Tuesday, April 10, 2012

17 Free Ways to Market Your Handmade Jewelry


Marketing your handcrafted jewelry doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

In fact, it doesn’t have to cost anything!

Here are 17 opportunities to market your jewelry that don’t cost a thing, other than your time and effort.

Some will be more effective than any paid marketing you might do. Caveat: Just because they are free doesn’t mean they are easy, so don’t be surprised if some take quite a bit of work!

The more you do, the more results you should see, so try to incorporate as many of these as possible:

1.  Wear your jewelry. One of the easiest free ways to market your jewelry is to put it on. Every day. It’s one of the unique aspects of the artisan jewelry field: People who admire your jewelry will often become customers. It’s not uncommon for a prospect to ask if they can buy the jewelry the artisan is still wearing! Can you think of another field where people are a walking advertisement for their product or service?

I’ve never been standing in line at the supermarket and had someone say, “You seem REALLY empathic, can you be my psychologist?” But I’ve seen people comment on someone else’s jewelry many, many times. And I get a great sense of satisfaction when the wearer of that jewelry says, “I made it … let me give you my card …”

2. Compliment other people on their jewelry. If you notice a piece that someone else is wearing, and you truly like it, compliment them on it! You don’t have to do this with the idea in mind that you’re going to market yourself. In fact, don’t be the first one to bring up that you’re a jewelry maker. But get in the habit of noticing what others are wearing and commenting on it.

This will help you develop conversational skills around jewelry through repeated practice. And that will help you sell more smoothly at your show booth or at a jewelry home party, where the conversations are about selling but don’t have to seem that way.

3. Your voicemail. The message people get when you’re not able to answer your phone is a powerful opportunity to market yourself. Don’t just provide your name and a request to leave a message.

Mention your website and suggest that the caller check out your blog, too! For example: “You’ve reached The Jewelry Studio. We’re sorry we’re not in right now to receive your call … please leave a message after the tone and we’ll get right back to you. Also, visit us online at [your site] … our Mother’s Day jewelry is shown there now. Thanks!”

(A virtual reception service, although not free, provides a warmer welcome to your customers and the opportunity to target a marketing message more effectively. See this post for more information.)

4. Your invoice.  Your invoice or statement is prime real estate for a marketing message. In fact, printing a marketing flyer on the back of your invoices is an excellent way to market your jewelry and conserve paper.

If you send invoices via e-mail as a PDF file, include a second page with marketing information on it. Why? Because those who buy from you already are your best customers. And adding a marketing message to an existing invoice is a great way to tell those customers about upcoming shows, home parties, new lines and more. On my own invoice, I print a simple reminder to wholesale accounts that we have quite a bit to offer:

5. Your e-mail signature. Every time I think it’s universally understood that all of your e-mails should contain marketing information in your signature, I receive a bunch that don’t contain any marketing information!

My preference is a few simple lines of text that include your contact information, website and blog links. Nearly all personal email programs and commercial e-mail marketing software let you easily create and change signatures. You can also program whether they should go on all e-mails (including replies) or just original outbound messages.

If you do not have at least your company name, telephone number and web address in your signature now, go create one! (We’ll wait for you to get back.)

6. A personal thank you. I’ve mentioned the power of saying “thanks” many, many times before.  The best way to do this is by sending a separate thank-you note with an order. But the free way (without buying or making special thank-you cards) is to write a personal, hand-written thank you note on every invoice accompanying your orders.
Saying thank you not only makes an impression on the buyer, but it creates the time and space for you to think about how amazing it is that someone gave you their hard-earned money in return for your beautiful jewelry.

A personal thank-you should go out with every single one of your orders. Even if you are selling live from a booth or at a jewelry home party, please take the time to write a personal thank-you to the buyer. It’s a free marketing strategy that pays off more than you could imagine.

7. Your appearance. How you dress and groom when you’re selling at live events says a tremendous amount to those who approach you. Various communication studies indicate that impressions are formed within seconds of seeing someone (see Malcolm Gladwell’s incredible book Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking for more information on the speed with which we process visual information).

For example, students form an impression of a professor in fewer than 10 seconds, including ideas about how intelligent the professor is and how effectively they teach. Studies that compared those initial impressions after brief exposure to images of the professor tended not to change with longer contact.

That means that the first impression you make on a prospect is likely to be the one that sticks with them throughout their experience with you. Dress neatly and professionally when selling face to face. People unconsciously associate how you appear with how your jewelry is made. A clean appearance raises their confidence in the quality of your jewelry.

Don’t believe it? When is the last time you saw a sweaty chef walk out of the kitchen with a filthy apron with tomato sauce and grease all over it, and then looked down at your plate and wondered if he’s the one who prepared your meal? I think you get the point!

Make sure your fingernails are clean and trimmed (can be a problem depending on what kind of jewelry you make) because prospects will see them when you show or hand them a piece of your jewelry. When selling from a booth, make sure that it, too, is neat, clean and squared away. Signage and display materials should be neat and free from smudges, fingerprints and dirt.

8. Smile! A heartfelt, warm smile is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal. It shows prospects (and anyone else watching you) that you care about them as a person. It greets others without you having to say a thing. And it is almost always returned.
Infants produce a “smile” within a few hours after birth that, while devoid of content, encourages caregivers to smile at the baby. We respond to the smile of infants automatically, even though they don’t know what they’re doing!

Smiling warms up the interaction and, according to Guerilla Marketing author Jay Conrad Levinson, make the customer feel a sense of friendship and comfort with you. People buy from those with whom they feel comfortable.

The next time you’re out shopping, notice who on the sales staff is smiling, and how those smiles make you feel inside. Your smile should be authentic, real and be accompanied by looking the prospect briefly in the eyes. Even when you answer the phone for your business, smile. It will send a signal to your own brain that you are happy to be talking with someone who has reached out to you.

9. Public Relations. There are books, courses and even academic degrees in public relations, so I feel like mentioning it along with 16 other things you can do to market your business for free is somehow minimizing its importance, but here it is. Public relations – publicity for you and your jewelry – is one of the most powerful free things you can do to market yourself.

Start with something as simple as calling the style editors at the newspapers and magazines published in your area to introduce yourself. This personal connection is important because it makes more of an impact than just sending a press kit or e-mail.

Make sure you’ve read the style sections and know who the main writers are before contacting the editor or the writers. Know their style and what they like to write about.
That will make it easier to connect with them, and it will form a better connection, too.

Offer yourself as a resource for features about jewelry, and send them information about your jewelry, as well, when you have something newsworthy to announce.

This publicity is more valuable than advertising but doesn’t cost a dime. I was quoted 4 times last year in the Los Angeles Times. If I had to pay for the same amount space in the business section that my quotes took up, it would have cost thousands of dollars. I didn’t pay a thing.

10. Rapid response to inquiries and orders.  There’s an interesting auto-responder set for someone I write to that I receive every time I send them an e-mail. It says, “Thanks you for your note and we’ll get back to you within 36 hours.” In a day and age where you can find a missing piece of silverware online anywhere in the world in about 15 minutes, create a microwave meal in 5 minutes and see your own digital photos immediately, 36 hours to respond to an email is an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y.

Due to the rapid response of some of the world’s best companies, customers and prospects have become accustomed to very quick responses to their inquiries. (The exception is the computer and phone businesses, where customer service is almost universally deplorable and takes forever.)

Additionally, your customers are likely to be busy people. The time they take out of their day to contact you about your jewelry is precious to them! Although auto-responders (“we received your note but aren’t actually reading it”) are a good way to confirm the receipt of an email, it’s important to get back to customers as quickly as possible. Speed sells. Your ability to rapidly respond to a prospect’s question may mean the difference between making the sale or not. Respond as soon as you can.

11. Jewelry talks, seminars and lectures.  Giving a free talk about jewelry making, an aspect of jewelry history, jewelry care and related topics is an excellent way to get in front of an audience of potential customers.

Public speaking also gives you a reason to send out press releases (already mentioned). And, it provides an opportunity for you to practice connecting with people, a critical skill for selling well. If you’re not comfortable talking in front of groups, join your local Toastmaster’s club and they’ll help you become great!

12. Photos of you interacting with customers. Keep a digital camera with you when you’re selling from a booth or at a home party, and ask someone to take photos of you with smiling customers! Pictures convey instantly that buying from you and connecting with you is an enjoyable experience. Others who see that will seek that connection with you, too.

Display the photos on your website, in marketing material, at your blog, in newsletters and in a “scrap book” that you can display at shows.

13.  Testimonials. As mentioned in another blog post of mine, testimonials are a powerful way to let prospects know what others think of you. And in the digital age, you have even more options, such as recorded testimonials that can be played back right at your site, or even videotaped testimonials, like the one you see at the Guerilla Marketing website: http://www.gmarketing.com/.

Don’t be shy about bringing printed testimonials with you when you sell face-to-face so prospects can see and read them.

14. Photography. Clear, well framed shots of your jewelry are essential to effective marketing. So how can you get something that requires that much expertise for free?
If there’s a college or university near you with a photography program, you may find VERY talented students who are willing to take photos of your jewelry for free so that they can use them in a professional-looking portfolio when they leave school and look for work.

Contact the head of the department for help identifying instructors whose students might be willing to take you on as a student project.

15. The descriptions of your jewelry. The way you describe your jewelry online and on your story cards is essential. It tells the story beyond just the photo. Although they say a picture is worth a thousand words, a fake pearl looks like a real one in a photograph, so you need to be as descriptive as possible. I’m still amazed that some jewelry makers simply write the size of the item and a brief list of the materials under a photo of a piece they want to sell.

Expand those descriptions to include where you obtained the items, what’s special about them, and what inspired the piece. Don’t be concerned about length – most jewelry makers err on the side of writing too little, not too much.

16. Collaborative partnerships with others. If you do not currently have a partnership with a local florist, candy maker, spa, hair salon, women’s clothing store, specialty store or even a local independent pharmacy, you may be missing a free opportunity to sell more jewelry.

Collaborating with brick-and-mortar or online sellers whose products and services are a complement to yours can be lucrative.

The independent pharmacy on the first floor of the building where my office is located has handcrafted jewelry and related items at both counters and on a special set of shelves near the front of the store. The buyer has a great eye – and she’s always buying, because the jewelry is always selling!

17. Follow up. Following up after the sale reminds customers of the jewelry they bought from you and about your terrific service, helpful attitude and smile, as well. It shows you care about them as a customer.

Following up via e-mail is convenient. I use and recommend iContact for e-mail marketing.  They charge by the month, not by the number of e-mails I send (although there is a monthly maximum, I've never come close to that). Here are some ideas for follow-up:

mention a new line of jewelry
announce a sale
conduct a survey
send a birthday note to your customer
send a note on the “anniversary” of them becoming a customer
provide a brief fact about jewelry or jewelry care
e-mail your newsletter
announce upcoming show dates/trunk shows/jewelry home parties
offer to repair their broken jewelry
offer a personal jewelry shopping appointment

How to apply these suggestions. Having many options is nice, but it can be confusing, too! In the case of these 17 techniques, you should use as many as you can.

To make them simple to implement, just number them in the order you’d like to start using them, and then break that list down into 3 things you’d like to implement every week until you have them all done.

If you’re having trouble finding the time to implement, schedule periods each week (e.g., Monday and Wednesday afternoons) when you ONLY do marketing for your jewelry making business. Circle the ones you think will be easiest to implement, and commit to doing just one of them TODAY!

8 comments:

  1. Great suggestions, thank you very much. I am always on the look-out for new marketing strategies I can add to my 'arsenal'. I am going to set up an email auto-responder today.

    Kind Regards,
    Ines

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  2. All excellent info...thanks David!

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  3. Great advice David! And thank you for repeating it.
    I read something like this when I first signed up for your newsletter a couple of years ago ----- Did I do all you suggested?
    Of course not. So now I have another opportunity to do more of your suggestions this time. :)

    Jaynemarie
    -JewelryByJaynemarie

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  4. Thank you, WEDUNIT! Let me know how the auto-responder works out! Robin -- you're welcome! Jaynemarie -- sometimes a gentle reminder doesn't hurt!

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  5. Really excellent info...thanks so much!

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  6. You're welcome, Annette, and thanks for your note!

    David

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  7. Thanks for the great info. I just used suggestion #5. I didn't realize I could change my e-mail signature. I'm not too computer savvy :) I'll work on the other 16 week by week as you suggested.

    Thanks again
    Jeanetta Drummond

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  8. You're welcome, Jeanetta, and I hope ALL of them work for you! :-)

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