Here’s a little something you can try, to widen your horizon: go sit in a small box. Or, if you don’t have a box small enough, squeeze into a really tight space and stay there for 60 seconds. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings; I imagine your mind is occupied with thoughts of how uncomfortable you are and if you could just move the left arm a little your eye wouldn’t water so much.
Ready to get out? Stretch, take a deep breath and realise that thinking inside the box just isn’t very creative. Now you can think outside the box, let playful imagination bring your dreams to life.
Part of my dream was to reach more customers, sell more, make more money and become a recognised brand. To make the dream real, I considered marketing, advertising, freebies, exhibitions, elaborate gift boxes for magazine editors who would (of course) sing my praises.
The one obstacle between me and my vision was…money. Or the lack of it, to be precise.
There I was, frustrated, sitting in my box, not seeing the bigger picture.
So while you build your business and money is tight, here are some alternative ways to get out there, be seen, liked and talked about for all the right reasons.
1. Go to fairs and exhibitions as a visitor. Talk to stallholders and exhibitors. Pay attention to the ones who exhibit a complementary product or service. Perhaps your products would make theirs more attractive. Wedding fairs are obvious, but how about alternative and holistic health, pregnancy & baby – and weight loss/fitness fairs. Bring business cards and confidence in equal amounts.
2. You have a lot of knowledge that can be shared – best skin care routine; what’s best for acne/rosacea/blushing/wrinkles and all other skin complaints. Be generous with this knowledge. Offer to give demonstrations in that small shop where you’d like to get in with your products. They’d like it because it generates more interest, exposure and potential customers. You love it because they will make sure everyone knows about it, on posters, flyers and tweetings on Facebook. While you’re at it, pay a visit to your local photographer, baby shop, leisure centre and florist.
3. Donate raffle prizes to local organisations and events. Package your gifts in boxes or bags with plenty of cards, money off coupons and other incentives. Local events are local news, so more than likely it will be in the paper. Get mentioned or quoted because you support the event or cause – because you’re a genuine, decent human being who cares and who also happens to make wonderful products everyone should know about. But the bit about being genuine comes first.
Being human-kind is one of the best ways to become recognised as a trusted, liked and followed brand. It means customer loyalty from people who not only will use your products themselves, but will buy them as gifts and tell their real and virtual friends about how great they feel using them.
One skin care and cosmetics formulator teamed up with a make-up artist and together they provided workshops for women with cancer; they did the same in support centres and housing for women with learning disabilities and those who have been victims of abusive crime. Her business grew tenfold, if not more. She gets more mentions, more enquiries and sells more.
And the only thing she advertised was her passion and knowledge. She invested time, not money.
The biggest success secret in her story: “Once I started, I never once thought what would be in it for me. My main thought was always ‘What can I do to make your business or life better?’ That’s when I realised what was in it for me.”
You’ll figure out what’s in it for you, and when you do, drop me a line.
Now go out there, be brave, passionate, bold, unconventional and imaginative in an out-of-box sort of way.
If someone thinks you’re up a tree, tell them the view is much better up there.
Eva Suzannah is a copywriter, marketing consultant and author who loves natural products for body and soul. Her book “Crafty little business” is due to be published in autumn 2014. She’s been a soap maker for many years and has more cats and cauldrons than is considered normal. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org