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I have a confession:
I love Etsy.

As a shopper,
As a small business consultant,
It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s easy, it’s cheap to set up, and it’s effective when executed properly.

Etsy is a great platform for any retail-based entrepreneur who isn’t ready to take on the overhead of opening a traditional shop. Whether you are selling clothes, jewelry, art, accessories, décor, wedding supplies, furniture, or gift baskets – Etsy is worth a second look for small business success.

Another reason that I love Etsy is that it is perfect for the military spouse or veteran entrepreneur with a retail product. As a veteran or military spouse, you may have a fantastic range of products you are itching to put on the market. Unfortunately, investing in a brick and mortar storefront is not always a wise decision when you have to pack up shop every 2-3 years. Growing trends in digital storefronts like Etsy are opening doors for military-affiliated entrepreneurs on a global scale.

A few things to consider before jumping on the Etsy bandwagon:

1. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

I’ve been in the marketing game for 12 years – trends change, options change, methods change. One thing that does not change is the need to build a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes at least three different outlets.

For Etsy, I personally love Pinterest for extra exposure. Facebook is a close second, but if you look at the demographics of major Etsy shoppers, you’ll find that they are pretty darn close to the demographics of Pinterest. Super simple targeted advertising, right?

Pinterest also has a handy-dandy advertising process where you can place sponsored pins (ads that don’t look like ads, essentially) on the home feeds of the people who have already demonstrated interest in your product area. The method is simple: You feature an item, link the image to your product page, and whammy! You’ve got yourself a follower, and possibly a sale! Go you!

Whatever social media outlets you choose to compliment your Etsy shop, one of the pillars in your Etsy trifecta needs to be a clean, user-friendly website. You want to grow a brand, not just sell a product. A company website can add additional depth to your Etsy store. You can also promote your Etsy shop and upcoming product releases with a blog on the website. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just needs to be at least 3 pages deep and include a home page, a blog, and a catalogue.

The goal here is to cross-promote your store at every turn, so find outlets that work for your business that you feel comfortable using.

2. Know Your Customer

Who needs your product in their lives?

Before you say “everybody” – let’s really think about this. Narrowing down who you want to reach is a key to success in marketing your product. That way, you spend less money and can focus on making that specific message as effective as possible.

Now that we’ve discussed the considerations of integrated promotion, take the time to understand who is most likely to buy your product right now. Market to that person specifically.

Example: Sally makes handmade vintage dresses. Does it make sense for Sally to send out a general mass ad on Facebook for her Vintage Dress Etsy store? Not really. If Sally were to post a generic add stating: “Vintage Dresses under $100” – she would likely get lost quickly in the myriad of ads for dresses under $100.

Sally wants to talk to women 18-39 with discretionary income – in the $30,000+ range. Sally can then tailor her ads on her other social media outlets with specific items according to the season (Halloween costumes, anyone?). This is more likely to grab the attention of her ideal customer and lead to a sale.

3. Know Your Limits

One of the reasons Etsy is so popular is that the products sold are generally handmade, custom goods. When you’re first starting out, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of having the store and accidentally over-sell.

As a new business owner, you may be thinking “Sales are good, so over-selling would be really good, right?”

Unfortunately, no.

Here’s why:

Mrs. Smith orders 1000 custom hair bows from Jane’s Bows and needs them within a week. Jane eagerly accepts the order and sets to work, but quickly realizes that she cannot juggle her other responsibilities and meet Mrs. Smith’s order while maintaining her usual standard of quality. Jane has to enlist last minute help and some of the bows don’t turn out quite as nicely. Mrs. Smith not only asks for a refund on the offending order, she also leaves a scathing review. Ouch!

Fast forward to three weeks later, and we find Mrs. Jones shopping for a totally manageable 300 hundred bows in 2 weeks. She falls in love with the creative product line at Jane’s Bows, but then she sees Mrs. Smith’s review. Mrs. Jones takes her business to ABC Bows. Your over-selling snafu is now costing you money and potential referrals.

Know how much time it takes to create each product, and set a limit on orders within a certain timeframe.

Remember: Quality + Efficiency + Value = Success.

Don’t be afraid to have a disclaimer on your store regarding how far in advance orders need to placed based on quantity. Request that they email you with special requests and emphasize your desire to provide the best customer service.

If you start seeing multiple large orders coming in, you don’t have to turn them away – you just need to be prepared. Etsy now allows for its sellers to employ people to produce, administer, and ship products so long as the item itself originated from the unique design of the shop owner. This gives you the option to hire a part-or full-time employee to handle the smaller tasks, while you focus on creating a quality product to keep your customers coming back and referring their friends.

Final thoughts:

There are approximately 30 million items on Etsy today. That is 30 million potentially competitive products.

Many start-ups fail on Etsy because they think they can just publish a store site and get to selling. Make no mistake, Etsy is an aggressively competitive market.

Get to know these rules and apply them to your digital storefront on Etsy. Give your business a foundation based on research and focus on building a brand, not just a store. You’ll be off to a great start!

Do you need help telling your story on an Etsy store, your website, or your social media? We can help! Email erika@heerencontentstrategy.com for a free consultation!

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