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Thursday, March 10, 2011

If I can market office furniture, marketing your craft store should be a breeze!

Ever notice that it is really easy to give advice, but  a tad more difficult to follow it?   Helping my husband market his Office Furniture business has provided me with a great opportunity to practice what I preach and it ain't always pretty.  I am stretching  beyond my comfort level to do things that do not come easily, but I am doing it.  Is my halo glowing?

I send out e-mails.  I schedule special events.  I try [ ...er...."try" being the operative word] to keep his website current.   Heck,  I have even started networking.    Today I plan to ditch my shlumpy "working in front of the computer" clothes, don something that says "jewelry artist" and brave rush hour traffic to have a glass of wine with folks I met at a recent charity event. 

Guess what?

Its working!  Mind you, I am always behind and there is always more to do, but I can see the impact my efforts are having on the business.   A single email on filing cabinets has resulted in two customers who have gone on to spend tens of thousands of dollars with us.  Better yet, my husband has just added himself to the payroll---for now anyway---despite having been in the industry for less than a year.   I find that marketing office furniture is much more challenging than marketing Swarovski Crystal and Felting Supplies, but the same principles apply.  It is all about establishing the KNOW, LIKE, AND TRUST QUOTIENT! 

E-MAILS MATTER!
I want our brand to be top of mind with the consumer and need to do it in a manner that is not irritating.  I am learning the email "sweet spot" for prospective office furniture customers---- you know what I mean...that magic number that serves as a gentle reminder that we are here,  not harassment.   It appears that one email every three weeks is about right for us at this point.   You can email your crafty customer with greater frequency.  After all, she is already interested in what you are selling.  Crafting is what she thinks about when she is daydreaming at work.  It is what she wants to do when the kids are tucked in bed.  

My customer is a bit harder to engage.  My challenge is to give  him a reason to stop and peruse the email before hitting the delete key!    Not easy when you are selling work stations.  Accordingly, my emails often have little to do with  office furniture.  My last few blasts touted our latest "Business Boot Camp" Event.  

SCHEDULE SPECIAL EVENTS!

Since our customer is a small business owner struggling along just like the rest of us---wearing too many hats, facing too few hours in the day---we figured that it might be worthwhile to have a monthly gathering where folks could network and listen to a speaker on subjects of interest to every small business owner.  So far it is proving to be a solid networking effort.  Of course, any time you try something new, there is a learning curve and bump or two along the road.  Mama didn't raise no fool and  I made sure to stack the deck in my favor for the first event.   While several attendees came to  listen to the speaker and some others came to network,  more than a few only stopped in because I promised them a home cooked meal in exchange for the warm body.  It worked!  Those interested in networking were impressed by the turnout, making the second event an easier sell.

In fact, I didn't have to call in a single favor and attendance actually went up!  A number of attendees brought guests and I am hoping the series continues to grow.  The main attraction  is the ability of guests to network and market their own businesses, but I am confident that if one of them is ever in need of an ergonomic office chair, they are going to think of us!


NETWORK LIKE IT MATTERS!

...because it does.  One of the things that I have learned from working with my husband is that networking really works.  He has opened my eyes to the power of the referral and what it can mean to the bottom line.    John is in several networking groups where each member's mission is to procure leads for others.  The guy in the market for a telephone system might also be in the market for office furniture.  A few questions can result in a great lead for me, or for someone in my circle.  I would never have considered such an aggressive networking effort as a bead store owner.  Too Pushy, felt kinda smarmy, not my style.   I was wrong.  If you are sincere and motivated by a desire to give at least as much as you get, lead generation is awesome!  Every time I meet someone these days I pause to consider how we can help each other.  My life --and my business -- is richer for it.
 
Toward that end, let me tell you about Hannah Rosner.  Hannah is an amazing bead artist whose work leaves me breathless.   You can see some it here and here.   Hannah is really, really good at Social Marketing.  She and her fiance have a separate business focused on helping businesses navigate the wild and wooly world of Social Media at a fraction of the cost of other industry experts.    However, the coolest thing is that because she is a self supporting artist, she is particularly good a CRAFTY MARKETING.   She has a kind heart and a generous spirit.   If the whole Facebook/Twitter/Blogging thing has you pulling out your hair in frustration, you should contact her.  Seriously. 

In other news
Happiness is getting it level the first time.  Well, level enough, anyway.  The dogs decimated my fall vegetable garden so I spent the week-end building a fence to protect the spring plantings.  I am sure that it was quite a site....I was digging in fence posts, cutting boards, and glistening profusely.  It was great fun and I still can't believe that I did it.   I hope to have it completed this week-end so that I can get back to the more important stuff...like my fuzzy pink necklace.

3 comments:

  1. This is all good information. Thanks! I have added a video to my blog that I did describing one of my products. There is great room for improvement, but it is a start. I'm going to make more of them and promote them. I think a video shows off a product more than just a picture. I would be interested in your opinion. Thanks for your blog.

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  2. Linda:
    Great use of video! Video does not just show off a product, it is also great for SEO...keep it up! Improving my video presence is on my 2011 "to do" list, for sure!

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