The following article was originally posted on girlscantell's blog on June 29th, 2009. In this article Sara shares her unique marketing tips with us.You can find gorgeous screenprinted housewares, notebooks and totebags in Sara's Etsy shop Girlscantell.
i'll admit from the start that this post is, as it's not rare that my posts are, inspired by a recent post by seth godin. he's nothing if not articulate, usually makes good points and always churns cogs of the thought machine in my head (a very good thing, right?).
this find your voice post jumped out at me in a big way because it hits right at what bothers me about many of the "tips" and "tricks" for marketing that are often fancied about and aimed directly at the handmade business crowd. i'll let you in on a big, important secret: there are no successful one size fits all approaches to marketing a business, especially a business that should be relying on its individuality, creativity and the things that make it different to succeed.
let's examine some of why not everything works for everyone. if you hate blogging, odds are this will become obvious if you try blogging as a marketing technique. if you find twitter's not your thing, you probably won't find much success with that, either. and taking out ads on blogs and websites just because it's cheap or it's a site you (but not your audience) visit everyday might not be the best option for your business.
the only thing that works is to consider these three things and how they best fit together (and the results will be different for each and every handmade business) to do something useful, genuine and visible:
- consider what you made, do or provide: what are you in the business of? (ie, i make hand printed housewares featuring diagrams of everyday items).
- what are you good at? (i might say talking to strangers has always been a talent of mine, for example).
- who are your customers and what do they want? (my customers are thoughtful people who appreciate clever design and things that make them think).
i know this is easier said than done, but the only way to successfully market your handmade business is to connect these three things in a way that works for you.
for girlscantell, i use a couple different techniques to communicate on different levels with the strangers (well, future friends, right?) that like my work - i offer an email list and birthday club as opt-in ways to hear about what's new in the shop. i blog (hi!) about a wide range of things, ideally to start conversations on topics that make me think. then i twitter to interact with people (it's just fun) and post photos to flickr often to be visible.
each of these tools make use of my oddball ability to strike a conversation with pretty much any random person (a characteristic i definitely got from my dad). i feature my unique handprinted items as appropriate, and make them easily available and accessible, but it's all also interesting enough to catch (and hopefully maintain) the interest of people who want more than to just be advertised at (at least that's the idea).
am i suggesting you do things exactly the same way i do? hell no. please don't. really. because you have either a different voice, different talents, different products or a different audience. or all of the above. jcasa has her lovely, inspiring life via her blog. yokoo takes photos that make you look twice. consider what works for you. and then work it.
(and please feel free to post more examples of businesses you love marketing in extraordinary ways in the comments below!)