Tuesday, March 9, 2010

March is Moving Month

I am happy to announce I have been offered a full-time job at an advertising agency. As a result, I will be spending the month packing & moving.

Sorry to everyone for the long delay....I went to interview and then went to Florida for a family vacation. Now with the move, the blog has been really pushed to the side. My apologies!

Enjoy March & see you in April!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Guest Blog - How to do your own PR- for free - Noisette Marketing

Note: Noisette Marketing is a London-based Marketing and PR shop for Etsians and other small creative businesses. Isa, the founder of Noisette, has over ten years of experience doing Public Relations, Design, Promotions, and Marketing. She has worked in some of London's top ad agencies. I stumbled across Isa's blog, when I first started out on Etsy. Isa is one of my role models - not only a crafter, an advertiser, and a consultant, she's a new mom! I'm grateful she found time to guest blog for Zula May. - Laura


PR for small businesses generally involves getting the word out about what you do. You generally don’t need to spend money on PR as it is all about providing a story for people to write about. Hopefully your story will inspire them to write about you, and then before you know it you’ll be featured in all the best blogs, magazines and newspapers resulting in more sales.

What’s your story?

In order to entice the media to write about you, they will expect a great story that their readers will resonate with. Think about why these people should write about you. What is it that makes your business different?

Cultivate your media list

Once you know your story you can start to cultivate your own personal media list. Your media list will contain contact details of all the blogs, newspapers, magazines and radio stations that you wish to contact about your business.

Submit- the right way

Depending on who you are pitching to you will have to follow their submission guidelines. Most blogs now have submission information on their site and newspapers and magazines will also have the relevant information available so you need to follow their directions.

Monitor response and evaluate

Keep track of who you submit to, replies and outcome. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back immediately. Editors are busy people and won’t always be able to reply straight away. Instead focus on cultivating that list. You should always be adding to it and thinking of new places that may be interested in featuring your story.

It can take time to see results from your PR efforts and it is something that needs to be sustained over a period of time to get the best results.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kindle Contest Winner

Congratulations to Etsy seller HarperTaryn on winning the Kindle Design Contest! I love the above design - I'm always a fan of floral swirls. HarperTaryn has won an Etsy shopping spree.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Guest Blog: What makes a solid logo - by Amber Mabe

Note: If you haven't heard of Amber Mabe, you have probably seen one of her logos. Amber designs some of the strongest logos available on Etsy - you'd be wise to check out her shop. I asked Amber to write about what makes a great logo because she so clearly understands how to design logos that build a brand. I've included some of her logos throughout this article. - Laura

Etsy is an amazing place where I both work and shop. As a graphic artist, I get lots of requests for custom shop designs and especially logos. This is an excellent illustration of how brands are everywhere you look, whether they are corporate businesses or small businesses. Most importantly, they are at the heart of every industry. Whatever you're selling - yourself, your art, your products, your services - having a strong brand image is absolutely imperative to success.

I am often asked "What's the difference between a brand and a logo?" A logo is the visual representation of your brand, essentially your brand image. It is the icon that a potential customer sees and hopefully will remember. Logo design is a service that is being sold all over the web, and I've seen some really well designed pieces, as well as some logos that do a disservice to the brand they're representing. To spot a solid logo, consider these crucial points:
• It is memorable and immediately recognizable.
• It would reproduce accurately in black and white, or when scaled down to an inch or less.
• It is original, and not just a piece of clip-art paired with some text.
• Is it pertinent to the service/product that it's representing.
• It is visually appealing and not overly complicated.
• It is NOT a an actual photograph.
• Most of all, it is simple. Simplicity in logo design is a key factor. It's safe to say that in logo design, less IS more.

Your logo does not need extravagant effects like embossing, drop shadows, glitter or shine effects, or anything of that nature. When working with a designer, be sure to remember this information as well as to make sure your artist designs in vector format. Vector enables you to scale your logo to any size you need, without losing the clarity and crisp appearance of lines and details.

Brands are designed and created to engage people. If your brand is not embraced by your audience, it will not succeed. Whether you're selling on Etsy or in a physical shop, having a strong logo will help to build brand equity and ensure long term success.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

life without Internet

Starting today, I will be on blog-sabbatical until March 8. I will be living largely without Internet, although I do plan to check in a few days, especially to announce the winners of the Kindle Contest!

There are a couple of guest-bloggers lined up. Both are great experts in marketing/advertising for the Etsy community. Keep an eye out ;)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Design a Kindle Contest

The Amazon Kindle is simple, basic, and white. It needs a bit of fun added to it. Using the photo above, design an image that could be manufactured on a Kindle cover. It can include a variety of colors, words, images, as you choose. (Excluding profanity & graphic images.) Submit your design by leaving a link in the comment section below. (i.e. Post the link to your Flickr photo.)

Winners will receive a $25 shopping spree to an Etsy shop of their choice. I will announce two winners on this blog on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010.


1. You must be a current Etsy seller.
2. You must have a paypal account.
3. All entries must be received by noon on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010 to be considered for the prize.
4. Entries must not include profanity or graphic images.

The contest is meant to be a fun, creative exercise for Etsy designers. This contest is in NO way associated with Amazon, Amazon Kindle, or other manufacturers of e-readers and electronics. The designs will not be used for manufacturing purposes or commercially produced.

What's in a label

Today I'm preparing for a few upcoming interviews, so I'd like to share with you an article I found this morning in the Wall Street Journal. Campbell's Soup has announced significant changes to their labels. The changes are based off of scientific research that monitored an individual's physical reactions to seeing the product in the store. It takes test marketing to a whole new level. Read the article here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trending Tuesday: Trends I can't explain

Sometimes, I just don't understand trends. I'm not supposed to admit this; after all, my job training is to spot trends in the market place before they become mainstream. However, there are several major trends that have floated right by me, and I cannot understand them. I wouldn't advise you to rush right out and invest in any of them; the trends are on their way downhill and out the door.

First, it's mustaches. No one really knows where this trend came from. In 2006, the Seattle Times noted that mustaches were a form of humiliation, linking them with Saddam Hussein. In January 2009, the New York Times reported that mustaches were on their way back. By October, the Boston Globe reported on the mysterious exile of the mustache. The Globe said that mustaches were just a comedy bit; the mustaches had not regained their status as a true sign of machismo. StyleList wondered aloud - is it really a trend, or is a fad? Could mustaches really stick around through 2009? But it was obvious by the end of 2009 that mustaches had regained some sort of status, even if it was as a whimsical attention-grabbing stunt. The hipster world had latched on, and mustaches made appearances in weddings, on Etsy, and at Octoberfest. For your guide to mustaches, check out your guide to mustaches vs. beards. Just please, please, don't grow one.

Second: cupcakes. Most likely a sign of our formerly overly-indulgent culture, cupcakes made an appearance as the star of boutique bakeries in 2007. Celebrities picked up on the idea, and started incorporating cupcakes in lieu of wedding cakes. By 2009, the trend had worked its way into mainstream wedding culture as cake trees became all the rage. Next on the agenda for the cupcake is the Middle East, where the trend has arrived full-force as some American brands are making an appearance.

Finally, the recent appearance of "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters. A resurgence in nostalgia for the time of (most of) our grandparents, the poster gives us strength to keep going in a time of economic uncertainty. It also gives us a way to express ourselves, as seen by the hundreds of parodies floating around the web. My favorite thus far? "Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake," as seen in Barnes & Noble's Valentine's Day display.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't skimp on the ketchup! Media Monday: Word of Mouth

Wendy's, I have a beef with you.

Today, I went through the drive-through. I was in a hurry (thus, the drive-through and the fast food indulgence). I ordered chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink. As I am pulling out of the parking lot and into the lane for the expressway, I realize you have neglected to give me ketchup and a straw. Around the block I go, sitting through three traffic lights and pulling back into the very crowded parking lot. I popped out of my car, walked into the store, stood in line, and requested ketchup and a straw. All I got from your clerk was attitude. Sorry, but what exactly did I do wrong? You might note, this is the third time you've skimped me on ketchup.

Here's the thing. Because of several screw-ups on the part of your staff, you have now dented your brand. Maybe, in my case, it is only a slight bruise. But what if I were Kevin Smith, with his 1.6 million Twitter followers? Your brand could be on the national news, in PR crisis mode, defending your customer service policy.

Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to share their negative brand experiences than their positive ones. A 2006 Wharton study found that of 100 consumers who have a bad experience, a company stands to lose 32 - 36 customers. More importantly, 48% of shoppers say they have avoided a store because they learned of another person's poor experience. A third of those who had the negative experience will never return.

Here's why:
Paula Courtney, president of The Verde Group, says the exponential power of negative word-of-mouth lies in the nature of storytelling. "As people tell the story the negativity is embellished and grows," she says. For example, the first time the story is told, it might be about a customer service representative who was rude. By the time the third or fourth person hears the story, the customer service representative becomes verbally abusive. "To make a story worth telling, there has to be some entertainment value, a shock value," says Courtney. "Storytelling hurts retailers and entertains consumers."

Not to mention, storytelling makes for great news stories. And when you provoke a storyteller like Kevin Smith, you're going to get more stories than you really want to deal with.

Online sellers tend to rely on Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. We actively encourage our customers to re-tweet, share our Facebook updates, and participate in our blog comments. What we can easily forget is that every aspect of our product experience is shared. Cutting corners and taking shortcuts may help your bottom line or make it faster for you to list an item, but eventually those routes will come back to hurt you. A customer may not bother to fill out a negatives seller rating - but they will share that experience with their friends. You'll then have to work twice as hard to correct your brand image.

So remember: don't skimp on the ketchup.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Preparing for the Upturn

Right now the upturn sounds like a mythical creature - it lives out there with unicorns, dragons, and the loch ness sea monster. But it is coming, and it might arrive sooner than you think. At that point, your business needs to be ready.

First, keep a positive outlook in your brand communications. People are tired of hearing about the recession. They are more than ready for recovery, and at this point, they are just waiting for businesses to pick up. The more you remind them of the downturn, the more they are going to avoid your brand.

A few top advertisers have already begun to avoid the hum-drum in their commercials. Hyundai, known for the return-your-car-if-you-get-laid-off-promise, has begun talking about improving life for everyone. Allstate reminds us that one day, we will talk about "The Great Recession" in the past tense. Macy's has begun to make small changes to each local store, in order to better meet the needs of customers; they recognize that they can offer more value to a customer instead of lowering their price.

Second, prepare for the upturn by keeping prices fairly steady. Don't discount for the sake of discounting; it will ruin your brand reputation. Customers who are used to lower, recession prices will expect you to keep those prices in an upturn. When your material costs go up, what will you do? Holiday sales and clearance sales meant to remove excess inventory make sense. Sales to get sales do not.

Finally, take this time to fine-tune your business. Figure out what marketing works for you business. Work on innovating your products or expanding your product line. Build personal relationships with your existing customers. Smooth out any existing quirks in customer-service. When the upturn arrives, you're going to grateful you did.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shop Critique: BridalJewelry4u

I'm a bit hesitant to step out with a shop critique today, after all of the ruckus in the forums about fonts and banners. My goal here is to teach the basics of advertising and brand building; if you have the ability to implement these ideas in your shop, fantastic. If not, I'm not going to hold it against you. My shop does not meet all of my own branding standards; there is always work to be done, and there is always room for improvement. Our goal in this blog is to incrementally improve over time.

Today's seller is BridalJewelry4u, a small studio run out of Stuebenville, Ohio. Our seller was the first to contact me in the forums regarding a shop critique. BridalJewelry joined in September 2009; she first sold everyday jewelry before venturing out into wedding jewelry. I thought this was smart; she found a niche market that worked for her and has stuck with it. (Read her profile for the entire story.)

Previously, we discussed building a brand image - I'd like to talk about the elements that go into creating the overall brand. On Etsy, it is primarily banners, avatars, and tag lines.

At the most basic level, a banner should give your customer the name of your shop and some idea of what you stand for. BridalJewelry4u does give her name and a tag line for her shop. However, because of the layout of the banner, it is a bit hard to instantly obtain this information. We have to physically look to both the left and the right to get the information.

When designing a banner, keep in mind focal points. Our banners main focal point rests in the center of the banner, as shown below:

Focal points can also be to the left or to the right of the banner, also show below as black dots.

When using left or right focal points, make sure the eye is drawn to the point by natural lines, shown above as dotted lines. For example, Embe draws the eye to the left by using a brighter color on the left, a shadow with a line that flows to the left (see the flower stem shadow), and flowers on the right that curve naturally to the left. No matter where your eye might fall on the page, you are going to be sent directly to her shop name.

BridalJewlery4u should remove the rose from the center of the banner; it is the focal point of her banner, and the item least relevant to her shop. I recommend using the logo as a center-focal point, with designs on either side, such as CandaceKane.

As to whether or not to keep the rose theme, I'm divided. One one hand, it is a nice change from the over-used wedding symbols of veils, white, and dresses; on the other hand, it may not say enough about wedding jewelry. If the rose stays, it should be integrated throughout the shop. Shoot product photos by hanging earrings off of a rose bud or stem, or laying a necklace over top of a blossom. This is subtle branding that will help connect the rose to your shop. BridalJewelry4u might also be willing to change her avatar to one of the new photos, so that she can show her product through her avatar.

For avatars, there is some debate on Etsy whether to show a shop item or a brand logo. I recommend either. What I would avoid are generic pictures or pictures of yourself. I'm sorry, but most people look creepy that close-up! Let's see your logo or your handiwork before I see you. If you really want to show your picture, show it to me on your blog.

Finally, we get to the tag line. Currently, BridalJewelry4u has "Jewelry that will help you get ready for your special day." Good attempt, but we can write a message with more punch. To brainstorm, steal from poetry. Use rhymes, alliterations, and other literary techniques to pull together words. Creek Bed Threads has a great descriptive line - Pillows, Pouches, and Purses. A nice alliteration helps it flow smoothly, and you know instantly what she is selling. Flutterbudget has a nice tag line - "Vintage Made Modern." The best tags are usually three words or less, i.e. Just Do It. Open Happiness. Maybe it's Maybelline.

For BridalJewelry4u, even shortening the tag line and adding an alliteration can do wonders - i.e. "Designed with Your Day in Mind." That tag still needs a lot of work, but it has a bit more punch than before. BridalJewelry4u does have a great advantage in that she knows what her business stands for; if you are still in the business of not knowing what business you are in, I'd recommend you ignore the need for a tag line for awhile.

Small, little elements like focal points, short tags, and avatars can make a large improvement in the overall appearance for a shop. The trick is to know what changes to make, and to make then consistently, to improve the overall image of your brand.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Day Off

Hey all,

Sorry no blog today. I had a job interview and it lasted most of the day. Check back tomorrow for a shop critique!

Good luck to those in DC area - I do not wish more snow on you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Trending Tuesday: Blippy

We've all heard of Twitter, but have you heard of the latest spin-off, Blippy? The start-up caught national media attention in late January when it launched its website. Blippy users register their credit card; for every purchase made with that card, a real-time status update is sent back to Blippy. You can see that JoeSmoch bought $20 at Starbucks or that Fred signed up for a NetFlix account. Users can "like" a purchase, similar to Facebook's "like" status, and comment on purchases made by their peers.

While the national media has largely focused on the implications for consumers, such a data security and the impact on social circles, they've overlooked the potential power for brands. Blippy users can control which brands are published in their updates and which brands are kept private. A user may publicly sign-up for Netflix and ignore the local video rental store. For the consumer, it is the ultimate image-shaping tool. For brands, it could be the ultimate brand-killer. If your brand doesn't imply status or help the consumer shape his or her image, you might just be out of luck. Worse yet, consumers will know if you are the high or low priced item on the market. Imagine if you purchased a $50 Wii game at Wal-mart, and later saw on Blippy that the same item was only $45 at GameStop. It could kill Wal-mart's low-price image in a heartbeat.

Amazon is the first retailer to limit Blippy's access to consumer data. While it isn't clear why they asked to be removed from Blippy's brand list, I suspect it is because they understand the negative impact Blippy could have on a brand. It will be interesting to see how brands handle their image on Blippy; some will surely find ways to beef up their brand, while others will surely lose a bit of status.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Media Monday: Developing content for the web

Are you interesting?

According to AdWeek, one of the most important marketing principles for 2010 is to be interesting. AdWeek states that a key to branding is to generate conversations - not by talking about your brand, but by giving consumers information to share with each other. Today's brands cannot stand up and say "notice me!" but can subtly share information that drives traffic back to the brand.

As small-business advertiser, we know the general advice is to be on Facebook, Twitter, and to blog. The trick is knowing what to say and how to say it effectively.

First, set relevant goals. A recent study by research firm Forrester found that many large corporations fail to set goals for what their social media accounts should achieve. The result is a scatter-brained approach to marketing online. Honda allows dealers to tweet, but lacks a centralized Twitter account. Each dealer has a different online brand identity and the Honda brand falls to the wayside. Your brand, even if operated by one person, can have the same identity crisis. Decide what your goals are for your brand online - is it to connect with customers/fans? Or is it to collect new ideas for your business? Or is it something entirely different?

Once you've set your goals, decide who you are talking to. In December, Facebook released its demographics for the first time. It has grown into a diverse connection point for millions of people. Twitter, on the other hand, is largely a playground for marketers; over 60% of new users quit within the first month. If you are tweeting, you are probably tweeting to other small business owners. We're all still waiting for the general buying population to show up.

Keeping in mind your audience, adjust your messages according. While it is ok to tweet your promotions constantly on Twitter, bugging your Facebook fans with obsessive status updates will only drive them away. I love this recent spoof - it shows precisely all the ways you can kill your reputation on Facebook.

Determining what to say might be a challenge. There are only so many days in a row that you can advertise "10% off" or advertise a new item listing. Get creative with your media messages. Try filming your customers comments at your next craft show. Start interactive dialogue with how-to-guides. Talk about a topic where you have expertise. If you are really stuck for ideas, get on a chat room and brainstorm with your peers. Just be careful - I was once told to blog about pillows. Now, how interesting would that have been? "Here is the stuffing. Here is the cover." Don't be the stuffing-cover person with your products.

Most importantly, operate with a double click mentality. If your customers cannot reach the coupon, promotional code, or item within two clicks, you're done for. Make your content shareable by breaking down any barriers - set up RSS feeds, avoid blocking comments, allow anyone to follow you on Twitter, and be searchable in Facebook. Keep a running list of any time you are blocked from content in your own searches, and then go back and fix those same blocks on your own site. With a little luck, you'll find your content is not only relevant and accessible, but interesting.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Weekend Break

Just a note to my new followers that I take Saturdays & Sundays off from blogging.

The Egg Team, a new Etsy team that I have joined, is sponsoring a little contest on their blog. Enter to win a swag bag full of gifts from Egg Team sellers!

See you Monday!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Business Cards

Thank you to all who left comments and joined as a follower on the blog yesterday!

Over the week I've talked about building a brand experience and connecting with your target market. Here are a few of my favorite business cards off the web. They should all win awards for creating an experience and making a connection.

Really great packaging for a media kit!

Great for a vintage shop!
Nothing more memorable than a business card that you can kill time with.
Patches with your brand logo
Great way to re-purpose your scraps
A great packaging idea for designers of hair pieces.
Can I give you a hand?
Designed by typographer Aehrich O'Dubhchon. See original post.

Give me a job, or I'll sit on your desk and pop up! Sourced from here.

Want more?
All of the above business cards found on toxel or smashingmagazine or adgoodness

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shop Critique: Divine3Designs

To much ado, the first shop critique is here! I had some difficulty in selecting the first shop to review. I thought at first to go in order of requests, but then one shop stuck in my head: Divine 3 Designs, a jewelry shop located in central Virginia.

Divine3Designs understands the basics of branding. Her shop name, banner, and avatar are consistent. She has a graphic theme that runs throughout her site; plus, she puts her logo on her gift certificates. Immediately, stepping into her shop, I know what she sells, what she stands for, and I start to have a brand experience. Plus, I can connect to her through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and her all-encompassing website. I admire her for drawing me in - something is working if she can get into an advertiser's head!

My primary concern with her shop is the shop announcement. Immediately we are hit with a "my product is one-of-a-kind" announcement. I find this a bit redundant, because if we're on Etsy, I hope we are paying for one-of-a-kind! What I want to know is her story. She's started to tell me the beginning of a story with her brand visuals, but then stopped. In order to help with a brand story, I asked Divine3Designs to tell me about her target audience.

Divine3Designs describes her target market as:

Professional women who want distinctive, simple, timeless, versatile, handmade jewelry to help them accessorize without settling for the trendy. They would say: "I'm a busy woman who doesn't have time to constantly keep up with what is "in" today - I want jewelry that is comfortable and goes with many of my clothes. It shouldn't say "trendy" but whispers distinctive style that will last for years."

Excellent! She nailed that one. Right away, I know she is speaking to an aged 25 - 55 group of women who dress in classic, timeless pieces.

We now need to translate her thoughts into an opening line for her shop. Some of my thoughts travel to:

  • I don’t want to look like I shop at Claire’s. I want to be real.
  • There is jewelry that visits your jewelry box briefly; it comes and goes; and there are pieces that stay around forever.
  • There are everyday pieces and there are pieces that make a statement.

With those thoughts in mind, I’d suggest an opening message like this:

“I create classic, timeless pieces meant to take up permanent residence in your jewelry box. They’ll become your reliables - the pieces that travel with you to work, to weddings, and through wonderful memories.

My fine artisan jewelry is made with versatile materials: Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass Gemstones, and Dichroic Glass.”

Now we have a brand experience and we’ve managed to include the key search terms. Design3Designs excels at bringing this brand experience throughout her listings. Read her listings – she tells you a story about each of the products. You learn how the product is made or you imagine wearing the jewelry. Boom, congratulations, you have just had a brand experience!

Divine3Designs should make sure this brand experience translates to all of her external Etsy sites – I’d like to see the same brand story appear on her website homepage, in her Twitter bio, and on Facebook. Her promotions should also stay consistent across all of the websites, as to not confuse her customers. When she has a sale, the package that arrives in the mail should remind the customer of the online experience; the package should include a business card with the shop logo and packaging that is timeless and classic.

Overall, I give Divine3Design an A.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Having a brand experience

People often look at me funny when I say there are good ads and bad ads. To most people, ads are just ads. When you're in the business, there are ads that make you want to quit the agency world, and then there are ads that remind you why you got into this business in the first place.

A good ad makes you feel attached to the brand. It makes you feel smart, more informed, happy, or at least makes you laugh. You remember the brand because it made a connection with you. Bad ads, they annoy you. Like local car dealership commercials. Shouting at you gets your attention, but you certainly aren't inclined to rush right out and meet the shouting guy.

The key difference is really about the brand experience. It is the impression you take away from visual and verbal cues of a brand. Think about the masters of brand experience - Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Nike, and Burton. They have mastered a consistency across all of their consumer touch points, so that no matter if you are online, in the store, or interacting with the product, you are having the same experience. You'll notice a few commonalities among these brands:
  • Stylized logos
  • Innovative Product Designs
  • Social communities centered around the product
  • Informative websites filled with rich content
  • Lack of "in your face, buy my product now" salespeople
One of the Etsy sellers, Scrivener's Retreat, asked for how to build sales without being pushy. The key is to drive consistency across all of the items mentioned above. Think of building a brand, and think of the experience you want people to have with that brand. You rightfully do not want to be pushy. You want to be friendly. Like that dear friend who can talk to everyone and make them feel great about themselves. Make your consumer feel equally great, and be consistent about it across all of your brand platforms. Your logo, your product, and your website should look similar from a style perspective. Your website should have information built around the product (i.e. coffee) or the product category (i.e. hot drinks). Then there should be ways for people to connect around the product through social media - comments on your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc. And finally, when someone contacts you about your sale, don't push more sales. Just be friendly, nice, and stay consistent to what you say on your websites. Make sure your packaging is equally nice and friendly too. The person will be more likely to come back, because they want to have the same experience again.

Tomorrow we'll use the first Etsy shop critique to explain specific changes you can make to drive your brand experience.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Trending Tuesday: The Library

A few years ago, bookstores were THE place to be -filled with unique coffee shops, singles looking to meet someone over the magazine rack, and piles upon piles of the latest best seller. Then came along this little year called 2009, and the economy hit a standstill. Gone was the extra spending money for a $5 coffee or a $35 hardcover book.

Enter: The library.

More people have gone to the library in 2009 than any other year on record. According to the NBC Nightly News video, over 2 billion items have been checked out from libraries. No longer limited to books, the library is a provider of DVDs and free Internet. 1.3 billion visitors have gone to a library in the last year.

According to The New York Times, your local librarian is probably stressed out beyond belief. She or he is dealing with those who have recently lost their jobs and are looking for work; the increasing homeless population who comes to the library for its warmth; and has more books being checked out than ever before.

The librarian has evolved from a "hush, we're reading" whisper to an information guru. The 21st century librarian teaches students of multiple cultural backgrounds, teaches English as a second language classes, runs tutorials on computers and job seeking, and offers moral support. Part psychologist, part teacher, and full-on researcher, they have become the backbone of the community.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Media Monday: Reaching your target market through advertising

Over the weekend, I posted a blog called "Introductions." It got pushed to the bottom - please read it, introduce yourself, and see my administrator notes.

From our previous posts, we've talked about putting a face on your target market. Today we are going to imagine what it is like to walk through a day-in-the-life of the consumer in your target audience. On some scratch paper, take a minute and answer the following questions about yourself:

  • What newspapers and magazines do you read each week? Do you read them online or in print?

  • What TV shows do you watch each day? Do you DVR them? Do you watch them online?

  • What radio stations do you listen to? Do you listen online or in the car?

  • Do you take a bus/car/subway to work/school/errands?

  • What shops do you attend each week? (i.e. grocery store, bookstore, craft shop etc.)

You should have a substantial list of media outlets that you interact with on a daily basis. Now, think of the advertising you have seen in each of those media outlets. There should be print ads, online banner ads, TV commercials, radio commercials and announcements, and outdoor ads (billboards, bus stops, subway tunnels), and in-store promotions like "buy one, get one free." Each of these ads is an attempt for an advertiser to reach you with a message about their product or brand.

Do the same exercise for your target market, only this time, be the brand. Think of how many ways you can reach your audience throughout their day. A tool to help you envision life in your audience's shoes is Prizm, an online market segmentation tool provided by Nielsen. It will give you pre-set market descriptions and an idea of your target's lifestyle. If you take time to think through a day in the life of a customer in your target audience, you will have a better feel for where to spend your advertising dollar.

Note on Prizm: You may have to re-enter the security code to view every market segment. If you get kicked to the home page, click on "You are where you live" to link to the zip code tool.

Saturday, January 30, 2010


Hi Everyone!

I am really excited to get to know you all and share marketing tips with you. Over the weekend, I'd like us all to introduce ourselves, and I'll take a minute to cover a few administrative tidbits.

In the comments section below, please introduce yourself as if you were a target market. (You can leave out income for security reasons). I've written my introduction as an example:

The New Frugals - Between the ages of 25 - 35, the New Frugals grew up in an age of overindulgence and prosperity. They believed they could have it all if only they worked hard enough, signed up for enough credit cards, and networked with the right people. Both men and women, they started careers in large metropolitian areas like New York, Chicago, and L.A. They primarily worked for Fortune 500 corporations or large-scale financial institutions; now, they are shifting to new outlets like non-profit, teaching, and nursing. While these careers are more rewarding, they pay substainially less than their former budgets. As a result, the New Fruguals are more conscious of sales, coupons, and bargin shopping.

On Monday, we will continue our discussion of reaching your target market. This excericse will help you in understanding how to think about approaching a consumer - because ultimately, the easiest consumer to understand is yourself!

Administrative Odds & Ends

I will post blogs Monday - Friday, and take Saturdays and Sundays off to re-charge. Since everyone knows different things about marketing/advertising, I will start with the basics and move up. Have patience if it is too basic - eventually we will move on to more in-depth things.

From my posting on the forum in Etsy, I've had a great response to the number of shop owners interested in critiques. My original thought was to do one shop critique per week. As I look through the responses, I may integrate particular shops into a blog as I talk about a topic. I would also like to set up a few tools for you to run your own self-critiques. With that being said, I've elected to have Thursdays be the shop critique days. No particular reason, other than Thursdays tend to be normal days - they aren't like Mondays when everything bad happens! I will be in touch with you as your shop is featured.

On Tuesday, I will start what I like to call "Trending Tuesdays." This is really where I get to have my fun as an advertiser! The large advertising agencies are always looking for trends - who is buying what, why they are buying it, and what people are talking about. I've seen some of these trends influence Etsy, and some that do not. We'll talk about what makes a trend and what makes some trends stick.

The other thing to note is the list of Children's Books to the left. This is just my interest and connects back to my book nook pillows for kids (currently in my workshop waiting to be sewn!)

And, as always, please feel free to feed the fish at the bottom of the page. Just click your mouse on the blank spot and see what happens. :D

See you Monday for "Media Monday: How to reach your target market through advertising"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Where are they? Finding Your Target Market

You've got a great product. People are telling you to get out there and sell it. You've joined Etsy, eBay, Amazon or the like and have posted numerous items. Problem is, you aren't making as many sales as you'd like.

The foundation for all selling - branding, advertising, strategy - is the consumer. If they aren't convinced to buy, they won't buy it. If they don't like it, they won't tell their friends about it. And if they don't tell their friends, you'll never get sales by word of mouth.

Don't worry, you aren't the only person with this problem. Every major corporation today has this problem. Coke wants people buy more Coke. Adidas wants you to quit buying Nike. Convincing a consumer to make the decision to buy your product is a challenge. You have to get inside of their heads - and that's the trouble.

Etsian artrageousclay asked for help in defining her target market. The easiest place to start is your past sales. If you don't have any previous sales, ask yourself where you might get sales when answering these questions.

Are your customers primarily male or female?
If your customers are mostly female, then you're in luck. Women make up 85% of purchasing decisions in a household. Men and women shop in very different ways. Men usually know exactly what they want and go to the store to pick up that specific item. Women are more likely to browse and enjoy the experience of shopping. (For more on Men vs. Women, see the link Men Buy, Women Shop).

How old are your customers?
Professional advertising agencies typically break their customers into these age groups:
  • Under 18
  • 18 - 24
  • 25 - 35
  • 35 - 45
  • 45 - 55
  • 55+
You might be more familiar with these age groups if you think of it terms of generations - the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and beyond. Our Etsian said she made sales to all age groups. What I would encourage her to do is to think about what attracts each age group to a specific product. Maybe young teenagers buy the outrageous, wild pieces to make a statement? Maybe the older women buy unique beads to match what they wear to work? Think about the broader implications of how age affects a purchase.

Where do your customers live?
Selling online, where you customers may not seem like a big deal. But it is! Look at what regions your customers live in. Also determine if they are city-dwellers, rural, or suburban. If you are selling very traditional crafts, target the Midwest. If you sell urban chic, target Ann Arbor, New York, and L.A. You'll know if you have hit a hot spot if sales repeatedly come from the same geographic area. (For an in-depth look, try reading about creative cities in Richard Flordia's Book.)

Where do your customers work? Or, What do they do for a living?
Again, examine your previous sales. You may not know everyone's professions, but look for keys in your customer's sign-in names, profiles, etc. Are you seeing teachers? doctors? lawyers? stay-at-home moms? Now you know what shops to target for retail sales and what publications to advertise in.

How much do they make?
Income affects purchasing decisions. One ad agency found that low-income families are the last ones to cancel cable during a recession. Why? Because cable is sometimes the only form of entertainment the family can afford. Income can surprise you because what one person views as a need, another person will view as a splurge.

Think of any other aspects of their lives that would affect a purchase.
For my shop, it boils down to readers. If you like to read, you probably need a place to store all of your reading materials that pile up around the house. If you don't want to read, well, a pillow with a pocket is somewhat useless. It's like this: If you sell house siding, then you want to target people with houses. I had a retailer try to sell me house siding for two years in college. They called at least once a month. Not once did they make a sale - I lived in a dorm!

Once you have answered these questions, put it all together into a group. For example:

The Urban Mom: She is between the ages of 25 - 35 and has several children at home. She lives in a suburb based around a large city, such as Chicago, New York, or Seattle. She likes to be trendy, but needs to be practical in order to keep up with her busy life. The Urban Mom works part-time right now, but hopes to re-enter the workforce and wants to keep up with her business skills. She used to make over $50,000, but now she makes about $25,000 since she cut-back her hours at work. Her husband makes over $75,000 and helps support her family.

That was hypothetical - don't rely on it! But now you can see how these questions, when pieced together, puts a face on your elusive target market.

Questions? Comments?