Paul Blais | Grow | Episode 11

 

Photo Credit: bloomgal via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: bloomgal via Compfight cc

Today’s show is all about growing your pottery business.

Key Idea

Get in front of the money.

Traditional Approach

The traditional approach to a pottery business has been weekend sales at your local farmer’s markets or craft fairs. You may have even had the option of doing your own studio sales. If you were diligent you could get your stuff on the shelves of local retail stores. Then, if your work was good enough, there was the option of getting into galleries. All of these, and few more, are still options today, but they are also very limited in their reach. You can only reach the people that physically show up.

New World

The world has changed and continues to change in how and where we spend our money. Businesses that did not try or tried too late to make the change with the rest of the world went by the wayside or are in a fight for their lives. Think of Borders Books and Barnes & Noble. Think of Hollywood Video and Blockbuster Video. Each of these stores were too committed to their old way of doing things.  The flow of money moved from their check out stands to online. As a result they went under, are in the fight of their lives, or were sold in a bankruptcy. The problem? They were no longer standing in front of the money.

Consumers, or your potential customers, have moved on line. Here are some statistics that you might find interesting:

“There are nearly 7 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide (May 2014). This is equivalent to 95.5% of the world population.” (Think Mobile) Now that is not to say that this equates to the same percentage of people actually on a mobile device. Many people have multiple devices that they use. Still, that is a staggering number. Not only do we have a lot of devices, but people don’t seem to be taking any time apart from them. “Over 90 percent of people keep their mobile phones within three feet of them, twenty-four hours a day. Fifty-three percent of people regularly check their phones in the middle of the night after they’ve already gone to bed.” (Wired) If that isn’t enough, “75% of Aerican bring their phones to the bathroom” (Digby) as a little time filler.

The point is that people, your potential customers, have gone online to spend their time and money. If your goal is to grow your business, they you’ve got to get in front of the money.

Social Media Up

I know that there is a lot of push back against being on the social media sites. I’m just not into Facebook. I don’t like twitter… I get it. It is a hassle and time consuming and we have better things to than waste it in that kind of twaddle. But, if that is where the customers are, then we need to make a move to get in front of them.  I recently read that only 12% of social media users actual made purchases through a social media outlet, but “65% of consumers use social media to find the perfect gift.” (Media Bistro) “74% of consumers rely on their social networks to make purchase decisions.” (Digiday)

And the story doesn’t stop after the sale is complete. Most consumers, your potential customers, go back on line to tell their friends, more of your potential customers, about the product they just purchased. “When it comes to sharing news about their online purchases, 55 percent of consumers choose Facebook, 22 percent share on Twitter, 14 percent on Pinterest and 5 percentshare on Instagram.” (Digiday)

So whether you like the social media scene or not, the vast majority of your potential customers do. They are there looking for ideas and options and things to buy. If you are not there, then you will not be were the money is. So it is time to social up.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are the main places that you ought to focus your attention. Be intentional about growing an audience. Follow and engage are the key to opening the door. Follow people that interest you. Engage them in sincere conversations. By doing those two things, your group of followers (potential customers) will start to grow.

Next you want to post regularly. Don’t just post your sales pitches. Nobody likes to hear a sales pitch at every encounter with someone. So post interesting ideas, beautiful pictures, and repost others’ posts. Then, about 30% of the time, make a sales pitch post. If you are Instagram and every post is of an item that is about to go up on Etsy, then you may be shooting yourself in the foot over the long haul. Engage people in conversations and relationships, then make the sales pitch.

Get A Website

Everyone needs a place to sell their “stuff”. We talked about the old school way earlier. The new way is to have an actual “showroom” in the new world. We also call that a website. Now I want to make it clear that Etsy is not your website. It isn’t even your store. Think of Etsy more of a check out stand. Etsy is far too crowded to try and make a name for yourself. What you need is an actual website that is all about you and your message and your products.

Getting a website couldn’t be easier. If money is tight, then you can go with a freebie sight like Google’s blogspot.com, or WordPress’s wordpress.com sites. With these sites you are given the opportunity to have your own domain name within their domains. What that means is that when you pass on the address to your site you would have a kind of long address to pass on. I have an older blog I ran through blogspot. That address is PaulBlais.blogspot.com. You may want to get your site up through one of these sites and your address may end up being something like PaulsPottery.blogspot.com. This is a little tedious, but it is free.

The problem with having tedious a website address is that you put require a little bit more work to access your site. Anytime you require more work for a target audience, then the less people there will be that will actually follow through. I could have gone with a free site for The Potters Cast (ie: ThePottersCast.wordpress.com) but that would have been asking too much of my audience. ThePottersCast.com is just so much easier to remember and type, therefore it is more likely to get more follow through with my targeted audience.

More importantly, having your own domain gives you more customization options that the free sites offer. I could do a lot with my free blogspot, but it always maintained the blogspot look. With ThePottersCast.com site I have the freedom to change it up and make it look however I like. That can make a huge difference in making sales.

What To Have on Your Website

Home Page and About Page are the bare minimum that you would want. Your About Page introduces yourself or your brand name to your visitors. Your Home Page would should have your latest posts or latest activity. Beyond those two pages you may want to have a page that is a gallery of your work. If you do the gallery page, be sure to keep it organic or active. Change it out or update it often. If you want to create a sense of urgency for action (to purchase), then keep a number of pieces up that have already sold with a subtitle “Has already found a home” or “In a private collection” or “Sold”. Then have a mix with items that still available and provide links to the page where it can be purchased.

This is where your Etsy page comes into play. Let them be your checkout stand. By having your final sales option there you give yourself the option of being stumbled upon by other Etsy shoppers.

Conclusion

I have many more ideas on how to build a name for yourself in the cyber world, but for now this is a good enough overview. Remember, the goal is to get in front of the money. The money is found in the pockets and purses of people. People are online by the billions. So get social with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Then build your store front or showroom in a website. This will open up tons of opportunities for you to grow your pottery business.

 
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  • Norris Packer

    Great comments Paul. This has inspired me to take some active steps to move my business forward, not just hang out in the studio

    • Paul Blais

      Norris, I am so glad to hear that! Let me know if I can help.

  • Nancy Campbell

    Thank-you! I intend on listening again and I’ve printed out the show notes for my “business plan” folder. I look forward to hearing more stellar advice from you (and your guests) in the future!

    • Paul Blais

      Nancy! Thank you so much. I am so honored that you would put this in the business plan folder. I hope you the info helps you to build a stronger business. Lot of love to you!

  • Kat Rose

    For whatever reason…this was the first of your podcasts I have listened to….a year after broadcast. It was just what I needed. I have now listened to several others. I think it is a real value add for you to share your wisdom solo now and then. It is like the Cliff Notes of all of you podcasts. I intend to troll the archives until I listen to every one.