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Smart Marketing Strategies for Handmade Businesses

Jennifer Post

Established businesses and businesses with large funding and significant revenue have the budgets for marketing and advertising firms. But those companies, say a jewelry-making business that started in a garage, for example, or a clothing line based in someone's bedroom – and continue the run that way – don't always have the ability to market the same way. However, there are so many options for businesses that sell solely handmade goods, and each one can boost your business to the next level.

Business News Daily talked to marketing and small business experts for their best marketing tips for businesses selling handmade goods.

Build your own website.

"Anyone that has aspirations of being successful selling their products online needs a website, period," said Jonathan Peacock, founder of Zibbet. "When promoting your brand online, you need somewhere to send them. This must be a website that you own, not a marketplace store like Etsy."

Peacock added that when you drive traffic to a marketplace, you almost always lose that traffic to another competing seller. Buyers are inundated with options on marketplaces. Even if they are sent to your store on a marketplace, the sidebar and bottom of the page are filled with suggestions for similar items from different sellers.

Having your own website also offers more control. "With your own website, you own that as your own property, and you don't have to rely on third-party media channels, like social media, that change over time," said Mike Khorev, growth leader at digital marketing company Nine Peaks Media. "For example, social media platforms saw a decline in organic reach/traffic they drive to businesses recently, and you will need to invest in paid ads nowadays. If you rely solely on social media at this point, you will most likely lose traffic."

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Explore new and unique selling avenues.

Thinking outside the box about how you sell your products can set you apart from the competition and set you up for continued success.

"By getting creative with selling avenues, you may discover completely untapped audiences, increasing your business's potential exponentially," said Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics. [Interested in email marketing software? Check out our best picks.]

Peacock added that creative entrepreneurs should always be exploring new and unique sales channels. Despite his recommendation to not drive traffic to a marketplace, that doesn't mean a handmade business owner shouldn't have one.

"The very reason a marketplace store isn't suitable to drive traffic to is the reason why it's valuable – potential customers are viewing your products simply because you're a part of it. Good marketplaces have internal traffic and will give your products more exposure. More exposure leads to more sales. So, should you sell on Etsy? Absolutely. What about Amazon Handmade? Yes. You should sell on as many sales channels as you can manage," Peacock suggested.

He also said not to be afraid of trying different marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, blogging, etc., to find what works best for your business. Focus on one at a time to ensure you can measure the results of the selling channel.

Use a sales pipeline.

A sales pipeline is a way of tracking what stage your customer is in leading up to a sale. Peacock said to think of it as a funnel. A sale often doesn't happen on the first interaction, as there are generally several stages the customer goes through before committing to a purchase. The funnel usually goes from awareness to consideration to a purchase decision over time, according to Flynn Zaiger, CEO of digital marketing agency Online Optimism.

"It's worth mapping out what the stages in the funnel are and how you can help the customer progress through each stage. When marketing, you don't have to go in for the sale right away. Seek to add value and build relationships first as you progress them down your funnel toward a sale," Peacock said.

Marketing handmade goods is a unique experience and drastically differs from marketing mass-produced goods.

"Handmade products have the full story and mass-produced items don't necessarily. There is a natural transparency with handmade products, and it's important to emphasize that to customers," said Jonit Bookheim, sales and outreach director for Mata Traders.

Don't follow the marketing of mass-produced products.

While handmade and mass-produced products can use the same platforms for selling, they target different customers and, therefore, the marketing strategies will be different.

"For businesses that specialize in handmade products, I love seeing them showcase those products after the purchase, in customers' home and care," said Zaiger. "Mass-produced products tend to look the same, so their advertising strategies usually end at the point of sale, but handcrafted products were likely purchased for their unique style in a customer's home or wardrobe, so be sure to follow up with them."

Zaiger added that not only does post-purchase content look great on social media and in blog posts, it makes the customer feel special, which makes them more likely to return to your store or website for their next purchase.

What it really comes down to is realizing that handmade products and the artisans who craft them have a unique skill that others admire and go out of their way to support.

"Don't be afraid to elevate your brand," Bookheim suggested. "Just because your make products in your home doesn't mean you can't photograph them like they're the highest-selling items on the market, and just because you're only producing 50 a month doesn't mean you can't pitch to customers who would order ten times that. Don't just step out of your comfort zone, step ahead of it."

Image Credit: littlenySTOCK/Shutterstock
Jennifer Post
Business News Daily Contributing Writer
Jennifer Post is a professional writer with published works focusing on small business topics including marketing, financing, and how-to guides. She has also published articles on business formation, business software, public relations and human resources. Her work has also appeared in Fundera and The Motley Fool.