You and I both know the backup plan.
Worst case scenario everyone in your extended family is getting a #girlboss mug and a gold foil print for Christmas. Again. Even your 8 yr old nephew Ben who loves Star Wars. Sorry buddy, maybe next year. #ShopOwnerProblems.
I know what it feels like to hold your breath until your shop account page says that you have finally made enough sales to break even on the product that you invested in this season (refresh…refresh…refresh).
But what if this year was different? What if this year you actually cleared your garage of #girlboss mugs and could buy Benny that really awesome Darth Vader action figure? The one that makes sounds and shoots real lasers and officially qualifies you as the Coolest. Aunt. EVER.
The holiday shopping season is upon us and for many shop owners and small businesses this means that it is potentially one of your most critical (and profitable!) times of the year for marketing and promoting your shop. As a commercial product stylist and photographer I have had the chance to work with successful shop owners and small businesses of all shapes and sizes from Emily Ley, creator of the Simplified Planner, to small Etsy shop owners who are finally able to quit their day job and stay home with their kids while doing what they love.
As the creator of the SC Stockshop and a shop owner myself, I have had the chance to work with thousands of small business and what I have discovered is that there are a few things that the most successful business owners have in common when it comes to that yucky word that no one likes but every shop needs…self promotion.
Let’s be honest. You don’t have time to spend on Google trying to figure out why in the SEO your products aren’t selling or reading through every blog post on how to increase sales in your Etsy shop. So to give more time for that much needed family movie night, I’ve pulled together my top 5 simplest marketing strategies for shop owners to increase sales and engagement this holiday season. This is incredibly valuable information and most of the tips will cost you absolutely nothing to implement. You are going to want to Pin and save this information to revisit it every holiday sales season. Are you ready to become the Best. Aunt. Ever!?
1. Plan and schedule out regular, recurring social media posts well in advance.
- The holidays tend to be crazy for all of us. Don’t wait until you are in the thick of it to remember to Instagram a picture of your new art print in the shop. My favorite App to use to stay ahead of the game is Latergramme. It allows me to create and schedule my posts well ahead of time. My preferred times to post Instagram content are 9am, 12pm, 6pm and 9pm which in my time zone (EST) is when the majority of my target audience is on their smart phones.
- Free Apps like Iconosquare allow you to track engagement, #hashtag performance and other insightful analytics that will help you to get the most eyes on your post.
2. Put your mailing list to better use.
- Most shop owners either grossly underestimate the value of having a mailing list or have one but don’t know how to use it effectively. Programs like Mailchimp have free plans that allow you to begin to effortlessly grow a subscriber list and track things like open rates and whether that subject title with the kissy face emoji resonated with your audience.
- Need to build your list? Consider creating some helpful content for your target market. Offer it for free in exchange for joining your list.
- Just like your social media posting, holiday promotional newsletters should be planned and scheduled in advance. Consider sending 1-3 a week leading up to the holiday season promoting individual products in your shop.
- Make sure that each email campaign has one clear call to action, namely visiting your shop! Cha-ching.
3. Create Pinterest content and get to pinning!
- In this visual age the quality of your images matters! My favorite image editing App is Afterlight which helps to ensure that my images are bright and consistent.
- Make sure that you have beautiful, well lit images that can be pinned and consider creating a few relevant boards that you can pin your own products too along with other related images.
- Vertical images get more pins than horizontal so make sure that you have great vertical shots of your products. Preferably images of your products in use!
- Make sure that you are pinning when your target market is online. For many small business owners who sell products primarily to women, key times include Saturday mornings and weekday evenings. Here is another helpful blog post about the best time of day to pin on Pinterest.
4. Up your game when it comes to shop visuals.
- One thing that all of the previous strategies have in common is that they make use of visual platforms. Since your client does not have the luxury of walking into your shop and holding your product in their hands, they are going to need some extra convincing that your product is quality and that they cannot live without it! Not only do you need to have sharp, well lit product photos for interior shop listings but you need to have a reserve of strong images that show your products in use.
- Put a face with your shop and products. Most shop owners prefer to stay away from the camera but regularly introducing yourself through pictures allows your prospective client to form a valuable emotional connection to your brand. See a great example of this here. This (attractive, talented and genius – hint hint) collaborative team did not just let their line of stylish art sell itself, they put a face to the print collection and also show you, the potential customer,how great their line of art could look in your home.
- Not a photographer? Styled stock photography is a simple and affordable way to give your shop the appearance of custom product photography. Types of images include empty frames for showing off print designs, empty mugs to overlay custom mug designs, envelopes to display custom stamps, and styled desktops to overlay print products and other flat items like cell phone cases, notepads and notecards.
- Not sure how to use styled stock photography to show off your products? Here are a few tutorials that will help!
5. Make sure that your shop is polished and ready.
- Use high quality well lit product images consistently across your product line.
- Make sure that your shop is easy to navigate. Consider asking a friend to navigate through your shop and give you feedback.
- Make sure that you have great product descriptions. The best product descriptions are brief, actually descriptive (go figure!) and make use of key search terms.
Consider using styled stock photography consistently throughout your site from your home page banner welcoming people to the shop to the side bar buttons on your blog for a complete visual makeover. Two of our favorite examples of this are Megan Martin Creative and Simply Jessica Marie. A great place to start when looking for a set of styled stock images to step up your branding game are these curated Brand Builder image sets.
If this Holiday Shop Sales Guide was helpful please do us a favor an Pin it! Here’s to a successful holiday sales season!
Do Business Beautifully,