Thursday, January 31, 2013

Marketing, step 2

     The other day I talked a little about doing marketing for your woodworking business and we started with the very basics.  Like I said before, a lot of us wouldn't really consider the name of our business as part of marketing, but it really can have an effect ( positive or negative) on how the general public may view your company and if they may or may not do business with you. 
     The next thing to consider when marketing is your company sign.  If you have a business, you should have a business sign.  Even if you are working from your garage or a shop in the back yard, you should have a sign to show you are a business.  The size of the sign is not near as important as how professional it looks.  Again, this is one of the very first impressions someone will have of you and your business and as the old saying goes; "you never get a second chance for a first impression"
   Another place that is very important to remember about your company sign is if you ever do a show/exhibit and have your work on display, in fact, any place you have your work on display should have some sort of professional company sign.   For almost 20 years I would have a display at the Southern Ideal Home Shows in Raleigh, NC.  They would have a 3 day show in the spring and another in the fall.  With over 300 vendors displaying their goods and somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 prospective customers coming through in 3 days, you better be able to stand out in the crowd and I found my company sign was a major part of my display.  We will talk about doing shows and having an exhibit later in another segment.

     I'll use my sign again as an example.  I actually built this sign from scrapes I had laying around the shop. Once I built the sign, I took it to a professional sign company and had them do the lettering.  The sign always hangs on the back wall of my shop and I would also use it for my company sign whenever I did a show.  Very inexpensive to make, but very effective when I had a display at the home shows. 

     Let's put this in perspective;  I was a one man shop located in a small rural town of about 1,500 people (mostly a farming community) and I wanted to build and sell high end custom made furniture and cabinetry. Marketing was very important to me!  I had to figure out how I could reach the clientele that would be interested in having a custom piece of furniture built and for them to have enough confidence in me and my company to do so. I knew it was going to be very important for me to set a professional image for my company if I ever expected to be able to make a living doing my woodworking. 

     I realize that not everyone will be building custom built furniture, but it doesn't matter what type woodworking you're doing and trying to sell, but it does matter for you to look professional.  If you're a woodworker, you should be able to show some of your talents in your company sign, which is your first impression you are giving your prospective customer.

     Your next marketing tool is Business Cards!  I put that in BOLD for a reason.  This has to be one of the most effective (or least effective) marketing tools you can have and often the most overlooked or taken for granted!  When marketing you need to take advantage of every opportunity to get your name in front of people and give them a reason to buy from you.  I can't think of a better way then a business card.

     Here I go again with cutesy and crafty.  Be careful and stay away from it as much as possible.  Remember, a business card is used to introduce yourself and your company and hopefully interest someone in doing business with you. It is also very much a part of that "First Impression" they will have of you and your company, It's not to entertain them!  It too needs to be very professional, which brings me to what I feel can be the biggest problem with business cards and why they may not be as effective as you may think.  

     Do Not make your own cards!  Before you get all bent out of shape with me, I've been guilty of doing it too, but it is one of the biggest marketing mistakes we can make.  I don't care how good we are or how creative we can be, making our own business cards look exactly like that........Home Made!
Whenever someone hands me a home made business card, the only thing I can think of is going to a car dealership and have the new salesman hand me a business card with his name either hand written in or his name printed on some generic card and he tells me he hasn't gotten his regular business cards back from the printer yet.   That's right, a hand made business card gives the impression you're either brand new in business or "temporary" and either way, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence that you know what you're doing or that you may even be here next month!   Have you ever heard the expression; "Fly by night company"?  I'm not saying that every home made business card gives that impression, but why take that chance. 

     Time and effort should be taken when designing and having a business cards printed.  The more professional your business card is the more effective marketing tool it can be for you.   Today with places like Vista Print, you can have 250-500 business cards printed that look and feel very professional for just a few dollars.  Look at it this way, since a business card can be like a little salesman for you, would you rather have 250 professional salesman working for you or 250 jack-leg wanna-bee's?   I consider myself pretty creative and professional when it comes to a lot of things, but I know when it time to turn certain things over to the professional in their fields.  I could build a professional looking sign, but when it came to the lettering, I knew if I really wanted it to be totally professional, I needed to let someone else do the lettering.  Business cards are the same.

     Once you have your business cards printed the best advice I can give you then is hand them out like candy.  They won't do you any good in your pocket or in your desk drawer.  Don't waste your time trying to pr-qualify someone if they deserve to have one of your cards or whether you think they may keep it or throw it away.   I can find a million excuses to hand someone my business card and it may have nothing to do with my business at the time, but I still want them to have one of my cards.   Write a note or a phone # on the back on my card, draw out some directions for someone,  write the name of a good restaurant, or mechanic, anything for an excuse for them to take one of my business cards.  You will be shocked how many times one of those cards will get you a response later on down the road. 

     I've handed out business cards at shows and have someone call me 2-3 years later and ask me about my work. Never take your business cards for granted and always look at your business cards as one of the most effective marketing tools you'll ever have.  The more you hand out, the more "little" salesman you have working for you, 24/7.

     If I was only allowed one marketing tool for my business, I would want that to be a business card!




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