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.


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.

My Marketing Tips for the Week of April 12th – Shop Sections Edition

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

My marketing tips for this week are focusing on the individual sections of your online shop as they are very important for SEO. However, sometimes it helps to experiment with one or two in terms of customer buying behaviors, to see if it can convert more traffic into sales. Here are some ideas.

online marketing tips


Shop Sections That Create Interest

People like to buy items based on what they think other people are buying, so try this little trick. Add a shop category that is entitled, “Back by Demand” and see how it does for you. Put popular items in here that do sell well for you, but now the perception is that they were so popular they sold out. This alone might make people more inclined to buy and buy right away.

Shop Sections Based on Price

Instead of a “Sale” shop category, why not really pull customers in by clearly specifying what the low price is. Therefore, categories such as, “Jewelry Under $25“, “100 Under $20“, and so forth. Another option is to use the word “Outlet” instead of “Sale” as this really gives the perception of a deep discount.

Shop Sections That Sell More Products at Once

Bauble Bar has a shop category called “Build a Layered Necklace“. This is really quite ingenious as it helps to up-sell more of their products at one time. First, they have you choose from a short necklace, then you choose a medium necklace and finally a long necklace – creating a very easy way to ensure that you get this popular look without fail. Plus, they give you a discount for buying all three. You can do something similar by creating a shop category of items that all work together and offer a discount for buying two or more items from this category.

Screen shot 2016-04-12 at 1.00.01 PM


Shop Sections Based on Events

I have mentioned this many times in my Marketing Ideas E-books that you can take advantage of popular buying seasons with your shop categories. Create temporary categories such as, “The Mother’s Day Shop”, “Festival Bags“, “Spring Refresh”, “Derby Day Style”, “Summer Scents”, etc.

Trending This Week

  • April 12 – #NationalGrilledCheese DayScreen shot 2016-04-12 at 1.27.07 PM
  • April 13 – #NationalScrabbleDay
  • April 14 – #ThursdayThoughts
  • April 15 – #Coachella, #WorldArtDay, #NationalTaxDay
  • April 16 – #satchat
  • April 17 – #SundayBrunch
  • April 18 – #MotivationMonday, #BostonMarathon

Big Events in May: Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Victoria Day (Canada), the Kentucky Derby, the French Open, Star Wars Day, college graduations and high school proms.

My Quick Fix is perfect for those of you on a tight budget. With my Quick Fix ($25), I will examine your online shop and identify 3 things you need to do/change/fix to drive more traffic and get more sales. If you would like a more extensive evaluation with detailed, step by step recommendations, then check out my Online Shop Critique ($129).

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

My Marketing Tips for the Week of March 29th – Opening Day Edition

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

Can you believe March wraps up this week? But the good news is that there are so many great buying opportunities coming up for your e-commerce store. Here are this week’s tips.


Your Shop’s Blog

If your e-commerce site has a blog, do not simply make the blog a category heading. Instead, bring your blog articles to the forefront with a hyperlinked graphic right on your shop’s home page. Both Nordstrom (their blog is called The Thread, below) and West Elm promote their blog posts on their home page to increase traffic and keep customers on the site longer.

nordstrom blog

Social Media Followers

When was the last time you went through your social media followers lists and followed back? There could be some potential customers in there so do not ignore them. If you follow back, it allows you to interact with them by liking and commenting on their posts when they come up in your feed.

Shop Banners

Spring is definitely here so it is time to change your shop, Facebook and Twitter banners to promote popular upcoming sales opportunities such as Mother’s day, prom, grad gifts, gardening, outdoor and Spring products, as Uncommon Goods has done below.

uncommon goods banner

Instagram Tip

Not sure how to maximize the trending hashtags I give below to drive traffic to your shop? #Breakfast is a very popular hashtag on Instagram, and the shop Indigo uses it to showcase their housewares collection.

Screen shot 2016-03-29 at 12.01.53 PM

Trending This Week

  • March 29 – #NationalMomandPopBusinessOwnersDay, #NationalLemonChiffonCakeDay
  • March 30 – #WednesdayInspiration
  • March 31 – #NationalPromDay
  • April 1 – #AprilFoolsDay
  • April 2 – #FinalFour, #NationalPeanutButterandJellyDay
  • April 3 – #NationalFindaRainbowDay, #OpeningDay (baseball)
  • April 4  – #MondayMadness

My Services

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

My Marketing Tips for the Week of February 16th – Winter Storm Edition

by Gail Oliver, Online Marketing Consultant

Last week there was so much going on that this week seems a lot quieter (except for the major snowstorm that hit my city today). If you aren’t busy digging out, here are some of my marketing tidbits to consider this week.


More Instagram Advice

Not sure if you read my Instagram tip from last week, but another way to get Instagram to include you on their page (in front of their 137 million followers) is to post a cute animal photo and include the hash tag #WeeklyFluff. Instagram pulls these weekly for their site.

Email Marketing Tip

I bought something online recently, and the next week the store sent me an email that said in the subject line, “Thanks for shopping with us. Here’s a little treat…” Inside was a coupon for 20% off my next purchase. Now, I get a lot of promotional emails, but I have to say that line got my attention because I was curious about what the “treat” was. In other words, it worked so you may want to try something similar with your customer emails.

E-commerce Platform to Consider

If you are not happy with your current e-commerce provider, I was surprised to learn that Ecwid supports over 900,000 shops compared to Shopify’s 200,000. Their pricing is based on the number of products you sell. For example, if you sell less than 100 products, the fee is just $15 a month.

Pantone Color Trends for Fall 2016

This week Pantone announced their 10 Colors for Fall 2016, including mustard yellow and emerald green, so you may want to consider integrating these color selections into your fall collection.

Trending This Week

  • February 17 – National Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • February 18 – National Drink Wine Day
  • February 19 – #FridayReads
  • February 20 – National Love Your Pet Day
  • February 21 – #SundayBrunch
  • February 22 – #MondayMotivation
  • February 23 – National Banana Bread Day

More Links to Click

© 2016 Gail Oliver. All rights reserved.

Just Because Someone is a Top Seller, Doesn’t Mean They’re Making Money

by Gail Oliver, Small Business Marketing Consultant

We are quick to be envious of someone else’s success and wonder what we are doing wrong, but sometimes we are not looking at the big picture and their success may not be as great or envious as we think.


There was a profile recently on a small online business that was a husband and wife shop. The headline read how their home decor products business is about to get a wholesale deal that will bring projected annual revenues of $2 million. There were a ton of comments on the article from other small business owners, in complete awe, wondering how the couple pulled it off and how they too could get that kind of success. But the readers were just seeing the “$2 million”; they weren’t seeing what the deal really involved.

Why This Wholesale Deal May Not Be As Great As You Think

First of all, $2 million in revenue is not $2 million in profit. In order for the couple to meet the wholesale demands they had to rent a production facility, rent office space, hire employees, pay insurance and workman’s compensation and a quazillion other costs associated with it no longer being a two person operation run out of their home. They now have to deal with employees, retail stores, as well as the end customer.  They also have more stress and pressure. It’s one thing to pay yourself. It’s quite another when you are on the hook to pay rent or someone’s salary.

The truth is, after you deduct all of these new costs, along with the original costs of production such as materials, plus they are now selling at a reduced wholesale price instead of a direct marked-up retail price, are they even making more money than before?

Also, there is no guarantee that the products will sell to the end user. Just because the retail stores are buying them, the product still needs to be bought by customers. You no longer have control over the marketing of the product at this level, so if your products don’t sell, the retailers won’t be coming back for more and you have all these new production costs to cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to downplay their success. This is what it takes to grow a business, a few lean years. But rather, I want to put it back into perspective so other small business owners understand whether this would really be the best scenario for them.

This comes back to the post I wrote the other day. When you go into business for yourself, you have to decide how much success you want, how much you can handle, and what sort of growth model you aspire to. Before you get envious of someone else’s success, define what “success” really means for your business.

Need More Marketing and/or Business Advice?

I offer a variety of affordable consulting services. Just let me know your needs below. And don’t forget to check out my ebooks, here.

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

Why You Should be Pitching Your Products to be in Holiday Gift Guides NOW

by G.B. Oliver

Major magazines typically work about four months in advance. So in other words, right now they are planning their November issues, and a big part of any November issue is a holiday gift guide. So if you want your products to be included, you need to be pitching them to editors now.

When you pitch your products to be included in a gift guide, there are few things you need to include in your pitch:


  • Specify who the potential recipients could be, such as husband, wife, daughter, boss, teacher, etc.
  • Specify the price, as a lot of gift guides are categorized as such i.e. Gifts $25 and under, Gifts $25 to $50, etc.
  • Specify the type of person who would like it. For example, the Fashionista, the Fitness Buff, the Geek, the New Mom, etc.
  • Specify if the gift gives back (part of the proceeds go to charity, shop supports third world vendors, etc.)

Holiday issues are typically the most widely read issues of the year. So you can also pitch your products to be included in other aspects of the magazine’s holiday editorial. Consider these suggestions:

  • Decorating – Do you have products that work for holiday decor?
  • Entertaining – All those holiday parties require food, serve ware and table decor
  • Travel – The holidays are high travel times and magazines are always writing about products that make it easier
  • Fashion – Maybe your products add to the perfect outfit to wear to a holiday party, Christmas day or New Year’s Eve
  • Cards – Holiday cards, as well as invitations to parties, house warmings, etc., are obviously in big demand
  • Photos – Everyone wants that family photo for the holiday card, so it’s a great time to promote any product that will enhance the photo i.e. special outfit for new baby, Santa hat for dog, Happy Holidays sign, etc.

FINAL WORD: Holiday sales are usually the biggest of the year for most businesses, so don’t wait until the last minute to plan for it, or you may be too late. 

Does Your Shop or Website Need Some Creative Marketing Ideas?

GB OliverSince I specialize in helping small business selling online, I offer extremely affordable consulting services that will make a difference for your business. Whether you offer products or services, my consultations will help you identify how to get in front of your target market, bring in more sales, and expand your reach to take advantage of the international online marketplace.

Just fill in the form below for more information, email me at to discuss or see my Marketing Services page. Or check out my Ebook shop for great Small Business Marketing Ideas.

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

Is Your Online Shop Taking Advantage of the Summer Rush?

by G.B. Oliver

When looking at the top retailers online, I noticed one reoccurring theme that you may want to add to your shop – and it is “Summer“. Every major store right now is promoting summer items, sales, and more, and you should jump on board as well.

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 11.29.10 AM

Most Popular Trending Headlines:

  • Summer Clothing
  • Summer Style
  • Summer Entertaining
  • Summer Beauty
  • Summer Wedding
  • Summer Decorating
  • Summer Recipes
  • Summer Reading
  • Summer Camp
  • Summer Fun
  • Summer Sale

This is a way to connect with visitors to your shop as to what their needs are right now. It is also an opportunity to get into editorial (more immediate media like blogs and newspapers) as these are the types of articles they are writing about, not to mention capitalizing on any trending summer hash tags or themes on social media.

Even looking at the HARO (Help a Reporter Out) requests today, I saw the summer themes consistently popping up in editorial requests:

  • Looking for Five Great Travel Products
  • Makeup tips for an Outdoor Wedding
  • Beach Makeup Tips
  • Keeping Your Party Business Afloat This Summer
  • Products to Turn Your Home into a Relaxing Seaside Retreat
  • Adorable Swimsuits for Little Girls
  • Best Beach Bags for Summer
  • Family Vacation Saving Tips

So take a look at your shop and see if you can categorize your products into one of these summer trends, to take advantage of the next several weeks of seasonal buying habits.

Other Trends To Keep in Mind for June/July:

  • Fourth of July
  • Vacations
  • Festivals
  • Beach
  • Fireworks
  • Barbecues
  • End of School
  • Weddings
  • Swimsuits

Exploit the summer trend by offering your own summer sale, change-up your landing page with a summer theme, bring to the forefront items that are in this vein, and tailor your social media postings to fall in line with the trend as well.

FINAL WORD: It is important to make sure that your online store is always in step with what buyers’ current needs are to avoid seasonal slowdowns. Marketing is all about taking advantage of the latest opportunities and finding a way to apply them to your business.

MalloryHopeDesign_AGMarketing_eBook_HomeProductsNeed More Marketing Advice?

My series of ebooks, Small Business Marketing Ideas That Work!, walks you through all my best tactics for selling successfully online, with version for selling Home products, Wedding products, Kids & Baby products and Jewelry & Accessories. Please check out my Ebook Shop at the top of the page.

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