Here's a super important area we need to address - Market your work - but don't spam! There is a fine line between keeping past and potential customers updated and throwing a big ole' can of spam at their heads 24/7. Be smart with your marketing.
•DO create a newsletter and ask your customers if you can add them to your mailing list.
•DON'T add every email address you have to your mailing list - you must obtain permission first!
•DO send newsletters out periodically with the latest news as well as incentives - offering an exclusive sale through your newsletter will tell you how effective your newsletter is and will keep subscribers looking forward to seeing an email from you in their inbox!
•DON'T send daily newsletters with buckets of links begging your customers to check out your site. Desperation is not your friend and you'll lose subscribers. Try and send out a newsletter no more than once or twice a month.
•DO at the very least try social networking before you write it off. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, they all have quite a bit of power in driving your brand as well as keeping your name out there (exposure is important!) They might not all work for you, but mastering one is a good idea.
•DON'T twitter links to your items every 3 minutes. Short of being a porn bot there's no faster way to getting unfollowed. Temper your business tweats with other content and interact with other individuals in the twitterverse. It's called social networking for a reason. Socialize!
•DO offer strategic sales from time to time. Because people are going to be seeking out deals on days such as Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday, you might want to offer your own sale - a percentage off, BOGO (buy one, get one), that sort of thing. Sales for smaller businesses though on days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are hit or miss. Last year I only got one sale on Black Friday and zero on Cyber Monday. This year I will be trying out having a sale either right before Thanksgiving or right after Cyber Monday. Timing is everything! Remember - you're in essence "competing" with the big box stores. Sometimes it's best to tackle it in a more tactical manner. We as small businesses don't have the advantage of massive marketing budgets, PR firms, ad spots on TV, radio, and in print...we have to work with what we've got.
•DON'T have a sale every single week leading up to Christmas. You'll find after a while people only purchase on the days they know you'll have a sale. Sales are supposed to be special.
•DO carry around business cards and have them ready any time the topic of what it is you do comes up.
•DON'T scatter your business cards all over the place like some new age Johnny Applesead. It's tacky and really, it's littering :P
•DO leave your business card in targeted areas (depending on what you sell and who your target audience is.) Not on the floor. Not on a desk. Pinned to a public board maybe?
•DO purchase your domain name, even if you aren't going to create a website just yet. You can at the very least redirect your domain name to your blog or online shop until you feel you are ready to get a website set up. A domain name helps with brand recognition and legitimizes your endeavor to your patrons. An actual website takes that legitimacy one step further and creates trust.
•DO secure your username on as many sites as you can. It's all about branding. Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Blogger...and then all of the online venues - Ebay, Etsy, Artfire, 1000 Markets, Zibbet, DaWanda, Shop Handmade - You might not ever sell at any of these places or utilize the websites passed laying down your profile, but you don't want another business taking your name. Here's a nifty little guide of a bunch of popular sites and their classifications I found - http://blogs.oracle.com/jobsatoracle/images/SocialNetworking.jpg
•DO create business profiles on sites like LinkedIN and Ning. The more your username is out there and linking back to your website / domain address, the more traffic you will get streaming in. It's not guaranteed, but with millions and millions of websites on the internet, you have to do what you can to be recognized!
•DON'T then go into those sites and spam the hell out of the public spaces. It just pisses people off. You definitely don't want to piss off potential customers!
That's all for now. Watch for the next installment focusing on commissions and holiday deadlines! Till next time, kittens.