Product Design I Love! Anthropologie

by G.B. Oliver

I’ve never understood why people just do copycat products. Granted, it makes business sense (although, not really ethical) to jump on someone’s proven success, but I have to think your success will be short lived if you can’t come up with product ideas on your own. It really isn’t that hard to be an innovator and develop new products. In fact, you can start with the products you currently have. Just step back, take a more objective look, and see how you could take things up a notch to differentiate yourself in a very crowded and competitive online marketplace.

Marketing-tips-small-businessA shop like Anthropologie is a good example. What makes them great is that they take products you’ve seen before, but they add a new twist to make them different from the traditional. For example, wooden letters are everywhere as wall decor, but Anthropologie turned these typical letters into Handpainted Still Life Monograms by making them out of canvas and adding painted murals on them. So now they have become true artwork for your walls.

Product-Marketing-ideasAnother example is their Colorblocked Baguette Board. They took what would be a regular cutting board, dipped the ends in milk paint to add some style and made it out of a much higher quality wood so you can use it as a bread server as well. These are simple twists on everyday products that also repurposes them.

If you want to be successful, you have to offer products that are unique, but still serve a purpose. People love products that are conversation starters. People also like unusual products because they make great gifts for those hard to buy for people. And as I say in my marketing ebooks, quirky always gets publicity! No one is going to write about a plain old cutting board in their magazine, but they will if it is now a stylish baguette server.

FINAL WORD: So don’t just copy someone’s else products. Take a look at a product that is popular and think, how can I make it more feature-rich, more useful, more interesting, more… attention getting.

GB OliverIf you are a small business selling online and you need more marketing advice (I save the best stuff for my ebooks) that will help increase your sales, please see my Ebook Shop for my PDFs, Small Business Marketing Ideas That Work! or ask about my affordable marketing consulting services by filling in the form below.

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

How to Target Your Products at the Lucrative Baby Boomer Market

by G.B. Oliver

There are currently 80 million baby boomers in the U.S. This is the population aged generally in their 50s and 60s who, according to MediaPost, hold 70% of the US disposable income (i.e. they’ve got money to spend on stuff!).

baby boomer marketing tips

Is Your Business Targeting Baby Boomers Properly?

The economy is not great right now, and yet Baby Boomers still have money to spend. The majority are still working, kids’ college is paid for, houses are paid for, if anything they are downsizing, which is putting more money back in their pockets. So if they are the people spending right now, why aren’t you targeting them?

Other Interesting Baby Boomer Facts

  • 71% of baby boomers go online everyday
  • 53% are on Facebook
  • People over age 50 spend $7 billion online annually

How Can You Target Them Based on What You Sell?

Let’s say you sell baby and kids products for exampleare you currently just targeting moms and dads, who are busier, have less money to spend, are probably too tired to think? Why not target grandparents, who do have the money to spend and love buying gifts for the grandkids. Plus, grandparents are not up on what kids want the way parents are, so you have an opportunity to convince them that kids really want your products!

What if you are selling jewelry or fashion. Baby boomers don’t necessarily feel comfortable wearing the latest youth-oriented trends. So why miss out on this market even if it is not your style. Create a more traditional line of products, or a more mature line, that you could section off in your shop just for this market, the same way you see a regular store and a plus size version of that store.

What about home products? Baby boomers love nostalgia, so research style trends from the 1950s, 60s and 70s and seen how you can incorporate it into a “Baby Boomer Line”. Also, were there cool products from this era that you could revamp for today’s market, making them both modern and vintage at the same time.

Baby boomers don’t just buy a lot for themselves and their grandchildren, they also buy for their grown children who have less disposable income due to being new to the workforce or owning homes and raising kids. So if you have items strictly aimed at the 20 to 30 year old market, those non-necessity but nice to have items, convince mom and dad to buy it for them! Would make a great gift guide, “What to buy for your grown children besides gift cards”. In fact, encourage customers to make a wish list just for them to give to Mom and Dad.

small business marketing consultant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2012-2014 G.B. OLIVER ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Marketing I Love! Philosophy’s Packaging & Branding

by G.B. Oliver

If you are not familiar with the line of skin care, bath and fragrance products called Philosophy, you definitely should check them out because they do branding really well, especially when it comes to packaging. (Now if the word branding is throwing you off and you don’t do packaging for your products, keep reading because that is not totally what this post is about.)

Branding Ideas small business

On their product bottles, Philosophy hardly uses any graphics (except for special holiday products), mostly text (and a simple font at that), and they don’t even talk about their product on the label. Instead, their products have names like HopePurity, and Grace and the label is taken up with a well-written, inspirational paragraph that typically has nothing to do with the product.

Philosophy’s Simple but Clever Packaging

The names are simple, but clever, and they relate back to what the product is for. For example, Hope is a moisturizer. Their skin care products are all in white or cream bottles, evoking an image of clean. Their fragrances‘ packaging is light pink and ivory, creating a very feminine feeling, and their bath products are bright colors (because baths are fun) and they have fun names like Gingerbread Man, Candy Cane, and Sugar Plum Fairy. In fact their Mimosa Bubble Bath actually has a recipe for Mimosas on the label. Not what you would typically see on a bottle of shower gel, but that’s what makes it eye-catching.

So How Can You Apply This To Your Small Business?

Simple and clever always work. Simple makes it easier on the customer who is thinking of purchasing the product (no hard sell, not a lot of typical “marketing” words on the package) and clever always gets attention. And great packaging alone can sell products.

Now, maybe you don’t package your products, but you can apply these same techniques of simple and clever to your logo, shop design, website design, product names, even product design. It is a crowded, crowded marketplace so you have to do something to separate yourself from the pack and create a brand that is memorable to customers. If they don’t remember you, they can’t come back and buy from you.

★ I talk a lot about how to ensure that you offer marketable products in my Marketing Ideas That Work! Ebooks, available HERE.

5 Marketing Ideas for Small Business Saturday

by G.B. Oliver

Saturday November 24th is Small Business Saturday where consumers are encouraged to buy from small local businesses. It was an initiative started by American Express and it always takes place on the Saturday after Black Friday (which is the day after the US Thanksgiving holiday).

marketing ideas small business saturday

Now, while online businesses benefit from Cyber Monday two days later, you can still take advantage of Small Business Saturday with your local market even if you only sell online.

How Online Shops Can Take Advantage of Small Business Saturday

5 Marketing Ideas to Try:

1. If you sell on a site like Etsy or Artfire make sure you have entered your city and state/province in your profile if you haven’t already, as customers can search for shops this way. Maybe even put it in your shop title and description, if just for this Saturday. For your regular website, this is a good opportunity to mention your city somewhere on your main page, again, if only for Small Business Saturday. It reminds visitors as well.

2. Email the editor of your local newspaper (do it this week or you’ll be too late!) asking if there are doing any articles on local companies offering specials for Small Business Saturday and mention a special you will be offering (make it worthwhile, like 30% off today only). Even better if they will consider doing a separate article just on local businesses selling online. Can’t hurt to put the idea in their head!

3. Offer a special just for customers from your city. For example, “Today we are offering 25% off for everyone, and 30% off for customers in the Boston area in support of the Small Business Saturday initiative”.

4. Pair up with a few other online vendors in your city who sell complimentary (but not competing) products and ask that they mention you on their website/online shop if you mention them on yours. Kind of like a blog roll of local shops to check out on Small Business Saturday. Again, you only have to keep this on your site for the week prior to, and the day after Small Business Saturday.

5. And of course fire off some Tweets using the #hash tags #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBizSat are the most popular ones, but add your city at the end to get to your local market i.e. #SmallBusinessSaturdayBoston (make sure your Twitter profile lists your city).

 If you think I give good advice on my blog, then you should know that I save the best ideas for getting attention in my E-books, available HERE.

3 Uses for Pinterest’s New Secret Boards

by G.B. Oliver

This week Pinterest launched the ability to do “secret” Pinterest boards. Users are given three secret boards and they control who sees what they PIN on them. In other words, these are boards you create for invitation only.

Pinterest Tips Secret Boards

So how can these new secret boards help your small business? If you sell products online it can help in a ton of ways if you are creative enough.

3 Ways to Use Pinterest “Secret” Boards

Here are a few of my ideas for using “Secret” Pinterest boards:

1. If you currently send out a newsletter or email promotion, now use a secret Pinterest board instead. You could post photos of products you are having a special on that is for customers only, and just delete the PIN when the special is over. The customer is alerted by email when you PIN something new on the board and they can choose whether or not they want to join, so it is not as intrusive.

2. Because you can REPIN from these boards, it is a great way to ask your customers to spread the word about your products without it being as obvious as when you post on a public board. You can PIN a new release and nicely ask them to “like” it and “REPIN” in exchange for a percentage off their next purchase.

3. You could do a Pinterest board for your customers only that is really more of an inspiration board and PIN complimentary products from other vendors that would work with your products. In return, ask that complimentary vendors do the same for you on secret boards for their customers. This is a great way to cross promote and get in front of more buyers, and it serves as a value added service to your customers who may not know which shoes to wear with the dress they just bought from you.

Now, what would have made these secret boards even more valuable to online sellers is if Pinterest had given you the option to enable/disable the REPIN feature on these boards. Then you could have used them to give sneak peaks of your new products and offers to customers before they are made public, polled customers on new products to get their feedback (like having a focus group) and showcase how other customers have used your products without having the world see their private photos.

Want more advice on how to use Pinterest to Get Attention!? Then please see my E-books, available HERE.

Marketing I Love! LuLu.com’s Clever Product Names

by G.B. Oliver

The other day I was on a clothing site called LuLus, whose fashions are obviously aimed at young women. I was looking at the purses and noticed that they were all labeled with very creative names. For example, Seven Year Itch Quilted Stitch Purse, In Hot Purse-uit Purple Purse, and Weave Got Your Back Brown Tote. Cute, right?

creative product names

LuLu’s In Hot Purse-suit Purple Purse

As I was reading these I was reminded of the names cosmetic companies give to lipsticks and nail polish colors. Back in the day, shades were just given a number. But due to growing competition in the makeup industry, clever lipstick and nail polish names became a way to show personality, create an image and set their brand apart. A clever lipstick name can actually get publicity just because of the name.

So what is the point of these witty names besides making a lot of work for  the marketing department?

I have to be honest, these cutesy names were attention getting and kept me on their site longer. I kept reading each product name more out of interest than anything. So maybe that was the intention, if not the result.  Creative product names and copy writing can keep people on your site longer and make them actually read the product descriptions instead of just scanning for bullet points. It also made them look like a cool, hip site which I believe is the image they are trying for.

I have always been an advocate of clever writing because it evokes a sense of personality, and when potential customers can get a better sense of who is selling to them, it helps them to feel like they know you a bit better and that helps to get them to trust buying from you. It’s also a great way to establish an identity against competitors who are a little more standard.

FINAL WORD: Think about your product names. Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and rename them all, because that may not suit your brand, and it depends who you are targeting. Obviously for a younger market, it can be quite effective. And we’re not talking cute here, we’re talking clever. Product names that show who you are as a brand. It can get attention.

MalloryHopeDesign_AGMarketing_eBookNeed Marketing Help?

My Marketing Ebooks will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to do to bring more traffic and sales to your online shop, and they are specific to the types of products you sell. You Can Download my Ebooks HERE.

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.

Promotional Emails That Get Attention (and ones that don’t)

by G.B. Oliver

I get a lot of promotional emails from stores such as Old Navy, Gap, to name a few. I subscribed to them, so that’s okay. I thought I would point out a few tips on how to effectively email your customers, based on what the big companies do that are attention getting (plus a couple of things you shouldn’t do).

marketing email tips

1. Free Shipping always gets attention. With gas prices what they are today, it only makes sense to buy something online if you can save money and time driving to the store.

Email-marketing-tips

2. Little icons get attention. ★’s and even ♥’s do draw the eye to the subject line. For example, ★ 40% OFF TODAY ONLY! ★. But don’t over do it. Too much and it’s annoying. You just want to grab them, you don’t want to blind them.

3. A limited time to act. When the offer says “25% off until 11/09/13” and that is only 2 days away, it gets attention. The customer knows they should probably look at it now if truly interested, otherwise they are going to miss out.Email-marketing-ideas

4. A significant discount of either 75%, 50%, 40% even 25% will make people act. A 10% or 15% discount doesn’t seem worth the effort.

5. Don’t add customer’s name in email subject line. A lot of marketing people think this is more personal, but I feel the opposite. I know that when a large company sends out an email and my name is in the header, that they did not personally write each email, but rather just used technology to add my name. This feels more like spam to me than anything. So unless this is an individual email that you physically wrote, don’t put the customer’s name in the subject  line.

6. Don’t email too often. There are some companies that send me 2 to 3 promotional emails a day. That’s too intrusive and what will happen is customers will get annoyed and take their name off the email list or just block it as spam. A small business should only email customers either when they have something really special to offer or right before the big holiday shopping season (early November), and no more than twice a month.

FINAL WORD: Email marketing is a very effective way to get sales, so think about what you like and dislike when promotional emails are sent to you, and don’t make the same mistakes with your own customers.

Need Marketing Help?

MalloryHopeDesign_AGMarketing_eBook_WeddingsMy Marketing Ebooks will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to do to bring more traffic and sales to your online shop, and they are specific to the types of products you sell.

You Can Download my Ebooks HERE.

© 2013 G.B. Oliver. All rights reserved.