I had a shock this week. I listened to an American Motivational speaker...and not only did I understand what she was saying, but I decided to put some of it into practice!
I heard about waggleforce on an Etsy thread started by my friend Waterrose
The Waggleforce site links to an hour-long mp3 which is FREE. I like free. My notes here are just the parts I feel I can use, for my online shops in the UK. I strongly recommend you listen to all of it, your needs may be quite different to mine.
So - what have I learnt?
Firstly - it is no good starting up an online shop (mine are Niftyknits.etsy and Niftyknits.folksy) and sitting back and waiting for the buyers to flood in.
The number 1 obstacle, according to the Waggleforce speaker, is growing beyond your own "inner circle" of friends and family.
The traditional approach is to try to get your name *out there*, in the outer space inhabited by complete strangers, bypassing all those inner rings of friends and friends of friends.
Maybe...by buying an advertising space and sitting back? No - it is up to *ME* to find those buyers, and the easiest and most effective way is to work outwards from the core.
Don't advertise to your poor friends and family directly, don't spam adverts to every social network contact. We've all seen them on twitter.
tweet #1 "I'm making a gorgeous wotsit"
tweet #2 "I've just listed my gorgeous wotsit"
tweet #3 "Why isn't anyone buying my gorgeous wotsit?"
Nurture your current buyers, your friends.
If someone emails you to say how much they love their purchase - ask them if they have a friend who might also like to find out about it.
*NiftyKnits action point* I've just created a new discount card to give to buyers to give to their friend
Encourage your current buyers to come back for more - we already know they love your shop
*NiftyKnits action point* I've just created a new discount card to give to buyers for their next purchase
Become a "local hero" - by this, the speaker meant for you to become known locally for something other than selling, then when it comes to making a purchase, you're already known and approachable.
*NiftyKnits action point* The Etteam Meerkat World Tour has been in my local paper several times now, sharing the fun!
For online sellers, I think this translates to being active in the forums, not just popping by on a "hit and run" mission to tell us what you've just listed, but by helping people out by explaining how to get noticed or how to use twitter
*NiftyKnits action point* I run regular interviews with other sellers on my blog - in fact, I need some fresh victims right now. You only have to ask!
It's quite hard to let go of the idea that I *must* get my name *out there*, so consider this: Would you pay someone to stand on a street corner shouting out your store url? Of course not. So why do it on twitter?
Would you, though, wear the gorgeous wotsit you made earlier? And when someone compliments it, would you then tell them about your shop and slip them a business card (or better yet, a discount voucher)? I hope so!
Great, you're thinking, how many social networks are there? How many shall I sign up for?
It's tempting to try to be seen everywhere (goodness only knows how many networks I'm registered with!)
But that just leads up back to the "hit and run" posts I mentioned earlier.
The Waggleforce recommendation is to pick THREE and only three. Don't spread yourself thinly like too little butter on too large a slice of toast. Go deep, be generous, do it properly!
If you've chosen twitter, fill out your profile, add a good avatar picture, be committed to posting often, build relationships.
*NiftyKnits action point* I change my avatar regularly, always a meerkat but not always the same one. I am very aware that the advice is often to use a portrait photo of yourself - but frankly, my buyers don't care what I look like, they know the meerkats are way more attractive than me! And my avatar is an indirect invitation to check out my shop.
More tomorrow!! In the meantime - why not sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know about new Meerkats and special offers