers really do tell their friends. We also have open houses a couple times per month just to let people see what we are doing. Its fun just to swap stories about projects or life in general.

-- Come visit our shop, we always love visitors!

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 3118 days

#14 posted 04-16-2011 03:12 PM

The type of marketing that someone will do is based upon several factors. What is the product that is being sold? What is the price point of the product? Who is the intended customer? Do you plan to sell retail or wholesale or both? What is your budget for marketing? What is your sales goal?

As you can see, you need a marketing plan that answers the questions above. Then you can devise the strategy needed to find your customers.

I sell both retail and wholesale. I have found retail customers by doing art and craft shows. Only do ones that have high quality and at least 100.000 attendance. I do about 20 – 25 per year and will travel up to 800 miles one way to attend a show. I also make sure that my website and 800 number on every product that leaves on the retail level. Many customers have found me again by this idea. I also ensure that everyone who enters my booth gets a catalog before they leave. Include a catalog in every retail order that gets shipped out. Believe in a catalog more that a business card as it can show products instead of just my name, both have all of my contact information. Have a website that is a functioning e-store so that people can order there. I employ SEO to ensure that I usually wind up on the front page when searching for my type of products.

Wholesale: Attend 2 – 4 trade shows per year and then follow up , follow up and follow up some more with people who stop in the booth. I have had stores approach me at art and craft shows, who I contact back after the show. I will do cold calls on the phone to cities where I will be doing a show, explaining that I would like to show my products to them when I am in town. So I get to the city a day earlier and have several appointments lined up with stores. Have had some luck advertising in industry trade magazines which has resulted in more store leads. Also have a referral bonus for stores that refer other stores that open accounts with me.

Now for the ideas that I do that I am not sure if they work: Have my website on my signature at each forum that I am on and my email. Made up t-shirts with company logo, website and 800 number and wear them when riding my bicycle and at the gym. ALWAYS carry business cards with me and ALWAYS have catalogs in all of my cars. Never know when you will meet someone who is a potential customer.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View Ryan Bruzan's profile

Ryan Bruzan

153 posts in 3069 days

#15 posted 04-16-2011 05:29 PM

Good stuff, good stuff. Keep it coming!

-- No matter how many factors go into thinking about a project, there is always one important new discovery to be made.

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