Startup lounge

TURNING YOUR ARTS AND CRAFTS INTO A BUSINESS

Many customers are turning to handmade goods, but due to massive competition and a high capital base, many small, handmade businesses may not have the skills to market their creations adequately.

* Build your own website: Competition is fierce these days for handmade crafts, which can make selling difficult. Individual brands may get diluted in the huge marketplace, buyers may say they bought an item on Jumia, but not state the name of the seller/brand. Another issue is that marketplaces are built for discovery. People who land at your shop page are encouraged to click around and discover what your competition is selling, which can ultimately end up losing you the sale. This is why most people stress the importance of building your own website.

* Explore new avenues for selling: Being established on one marketplace is great, but that doesn’t mean that should be your only selling place. Strategically choosing another avenue or selling tool could expose you to a wider audience and generate more interest, traffic, brand recognition and ultimately sales. Besides opening up a version of your shop on an additional marketplace, you can look into social commerce tools on sites like Facebook and Pinterest to help you sell directly to your social media followers. For example, Facebook is a good place for your marketing efforts if you value connecting on a personal level with your customers, while Instagram is most useful for those who want to connect through a more visual channel. Showing snapshots of your work in progress or revealing a newly finished product can help build your brand and bring in business.

* Use a sales pipeline: For larger or more expensive handmade goods like furniture, jewellery or art, sales are frequently lost by failing to follow up with prospects or responding to changing needs. Merchants can often struggle with administration, lack a clear overview and lose motivation. With activity-based selling, you schedule actions each day that progress sales through a pipeline. Customers buy when there is a strong shared understanding, and using a sales pipeline allows you to stay in control via meaningful actions with customers that bring a sale closer. You can form a sales pipeline in various ways – sticky notes or Excel spreadsheets work. However, if you have a complex or long sales process, you would benefit from using an online tool for more efficiency.

* Use the marketplace community to your advantage: Third-party marketplace branding efforts sometimes overshadow the individual brands of sellers. This can also work to your advantage, though. While a third-party marketplace’s built-in community elements, such as a sellers’ forum, shouldn’t be your primary customer acquisition strategy, you should make a point to participate in these discussions to pick up new ideas and selling techniques from your peers.

* Tell a story: Storytelling is an especially effective technique for smaller businesses, and your handmade e-commerce ship can benefit from it too. Storytelling is the big differentiator in e-commerce. It’s the reason why buying from or supporting a small business can provide a more powerful experience than from a larger retailer. It is also highly effective for building connections and trust with customers.

* Keep experimenting:  there is no formula for success in marketing, different methods work for different people. You will need to keep trying till you get what works for you. Constantly tweak and optimize to get the best results.

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