Marketing Strategies Interview with Melissa Hamel-Smith of Kaotic Ekko's Curiosities
What “online” marketing strategies are you currently using?
I currently have my shop listed in various free directories (Shop Indie Online, Indie Collective, Handmade Directory). Directories are a great way to get your name out there...they're free and static, meaning there is little to no upkeep. I also have several social networking sites which I use to promote upcoming craft shows and new product: personal MySpace, business MySpace, personal Facebook, Facebook business group, Plurk, Twitter, ByHand, etc. I also just paid for a spot in the Blockhead Radio Artisan Showcase.
What “offline” marketing strategies are you currently using?
Two Toronto shops are carrying my products. I use their locations to promote upcoming craft fairs as well as additional product in my Artfire shop. Because Toronto is such a large city, it is difficult to market offline. Print ads are terribly expensive and a small business vying for a print interview is nearly impossible with all the great artistic talent in the area. I do make sure I have business cards on hand at all times. You never know when they will come in handy.
What do you find (on or offline) to be the most effective?
According to my Artfire stats a lot of my traffic comes from Plurk and Google. I also find that craft fairs are a great way to get your name out there. They put a personality to the company name. Even if you don't sell a lot, it still gets your name out there through business cards. And Facebook Events provides a GREAT way to advertise (for free!).
Are there strategies that you have found didn’t work well for your business?
Groups and Pages on Facebook. Neither of them alert you when there is a change. There is no way to know if someone joins or leaves. And there are so many Groups and Fan Pages it's hard to make yours stand out.
How do you figure out what’s working and what’s not?
Just give it a shot! Being I'm fairly new, I don't take any big money risks. If you can find free advertising that's the best of course. Small publications, business cards in local shops and post! Post! Post! Whenever I upload a product an update goes to every social network one could possibly fathom. And make sure you post it a couple of times. Not spam. Not one right after another. But there's no reason you shouldn't post it more than once a day (I try to keep it to three, otherwise people get annoyed. I know I do!). Especially on Twitter and Plurk because it tends to get lost in the sauce.
How do you decide what marketing strategies to try and when to try them?
I don't usually go out looking for marketing opportunities. I'm still a little green when it comes to advertising and it usually costs quite a bit of money. As I said earlier, the cheaper the better. The price primarily determines whether I'll advertise with that venue. I try to stay away from "price per click." It can add up fast.
Do you have a few marketing initiatives in mind that you would like to implement in the future?
I'm interested in trying Project Wonderful. It seems like an inexpensive way to advertise. That's the one I'm considering most until I have a bigger budget for marketing. And maybe slapping my husband in a sandwich board in front of the local grocery store...just kidding...maybe.
For someone who is just starting their “at-home craft business”, where would you recommend they start in terms of marketing?
Business cards. They're inexpensive. They solidify your brand and your image. Just make sure you decide on your logo and contact information. You want people to recognize your business. When I got rid of my Etsy store I had to get my cards reprinted. Make sure you think things through. Don't be afraid to ask local indie businesses if you can put a couple in their store. Also, search out free directories like the ones I listed above. If it's free or low cost and they'll take your info, do it. The internet is so wide that you know someone will happen upon it!
Anything else you would like to add?
Throw yourself out there, your heart, your soul. Obviously art is a passion for you, otherwise you wouldn't be putting in so much energy. However, if money is your main objective, just stop right now. Art lovers and artists can feel insincerity. It'll end up being a waste of your time and we'll be annoyed (and you don't want that!).
Remember, being an artisan means being part of a community. Use these resources. If you have a question, ask someone. If you need a critique, post it. Each and every artist should be willing to help another grow. That's the beauty of our gift.
Also, I'd love to thank Jamie for giving me this opportunity! You rock!