Monday, April 23, 2012

Expert Tip: How to successfully promote your products

One of the biggest challenges that small, primarily online, businesses face is getting their business noticed.  One only has to have a look at Etsy to see just how many competing businesses there are.

With my label, Sheeps Clothing, have taken a three pronged approach to promotion of our product range:
  • Have the label promoted in the media. Most magazines have an audience far in excess of what a small business can generate by itself.  Tap into it!

Before you can start to promote your label / products, I suggest you work out your brand’s identity:
  • What does it stand for? Is it funky / classic / edgy / fashionable / utilitarian / eco friendly, etc?
  • Who are you selling to? Children / their parents / hipsters / crafters. Who your primary audience is will shape where and how you advertise / promote.
  • Is it seasonal? Do you sell more of any particular item pre Christmas / winter / mothers day, etc?
Now that we’ve got an idea of what your brand is about and who your customer is, let’s have a look at the different avenues for promotion.
  • Magazines / blogs. Find out what your target customer is reading (ie. if your target customer is the parents of young children, you are spoiled for choice in terms of parenting / children’s fashion / magazines and blogs).

    The key to having your product featured in magazines and online is to make it as easy as possible for the editorial team at the magazine.   Have good quality (professional if possible), high resolution photos ready to send to them at a moment’s notice.  If you can supply images a white background as well as in a more “editorial” setting (i.e. on a person, in use, etc.) even better. Make sure you provide all details, i.e. where to buy, rrp, sizing, colours, etc.  Don’t make the magazine follow up for required details. They may not have the time and just move on to the next, easy to deal with label. Be prepared to lend product for photography and also be prepared not to receive it back in the condition it was sent!

  • Social Media. What did we do before blogs, Facebook and Twitter?  These platforms were made for small businesses like ours.  Use the full functionality of Facebook, fill in all available fields, ie. about, website details, etc. Again, killer photos are key!  Remember social media is a two way street.  Invite your likers / followers to interact. Update regularly and be interesting – add interesting content from other sites, perhaps a “behind the scenes” post every now and again.  Constant product pushing is not interesting! Be chatty, informal yet stick to your business’s “voice”.
  • Blog. If writing is your forte, try submitting a guest posting on a relevant blog.  Anyone who has written a blog knows that sometimes content can be hard to come by, so a guest post can be a win / win situation for blog owner and contributor.
  • Advertising. Advertising in the print media can be extremely expensive for the small business. With the plethora of online options, I suggest taking a little time to have a look at the most suitable outlet(s) for your hard earned advertising dollar. Again, have a look at what your target audience is reading.  Try Googling different terms, ie. if you sell children’s clothing you might like to try “children’s clothing”, “girl’s clothing”, “handmade kids’ clothes”, “independent children’s fashion”, etc. Once you’ve identified where you will advertise, have a look at the feel and design of the website and keep this in mind when you are designing your ad.  Once the ad is up and running you’ll want to analyse your hits and (hopefully!) your increase in sales.  I like to have ads running concurrently on a number of different websites so that I can measure like for like and determine which one is giving me the best return. Keep in mind an ad that costs twice as much as another should be delivering at least twice as many clicks / sales. 

In summary, there are a few key points to consider when promoting your small and / or online business:
  • Be easy to deal with! Respond to requests for content / enquiries from media / promotion outlets promptly and efficiently.
  • Have the best photos you can afford. Multiple product shots in different formats, ie. high res, low res, landscape, portrait, white background, on a model, etc. are a must.
  • Invest a little time in (but don’t get hung up on) what your competitors are doing and where they are doing it.
  • Social media. Be interesting, relevant and frequent. Invite two way discussions.
  • If you pay for advertising, make sure it works for you.  Tailor make your ad for each specific advertising outlet and monitor the results closely.

Good luck!

Sheep Clothing

Stacey is the creative hands behind accessories brand Sheeps Clothing, she has a passion for vintage buttons and when she ins't busy being a mum of two active boys she teaches knitting at Melbourne’s Holmesglen College of TAFE.  Stacey makes high quality, stylish knitwear. Initially a children’s range, they have now expanded to include adult hats, scarves and scarflettes and there always popular mug cozies.  Vist Stacey at or follow her on Facebook.


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