I’m Moving to Marketing Creativity

Hello dear friends and subscribers,

I recently tried to create some links for Handmade Success when I realized that the name was already taken by several bloggers. To distinguish myself, I’m moving to the newly created:

Marketing Creativity

No new posts will be generated on this blog, but I’ll be keeping it open as a reference for a few articles that are floating around in cyberspace. Thank you so much for your support ♥

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Confessions of a Clickaholic

When you are crafting and in business, your time is valuable—you’re literally building your career with your own two hands! However, when you’re an online seller, distractions are everywhere.

Hello, my name is Lisa and I’m a Clickaholic. In other words, I am an obsessive internet-clicker—my right index finger taps the computer mouse as naturally (and as often) as a heart beats. Nothing on the internet satisfies my need to know what’s happening, so I click and surf through all of my favorite sites (it’s especially unconscious behavior when I’m tired or procrastinating), waiting for something new to happen.

In the motivational book, This Year I Will . . . , author M.J. Ryan titled one chapter: “What Need is Being Served by What You’re Doing Now?”  For me, 2011 is about growth, and I’m committed to asking myself questions like M.J.’s all the time. Another version of that question is, “If this moment were a dollar, am I investing it? Or burning it?”

When I find myself saying that I’m “so busy,” I have to evaluate my schedule. 9 times out of 10, I’m so busy because the computer has been on all day and I’ve been clicking away on it, and therefore, eating up hours of valuable time. If you’re not a clicker, I challenge you to figure out where your time may be wasted.

It might be TV, virtual games (Farmville, anyone?), or YouTube. Our time wasters usually involve screens. Have you ever turned off all of the screens in your home and realized how productive you were that day?  Once you have identified your time waster, it’s time to ask:

When are you most prone to time-wasting?

My susceptible time-wasting hours are in the morning, as my children are peacefully plotting the day’s play together. So that I will use this time wisely, I send this question to my phone via Google Calendar pop-ups: “What are you doing to get more orders right now?” You can also post this message on your computer, or wherever else you’re prone to time-wasting.

And please don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean work, work, and more work. In order to succeed, we need plenty of time for rest, rejuvenation, and reflection. Sometimes, a good flick and a hot cup of coffee on a cold, rainy afternoon is as important an investment as filling a big order.

How are you investing your moments? When you spend your minutes wisely, your effort is always rewarded. Here’s wishing you awareness of how you use your precious time!

 

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You Can Find Me at Handmadeology!

I’m proud to be a new member of the Handmadeology Team! Yay ♥

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Competitively Speaking, Think Abundance

There are currently over 269,000 open shops on Etsy and, I’m proud to say, one of those belongs to me. I’m Lisa Jacobs of the Energy Shop—a spirited little spot where I sell mostly bracelets. Jewelry is a crowded market on Etsy, but I’ve made over 800 sales this year.

When I wrote my first post for the Etsy community forum about making 450 sales in my first three months of business, I shared all of my secrets and asked that readers remember that I am not the competition. I told the community, “I am always your friend. We have neighboring shops and we help each other, whether you realize it or not.”

When I wrote that post, I was using Facebook advertising to attract new customers, many of whom joined Etsy when they visited my shop for the first time. I saw my Facebook ads as a way to help my business and the selling community I was a part of. However, that logic sparked a debate between me and a reader who wondered: if I’m not trying to “outsell the competition” then why do I advertise in the first place?

If you and I were both shop owners at a local mall, and I advertised to draw people to my store, you would benefit. All Etsy sellers are my neighbors, and if someone comes to my door, it just so happens to be right next to yours. I don’t want to take your sales, but I do want to make sales. I told the reader, “To me, that’s like saying if you and I were fishing the ocean for dinner, we’re competing with each other. I don’t see it that way. I see it as both of us pulling from the bounty of the ocean.”

This is where we must be careful in business: erase those thoughts of scarcity. Ignore the reptilian-side of your brain that tries to shout, “If they have, I’ll have not!” I keep book author, Louise Hay’s lovely voice on my iPod and in my ear, and this topic reminds me of her saying that every thought we choose to think is an affirmation. When you say, “There’s only so much to go around,” that’s an affirmation, but a negative one, based on fear and lack.

As we are all human, we all are capable of that sudden jolt of envy when we see the high sales and huge success of another. What I try to do is transform that scarcity thought from envy to admiration. Do you realize that small business magazines, like Inc., are doing articles on Etsy sellers, like Ashley G and Drew, who are reporting six figure salaries with their handmade craft? SIX FIGURES! With nothing but the most respectful admiration, I shout, “Yes, please! That’s for me! Hallelujah!” By keeping my creative juices positive and forward-moving, I work toward success.

Imagine this: If you could figure out how to tell everyone in the entire world about your product right now, and then weed out the people who were interested from the people who were not, you would never be able to keep up with the demand from those who were interested. Not by yourself, anyway.

Here’s a new thought for the New Year: change your affirmations in a direction that leads you away from competitive, scarcity thinking and toward that sea of interested people. If you take one thing from this article, I hope it will be this quote from Wayne Dyer: “Abundance is scooped from abundance, and abundance remains.” That’s Universal thinking, and to that I say, “Yes, please!”

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Shopper Behavior: A Book Review

Shopper Intimacy: A Practical Guide to Leveraging Marketing Intelligence to Drive Retail Success

As I head into this holiday season, I decided to read Shopper Intimacy (link and photo above). While most of the book is big-marketing jargon (read: statistical information for large grocery/drug stores), there are some helpful tips for small business owners.

For example, a study out of Chapter 4: Measuring Marketing at Retail in Drug Stores, includes a chart that tracks the most effective sales strategy. Consumers responded best to the Buy One Get One deals, something I’ve never tried in my shop before. The next most effective strategy was the simple message “Sale” or “Save Now.” Third on the list of sales marketing was the % or $ amount taken off each item (this is the one used most commonly in my shop). Lastly, “Compare and Save” to other brands was the least effective.

I am so excited to see this information mapped out from most effective to least effective, and I can hardly wait to incorporate a BOGO deal in my own store. Moreover, I am always trying to use the “Compare and Save,” as there are many high-end brands that mark up products similar to mine  by enormous amounts (from hundreds to thousands of dollars!).

Since I am currently designing a booth for my very first art and craft shows, I also found Chapter 6: Capturing Shopping Dynamics in Store quite interesting. This section of the book diagrams where the product physically sits (above head, eye-level, waist-level, and foot-level) and which placement gets the most attention. (Any guesses? I would have thought eye-level, and that is incorrect!)

Chapter 6 also records the effectiveness of adding a promotional message with the product placement. For instance, I will sell more effectively if I display my products with this message: “Any Bracelet $25 . . . OR 2 for $40!!” than if I simply displayed them as “Any Bracelet $25!”

Finally, Chapter 8: Decision Drivers, confirmed a lesson I’ve learned many times over. Too many choices leads to less sales. Etsy sellers debate this all the time, but I don’t believe 1,000 items listed leads to more sales. I not only sell products, I sell information, and information overload kills sales. I also loved this chapter for the list of 10 “Practical Learnings” any salesperson would benefit to know, from relaxing your buyer to making more of an impact with your sales message, this information is important!

Overall, Chapter 9 is the most valuable to online retailers, as its title is “Online Retailing.” This is the one that I read from start to finish, and I recommend you do too. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars for Etsy sellers. ♥ All the best!

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Results of the Postcard Plan

The Results are in (mostly): October Etsy Success: How to Make a Promotional Postcard

I had planned on creating 100, but I ran out of ink in 35, so I sent those out to test the waters. All of my postcards went extremely local (within my town).

The resulting sales: 0.

If I’m honest, these results baffle me. Had I gotten a similar postcard promoting a local business, I would have really taken my time to check it out, and I would have bought something if I was at all interested. A more honest revelation: I think I chose the wrong town to ask for support.

My family recently held a Halloween party for neighbors and the children’s classmates. We just moved into this town last year and we thought it would be a fantastic way to get to know the neighborhood and warm up to our surroundings. At our last house, these parties would fill our home with adults stuffed along the walls while the children ran inside and out, playing games and dancing for two hours.

In this town, we sent out twenty-eight invitations. The resulting families: 4. I wish the Halloween Party had come before the postcards were mailed. It was telling: This town likes to keep to themselves. Period.

However, I have not given up on this idea. I’m exploring the idea of advertising in a (slightly less) local Money Mailer.  I’ve chosen an area that’s a bit north from here, and more metro. I don’t yet know what it will cost, but I’ll share the details once I find out.

Finally, and on this Halloween day, I am tweaking my holiday strategy to optimize sales. I’m excited . . . and a little impatient. I have signed on for two small Santa workshops in my town and one slightly south of me, both run by school PTO boards. They both fall on the same first weekend of December. I don’t anticipate huge sales, but I do look forward to learning how to set up and sell at a show, as this is my first experience in that environment.

In the meantime, I am stocking my virtual shelves. I have created greeting card/stocking stuffers, listed personalized bracelets, a wholesale listing (of 6), and gift certificates in my new “Holiday Gift Giving” section in the shop. I’m trying to increase stock and bulk up some of the rather empty sections as well. I feel busy as I wait for the sales, and I can’t help but wish that my weekly totals would better reflect all the work I’m doing ♥

My November strategy is to bum-rush the holiday season with enticing sales. I don’t want to give away the details, as they are a surprise to my customers, but I will share the results. Wishing you lots of sales and success, Lisa

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October Etsy Success: How to Make a Promotional Postcard

I’m taking a break from writing local addresses to tell my latest idea for Etsy success: Promotional Postcards . . . to all of my neighbors! I ordered Avery Postcards recently at Amazon.com. I did my research, and from the reviews I read, it is important to buy the paper made for your InkJet or Laser Printer. If you don’t know which you have, look up the model number on Amazon and the listing should clarify.

For InkJet printers, this was the best price I found:

Avery Postcards for Inkjet Printers, 5.5 x 4.25 Inches, White, Box of 400 (8577)

And for Laser Jets, this is the best price I found:

Avery Avery Postcards For Laser or InkJet Printer, 5.5 x 4.25 Inches, White, 200 Per Box (05689)

I got my InkJet Postcards in today’s mail and I started playing with designs right away. If you already have a professional logo for your Etsy store, this part should be easy. Copy your logo on your postcard and then name your sale.

I have a rule that if I’m going to email or mail anything at all to former or potential customers, I better come with something worth their while. I’m about to launch a grand re-opening, so I’m not only advertising the future 20% off all listing prices, but I’m offering my neighbors an extra $10 rebate off their purchase of $40 or more. (I consider you my neighbors, so when I launch the sale on October 1, please feel free to use the code you find on this postcard, if you’re interested.)

Postcards: Check. I don’t have a logo, so I needed to create a design. I love to gather free fonts for Windows off the internet. I know that Office offers plenty of fonts to choose from, but frankly, we’ve all seen them before. For this project, I wanted something new and unusual. I searched for “free fonts” on the internet, but please be careful of the rules against commercial use when choosing your fonts. The site you use will offer instructions on how to upload the new font onto whatever operating system you’re using at home.

New Font: Check. I opened Power Point in Windows Office, but Word will work just as well. Configure your margins and orientation to match the postcard blanks you’re using, and have fun! Let your creativity shine, and remember, this is a potential new customer’s first impression. Represent yourself and your product with excitement and style ♥

You’ll design four to a page. The front will look something like this:

Front Page

I used a new font and some simple star shapes and added the blue background. Plain white looked too . . . plain. The front side of the postcard template says the name of my shop, my tagline, and my website. Next it says, “Exclusive Offer for my friendly neighbors: $10 Rebate Off Any Order of $40 or More.*”

If you’re already an Etsy seller, I know I don’t have to tell you that Etsy doesn’t take promotional codes or coupons (**Fingers crossed that this will come soon). Sites like Artfire and Zibbet do, but they don’t yet have the buyer traffic we see at Etsy. In the meantime, you’ll need to be careful about how you explain this to new customers. If you say you have a coupon code, it confuses the heck out of non-etsy buyers at checkout because they don’t realize the promotion comes after they’ve completed their purchase.

Hence, the term “rebate.” Any savvy shopper knows what that means 😉

The back will look something like this:

Post Card Back

On the back, I introduced myself, explained the sale, and repeated my website. I used a new font to write a cutesy “Post Card,”  “To:,” and “the lovely resident at.” I then added blank lines for addressing the post cards.

Thankfully, I ran my postcard plan by my husband earlier in the week. He explained that my original plan, which was to walk around my neighborhood and stick these into mailboxes, was a federal offense. I needed to stamp and mail them! 🙂 $.28 it is!

Good luck ♥

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