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!