Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Marketing Tidbit: BE THE PARTY, Don't Just Wait For An Invitation

It's pretty well universally understood that sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring isn't going to get you any dates, and that if you want a social life, you need to go make one.  You know, meet people, talk, invite people over, stuff like that.  Likewise, if you don't send out invitations, it's a good bet nobody is going to show up for your parties.

So why, when it comes to business, do people forget everything they know?

Several people have told me over the last few weeks that they "don't get enough sales/walk-ins [in their online shop]" so they don't bother to put any time into it or refer customers there.  Seriously, how can anyone call/show up to your party if they don't have the number or know there's a shindig going down at your crib?

Here's the breakdown of one of these very candid back and forths (I've had about five in the last month, but this one was the easiest to find and copy/paste):
[SCENE: a group discussion about glitchiness of Facebook notifications]
Artist:  Most of the people who buy from me do so through Facebook, and it was getting very frustrating and stressful.

Krissi: Why don't you send them over to ArtFire? [note: ArtFire was suggested in this case since this artist has both ArtFire and Etsy shops and using ArtFire would save on fees.]
Artist: I have a hard time diving in completely on ArtFire because I've never gotten a "walk-in" sale from that site. I can send artists there like crazy to set up shops, but I don't spend a lot of time on the site because even when I post new links to items in that shop, I still don't get sales there.
Krissi:  The more people I send over to purchase through ArtFire, the more drop ins I get. People go there, look through the shop and tell their friends about it. So even if I have a 'sale' on facebook, I set the listing up on ArtFire and have the person purchase through there. Then they know the shop is there and they go back and browse.
Artist: I get walk-ins from time to time on Etsy, most especially because of [a collaboration shop] and [a popular blog]. Because of those two things, most of my fans are just used to Etsy. 
Krissi:  People will shop where your stuff is. There's nothing magic about Etsy - it's just a tarted up online shopping cart with name recognition.  Keep Etsy for the walk-ins, but ask your facebook fans, friends and repeat customers to go through ArtFire to save your fees. You can even increase the prices by $1 or so on Etsy to compensate for their listing fees and people will probably start 'getting used to' ArtFire pretty darned quickly.  If you don't want to increase your prices on Etsy, you can hold "ArtFire only" sales to introduce people to it.
Artist: I have to tell you, though, I don't get the bulk of my sales through my inventory at all. If I relied on either shop to pay my bills, I'd be even worse off than I am now. Most people just contact me on Facebook about custom orders, and I set them up with a Paypal invoice.
Krissi: I don't get very many drop-ins either since most of my customers come from Facebook, but I do have more than I used to AND hear from people who say they've been 'stalking' my shop for months before they actually buy something.  I've learned that most people want the freedom to look around at items with prices and without a sales clerk following them.  If they need to contact someone to ask the price, a good number of them probably won't.  Providing a fully stocked online shop with full descriptions to allow potential customers to browse at their leisure is critical.  It's kinda like me walking past Crate & Barrel every day at lunch and then one day wandering in to buy that vase I've been looking at for a week.
Here's a visual.   Look at the difference by clicking on my Facebook fan page.  Can you immediately tell what I have available for sale, what my prices are and whether I take custom orders?  
Now click on my ArtFire shop.  See a difference?
[at this point the conversation went off on another tangent about programming shop widgets and tagging, which will be addressed in separate Marketing Tidbits]

Don't be the sad pug.  Make your shop accessible and invite your customers over.  This advice has already started working for one of the Glitter Bitches Handmade Corporate Rejects, AmyLynn of Kittycrossbones Custom Promotionals, who recently reopened her custom promotionals business after a 7 month hiatus.  Not only has she successfully moved her customers from Etsy to ArtFire, but she is quickly regaining her entire customer base at the same time.  Go AmyLynn!

And GO YOU!  I know you can do it!