Sunday, May 26, 2013

What To Do With Those New Business Cards

 As I've said in the past, starting a small business can be overwhelming at times. Just the thought of putting all you have to do on paper can make you want to throw in the towel before you get started. It takes determination and a "You can't beat me!" attitude.

I am going to assume that if you are selling your handmade items, you already have business cards. If not, read my past posts on the subject of business card design. If your design is done and you've ordered those cards and you have those boxes in hand, you might be wondering how to get the most out of using them as marketing tools.

Business cards are more than just something you have to pack up for shows or exhibits. They need to
become your best friend. They need to go everywhere with you and be involved in every aspect of your life. Yes, even those holiday parties with friends. That may sound like overkill, but this is your business so you can choose to build it timidly or take the bulls by the horns and jump in with both feet.

I always have business cards on me and I mean "always." I may have them in a pocket or in my purse, and they are hiding in my car (I don't want them exposed when I'm not in the car. I make jewelry. That's a ticket to getting my car broken into. So use common sense.). My husband carries them and hands them to his clients, as well.

One of my favorite tricks is to leave business cards behind wherever I go. When leaving a restaurant, I leave at least one on the table. I might accidentally drop one on the floor under the table and without further thought, forget to pick it up. Am I bad? You can find my cards in ladies bathrooms, or on the floor in a clothing store. I don't make a nuisance of myself to the point they are going to call me and ask me to quit. I'm pretty discreet and work at being non-offensive. But hey, it is my business and I want the peeps to know where I am and what I do and where they can find my product.

Another trick I use, which is fairly easy because I make jewelry, is to wear a piece or two into a store and keep touching it. Some people will notice. If not, I might walk up to a sales person that isn't busy and ask what she thinks of the piece. I will tell her a little of what I do and that I just finished it and can't decide if I like it or not. I ask for her opinion. Nine times out of ten she will get excited and ask if I have a website. That leads straight into the business card handout.

After you've handed someone your card, be sure to tell the potential client that you are always adding to or changing things on your websites, so they should be sure to bookmark your site so she/he can check it regularly. Will she do it? Maybe not. But always be on the lookout for that one customer that becomes a fan and a regular shopper. They are out there. There is always someone out there that will love what you do.

When at a show, make sure you put at least one card in a shopper's bag, and leave plenty laying around your tables. Some sellers think their cards need to be in a card holder, but they don't. I have told many people to be sure to take a card, just to see them fumble around my booth looking for the card holder, while disrupting the shopping of other clients. So now I put at least six smaller stacks tactfully around my tables, where they will be within easy reach, no matter where the customer is standing. I put my two card holders on the left and right entrance into my booth.

When mailing out an order, use one business card back for a thank you message and add another card for good measure. If you are exchanging information with someone, write your info on the back of your business card and hand it to them. If they don't have anything to write on, use another one of your cards. They will turn it over, if only for a split second. That is true marketing...the more impressions a person gets of your business, the more apt they are to remember it.

If I need to use a repairman in my home, I exchange business cards with them and tell them to hand it to someone special in their family or use my website for gift-giving. Most men will throw them away, but a few don't and hand them over or use them themselves. You are looking for just one...that one that will make a purchase.

Your friends might think you're a little me...but put some cards out during a holiday party. If your friends reprimand you for doing so, and if the party is at YOUR house, they probably aren't much of a friend anyway. Ugh...I love people who support the cause! They don't have to be a top customer, but they should support your enthusiasm for wanting to be a success small business owner.

Have you ever walked into your dry cleaners or favorite restaurant and seen an area where you can leave business cards? If you've been smart and not used your home address and phone number, feel free to leave a small stack of cards there. Again, I recommend discretion. Make sure that you aren't leaving your personal information behind that might add risk to your life or business.

The main point of this post is to let you know that it's okay to use your business cards as a strong marketing tool, and don't be afraid to do so. They are not a huge expense, and they are one of the quickest ways to market your business. Here are my four B's for business card marketing...Be Brave, Be Bold, Be Consistent, and Be Smart, and you can create a great avenue for driving up your business sales.

Stay Wired Up! Gail

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And Life Goes On...

It has been awhile since I have taken time to sit and write, so please forgive my lack of diligence and what seems like my lack of concern. I was thinking yesterday how I needed to get back to the blog and business at hand, but moving my entire life, and then some, to another state some 1500 miles away kept getting in the way. ugh...

Earlier today, however, while out in the garage getting more packing boxes, I tripped over the cord to the power washer my husband was using, (Okay, I'm not great at picking up my feet!) and I took a fall squarely onto my left knee. Now, this knee and I have a history of issues. It has been kicked by horses, drained, run into by my Australian Shepherd at a dead run, drained, and fallen upon...and drained more than once. Oh, don't worry...we will both be fine!

Long story short, God works in mysterious ways, as I now sit on the sofa, knee resting comfortably on a pillow with an ice bag and towel placed directly on the now swelling and painful hematoma that is forming on my knee. My husband got me a cup of coffee and my computer and here I am. Isn't it amazing that I found time...or was given time.

The moral of this story is...sometimes we need to slow down our lives in order to accomplish the things we "need" to do that might not otherwise get done in an optimum time frame.

We, as human beings, whether we are in business or not, whether we are artists or not, sometimes forget what is important. We get busy with our everyday lives or with designing or making the things we love to make. If we work from home, we might forget to do the little things, like brush our hair or get out of our sweatsuit, just because we become so enthralled with the tasks at hand. We ignore the tiny voice in our heads that nags at us to take care of the little things, or just to take twenty minutes for ourselves to soak in a bath. Then, the practice of blocking out our inner voice soon deadens it to a whisper or kills it all together.

It shouldn't sound so bleak, and to most of you it probably sounds like I have made a mountain out of a mole hill. The reality is that I know "I" need to re-prioritize my time, especially if I am in so much of a hurry that I don't think to pick up my feet and end up injured, just to find time to do what I really be able to share with all of you.

If you are in any kind of business, whether you work from home or not, there are times when you need to stop in your tracks, no matter where you are, and just...breathe! I picture some of you in the cities stopping on the sidewalk, in the midst of all that foot traffic, closing your eyes, pointing your chin upward, and breathing deeply, which, by the way, should put a very large smile on your face.

What you've done is taken a few seconds to lighten your soul, to rejuvenate your spirit, and to reorganize your thoughts. You might have even started a trend, not only for yourself, but for those around you who witnessed your "moment." Then again, who cares what "they" think. Just do it for yourself. Do it when you feel you need to. Do it when you don't think you need to. Your work will benefit, you family will benefit...and most of all...YOU will benefit from this seemingly insignificant process. What can it hurt? I dare you to try it!

Hugs to you all...and Stay Wired Up! Gail

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

We Are on the Move...Again!

I want to shout out a big "Thanks!" to all my readers that have been so patient over the last week or so. We have been on a hunting mission of sorts, and I think we actually made some progress. Yeah!

When you are first starting a business of any kind, one of the best things you can do is join some groups on social media sites. It took me a little while to find some, but I did and now belong to four, all of which do take some time to keep up with, but the time spent has proven well worthwhile. Not only have I made great friends, friends that understand what I am going through, friends I can share with, but I have found a great resource for information on the same thing that I do, wire wrapped and woven jewelry.

My new found friends have, and still do, encourage me, support me, and provide me with a wealth of information I might not otherwise be privy to. One of those friends, thanks Pam, recently encouraged me to take my wares on the road and push to get into art galleries that accepted my type of product, jewelry.

So...we, my husband and I, took a much needed vacation but with a specific goal in mind. I learned that to expand my business reach and continue to brand my name, I needed to put my product into the hands of peeps that might not see it by the methods I currently use. It made sense that you can only do so much with websites, social media, and shows, so we hit the road. Yes, we drove.

Our trip spanned over 1800 miles of road and through a myriad of cities and villages. We decided my product needed to be in towns that had a particular draw to vacationers that were going to be looking for a souvenir that would continually be a reminder of where they had been. More than that, my jewelry needed to get into the hands of buyers that would really appreciate the artistic aspect of what I make. I needed to hit art galleries.

I stopped at several, and most were in areas where people might go on an annual basis or maybe just once in a lifetime. I picked up information from the owners, buyers, or managers, if they were there or not busy at that time. If they were unavailable, I introduced myself to an assistant, gave a short bio, and traded business cards. I made sure their business card had at least a phone number on it or an email where the buyer or manager could be reached, and I explained that my business card had my website and contact info on it. If nothing else, the assistant may check out the website and report back to the person responsible for buying. Better yet, the assistant may find something for herself on the website. What can it hurt?

I managed to find one place in particular that really sparked my interest. They worked with artists from a variety of mediums, and the owner, herself, was an artist. This particular gallery, located on an island in southern Florida, really liked what I did. I left a few pieces with the owner and went over her contract for artists, then headed back. It was a two day process, which isn't over yet. My jewelry had to be juried by her board of directors, and then I will be notified and products requested, a bio done, cards made, inventory updates, etc.

It is an expensive adventure. There are the galleries "fees" or percentages, even if they buy outright. I was a little reluctant at first but decided that it fits into the realm of "marketing" and the percentage they take can be a business write-off, as long as I can prove my wares are worth the price I put on them. (That's food for another to price your product.)

Another by-product of working during vacation is that you can write off most of the expenses for your trip. Did I only go to one gallery...No! I went to many and got lots of cards for future phone calls and further branding of my business. And...I still need to hit local galleries.

At any rate, I am now back and more determined than ever to continue to brand and come up with more ideas for marketing...and more ideas for those all important new products for my wire jewelry line. Maybe you should try this, too!

Have a super great day and Stay Wired UP!!! Gail