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Craft Business Basics 4 - Promotion

This article is the fourth in a series of four articles that will guide you on how you can start your own crafts business using the four Ps of Marketing - Product, Place, Price and Promotion.

Finally, we've made it to the final P of our course - Promotion.

As I mentioned in the previous article "Crafts Business Basics 3 - Price", we can no longer believe in the "if we build it, they will come" thinking. You need to promote your business if you want to earn decent money and different places that you sell your crafts require different ways of promoting.

We'll go through some different ways of promoting your business in today's lesson and if you can put together everything you learn from Day 1 to Day 4, I'm sure you'll begin to see some results very soon.

Promotion is about
1) getting the word out
2) getting the prospects excited
3) getting them to take action.

As you plan your promotion campaigns for your products, think about these 3 points and ask yourself if what you're planning can achieve all three. If it can, I'm sure you'll have a profitable campaign. Remember though that what you thought will work may not actually work and you'd need to test and tweak your campaigns before you launch them on a large-scale.

Catalog
-------
Knowing where to distribute your catalogs will greatly increase your results for the money you're spending on printing and distribution. Here are some effective ways that.

1) Refer-a-friend cards
Have these cards ready to give away. Those who refer 5-10 friends to receive the catalogs will get discounts or gifts.
2) Give to friends and family members
3) Place your catalogs in gift or craft stores
4) Hold a party and play a game with the catalogs.

You could also do a theme on your catalogs. For example, you could produce a one-dollar catalog in which all the items are sold at . You can buy items in bulk via wholesalers and then selling them via your catalog.

Getting people to sell for you
------------------------------
No, I don't mean employing a team of sales people to sell for you. That could work for you if you had the money, time and ability to manage them though. Instead, I mean getting a group of freelancers who would be interested to sell your crafts to their friends for a commission. Many big direct sales and network marketing companies have used the method effectively. I would suggest you only payout a single level of commissions unless you had the software and time to manage a more complex system.

If you intend to do this, offer at least 25% commissions for it to be attractive enough. You should also have a proper contract to protect yourself. You should also have in place a starter kit that contains

1) a welcome letter
2) a catalog
3) the contract
4) a letter explaining the bonuses and incentives
5) brochure how they can generate sales, host home parties, etc.
6) order forms
7) sales materials like flyers

Internet Promotion
------------------
If you intend to sell on the internet, getting affiliates is a good way but it should go hand in hand with these other ways of promotion on the internet. It is beyond the scope of this article to talk about internet promotion in-depth but you should consider the following.

1) pay-per-click advertising
2) email marketing
3) forums
4) blogs
5) internet auctions
6) search engine optimization

1) Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay per click advertising is one of the most popular forms of internet advertising because it is very cost-effective and very easy to set up. In a nutshell, pay-per-click advertising is so called because you pay whenever someone clicks on a link to your website.

Generally, there are two kinds of pay-per-click advertising. The first kind involves bidding on keywords on search engines. Say you bid on the keyword "crochet". When a person searches for the word "crochet" on the search engine, your advertisment will appear. There are also others where you simply buy links on related-content sites. Whenever people visit sites that are related to the keywords that you purchase, your ad will appear and you only pay when they click on your link.

The most well-known is probably Google's Adwords program which helped Google achieve its over- billion revenue. Other well-known PPC programs include Yahoo's Overture and Miva. You can visit their websites to find out more about them.

Remember to set limits and monitor the clicks because you can easily overspend and not see any results. You will need to spend time refining your ads and your choice of keywords to ensure good results for your site.

2) Email Marketing
Promoting with emails is one of the best ways of promoting your business on the internet. I'm not talking about spam which is sending emails to people who did not ask for them. Instead I'm talking about permission marketing, or opt-in email marketing. Many people sign up for newsletters on particular topics and you can advertise on those newsletters. You can also allow visitors to your website to sign up for your newsletter.

One tool that many email marketers use is autoresponder. An autoresponder will automatically send out emails to the recipients at intervals specified by you. For example, you can set the autoresponder to send out emails to your list everyday or every week or you can set up a 5-day course.

Email marketing, especially to your own list, is very profitable because it is virtually free and you will get good results because there is already some kind of trust and relationship established. If you have spent time communicating with them, you will get even better results

To look for lists to email to, you can start by searching for "opt-in email marketing" or "opt-in email advertising" in the search engines. You will get many vendors that you can contact. Choose the appropriate category so you only email to readers who have indicated that they are interested in the products or services that you are marketing.

If you are looking for an autoresponder, the easiest way to get started is to Simply search for autoresponder in the search engines and you will get a pretty good list of autoresponders that you can sign up with. These companies will host your list and do all the technical work for you so you only need to write your own emails. If you prefer to host it on your own website or your own computer, search for "autoresponder software" and you can find some good software to use for this purpose.

3) Forums
Forums are places where people go to discuss on various topics and they have become very good promotion tools. There are two basic ways to advertise using forums. The most direct way is to advertise in their buy and sell section or an advertising section. Some forums will also offer paid banner advertisements. If you see that the forum is active with many users, then it may be worth your money. Otherwise, just post in the relevant sections for free.

Another way to advertise is using your signature (or sig) which appears under every post that you write. You can write a catchy tagline with a link to your website and set it up as your sig file and participate in craft-related forums. You will find visitors visiting your site very soon because these people are already interested in craft-related items to begin with.

4) Blogs
Blogs have taken the world by storm so this section would be incomplete without a reference to them. Blogs have moved on from being merely a personal diary online to being an integral tool in internet marketing.

Apart from being easy to set up, blogs are also very quickly picked up by the search engines so you can get traffic to your site pretty quickly. It also offers a very quick and easy way to reach out and communicate to your site visitors without being intrusive. And because blogs allow interaction, you can also interact with your customers by allowing them to ask questions or post testimonials. Don't worry, you always have full control so you can always delete spam comments made by unethical marketers or pranksters.

As mentioned in part 2, you can also use blogs to sell, as many craft-marketers have done. It's easy to set up and maintain. If you are on a budget, you can start using a free blog and collect payment using PayPal which does not require any setup fee.

5) Internet Auctions
Internet auction is another very viable way of doing business online. Some people are making a living selling on Ebay alone because there are millions of visitors per day who are looking for things to buy.

Not only will you find it auctions a good way of selling your products, you will also find that it is a good way to advertise your website and establish yourself credibility in the market. Even if your auctions don't do very well, you will gain many visitors to your websites by providing relevant links to your website in your About Me page as well as your descriptions.

One thing about selling through auctions is that it can be tedious because you have to write descriptions and post pictures for every product you sell. If you sell many quantities of the same thing you will be able to save a lot of time because you can reuse your pictures and descriptions and Ebay's Buy It Now function allows you to sell many quantities of the same thing.

You should also look at using software from Ebay itself like the Turbo Lister and Blackthorne Pro (if you are selling a lot of products) or other third-party auction software as they will really save a lot of your time and let you focus on selling instead of tedious technical tasks.

6) Search Engine Optimization
Basically, search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of tweaking your website to improve its ranking on the searching engine so that people who search for keywords related to your site can find you. The greatest benefit of SEO is that once your site is ranked well, you can get many visitors to your site for free. However, it is very tough because you are competing with other websites that may have experts optimizing their sites but also the search engines themselves because their algorithms are constantly changing. Just because your site is ranked well today doesn't mean it will be ranked well tomorrow when the search engines update their criteria.

This is why some people who are making a living on the internet are not bothered with search engine optimization, preferring instead to focus their resources on other forms of promotion which give more guaranteed results.

Internet affiliates
-------------------
You may also want to consider using affiliates or freelance salespeople to sell for you on the internet. This is the same as getting people to sell for you, except it's done entirely on the internet. Make sure you have in place a system to support them first, otherwise they'll get discouraged or frustrated and it may worsen your business.

Setting up an affiliate program with your website is not difficult. If you use Clickbank http://www.clickbank.com as your payment processor, it includes an affiliate manager so you can just set it up with a few clicks and all the Clickbank affiliates can use their account to refer customers to your site.

While it may sound like a great idea, do bear in mind that you won't suddenly have thousands of people selling your product for you. There is quite a bit of work involved in running a successful affiliate program but if you can get it running successfully, it will definitely pay off many times.

If you're just starting out, I will suggest you focus on other aspects first and get an education on how to run an affiliate program successfully before plunging into it.

This ends my four-part series "Craft Business Basics" on how you can start your home-based business. It is certainly not comprehensive but I hope the information will be able cut short your learning curve and help you to launch your own craft business from home faster. May you succeed in your home-based crafts business!


About the Author: Visit Craft Marketing for more craft-related articles and resources.




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