This Simple Trick Will Jumpstart Your Online Business

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

I have been doing a lot of phone consultations this week advising my clients that sometimes you need to do something for FREE in order to jumpstart your business.

this-simple-trick-will-jumpstart-online-business

For example, I give away free advice every week on this blog. While some people seem to think I’m just doing this for fun, no, this is my business but I realize in order to earn your trust as a customer, I have to give something for free first to prove that I know what I am talking about.

It’s no different when you are selling online where potential customers can hesitate to make that first purchase from you for so many reasons, but they will take something for free.

Now, don’t just blatantly give away anything for free without there being something in the offer that also benefits your business.

For example, doing a free giveaway of one of your products on social media is a great way to get people to notice your shop. The correct way to do it is to tell people that in order to enter the giveaway, they have to like and share the post. This way you are essentially advertising your shop to all of their followers for just the cost of one of your products (just to clarify, you are not giving away free products to everyone, you will draw a name from those who shared and liked the post at the end of the month).

I realize not every business may have a product that they can give away for free, therefore, in these cases you can consider giving a complimentary product for free or a service for free. One of the tips I give in my October Marketing Plan is to offer a free Christmas printable download, like holiday gift tags. This you can offer to everyone. Again, make the offer in a Facebook post asking people to share and like the post in order to receive the printable. The benefit here is that you get to make a personal connection with a potential new customer, as well as the exposure to their followers.

As I said, the key is to never just give something for free and get nothing in return. This is why people offer buy one, get one free offers because at least you get the one sale. Same with free shipping, don’t just offer free shipping, only offer it on orders over $50 or $100, because now there is an incentive to get the customer to buy more. Other ideas include free engraving with the purchase of 2 or more necklaces, free gift with purchase of $50 or more, free gift wrapping on purchases made before October 31st – you get the idea.

My October Marketing Plan for Online Shops (or Etsy Shops) is the best october-online-cover$12 you will every spend to really drive traffic and sales next month at your online shop.

Holiday Product Ideas for Your Online Shop

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

Are you ready to be inspired? My post today is definitely going to get you thinking! Christmas is the biggest buying season of the year, and, as an online shop, it provides you with new selling opportunities, particularly for holiday and Christmas-related products. Here are some ideas to consider:

holiday-products-ideas-for-your-online-shop

Christmas Decor Products

Think about all the places people want to decorate for Christmas. Beyond the obvious such as the holiday table, the mantle, the door, the tree and the exterior of the home, also realize that kids want to decorate their bedrooms, teens want to decorate their lockers, college students want holiday décor for their dorm rooms, and a lot of people want Christmas in every room of the house from the kitchen to the bathroom. Another hot trend is office cubicle decorating parties to bring a little festive fun to the workplace.

Holiday Card Photos

People are planning now for their holiday card photo, so they are looking for coordinating hats and outfits and they want a cool card design. Even if they don’t have a formal photo planned, just think of how people will be documenting every little aspect of Christmas day on Instagram. Holiday-related photography props could be huge!

Christmas Flavors & Scents

I think (and hope) the Pumpkin Spice Latte trend will start to fall off after this year because it is getting a little old, but Christmas does offer you opportunities to add flavors and scents to your products if applicable – gingerbread, candy cane, sugar cookie, christmas cookie, peppermint, eggnog, fruitcake, mulled wine, cranberry, nutmeg, eucalyptus, white spruce and apple cider are all the hot ones, but try combining two or more to really be unique. Peppermint Cranberry Eggnog anyone?

Christmas Fashion

Now, there is tasteful Christmas fashion, such as outfits needed for the holiday photo or something stylish to wear to the office party, and there is also the more whimsical Christmas fashion where everyone in the family wants to be draped in something with a Christmas theme (for those photos mentioned above). From ugly Christmas sweaters for your dog to “My First Christmas” baby bibs to light up Christmas tree earrings to family Christmas onesies – stretch your imagination to see if you can come up with the next hot fashion item for the holidays that is sure to attract press and attention on social media.

Christmas Movies and Songs

Quotes from classic movies and Christmas carols will once again find themselves emblazed across everything from napkins to t-shirts to mugs to phone cases. Which of your products could feature a memorable Christmas phrase?

Christmas Nostalgia

If you sell vintage, you still have plenty of opportunities at the holidays because people love reminders of their childhood Christmas. So dig up or even reinvent as many popular holiday items from Christmas past including vintage Christmas ornaments, art, cards, dinnerware, elves and toys.

Christmas Weddings

Wedding shops, these will be busy months for you as well as brides who are having a Christmas wedding will be shopping in October and November for Christmas place cards, Christmas cake toppers, Christmas pew bows and Christmas wedding programs.

Hanukkah and Kwanzaa Celebrations

Obviously not everyone celebrates Christmas and there are millions of people celebrating Hanukkah (December 24 to January 1) and Kwanzaa (December 26 to January 1st), so you may want to consider adding unique items reflecting these celebrations to your shop as well.

If you need creative ideas on how to market your shop for holiday buyers, etsy october marketing planincluding new products to add, try my 30-Minute Phone Consultation and I’ll come up with a ton of ideas! Be sure to also get my October Marketing Plan, which includes a Holiday Shop Checklist!

A Popular Search Phrase Your Online Store Needs to Use This Holiday Shopping Season

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

I was recently reading a report from Think with Google and it indicated that when people are holiday shopping, they can be completely overwhelmed by all of the choices out there. So to save time, consumers tend to rely on a popular search phrase that you may not have considered.

A Popular Search Phrase Your Online Store Needs to Use This Holiday Shopping Season

According to Google, in the top retail categories, mobile searches related to “best” products have grown by more than 50% in the last year.

In other words, most people don’t really have time to sift through 50,000 baby items on Amazon. They would rather just type “best baby gifts” and see what comes up.

So I went to Amazon and here is just a broad sampling of some “best’ searches:

  • best baby toys
  • best cat toys
  • best necklaces for girlfriend
  • best dad gifts
  • best gifts for 2 year old boys
  • best iphone 6s case
  • best kids water bottle
  • best organic toner
  • best jewelry organizer
  • best uncle gifts

Now, keep in mind that you have to be careful using the word “best” in advertising or promotion because you can’t really prove that you are the best, therefore it can be considered false advertising. However, you can use the phrase as a tag, as well in your product descriptions, if used in a non-challenging way. For example”

“Our goal was to create the best cat toy for your indoor cat.”

You can also include actual customer reviews in your product descriptions, where people have included the phrase, “the best cat toy“.

Also, you can add a shop category, even if just for the holiday season, that says, “Best Sellers”, so that when someone does land on your shop, they can quickly gravitate over to your most popular items.

MY RECENT REVIEWS

Your shop is not too late to benefit from my September Marketing Plan. online cover septThere is one for Etsy Shops and one for non-Etsy Shops. Some reviews already for September’s Plan:

“OMG! This really works! I couldn’t wait to get started. I’ve bought a lot of Marketing Plans since I opened my shop, and this is the first one I’ve implemented that actually showed results right away.” Moments of Art

“Fantastic marketing advice as always. Can’t recommend Gail and her services enough!” Tanya Harrison Photography

Highly recommend this marketing plan.” Naturelle Grow

What To Do When Your Products Aren’t Selling

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

I advise a lot of online shops, and a common problem is not being able to recognize why your products are not selling and what to do. It is tough when it’s your own shop because you are too close to it to be objective.

what to do when products aren't selling

If the traffic to your shop is good, then you have to look at your prices, your shipping charges, your turnaround time, your reputation (negative reviews hurt sales), and most of all, your products.

So I am going to focus on your products and pretend that I sell wooden cutting boards so you can see what I mean.

Offer More of Your Best Sellers

What is your top seller(s)? This is the product you should look to for inspiration. Can you spin it off into more products, more colors, more sizes, whatever the case may be. Why do you think there are so many coffee options at a Starbucks? So if my best seller is a wooden cutting board in the shape of Texas, then I want to consider offering cutting boards in other state shapes or maybe a cutting board that looks like the Texas state flag or a famous Texas landmark. Stick with what works.

Expand Your Target Market

I have always reminded my customers not to focus solely on the most obvious customer. Is your product suitable for businesses? In other words, have you thought about selling your wooden cutting boards to restaurants and cafes for serving the bread of other types of appetizers? Maybe you can customize the board with their logo (free advertising when people are taking a selfie of their food!). Have you strictly been targeting women buyers? Maybe men would like a cutting board for beside their barbecue for cutting meat (they do, see next point).

Stay Innovative

Do your products have a lot of competition? In other words, are there other shops selling exactly what you sell? Then you need to delve back into product development and find out what customers are looking for. Therefore, if I sold cutting boards I would go over to Google autocomplete and type “cutting board that” “cutting board with” and “cutting board for” and see the searches that fill in. Some searches I found were:

  • Cutting board that catches juices
  • Cutting board that weighs what you cut
  • Cutting board with handle
  • Cutting board with recipe engraved
  • Cutting board for brisket
  • Cutting board for bread
  • Cutting board for sushi

I now have 7 new product ideas based on actual requests.

Gather Insight from Others’ Reviews

While you should definitely be reading your own reviews for insight into your products, you should also venture over to Amazon and read the reviews of your competitors’ products. Reading some reviews on wooden cutting boards, I found that people were unhappy when the board eventually split, the surface warped or it was too small. Things people raved about was when the board was easy to carry, didn’t take up much counter space and could be used for serving as well as chopping. Make sure your products have all the things customers want and none of the things they don’t.

Not sure why your products are not selling and need advice? Try my Quick Fix or my 30-Minute Phone Consultation and I’ll tell you why and what to do.

My September Marketing Plan for your Online Shop is now available, and online cover septit includes 40 blog media contacts for Holiday Gift Guides. If you have an Etsy Shop, you want the Etsy version here. Read what a customer had to say:

★★★★★“Every single month I purchase & use the monthly planners. They work and they’re super easy to follow. A must have!” Cristen Breuer from BagTags.

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

How to Get People to Promote Your Online Shop

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

If you want someone to do something for you, you have to do something for them. I can’t tell you how many people email me asking me to promote their app or article to my readers and offer me nothing in return. What incentive is there for me to do this? I don’t mean to sound cold, but this is business and the best way to make a business deal happen is to make it mutually beneficial.

how to get people to promote online shop

Getting Press

For example, with your online shop, don’t just ask a blogger to mention your products. Instead, tell them that you if you are fortunate enough to get a mention, that you will return the favor by mentioning their blog on your website (including a link), and you will promote the mention to all of your customers and social media followers. This works really well with upcoming and coming bloggers looking to increase their readers.

Getting In Store Sales

Don’t just ask a local shop if they will allow you to display your products one weekend in a pop-up type display, but instead tell them you will tell all of your customers, friends and family that you will be at their shop that day, and hence you will be bringing them new customers as well (plus you will give 10% of the profits). Who would say no to that ofer?

Getting Referrals

Don’t just ask customers to recommend you to their friends or on social media, offer them 15% off their next purchase or a free gift if they do so. I constantly reward people who recommend me to others with free advice, free leads or a free product. You will be amazed at how many referrals this brings in when you give an incentive.

Remember, nothing looks worse to a potential partner when you seem oblivious to the fact that their time is valuable too. Make it worth their while and you will get much better results!

a Recent Review

“Gail was amazing and very helpful! I am super happy, my store is attracting more customers. Also learned a lot from Gail and she replied to all my questions promptly. Thank you very much!” Renata at Reniego Jewels. Renata has a gorgeous jewelry shop, I encourage you to check it out!

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

How to Drive Traffic to Your Online Shop During August

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

My Tactical Marketing Planner for August is out now, and if you are having trouble getting traffic and sales at your online shop, and just don’t have a lot of time to spend on promotion, this downloadable, printable planner is for you (keep reading for BONUS offer)!

drive traffic online shop august

August is all about Back to School, Going off to College, End of Summer Clearance and early Fall shopping – all opportunities your online shop needs to take advantage of, and my tactical marketing planner will help you do just that.

I start off with my list of daily tasks that I want you to do this month, including unique opportunities only an insider knows about! These tasks include some of my proven secrets, as well as publicity, advertising and promotional opportunities. Doing these tactics just for 30 minutes a day will really help drive traffic to your online shop.

Then I give a daily social media “to do” including all of this month’s hot trending topics you can really take advantage of to be part of the conversation on social media and get your shop seen.

Finally, I include a variety of very useful worksheets because you need to measure your marketing efforts. These worksheets will keep your marketing organized and focused and allow you to measure the value of your efforts. Time is money so you don’t want to waste time on tactics that are not working. 10 pages in all.

As usual, I offer it at an amazing price of just $7!

I have two planners. One is for independent online shops and the other is for Etsy shops. If you have both an independent shop and an online shop, the Etsy one is best for you.

BONUS OFFER: If you pin the graphic above (and let me know you did) when you order the August planner, I will send you July’s planner for FREE that included 40 media contacts for print holiday gift guides.

Important! Holiday Gift Guides Submissions

Due to a number of requests, I’m offering a pitch writing service just until August 25th, as now is the time to be pitching your products to the PRINT media for their annual holiday gift guides. I’ll write a compelling pitch email for you to send along with your product submission. I will even advise you on the product I think has the best chance. I have written pitches for customers that got their products in the holiday gift guides for Real Simple, Vanity Fair, House Beautiful, LONNY, and more. Keep in mind, this NOT a guarantee of publicity, this is up to the magazine’s editorial team. You can purchase my Holiday Gift Guide pitching service ($39) here.

Start Doing This One Thing NOW for Your Best Holiday Sales Yet

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

Do you want to have your best holiday sales ever at your online shop? Then I have one HUGE tip that I want you to start doing right NOW that will greatly help your sales come the peak period of late October to mid December.

do this one thing now for best holiday sales

Too many times, sellers do not understand how important your current customer base is. Shops always seem to be looking for new customers as opposed to trying to get more business out of the people who have already bought from them, and this is a mistake.

SO HERE IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO. Starting today, every time you make a sale, include the message below in your outgoing email to the customer (as well as on a card in the package):

Thank you so much for your purchase! We hope you will return for your holiday shopping with this coupon code for 15% off every item in the store: HOLIDAY2016 (valid until December 22, 2016).

Now, you can make the offer whatever you wish, whether it is free shipping, buy one get one half off, or any other value deal that makes sense for your shop. If you offer free gift wrapping, include this as well. The key is you are putting the idea in their head now that they should think of your shop come holiday shopping time PLUS you are giving them an incentive to do so.

You can even get more specific, so if you sell women’s jewelry, for example, you can say:

Thank you so much for your purchase! We hope you will return for holiday gifts for your mother, sisters, children, best friends, colleagues – anyone who loves jewelry – with this coupon code for 15% off every item in the store: HOLIDAY2016 (valid until December 22, 2016).

Now, a few more tips. You may also want to finish with a line such as:

Thank you so much for supporting small businesses!

Again, this reminds people the importance of buying from smaller vendors and not always the big retailers, and it makes them feel better about their purchase and want to support you further.

If you personalize or customize items, then you may want to add:

We are offering FREE personalization for any holiday gift, just be sure to order before December 1st so that it arrives in time. 

We can create a gift specifically for someone special (or hard to buy for), just be sure to order before December 1st so that it arrives in time. 

This gets them to act faster. You want as many holiday sales as possible before the big hype of Black Friday, where it is going to be tough to compete with online retailers such as Amazon.

If you don’t sell items that typically constitute as gifts, the holiday shopping season is also big for purchases that have to do with decorating and entertaining as people are getting their homes in order for family visits, holiday parties, and so forth, so you could say something such as:

Thank you so much for your purchase! With the holidays just around the corner, we hope you will return for any of your holiday decorating or entertaining needs with this coupon code for 15% off every item in the store: HOLIDAY2016 (valid until December 22, 2016).

Etsy Shops!

Did you know that I offer a 30-Minute Phone Critique of your Etsy shop for just $59? I evaluate every aspect of your shop and advise you on the changes you need to make to get more traffic and sales. You can order it from my Etsy shop here

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.