Professional Weavers Promoting Ourselves
This is a continuation from a discussion happening on a longer post. I'm thinking it might be easier to follow if it's on a separate post.
I have two websites (one for my product and one for my school) and a facebook page, but no blog. I was in business for a number of years before starting the website. I was resistant to having a website for a long time because I felt that it was doubtful that someone was going to go online with the intention of finding a handwoven scarf, find my site and place an order. That does happen, although rarely, but more than anything, the site gives my business added credibility. My customers like knowing that they can find me online and I believe that it has helped me be able to charge more for my work. I do post my show schedule on the site and I have made big sales through customers deciding to buy something, going to the site and then finding me at a show. It's a fine line, however. I also have potential customers come through the booth, see that I have a site and say, "oh, I'll order online". I do everything possible to nudge them towards buying in person since it's unlikely that they will follow through once they're out of the booth.
I don't have a blog, but I do use facebook for my school and I adore it. I have two different groups that students use to post photos, questions, thoughts. I also have a promotional page. I feel that it's more immediate than a blog (although I'd love to have a blog, I haven't yet created the time to make it happen). My posts are short and sometimes it's just a photo. People who "like" my page will have my postings come up when they go into their facebook account and if they "like" my posts, their friends will also see them. It's a way to stay active in potential student's (or buyers) minds without them having to take the action of going to my website. I feel that facebook is a great and important tool and if you're not on it and don't understand how it works, my suggestion is to get a friend who is comfortable with it to show you around.
And...the one thing I have done religiously since starting out, is keeping a database of my customers. I keep their names, addresses, what, when and where they bought from me. I send out a postcard mailing a few times a year and it pays off. Customers come into my booth clutching the postcards and sometimes as many as half my sales at a show will be through my mailing list. I have 2500 people on my list, most of whom have bought something from me. I cull it down, depending on where I'll be and how much I want to spend on postage. I feel like it's the smartest business decision I've made. My customers love the feeling that I'm thinking about them and because I sell things that customers have intimate relationships with (our clothing!) that can make or break a sale.