It’s really tempting to get into a routine that works and stay in that lane. After all, you’ve got your business routine down – production is fine-tuned, shipping is as streamlined as it can be at this moment, why rock the boat?
When you decided to become an entrepreneur and either completely walk away from corporate employment or walk side-by-side with it, you rocked that boat, right? When you made your first batch of products and took the leap from regular citizen to soap slinger, taking you firmly out of your social comfort zone, that rocked the boat. You’re already a boat rocker!
In this post, we’re going to talk about a few ways you can freshen up your business with minimal boat rocking. Some of these suggestions can be implemented right now, from whatever device you’re reading this on! Innovating within your business might sound daunting, but you likely already have all the tools you need to shake things up.
#1: Loosen Up
Marketing has evolved a lot; things use to be so serious. Now, you’ve got businesses like Wendy’s that relate to their audience using sarcasm and humor (seriously, there are whole list articles about their Tweets).
As a small business, you’ve already got a leg up in the relatability department; corporations like Wendy’s need to market themselves as the “restaurant next door” because they’re really not. But, you are. Try capitalizing on this by posting about local things you love, or things that are truly unique to your area.
You’re also a person with a sense of humor. What do you find funny? How can you incorporate it into your business? If you’ve scrolled through Facebook, you’ve probably seen a million memes by now, and you can create your own using popular templates. This is a great way to catch people’s attention about upcoming sales, or relate to them about their buying habits. Also, using current memes in your advertising will keep you relevant, which is the goal.
A little bit of advice though: don’t use memes for every single post. Moderation is key here. You should also make sure to do your research before posting a meme, even if you’re using a template and using your own. Sometimes memes have origins you might not expect.
#2: Become a Visible Expert
Hey there wallflowers, we’re looking at you here! If you’re a part of dozens of soap, cosmetic and candle groups and only sometimes “like” a post, but never comment, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect. If you’re only posting products you offer for sale and not posting why handcrafted products work best, etc., you’re missing an opportunity to draw customers in.
Consumers want to believe that the people they’re buying from a pro, and you happen to be a pro at making your products. But…how are they going to know that?
Tell them! It costs nothing to start a blog on sites like Blogger, and no one is saying you have to write the next Pride & Prejudice. But, why not share your thoughts on specific products and techniques? Why did you start your business? What new products are you thinking of creating? You don’t need to post a new blog every single day, but posting a little bit here and there that relates to your customers helps to establish you as more than a seller.
Now, let’s talk about Facebook groups: most of us are in at least one. If you see someone ask a question about a product, and you know the answer…answer it! Unstick yourself from the virtual wall and get into the conversation. Networking with other makers and establishing yourself as a knowledgable presence can help your business grow.
#3: Add a Newsletter to Your Routine
If you have a website and the capability to harvest email addresses, you can stay in touch with your consumers by sending out a monthly newsletter. Services like Constant Contact and Mailchimp provide ready-made templates or customizable ones that you can use to get your message out easily, without having to send hundreds of people an email one address at a time. You’re innovating, you don’t have time for that!
What should you write about in this newsletter? Anything! You can use this newsletter to announce new locations, have a product spotlight, update consumers about formulas you’re working on or new product launches; you can basically use it as a quick platform to say “hey, I’m here, my stuff is here, and I want to connect with you”. Sprinkle in a few links to your social media to encourage readers to keep up with you outside of the newsletter, and now you’ve created a way to reach people you might not have reached before.
Here are a few services to consider if you’re thinking of going the newsletter route (side note: we aren’t affiliated with these companies, these are just the top rated results from a Google search to save you some time).
MailerLite: this bulk email sender is probably the most affordable for smaller list sizes; currently, if you have under 1,000 contacts, you can use MailerLite for free, for up to 12,000 emails per month.
ActiveCampaign: ActiveCampaign doesn’t have a free option, but their plans are relatively affordable. Plus, they service a lot of small business owners, so they understand what small businesses need.
Constant Contact: Constant Contact is another great service that also pulls double duty as a social media scheduling platform. They have plans varying in price, an have an easy to use drag and drop interface.
#4: Become Instafamous
Ok, maybe not famous – but “seen” would be good! Instagram is an intensely visual platform that showcases your products and your ability to make your products look gorgeous.
People want to imagine what their lives will be like with the stuff they want to buy in it. When they scroll through Instagram, for example, and they see an attractive flat lay with well placed products and props in it, they want to imagine that they too can sit on their shag carpet in an oversize cardigan sipping the world’s best looking cup of tea with a perfectly arranged vase of flowers. Instagram ads work because even if, in reality, the customer only gets five minutes to sip that tea out of a disposable cup in an old college hoodie before they have to rush their kids out the door for school, they still want to believe that buying that product is going to give them a small slice of perfect.
As a soap, cosmetic and/or candle maker, your small slice of perfect is actually deliverable – after all, the products you make are literally designed to make people feel and look good. You also work really hard to make those products beautiful, so why not show them off! Instagram is a great platform to put your products on the forefront, and even demonstrate them for your followers. You can use just about anything around you for a prop, get creative and get posting!
#5: Do a Realistic Inventory of What’s Working
Not every product is going to be a hit; it doesn’t mean you’re making bad products, it just means that it’s not a good fit for your demographic.
You probably already have a method of keeping track of what’s selling and what’s not (if you don’t, you really should). You can tell by your sales what is moving and what is sitting on your shelves, gazing at you lovingly while collecting dust. While you might love the product, if it’s not moving, it’s time to rethink it.
If you still have leftover stock, one solution is to rebrand it. Sometimes, something as simple as a name change is enough to attract customers; they may not have liked “Sea Shanty” but they might love “Mermaid Song”. You never know; the product’s lack of sales might be something easy like a name that doesn’t resonate.
However, you may update the name or switch marketing techniques and it’s still evident that the product isn’t working. If that’s the case, it’s time to pull the product and rethink it. You can take time to tweak the formula, or even replace it with something new; but it’s important to be honest about what works and what doesn’t work so you can keep your product line relevant and fresh.
Change can be scary. But these changes are all easy things, some of which you can implement from your phone while you’re sitting on the couch. Shake up that routine and freshen up your business in 2021!