Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ballyhoo's Secret Tricks..shhh don't tell!

I can officially say I am not talented in many ways, however, marketing/advertising has come a bit easy.  I actually enjoy it, so that helps.  I've never studied marketing - I have a degree in English for God's sake. So, I'm not claiming these tips will work for everyone, or have any scientific backing.  But, for some reason, I've been pretty successful in my five months on Etsy (617 sales and counting).  If I relied on Etsy to get my visits, I'd have less than half of those sales. Here are my tips, take what you want, leave some, tweek some, steal some, whatever... your shop, your call.

***Ebay? Really? I'll start here. Yes, I sell on Ebay. But not for the reasons you may think. Well, money is part of it obviously, but there are better reasons.  The most important thing you can do is get your name out there. I take a low cost item I can make quickly and start the auction at $.99 plus shipping.  I link my shop name also - this is important.  If someone buys it, that's one more person with a Ballyhoo item.  If it's an item I don't want to let go at the price it is going for by the end of the auction, I just cancel the listing, but I only did this once.  I usually will sell it. That's why I make sure it's a low cost item; I make sure it's something I can do for a few bucks.  You want to be able to start at $.99 because that's how people search, by the lowest price, and you want to be seen.  Also, Ebay is very psychological; I've seen people bid up to $12 on items they wouldn't do a pay-it-now on for $7.00.  You can also do a 'buy-it-now' listing. I have a low cost item up for buy-it-now selling for $5.00 plus shipping for 28 days. I've sold a few already, so not too bad. Five more people wearing Ballyhoo.

 It also helps my shop in another way.  When Google figures out what links should pop up first, it does this several ways. I won't get into all of them, but one of them in backlinking.  The best explanation I've heard that made sense was this: think of when you were young and starting a new school.  How did you know who the popular kids were? You saw their name everywhere, heard people talking about them, etc...Google is like this.  The more times Google 'sees' my link out there, the more 'popular' it believes I am.  I have multiple items that come up on the first page of a google search. I can't pin point why, but this is the kind if thing I do.  But mainly it's because of relevancy ~ describe your items the way people would search. And always, Always, repeat yourself in the very first line of your description. I copy and paste baby! This is the trick of relevancy.  I won't go into it, just trust me.

If you feel so inclined, you can do a fee ad on Craigslist.  You may or may not get anything out of it, but you never know. And it's free. You could run a free ad just linking your shop, or you can list an item for sale.  Always link your shop and put your shop name bold and big.  The idea here is, what can it hurt? Take advantage of these things.

***I'm an Emailin' Fool  I reach out to people. A lot.  If I see a new photography company who accepts shop items, I contact.  I have got free professional photos this way, and a link on the site page to my shop.  If there is a popular blog, I contact them.  Can I host a giveaway on their site? Yes? Wonderful!  "Hi, I think my items would be a great match for your company.  Would you be interested in a wholesale order?' Yes? Wonderful!  See where this is going? The squeeky wheel gets the oil, right?

***You Want What Free? If I am on the other end, and a blog contacts me about doing a promotion or giveaway, I do my research.  How many viewers do they get per month? What do they want? A free item or a special coupon code? I balance it all out and if I think it's worth it, I do it.  I NEVER send anything to the youtube "product reviewers." I think they just want something free. I've looked at their pages on youtube and half the time they've reviewed a pack of gum and that's it. But one time, a roller derby blog contacted me about a giveaway.  They only wanted under $20.00 in free items, plus they would make a $40.00 purchase, run an ad for my shop on the site for a month free, and they got over 20,000 unique views a month. Done and Done!

Oh God, Not Another Heartsy Discussion Ok, where to even begin... I am lost as to how a website that sells coupons became so controversial. But, either way, I'm basically pre-groupon first of all. Mainly because of my items and prices, I can do this. It works for me.  Technically, you should be able to still make a profit from 50% off. If you can't, it's time to look at your prices. Not for all shops, so don't get offended. I'm generalizing for the sake of discussion. I do the standard pricing model.  Half off groupon sites are basically the same as wholesale, with advertising and promotion as a benefit.  Instead of selling to one person at a wholesale price, you are selling to many. Again, that's 100 more people wearing Ballyhoo. The thing you have to remember is that many people do go over the deal price. And, you direct them to your Facebook, they become a fan, their friends see that, they become a fan. Now you can see Facebook networking working for you.  

But, I don't think Heartsy, or other groupon sites, is for everyone. Only you can decide this.  If you do decide to do a groupon site, prepare yourself. Think of a deal that you can live with and if they don't accept it, move on. Don't cave, and stand up for your shop and yourself.  Heartsy first asked me to do almost 70% off, I said no way. I told them what percent off I could manage and they agreed. So, don't ever be afraid to stand up for your shop.  And these kinds of deals are not something you can do frequently, but once in awhile, it can be a good thing.

***Various Marketing Tricks  I do everything and anything to get my name out, without being pesky or spammy.  You never know where that huge sale will come from. Sometimes I will post on pages under my shop name, but ONLY if it's relevant. This is a shady one.  I hate when shops come to my Facebook page and just post, 'hi, come check out my shop!' I delete and never look back. Half the time it's jewelry. Why would I buy from you when I can make it myself. Clearly, they are just promoting and I'm not havin' it on my page. If you see a good page that may bring you fans/sales and you actually have something to say to that particular site, and it's not in direct competition to you, then, that can work sometimes.  It's a judgement call.  Also, Mailchimp has a great email newsletter service.  This is a great way to stay in touch with previous buyers.  I have my sign up in my "note to buyer." I do not spam. As you may have noticed, I hate spamming.  So, I have an opt-in that I offer.  

Here's a gem! Make your business cards usable. Most people put a business card in with the order and in turn, many people just toss them. In the hopes of avoiding that, I turn mine into bookmarks.  I seal them with clear tape, so they are laminated.  I then punch a hole and loop a ribbon through. Voile! If I'm lucky, they will hang on to it and use it, and see my shop name every time they open their book. Think of a way to inspire people to keep your book mark. I've seen magnets, bookmarks, and things like that. 

Drop your cards off! I will drop a few cards around town. Just anywhere I feel like it when it occurs to me.  The goal is to put your shop out there, then let them come to you. And they will.

Also, you can fan other shops who have a style you like, and see what kinds of things they post. Find a shop similar to you, 'like' them on Facebook and see how they run the page. You don't want to copy them, but it may give you some ideas.

What Now? Keeping Your Fans

So, you've ran the ad and done the work. What now? How do you keep all these fans? 

It's super easy, and here's how:

***Think Like a Shopper  Of course you want to post every listing, every sale, every thing about your shop. You may be thinking: Promote, Promote, Promote! But, let's put the brakes on for a minute. To be the best seller, think like a shopper.  If you fanned a shop, do you want to be bombarded with items and listings and basically be told, 'Buy This!'  No, you probably don't like it at all, I know I don't.  You definitely want to post about all your sales - not items sold, but actual sales your shops is having. I have seen shops post about every sale they make. Not a good idea. But for shop sales, yes, post that. Do not bore or spam your fans.

***'Date' your Fans There is a fine line between getting personal and 'getting personal,' and don't act like you don't know where it is.  You do.  It's a really good idea to post little bits about your kids, or funny stories, things like that. Stay AWAY from politics, religion, family issues, and things like that. Treat your fans like you're on a first date; if you wouldn't say it on a first date, don't say it to your fans. I post funny videos or stories, inspiring quotes - things I think the average person would enjoy. People love humor, and will respond well to it. The more comments you can get on your posts, the better. You want to stay in the minds of your fans, so when they have money or are looking for a gift, your shop is not some distant memory.  Stay in the foreground, but not by spamming.  You want to have a good balance of shop/non-shop related posts.

***Brass Tacks  Let's be honest. What you want are sales, so the posts that matter to you are the shop related ones.  Post only new listings you really love, and say something about it. What inspired you, what is unique about it?  Post all shop sales - of course.  I sometimes offer special coupon codes to my Facebook Fans. Naturally, they love this.  I'm not into posting treasuries that I was in, and frankly, I don't care what treasury your shop was in...I mean, do your fans really care? Probably not. They fanned you so why do they need to see 11 other shop items? That will go under the bore-your-fans-to-death category. Boring fans will result in them unliking your page.  Again, everything in moderation; if it's a really cool treasury, or if it features shops you want to support, then post away. But don't post every single one.

***Giveaway?...yeah, your page!  Many shops do Facebook giveaways. This is a great idea - if you want your page shut down.  Giveaways that are only for Facebook Fans, or are contingent upon people likeing your page are not Facebook legal and can result in your page getting shut down.  If you want to do a giveaway, which is a great idea, do it on your blog, then post on Facebook and re-route your fans to your blog.  Giveaways are a great way to engage your fans (I mean, who doesn't love free stuff?) but you need to do them correctly.  The penalties can be anywhere from losing your page to very hefty fines.  Here are the rules, and I would highly suggest following them:

I know a giveaway may seem like you're just giving away free items, but it's advertising. That person will wear/use your item and tell friends. Word of mouth is an excellent resource.

Also, I've heard having a second admin can save your page from being shut down. I'm not 100% why this is, but you better believe I have a second admin.  I picked a good friend that I trust, and he doesn't have to do anything but give me piece of mind that I'm a bit more protected.

***Wrap it Up!  Some things to keep in mind  - I've said it before and it deserves repeating: engage, don't bore, your fans. Do not spam -don't come off like a used car salesman only after the almighty dollar (you know they type). Follow the rules. Post all sales (as in discounts, not sold items - sounds weird but I've seen it), and reward your fans with special coupons.  I have even done a two day 50% off for Facebook Fans. Little surprises like this are great for them. As a side note, if you can't afford a one day half off sale, your items are way under-priced.  

I do not post all my new listings, but I do have photo albums and add every new item in my photo section.  This will show up to your fans, you don't need to post the listing as well.  Again, don't make your fans feel that all you want is their money.  I actually enjoy interacting with them, finding out what they like or want to see, things like that. And this information can actually really improve sales. Knowing what people like is a great foundation for designs.

This one is very important: answer your fans! Sometimes you will get a comment on a photo, asking how much, or what it's made of, etc... for the love of all that is, answer the person.  If you can't take the time to respond, I don't feel bad when you have no sales coming in. I wouldn't shop from a place that won't take the time to answer my questions. You can't put this much work into it, then sit back. Also, you will lose fans sometimes. It happens. Don't even pay it any mind.  The biggest stores in the world lose fans so don't take it personally at all. The person may have closed their account, or is having money issues, who knows...but don't stress over every fan.   

I hope these extra tips help!! Good Luck!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding Your Targets

I've received requests, and many super nice emails, inquiring how to find good targets. I'll do my best to explain what I did, but I'm no expert - all I know is what worked for me, so here goes...

**Know your Competitors!  You know better then anyone else what you sell.  Use that information to choose your competitors. Where do you believe your customers would also shop?  For example, many people who shop at Nordstrom's would also shop at Sax Fifth Avenue.  If you sell baby items, enter in Babies R Us, if you sell graphic tees, enter in Zazzle or PalmerCash.  If you are not sure, then do a Facebook search.  I had one shop that sold hand-painted tote bags ask me who to enter as a competitor.  I went to the Facebook search, typed in 'hand painted totes,' but I didn't get much so I tried just 'tote bags.' This gave me a bit more, so I looked  for which page had the most fans and chose that one. Which leads to the second tip...

**Pick Winners!  When doing a search, you may come across a shop that is perfect as your competition, but they only have 11 fans. Don't even bother.  Choose pages with many fans so you will reach the most people.  Also, many interests will have several fan pages.  A quick page search will reveal which one has the most fans, thus, which one to choose.  For example, I may enter 'Etsy' for one of my 'likes and interests,' but there are several Etsy fan pages.  I will see which one is the most popular and pick that page.  Remember, it's all a numbers game and you want to win.

***Stand Out in the Crowd  When you pick your photo, remember, your ad will probably be shown in the bottom corner - so you want to catch some eyes!  Think bright colors, bold images, and basically things that will draw the eye down to your ad.  If you choose a light pink photo of a necklace against a white background, it may not get seen.  Remember, you are fighting for fans, and fighting against other ads (you will be in a group of about four or five other ads).  How will YOURS stick out?  A great tool is the 'preview on page' button.  You can see what your ad will look like on a page.  I highly suggest trying this out.  See if you would notice your ad or not. How well does it stand out?  Does it draw your eye down? If not, rethink your image. Also, you don't have to use a product photo. I've had success with other images that I think relate to my overall look or feel.  As long as it's relevant, you're good!

**Think Outside the Shop!  Don't just think of other stores to enter in for 'likes and interests,' you can choose TV shows, music, celebrities, popular websites, anything.  For example, I add in 'tattoos' and 'True Blood' for my interest targets. It's a safe bet that my customers will like tattoos since I sell many tattoo inspired items. I also know True Blood will be good one to pick because on the right side of my page (under 'recommended pages') it tells me how many of my fans like certain pages, and if many of my current fans like something, it's probable many future ones will too. As you gain fans, you will have better information on this. I also enter in Kat Von D as a target interest because she is relevant to tattoos and she has a similar style to my shop; basically, I can see my customers liking her.

**Know Your Customers!  We all know choosing likes and interests are important for targeting, but what about age? Location? Relationship status? Well, again, you know your customers best, use that knowledge.  If you sell dresses or baby items - target women.  If you sell trendy, magazine inspired items - target younger people.  Think about your typical customer and enter in targets that fit that profile.  You may be hesitant as you see the targeted audience dwindling, but don't worry - this goes back to wanting a high CTR that I discussed in the last post.  I would think as long as you're over a couple hundred thousand, you're ok.  You will probably be in the millions actually.

**Take Facebook's Suggestions!  After you type in some 'likes and interests,' Facebook will suggest some pages to you (below the grey box).  When I see these, I will open another tab and do a search for the suggested pages I think may be a fit and check if any of them have lots of fans.  I will also type in a word and see what pages it thinks I'm going to type. I will do a search on those too.  For example, if enter in 'Steampunk' for an interest, a whole list of pages with 'Steampunk' for the first word will pop up in the prediction text. If any are a good match, I may add it- but only if it fits with my shop aesthetic.  Don't just add things that are sort of like you're shop. This will waste money and lower your CTR.  You want to target people who will possibly buy from you.

Here is an example of what a possible ad I could run would look like:

Destination: Ballyhoo Jewelry
Type: Facebook Ads
Destination Tab: My Etsy or Default - wherever you want people to land
Body: Follow Ballyhoo for Steampunk and tattoo inspired jewelry! 20% off for Facebook Fans!
Location: US, UK, Australia
Age: 18-33
Demographics: Women
Likes & Interests: Toofast, Hot Topic, Tattoos, Kat Von D, True Blood, Etsy, Punk Rock, Rockabilly,        
                            Zombies, Sourpuss Clothing
Connections: Only people NOT already connected to Ballyhoo Jewelry
Interested in: All
Relationship Status: All
Education: All

Friday, February 25, 2011

Short and Sweet Facebook Advertising

My page is here:

When I first opened my shop, I set up GA (Google Analytics). I noticed that the majority of my visitors came from Facebook. I had a fan page with a few friends on it, but nothing much. I wanted a fan page with many fans whom I could interact with, and get feedback from, and show my new listings to. I'd heard paid advertising on Facebook could be beneficial, but I had never taken out a paid ad, and I had NO clue where to start, what to do...nothing. Honestly, I started by googling Facebooks Ads. That's how clueless I was.  I pulled up the form and started entering my information, the photo I wanted for my ad and what I wanted it to say. I'd read some tips for this so I had an idea of how I wanted it to look.  After it started running, I frequently checked my stats to see what worked and what did not. 

Bottom line: 157 fans in one month and rising daily! About 40% of my sales are from Facebook. Today I sold out of an item just from listing it on Facebook and telling my fans how many were selling out, to act now etc....I already have requests to hold some the next time I make more. Also, once you get a solid number of fans, you can pull back on advertising, because now that you have so many connections, you can sit back and let Facebook networking work for you - you'll be surprised.

So, here are my tips for anyone who is considering a paid Facebook ad:

**Do bids per click. Paying for impressions is good if you just want your name out there, but if you want people to take action, as in 'liking' your shop, you want to pay per click. Trust me, I won't bore you with more details but it's the best way.

**Direct your ad to your Facebook page NOT your shop.  Many people make the mistake of directing their ad to their Etsy shop (or where ever) - thinking, ' I want people to see my shop, then they can browse and buy' -but don't do this. People are more likely to 'like' a page, and they don't feel like they HAVE to spend money. And this way, you can advertise to them OVER and OVER again. Also, some people may not have extra cash to spend right now, but enjoy 'window' shopping. If they check out your store now, you have just spent money for that with no result. On the other hand, if they 'like' you page, then they will have your posts in front of them so whey they are ready to shop - there you are! Also, when people 'like' your page, their friends will see the activity with your shop link, and if their friends click on it and 'like', then their friends see it and so get the idea.  This is networking at it's best!

**Use interest targets wisely.  Using my shop as an example, many people would be tempted to put in: jewelry, shopping, necklaces. That's not always best.  I can add 'necklaces' as a target, but that's such a broad term. How will I know they like MY style of necklaces. It won't hurt to add this type of target, but make sure you add in more specific interests as well that will improve your CTR and target people that may actually buy something someday. The best thing to do is to enter in the shop/store names of your competition; use similar 'big name' stores. For example, I could put in 'Hot Topic,' or 'Too Fast."  Chose specific things, not just umbrella terms.  I put in my competition, but also popular TV shows that many of my fans like, music they like...etc... As you gain more fans, it will show you how many of them like certain things. For example, 40 of my fans like True Blood, so I will type that in for a target. You get better stats on this as you get more fans.

**Don't focus on impressions.  Some people just want their ad shown as many times as possible, but this is not the best way for several reasons. Yes, I can use fewer targets and hit more people, but I don't think many men over 50 will be buying my jewelry, so why waste my time and money. Actually, they probably won't click on my ad anyway, and now I've lowered my CTR (click through rate).  Facebook favors ads with higher CTR so you really want to target well with the purpose of viewers taking action, i.e. clicking. For example, Facebook will favor an ad that is shown 2,000 times with 20 clicks over an ad shown 50,000 times with 30 clicks. It's a numbers game and you want a high percentage of viewers clicking through.  This is why it's better to have your ad shown less with more clicks per view than just focusing on your ad being shown as many times as possible.

**Don't forget our overseas friends!   I get many orders from overseas buyers, but not many from say, Iraq. I will enter in United States, United Kingdom, and Australia since that's where many of my buyers are from. See where the majority of your buyers live and use that information to target users. Again, it's about a high CTR and getting the results you want  - like orders.

**Monitor your ad frequently. 
You can check in whenever you want and see how it's performing and trending. I checked my stats after two days and switched my photo. I then checked that after two days to see which photo attracted more clicks. I would then change my wording, and watched that. You see where this is going? I eventually found certain photos and wording that attracted the most clicks.  Play around with it. After you edit, it will say the edit needs to be approved, but that's no big deal, it will be. Edit away!

**Set your budget.
Set your daily limit to the amount you are not willing to go over, this protects you. I set mine around $5.00 a day with a total ad budget of $50.00 or so over two weeks. You can use any budget that works for you.

**Use suggested bid, or a bit unde
r.  This is debatable, but I find it's better to use a higher bid if you want to advertise aggressively. If you have a healthy number of fans and just want to ad a few more, then go lower. For shops looking to gain fans, you want a higher bid. Some people bid at like $.20 per click thinking they will get a good deal. I'm pretty sure all that will get you is bad slots or no impressions (times ad is shown) at all. I've never really talked to anyone who did this successfully and I'd be interested to hear how it went. I'm sure it's worked before, but don't go this route if you're a new shop looking to really increase your fan base quickly. For me, the sales I got from all my new fans paid off my ad costs, and I set my daily limit so it's not like bidding higher cost me more in the end.

**Block your Fans.  Don't forget to set your ad to block targeting people who are already your fans, that's just wasting money - they already 'like' you.

**Play around with it
.  Change your photo, target just women, or both men and women, up your age bracket, add some countries, change your interest targets, see what gets you the most out of your ad. 

**Don't bore your Fans.  Once you get your fans, don't bombard them with listings, they will tune you out. Post normal everyday things like you do on your regular profile, but remember these are potential customers so keep it professional. Tell them about yourself, things you do, funny stories, etc...keep it interesting so they post back and stay connected. Also, if a fan posts on your page, their friends may see the link - remember, Facebook is all about networking and making connections.

**Go for it!  You can set the total ad budget and daily limit so why not, and they won't charge you until the ad is done running. Be warned, they don't send a bill, they just automatically deduct it from your method of payment - they will email you first to let you know. You can also cancel the ad at any time. 

My page is here:
Hope this helps!! Please add your experience, I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'm a sucker for a good book!

So, being as I have my degree in English, I feel compelled to always be reading. I had been hearing about 'Hunger Games,' so I decided to check it out of my local library - I'm a library freak! Anyway, come to find out, this book is young adult. What?! It takes place in post-apocalyptic US and there is the Capital and 12 outlying districts. Once a year, the capital randomly picks one boy and one girl aged 12-18 to participate in the Hunger Games. These are games shown on national television, and it is basically a blood bath. The last person, or child, standing wins. The story is soooo good! I can't wait to start the second and third. I also love love love trilogies. Anyway, I checked out a couple books to keep my company until my second book in the trilogy comes. I'll let you know if they're any good...stay tuned!