Sunday, December 26, 2010

Getting a Jump Start on 2011- Marketing Ideas For Your Small Business Part 1

After a long holiday season I know we are all tired and excited about how our businesses have grown in 2010. Now is the time to not just assess our progress but to also look towards the future. Setting sales goals and creating a solid marketing plan is key for any small business. Keep in mind a set budget for your marketing efforts and get creative!

Marketing does not have to break the bank and there are many more techniques and ideas out there that cost little or no money! Not all of these ideas will work with every type of business, use these ideas to brainstorm and have fun, promote your beautiful work and try something new! Be sure to track your success month to month and for each promotion.

Marketing Ideas For Small Business Owners:

1. License Plate Frames- an inexpensive item that gets seen by a ton of people especially if you travel to shows during the year via car

2. Set up email signatures- Be sure to use this feature on your emails include your name, title, email address, and other types of info you want your customers to have easy access to

3. Small promotional items- pens, pencils-etc. cheap and lightweight- pens are are fun and practical way to get your company name seen on a daily basis and remind a customer of your great shop

4. Blogs & forums- blogging and participating in forums is fast and easy- especially at Etsy (TM) and other handmade selling venues, but make it a goal for 2011 to start your own blog- showcase your studio, your product and your unique perspective- clients are sure to enjoy and come back often!

5. Create grants and annual awards- this may sound out of your league, but it isn't! set a price, however much you can afford- find a school or organizations you want to work with. Approach the staff with an idea such as an arts grant for a school. Many many organizations will print this fun event in newsletters, websites, and other promotional materials. Be known locally. Get involved in your community whenever possible.

6. Create a tip sheet for customers- tip sheets are terrific ways to get out the word that you are a knowledgeable artist and in your industry. If you make jewelry why not create a fashion trends sheet to include with a purchase? do you make ornaments? How about a fun sheet on decorating for the holidays! Whatever you make, create a fun and informative read.

7. Do something newsworthy in 2011- many small business owners do things newsworthy all the time, but don't seek out the recognition. "being newsworthy means different things to different people- but again doing things in your community is a great way to start. If you have employees, you can set up a program to volunteer at a local food pantry, visit and bring flowers to a retirement home, tailgate at a local sports venue- come up with an activity that means something to you and works with the spirit of your business. Never participate in an activity that will damage your brand however, so put some thought into what you want to do. Other things to do are create a new product line, hire new top staff etc- make an effort to seek out your local media outlets this year- local radio or tv- learn how to write a press release.

8. Create a website- For most businesses a strong online presence is needed. Although handmade selling venues are terrific and are an easy way to sell your products, they are not a great way to promote your items. Limits on space, rules to follow and common practices can super cramp your style for sure! Even if you don't want to expand and have your own shopping carts to sell your creations, having a small website that you can call your own is fast and easy. I use Yahoo! for all of my websites- they have free sitebuilder software that is easy to use and FREE! Their hosting plans are many and you can be up and running in no time. Make sure you buy a domain name that matches your business name and get designing! Many artists and crafters really enjoy this project and your customers can enjoy a better sense of you, your product and your craft.

8. Create free items- now that you have decided to create a website for your business, nothing can drive traffic to it better than quality free content! Create a free pdf, articles or other down loadable fun stuff for your customers- how about a project sheet or pattern? Many websites feature games, facts, or information- find what works for you and get to it! Customers will be flocking to your site!

9. Send out new products for review- Many small business - especially artists and crafters who do production work can gleam very valuable knowledge about a new product line by sending one or two out for free to your best customers. Create a short survey that asks their opinion if they would buy the product. Make sure you ask what they would pay for it, what the price is and give room for comments. Don't wait for feedback Etsy (TM) style- be aggressive and make sure you are spending your time on product lines that appeal to your target market.

10. Wear you logo often- cheap t-shirts can be made online through many sites! Create a logo and put it on hats and t-shirts and wear it! People will ask about it especially if paired with a fun graphic or saying. If you make jewelry-- WEAR IT OUT~ people love to see pieces worn. Make a few special pieces this year just to take with you and share. If you create sculpture- why not make a mini version of your best design into a key chain- you and your work will always be the best spokesperson for your business and people like chatting about fun and unique things they see people wearing.

This is just the start of what you can do for this upcoming new year! During the month of January check back often to read the rest of the 100 ways to market your business in the new year series! New posts will be brought to you every week!

To read Part 2 of this post, click here.
To read Part 3 of this post, click here.

Future topics include how to write a business plan and many others to help strengthen our team and businesses in 2011! Enjoy and have a great day!

Posted by Susan of the Alla Prima Art Mall. Owner of Jade Dumpling on Etsy, The Garden District on Etsy, and Global Jewelry Bazaar on Etsy.  Susan has an MBA and is an instructor in both art and business where she teaches marketing, SEO & SEM, and other small business classes. 

Submitting Images for MFJoE Giveaways

This post is to supplement the MFJoE Giveaway information page specifically for sending over URL links to images of the prize so that your giveaway item can be fully showcased and get lots of interest!  For more details on the basics and an overview of the MFJoE giveways, click here.

If you've ever read the Featured Seller articles on Etsy, the advice that's always repeated is to take as great a photo as possible to get sales.  Again, that same logic applies to giveaways.  A great photo will grab the eye and interest and get people wanting to win your item and visit your shop!  Etsy's Guide to Photography is a great resource.  Also check out the Etsy Shop Makeover series to see how you can make your items front page worthy.  Need a way to edit and adjust photo settings? Use the free and easy Picnik software.  

If you're interested in a giveaway, be sure to contact the team captain to fill out the giveaway form.  One of the sections of the form requires that you submit URL links to images of your giveaway prize.

Here are the instructions for how to send URL links to images.  This information was created by the wonderful ladies over at Etsy Giveways.  Be sure to add them to your RSS feed, web favorites, follow them on Google Friend Connect, and/or friend them on Facebook!

How to submit your giveaway image link from your Etsy shop:

In Firefox:
  1. Right-click on your image
  2. Select "Copy Image Location"
  3. Click in the MFJoE form field and select "Paste"
  4. The URL address of your Etsy image will appear in the field. [Example:]
  5. Finish the rest of the form and submit!

In Internet Explorer:

  1. Left-click on your image. A new window with your image -- and nothing else -- will appear
  2. Up in the address bar of your new window is the URL address of your image. [Example:]
  3. Highlight the address, right-click, and select "Copy"
  4. Click in the MFJoE form field, right-click, and select "Paste"
  5. Finish the rest of the form and submit!

How to submit your giveaway image link from Photobucket:

Fortunately, the procedure for copying and pasting image links from Photobucket is, the same no matter what browser you're using ...
  1. Locate the thumbnail for your giveaway image, and notice the separate linking codes below it. You may have to move your mouse over the thumbnail to display the codes
  2. In the image's full-view page, the same codes are available in the "Share this image" panel, which is located to the bottom-right of the image
  3. Left-click in the "Direct Link" field. You should see "Copied" highlighted in yellow pop-up
  4. Paste your giveaway image's URL address in the MFJoE form field 
  5. Finish the rest of the form and submit!

How to submit your giveaway image link from Flickr:

In Firefox
  1. On the image page, click the magnifying glass with "All Sizes" next to it, located right above your image
  2. Click on "Small (240x180)," located just above the image
  3. Right-click on your image and select "Copy Image Location"
  4. Paste your image URL address to the MFJoE form field 
  5. Finish the rest of the form and submit!

In Internet Explorer

  1. On the image page, click the magnifying glass with "All Sizes" next to it, located right above your image
  2. Click on "Small (240x180)," located just above the image
  3. Right-click on your image and select "Properties" down at the bottom of the menu
  4. Left-click and drag to highlight the URL address for your image, which is listed cryptically (those sneaky dogs at Microsoft ...) under "Address: (URL)"
  5. Right-click your highlighted address and select "Copy"
  6. Paste your image URL address to the MFJoE form field 
  7. Finish the rest of the form and submit!
Until Later!  ®oscata