HOW TO GET MORE PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR PRODUCTS

We started to decode the mysteries of search engines in Lesson 2 but reaching the top of Google for all your products or services isn’t always possible and, annoyingly, if you do get there you can’t be sure how long it will be for, as search engines regularly change their algorithms and other businesses may target your keywords or start paying for links (Google Ads or PLAs), meaning you could suddenly find yourself relegated from top-spot to page 10 or buried underneath a flood of paid-for results. It can take a lot of work to reach and maintain a good ranking and, although it’s worth it, it makes sense to support that side of your business by exploring others ways to reach customers.

You can also chat with Camilla and your fellow sisters by heading to the career forum. Click the button below.

HOW DO PEOPLE DO IT ALL?

I’ve called this final lesson “How to get more people to buy your products” but that’s a pretty tall order for only one lesson!  There are so many things that go into getting your product or your brand in front of new customers and then getting those people to buy:

Product shots; Pricing (hello lesson 3); Good customer service; A strong brand identity; and Social presence…

…Understanding who your customers are; Where to find them; What they need/want and how to Appeal to them; The power of persuasion and using the right language.

Clever collaborations and networking; the right promotions, product research and modification, and then getting it designed and made…

How do people do it all?

IMPORTANT NOTE!

Realistically, if you run your business and it’s just you, you probably can’t do all of it, all of the time.  If you expect too much of yourself, you might either collapse in a heap of frustrated tears (I’ve been there) or burn yourself out.  This is really important.

Big businesses have teams of people working on each one of those areas, or outsource those they can’t handle alone. You’re coming to this with your own areas of expertise but need to learn the other ones.  Find out where your strengths lie and get support where you need it.

REACH MORE PEOPLE AND CONVERT MORE CUSTOMERS

So with a realistic perspective in mind, this lesson is going to outline some of the ways you can reach more people and convert them into customers.  I’ll give you resources that you can refer to when you want to understand more about each of those marketing channels.

One important thing to hold on to is that you don’t need to reach everyone everywhere.

Your product or service won’t be right for everyone.  If you understand who will love it and why, you can target those people and turn them into customers and advocates.  Maybe they’ll even become friends and collaborators.

Having people on your side and talking about you is THE most effective form of marketing there is.  It also takes the weight off your shoulders and makes everything so much easier, enjoyable and worthwhile.

You should hopefully have a good idea about your tribe, thanks to Kayte’s course.

So let's reach more people, then…

MAGAZINES AND NEWSPAPERS

The printed press has had a tough time over the last decade, with more people getting their news, interiors and fashion fixes online.  Those magazines and newspapers that remain in print have very loyal readers. They each also have a defined readership, and the content they put out is designed to appeal to their particular audience.  The topics and people they feature, the angle those articles take, their style and their aesthetic. The editors are always on the look-out for people and products to feature who are in line with their values and those of their audience. So don’t be afraid to tell them about your business and what you do. If you’re right for their publication, they’ll be thrilled because it makes their job so much easier.

The trick is to do your research before you do your pitch. What pages or features would your products or your story be good for? Who is the right person to contact? What kind of images do they normally publish – can you send them professional-quality photographs that match their style? Don’t ramble – be concise and friendly, and make it all super easy for them. Also bear in mind that a product featured on their pages is great, but an article or an interview is even better. So why not pitch an idea, interview or article to them.

More Advice

15 ways to get your work featured in magazines or blogs
Tip: the editor-in-chief is far too busy to receive and respond to press releases.

How to get more press coverage for your designs
Tip: Email, don’t ring. Keep it short and snappy. 

How to get noticed by the press
We’ll let you into a little secret: search #journorequest on Twitter. There’s your press opportunity right there.

How to write a brilliant press release
Tip: A press release full of ‘salesy’ talk will be deleted.  A press release is NOT an advert!

I’d also really recommend reading this article which is about pitching to shops but is relevant for any pitch

…And how to make a good first impression on retailers.

 

INFLUENCERS

‘Influencers’ is a really recent term but the concept isn’t new.  Nowadays the people doing the influencing aren’t necessarily film stars, supermodels or the advertising executives and managers behind them.  Bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers have crafted a living from their particular style, craft, talent, knowledge, and a large, engaged following.

 

Influencer marketing can give you amazing exposure to lots of potential new customers. As Claire Gamble points out, research shows we’re 10 times more likely to buy a product from a ‘non-celebrity’ influencer than from a celebrity and the vast majority (92%) of consumers trust recommendations from other people, even if they don’t know them personally. So being recommended by someone on Instagram, whether they’ve been paid to do it or not, not only puts you in front of new people but gives the advantage of endorsement.

 

Many influencers now work through agencies, who link them up with brands and put them forward for particular campaigns. Going down this route can be expensive with some ‘Instacelebs’ charging thousands. However, in January 2017 the average cost per Instagram post was around £208 so it’s not out of reach for small indie businesses, and the cost does vary depending on the number of followers and, irritatingly, whether the influencer is male or female.  According to the report, men charge over £100 more per post (you can find more stats here http://blog.influence.co/instagram-influencers).

 

Paying big influencers large amounts of money to post about your product isn’t the only option open to you though and there are other ways that might be actually more effective. For instance, rather than going for someone with a huge following, you might have more impact if you work with someone with a small but loyal following (a ‘micro-influencer’).  They will probably better understand their audience and know how to write an engaging post. You will probably get a better return on your investment (known as ROI) as they will charge less but their audience may trust them more. It might also be that, rather than paying an influencer, you could collaborate with them on a joint project that offers something for both of you. Another option is to send them one of your products or invite them to one of your events – although there’s no guarantee they’ll feature it and if they do, it will need to be clear that it’s been #gifted.

 

There are two key things to bear in mind when working with influencers. Firstly, you need to look for those people whose following matches your ideal audience but who you’re not currently reaching. This probably means searching for people with a similar style or tone to your own or living in a particular region. Secondly, sponsored and gifted posts tend not to do as well as normal posts (possibly down to advert fatigue or algorithm preferences) – so if you do want to work with an Instagram influencer look for those who are good at making their paid posts feel authentic and natural. Those are the ones that tend to perform best, which means you’re more likely to reach more potential customers and to earn their trust.

Tips on how to approach influencers

“…She replied almost immediately and was really sweet about it. A few days later, she posted a picture of the print in her Instagram stories and the impact was immediate. Within 24 hours I had gained over 200 new followers on Instagram, 25 inquiries and 10 immediate orders – and there have been more coming in ever since.”

More from Social Sprout, about how much influencers charge

OTHER SOCIAL CHANNELS

We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth repeating: if you depend too much on one social platform (like Instagram) your business might struggle if and when things change. So firstly keep an eye on where you’re platform is moving.  What features your audience are using and how, so you’re where they can find you. While you’re doing that, get to know other channels, keep an eye out for new ones, and spend a bit of time figuring out how they work so you can complement or supplement what you’re already doing on your main channel.  If everyone should suddenly abandon your main platform (eek!) you can move across without too much pain.

 

All social channels have different audiences and their own quirks, and the way people interact with the platform and posts varies for each. For example, on Folksy most of our views come from Pinterest (Folksy pins get seen by almost 6 million people a month) but those don’t often convert into sales  – only around 8% of all orders from social media come through Pinterest), whereas Facebook accounts for about 70% of our all our sales from social media, and Instagram is around 12% and counting. (This relates to all our users not just our own accounts.) There are various reasons behind those figures, like older pins leading to out-of-stock items, but also factors around our sellers’ audiences and the platforms they tend to use most.

 

So although Instagram is continually growing, Facebook is still the social platform used by most people, even among millennials, and it gets the most interactions of any network. You may hate it and they’re making it harder and harder for businesses to get seen, but it is still the most popular social network in the world. If you do want to give it (another?) go, there are some clever ways to improve your reach on the Folsky blog.

Social Sprout advocates staying up to date with changes in the Facebook algorithm.

“Like it or not, the ever-changing Facebook algorithm requires brands to rethink their content strategies.  This rings true now and will likely ring true months down the line. Adapting to these sorts of changes is the nature of social marketing as a whole.”
(August 2018)

You’ll be looking to maximise your ROI.  I don’t recommend getting too distracted by algorithms, but maybe follow one or two bits of advice: for example, ‘narrow down your target audience’ – and then check in every now and again with a site like Social Sprout, to make sure its still a recommended action.  Of course, if you aren’t getting the results you expected, revisit the algorithm advice pages and adapt.

Twitter, on the other hand, might not be a great platform for direct selling but it’s one of the best for networking, connecting with journalists, organisations or galleries, hearing the latest news and learning about events, so it’s worth getting your head round. There are also some brilliant Twitter chats going on, like #theinstachat #folksyhour and of course #sisterhoodcampchats, where you get an hour of insight, conversation and connection… or, if you’re a #folksyhour regular, important comparisons of the relative merits of different biscuits.

 

Find out more about understanding the pros and cons of the various social channels in this article on Folksy.

This Sprout Social article is full of fascinating social stats, and I’d definitely recommend reading.

podcasts

Who doesn’t love a good podcast? If, like me, you listen to podcasts on headphones while walking or running, you’ll know that there’s something very intimate about having people talking in your ear – it’s like eavesdropping on a private conversation. By the end of the show, you feel like you know that person so much better than you could from reading their words or seeing their pictures. It’s the power of the human voice.

 

You could, of course, start your own podcast, but if you’re not quite ready for that, think about approaching your favourite podcasters and pitching for a guest post. The same rules apply as when you’re working with influencers: look for a podcast that your target audience listens to and when you approach the people behind it, come to them with an interesting, creative idea or offer that shows you understand what they do, and their audience. As with so many things, this is easier to do if you already have a connection with them, so it’s really worth investing time and energy building relationships and making friends online and offline (otherwise known as networking, but I really hate that word) – just always be genuine and be yourself.

 

Joanna Wakefield - visit her Folksy shop

EXPERIMENTAL MARKETING

‘Experiential marketing’ is another horrible term that really just means PR and marketing done in-person.  It’s meant to allow people to interact with or experience your product in some kind of memorable way. If you have a massive budget, you could do a crazy stunt like jumping off a satellite in space with only Red Bull wings and a parachute for company.  As an indie creative it’s more likely to be a workshop event or a craft fair and product demo.  Maybe a private view or product launch party for influencers and journalists to see and try your product?  An open studio tour, or displaying your art in the street or an unusual location.  Hosting a book or knit club at your venue, or even taking your business on tour.

Before you start planning your next flash mob or Folksy on Tour Camper Van (one day…), think about your return on investment. Make sure that whatever you’re doing, you don’t end up hugely out of pocket without enough new customers or sales to show for it. Really consider your brand and values too. What could you do that communicates your brand, your product and your values to people that also has the best chance of turning them into both a customer and potentially also an advocate of your brand or service?

 

You can find some ‘Experiential marketing’ (no, still don’t like it) ideas here:

https://www.shopify.com/retail/experiential-marketing-retail

https://www.fundera.com/blog/experiential-marketing

https://econsultancy.com/blog/65230-10-very-cool-examples-of-experiential-marketing

 

VIDEO

Video is big.

Facebook prioritises video content, YouTube is the second most visited site in the world after Google (see the full list here >), videos on social get 1200% more shares than text and image content combined (more video marketing stats here), and the organic reach for videos shared on Facebook is 135% higher than for photos (source: Socialbakers), and Instagram is investing heavily in video with the launch of IGTV earlier this year.

 

Video content can help you combat a Facebook algorithm that penalises all businesses, big and small, and Facebook Live videos are particularly good as your fans and followers get pinged when you go live. IGTV videos are also being majorly pushed by Instagram (new videos now appear at the top of your feed when you log in) and notifications also pop up to let you know when someone you follow has just gone live. Instagram is constantly releasing more features for Live videos and Stories, such as the ability to invite other users to join you when you go live – this has lots of potential for increasing your engagement and can be great for promoting collaborations (as always, Sara from @meandorla uses this brilliantly for her live chats).

 

The message here is that not only does video content reach more people, but they also engage with it more. So it’s down to you to come up with interesting and effective ways to use it. Again think about your brand, your values and what you want to achieve from your video content. Things like tutorials do really well, as do Q&As, behind-the-scenes videos and even just snippets from your day. Some good places to find tips for creating video-based marketing content for social are

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-video-marketing-what-we-know-for-sure/

https://wistia.com/learn/marketing

There are a host of tools to edit and compile stories on Instagram.  Unfold lets you filter, apply cuts and add more interesting fonts.  A well manicured edit saved to your ‘Story Highlights’ can contrast brilliantly with behind the scenes views of your space and your activity.  Keep it fun and interesting.  Ask people you trust for honest feedback.  Keep experimenting.

PAID ADVERTISING

We all know it’s getting harder to get seen organically if you’re a business, and that’s because social platforms need to push you towards their paid products – financially, as free platforms, this makes sense for them – and what we’ve seen happen to Facebook and Google will more than likely happen to Instagram too. The good news is that advertising on social platforms and on Google is pretty inexpensive and can have good results.

 

But before pressing that ‘boost’ button, think about what you want people to do when they see your post or advert – what’s your call to action? Who do you want to target? You can be surprisingly specific if you advertise through Facebook and Instagram. And if you’re advertising on social, bear in mind things like pictures with text in them tend to be penalised by the platform (even as adverts) so they won’t reach as many new people. Try different types of adverts, different end points and calls to action, different targets and see which ones works best for you and which are best at engaging the audience you’re trying to reach.

 

NURTURE YOUR COMMUNITY AND YOUR CUSTOMERS

Before we finish, I just want to make a plea: don’t ignore the customers you already have. The first customers any business has are potentially its most loyal and they should feel loved and valued. They are the equivalent of your early adopters. Treat them well and they will buy from you again and again.

Kayte talks through some of the ways you can do that and why you should in her lesson ‘Create Loyal Customers’.

 

Email marketing is just one of the ways you can do that.  David Hieatt’s book Do Open, is an amazing user manual for creating a meaningful email newsletter and encourages people to share it.  In a nutshell, David explains that you must respect the recipient’s free time.  They are more likely to open and read the email if the content is useful to them.  You can’t assume that everyone is waiting for a discount code for your products.  Chicken Shed Chronicles is the name of the Do Lecture’s mailing list, and its consumed avidly.  The email opens with a brief message, and lists interesting articles they discovered online during the week.  The articles help to reinforce the ethos of the brand, and the reader becomes a fan of the email, and the brand.

David suggests experimenting with design and content.  Create an A and a B and see which version of the email is opened the most.  The more you experiment, the more effective you can become.  A highly recommended book.

Ultimately, my advice is to keep it interesting.  Enjoy the content that you share.  Try not to think of it as yet another job that you need to do.  Rushed emails that feature an apology for being so sporadic quickly loose their charm and appeal!

“When you’ve sent out a newsletter, tweet about that too – include a snippet or image from the newsletter, and tell people where they can see it by including a permalink (a permanent static link to your newsletter). “

There is so much you can do with a mailing list.

I’ve created a list of essential guides that we published on the Folksy blog.
We discuss content, software, GDPR permissions and a bit of psychology, too.

How to build your mailing list and why you should

Ideas for making a newsletter people actually want to read

What you need to know about GDPR

Concluding thoughts

Wow, what a lot of work you’ve got to do!  Well, yes, and no.  The common thread through all of these suggestions is that in order to thrive you should present the best, most helpful, surprising and rewarding aspects of your business to your customers – all the time.

So maybe that just means ‘be yourself’?  Presumably you’re interested in your business, and you want to reach people who like your product.  So befriend your customers and an influencer, or two.  Share the articles that inspire you in your email mailing list.  Have fun with it.  Enjoy the fact that your paid advertisements are supporting an independent magazine.  Don’t be afraid to ask your friends or family (and customers) for help.  Play to your strengths.

Thanks and good luck

That’s all from me, Sisters! Thanks so much for having me and to Lou for inviting me to be one of your tutors. I hope the lessons have been useful and that you’ve made it to the end of at least some of them! If you want to explore things further, we’ve got a HUGE resource of articles on the Folksy Blog and if you need any more help, you can always tweet me at @folksy or find me on Instagram – I’m @bbutterscotch on there.

You can also join the chat in the career community forum. Meet Camilla, ask her questions about this weeks homework, and talk through your worries about starting our fledgling online business.

SISTERHOOD20

Folksy.com have kindly given all Sisterhood members a special discount code. It gives everyone who opens a new Folksy shop 20 free listings on Folksy. Just enter the code when you open your new online Folksy shop and the free listings will be automatically applied.