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Finding potential customers...

(10 Posts)
lauraH1974 Mon 19-Oct-15 14:10:28

Hello all,
I have previously ran a small business from home a few years ago, with many of my sales and customers having been found offline, as I sold my products at fayres, events, and attended many networking events. I never made a great deal financially, mainly as at the time I was a single parent with very young kids and limited childcare, so I could never really put my full efforts into it, but really enjoyed it and it got me by.
I have since relocated, live with my partner, and now have a part time job, and after much thought and research decided to launch a new home business, just on a small scale, that I could run alongside my job.
However, health problems have now meant that I have to rethink my career, and I have decided to concentrate on building my new business. I intend to sell mainly online, at the moment am just trying to create awareness and interest through a facebook page and eventually have a website. I am unable to get out and about much to network offline. I am unable to drive, and live in a fairly rural area, so I really need to find most of my would be customers through the internet.

The problem!!! I have advertised in several places online, but the other problem is that I am on a tight budget, so cannot afford to pay much to advertise. Its like a catch 22..I need money to get myself out there, but cannot afford to do so until I start getting sales!!

I have advertised in all the niche facebook groups, local selling sites etc. So far I only have 14 likers on my page, most of them being friends. I am considering also selling through ebay/amazon, but at the mo just don't know what to do for the best to attract ppl. I realize it won't happen overnight, but would really really appreciate all your advice.

PacificMouse Mon 19-Oct-15 14:18:55

Have a very clear idea of what you are selling and to WHO
Get a website with a blog and a way for people to 1- regularly receive emails update of your blog (There are some free system available) and 2- they can also like your FB page
Regularly write about what you do, ideas that could help yoour customers etc.. I don't know what you are doing but I'm thinking some sort of art and craft stuff? Or did I get that wrong? See if you can write about how your products would fit well with xxx and to do xxx.
Put lots of things on your FB page and ask your friends to share with their own friends. Not just your products but also other ideas that you enjoy etc.. (think about WHO your customers are and what they enjoy)
What about people on your local area? Are they people who are also self employed and could you promote each other?

I don't think that FB adverts etc... are any good tbh.
Ebay is a good one, maybe Etsy too.

Oh and read other people's blog in a similar field than you, leave comments to their blog posts, as well as a link to your own blog. The idea here is to create relationship with them, even though you might never meat them in person.

lauraH1974 Mon 19-Oct-15 14:52:16

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

I would LOVE to say I make my own products, but unfortunately am not talented/patient enough lol so Etsy is a no go for me. Therefore, most of my products are handmade..but just not by myself. I sell handmade products on a dropship basis, I sell bags and accessories but my range would appeal to fans of fairtrade/ethnic/Boho products, as well as the more mainstream because the products are just so attractive.
I will really take note of all you have suggested and follow your advice. Thanks so much again smile

PacificMouse Mon 19-Oct-15 15:48:45

I think it's really worth doing som reading arround the idea of marketing.
Selling products is hard but even harder when you have no idea how to get oon about it.
There is a lot available for free online that will give you an idea of what can help.

taxguru Tue 20-Oct-15 09:45:23

Why don't you have a website? You can get a basic do-it-yourself freebie one up and running in a couple of hours. Keep it simple and it doesn't need to look amateur.

Facebook works best when backed up with a website. You also need a far higher number of friends/followers. You need to join as many other groups as possible, such as local area groups, relevant specific interest groups, etc. You need to get people to follow you and share your posts. You do that by contributing to other groups, but not in a spammy way - just like and share posts that are relevant to your products or locality, make general comments on other posts, and you'll get your name out there. Once you have a "critical mass" then it all becomes easy, but it does take time. Luckily, as a new start up with few sales, time is something that you do have!

tedhis Tue 20-Oct-15 18:08:52

The thing is that a lot of similar stuff can be ordered via ebay or amazon for peanuts from China- no need for a drop shipper.

lauraH1974 Wed 21-Oct-15 11:39:49

Thanks everyone for all your advice and feedback.

Yes, I will deffo have my website live asap. A friend did tell me that it was more important to concentrate on a facebook page first, but I guess you can't have one without the other these days. I have since had lots more likes on my page, and have joined more groups. Although unfortunately, it seems to be that a "like" is often followed by a message from the liker who just happens to be with a MLM company who just wants me to "join their team". No disrespect to them though, I have worked in MLM myself!

I quite agree re the products ordered through auction sites from China. What I am selling though is a bit different in that most of my products are from a particular respected company who sell through their website and high end boutiques. The products are all handmade by tribal craftspeople in Northern India, the founder of this company herself being brought up with this family background, although she is now UK based. The products are all fair trade, unique and very high quality, and come with a letter of their authenticity and a little about the significance of the design and people. They are not the cheapest, but that's not what they are aiming for.

Or am I just being a bit too "worthy" about it all? Having ran a small jewellery business in the past which specialized in a certain niche of jewellery product, time and time again I found that it was the "cheap and cheerful" fashion jewellery that sold the best. Should I stay true to my brand and niche, or cater for everyone? And should I expand my range to sell other goods or concentrate primarily on a small, exclusive range? xx

PacificMouse Wed 21-Oct-15 13:24:54

Selling to a 'niche' is t an issue at all.
Of course if you sell cheap stuff you will sell more. But your margin will also be smaller.

If you are more on the high end, you really need to think about who you are selling to and remember oeoe aren't just buying a product. They are buying an image and a lifestyle too. That's where a FB page helps and a nice website.

PacificMouse Wed 21-Oct-15 13:25:39

Btw it's much easier to sell to a nice because people can recognised themselves in the product you are selling.

lauraH1974 Wed 21-Oct-15 14:01:05

Thank you, food for thought smile

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