Every Friday I post a “here’s the thing” blog. “Here’s the thing” is something my mum (and many other wise people) like to say when they’re about to make a good point. Hopefully these posts are also good points.
I’ve written about quality before, but this time of year, when you’re still holding your nerve and waiting for the big sales to hit, it requires a little reminder.
When you’re busily fulfilling orders, or prepping stock, or managing and training staff, you’re in the thick of it and it can be hard to come up with a marketing message (on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or in your email newsletter) that’s clear, true to you, and something customers are going to respond to. In short, a quality post. Couple that busy-ness with worry about low sales or no sales, and you’ve got a recipe for reactionary, half-baked and potentially desperate messages that turn customers off.
And I don’t want that for you.
Your business, your brand, your products, deserve high quality marketing. They deserve to be shown in the best possible light. You’re putting your all into this. We want that to shine through to the world.
Of course, ideally, you’d have a marketing plan all mapped out, and great ideas and content coming out of your ears. You wouldn’t have to discount your products to make sales, because they’d just be coming in anyway. In a dream world, you wouldn’t have to compete with the likes of John Lewis making heart-wrenching ads about penguins, because your customers would understand that you’re a different kettle of fish: independent, small, creative, and high-quality.
But the reality is, it doesn’t always get planned down to what exactly you’re going to say on Facebook, you know? And we all fall in love with John Lewis and almost (okay, maybe completely) forget that they’re going to grab the attention of what could also be your customers.
I know you are capable of connecting with people who want to buy your products. I know you have great products. I know they (and you) have a story that will get people engaged and interested and purchasing.
So here’s the thing:
Tell your story. Bring your posts and emails and tweets back to what makes you, you. Start the conversation. The positive, brand-affirming conversation.
Here are some ideas and tips to use to connect with your audience without selling yourself short:
- Tell people what you’re always up to. This isn’t just about getting sales at Christmas – you’re not that shallow. This is about your dedicated approach to your business. You craft products by hand. You spend hours designing, creating, testing, developing ideas. Show people what’s behind the finished item.
- Feel festive. Get some Christmas decorations up and post photos of them. Are you buying from other small creative businesses for your Christmas gifts? Show people, and tell them it means a lot to have their support too.
- Put your products together in a new and interesting way. Simply directing people to browse your whole range isn’t the strongest message ever – every brand and their dog is doing that at this time of year. Put together a new collection or category of products based on a colour, a personality, a new theme, and link to it. Tell a story about how you’ve really been inspired by metallics or musicians or travel this year, so you’ve created gifts to reflect those passions.
- Share positive reviews and customer feedback. Perhaps someone had a really touching story. Ask them if you can tell it on your blog, or Facebook, and get more people sharing their stories and ideas with you.
- Be kind and generous, but not desperate. If you’re going to do a promotion or offer, consider how you might find something that doesn’t cheapen your product, but makes customers feel special. Perhaps you add a little gift rather than discounting. Maybe you could offer gift wrapping for free for a limited period.
- Post a photo of your products in progress. Either as you’re making them now, or a shot of you making them from earlier in the year. Show customers that you put time and effort into each order.
It’s not easy to always be “on it” at this time of year. But I know you’ll come out stronger in January if you keep your messages and marketing consistent with your brand.
I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
PS This quote remains one of my favourite business mantras. Disclaimer: not suitable for those who are averse to swearing.