This ain't the fun stuff
For me, this marketing stuff is not the fun part. It's important though if you're trying to sell online and in person, so I thought for a while on the subject to come up with a concise list of things that are easily doable. That's why I've only got five items in each because I was trying not to bore anyone, including myself, with marketing stuff.
Having a marketing checklist with a calendar of applicable dates and seasons will help you reach your customers at the right time. There are a ton of reasons why someone might buy a pen from you but having a full calendar can help you plan what you make throughout the year, as well as where and when to sell. Make sure to focus on the dates and events that are most important to you and coincide with your brand.
Identify your target customer
Knowing who your target market is will help you know what you should make and, in some cases, even where to sell it. For instance, if you’re going to set up a booth at a Gun Show, it’s a safe bet you can take your bolt action pens because they’re going to love those. In many cases, your target customer may be someone buying a pen as a gift for your target customer which may require you to change the message you put out.
Find your brand
What does your brand say about the pens your selling? Are you selling really expensive high-end pens? If so, your brand needs to reflect that otherwise, it can be pretty difficult to command higher prices. Knowing your target customer, as mentioned above, can help you but this should also be driven by your goals. Your brand should be consistent across all your channels; website, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Focus on the seasons
It’s easier to focus on marketing towards a season than a specific date. This gives you a larger target to aim for and prepares you for those looking to buy gifts for upcoming holidays.
Setting some sales goals will help you focus and give you something to measure for the next year. Be realistic. Setting goals of what you want to make and how much you’d like to sell will also help you prepare for purchasing pen kits and supplies you’ll need.
Your success at this can include many factors but it’s also tied closely to the goals you set. Sales may not be the only way to measure success. You might also have a social media presence and with that, you can measure post effectiveness, outreach, likes, etc. A spreadsheet is probably the easiest thing you can set up to keep track of your specific goals. If you’re using an online platform like Etsy, Shopify, WordPress, be sure to pay attention to the analytics.
Simply paying attention to what your customers are saying and buying will go a long way. With this information, you can adjust your products and goals to meet their needs and surpass your competitors.
Do it frequently
I don’t mean every day but it’s a good idea to keep tabs on what’s going on with your customers.
Watch what sells
This is tricky because you might not sell a certain type of thing at all online but then you set up a booth at a local show and sell out of that same exact item. This harkens back to your target customer. You may need to rethink what you thought your target customer likes.
Capture information from customers
In-person sales is probably the best forum for this, especially at a show where you have a booth because there’s direct customer interaction. You can ask questions about what they like and what they think about your various products. Don’t be afraid to engage in conversation, you may end up with a lot of really useful information.
Pay attention to customer reviews
If online sales is your main sales avenue, it’s important to pay attention to reviews. One nice thing about Etsy is that you can see that person’s other purchases and reviews to get an idea of things they like. It may feel like you’re being creepy, but this is exactly why Etsy has this in place.
Carry and use the pens you make
You might be surprised at the kind of attention you may garner if you actually carry around the pens you make. A handmade pen definitely stands out among a cup full of Bics. If you can, be prepared for in-person sales. There are a number of credit card swiping devices available by Square, PayPal and more.
Are you awake?
Congratulations! You made it through the not fun part and now you can go back to making pens. Hopefully these few items will get you thinking about how you can market yourself.
Thanks for reading!