Every month we write a business column for Vintage Life magazine. Here is our latest one published this month:
“Having a brand new business can be difficult, especially when trying to grow your customer base. Do you have any tips on how to grow your business successfully with minimal budget? Are there specific platforms that helped you guys gain momentum, or any well kept secrets you would like to share with us?”
Marketing your business successfully can be expensive, however there are ways you can grow your customer base for next to nothing. Of course it all takes time, effort and bags of enthusiasm but it are worth saying that both of us didn’t have a huge pot of money when we started, in fact we started with just £500.
Keeley says “The first thing you need to do before you build a marketing plan or spend any money at all, is to identify who your customer is, or who you want them to be. By asking yourself this it will ensure you are targeting the right people, as there’s clearly no point focusing on people that won’t be interested in your brand or product. You need to know their demographics: gender, age, affluence, location and so on. Once you know this, you then need to go out and find them rather than simply waiting for them to come to you.
There are many ways to do this. The most obvious is through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to be on all of them, even the smaller ones and then post regular, interesting and relevant content that your ideal customer will like. But as we said earlier, you still need to go and find them as there’s no point tweeting yourself! Use Twitter to chat to them, join networking # groups such as wedding hour or bbloggers to meet people but always remember to be engaging and not pushy. There’s nothing worse that pushing your product onto other people at the outset – remember to build a rapport first. If you are interesting and supportive, people will check out your bio and then naturally follow you.”
Kate says “Another great way to reach out to your customer is to be seen in the magazines and blogs that they read. Why not offer to write a guest blog post for a brand that your customer already respects, with a giveaway if they join your social sites? Or offer your time to a magazine or the local paper. If you sell at fairs, take great photos of your stock and send them to the event organiser to share if they link back to you. Maybe team up with other businesses and swap adverts/links for your websites?
This leads us to the most important thing of all – always have a website. Even if you don’t actually sell anything you still need a website which can be found through the search engines so your customers can really see what you and your brand are about. Make sure your website link is visible on all your social media as well as your business cards…as the most frustrating thing for a potential customer is not being able to find you. Our advice is to use a DIY site which you can build yourself as this keeps costs really low”
Vintage Academy offers one day workshops aimed at anyone with a vintage business, whether they are new or experienced a trader, blogger or event manager.
Visit the Vintage Academy website for more information (http://www.vintageacademy.co.uk). Follow us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/vintageacademy and Twitter @academy_vintage.
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