I love interviewing product makers to hear their story and to find out the marketing tips that have worked…and the ones that haven’t. One of the things I realized is that, you don’t know my product business story.
So today on 2 Hands Made This, I’ll share with you the same things I ask my guests. And I’ll tell you about the marketing strategies that worked best for my product business (and yes, there are some ugly cries of failed campaigns too.)
Kitchen table epiphany – remembering how you started.
I’ve been a maker…it seems like forever. In the mid 90’s I had a gourmet deli. After that I had a drastic life change with my first daughter…which lead me to give up the idea of going out and working a JOB. When my second and third children were born…I was a stay at home mom. Which gave me the opportunity to fulfill my desire to do my own thing.
I always loved making…I had a line of baby clothes – called Hampton Baby…which in 1995 – 1997 there really wasn’t ecommerce so I sold to like shops. But…with a toddler, my days at the sewing machine where few and father between. Which was ok.
I got into aromatherapy in the late 90s. I ended up getting my aromatherapy certification (clinical aromatherapy) from the West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy in BC. I loved making blends. It was when I read the ingredients on the baby lotion bottle that I started my own skincare line. The ingredients I read were toxic…and I was putting that on my babies skin.
That’s when I created my skincare line…first called Good Ground Botanicals.
In 2002 discovered the Indie Business Network…which then helped me source great raw materials suppliers and gave me ideas on product development and creating a handmade skincare business.
I had product on every flat surface in my house.
It was the point at which I had to decided, do I go find a small production/warehouse…which to me at that time freaked my out…because that meant I would either have to bring my kids there…or have someone watched them (and that was OUT OF THE QUESTION) and a story for another time.
So I took a time out…a decided to also get a life coaching certification and did a lot of mindset work…but I really missed making stuff.
So I also took a chocolatier class and ended up becoming a professional chocolatier. That was fun!! I made wedding favors and things like that. I wanted a shop after doing a feasibility study, realized that where I live I’d have to sell a lot of chocolate just to pay the rent…(but there’s a chocolate shop still in my future.)
So I went back to skincare. I had people asking me for products so I started back up…rebranded, renamed to Ba6 Botanicals, and jumped in.
I also took a GMP class that IBN had…because if I really wanted to scale I need a production studio that was GMP compliant and met FDA standards for production.
LOL my first website was on Web.com… it was horrible. The product photos were so bad. But…over time I learned how to take product photos and how to put together a marketing strategy that would sell product.
How did you come about your brand voice – When you first created your brand voice – because this matters when it comes to your marketing. Your brand voice is reflected in every piece of marketing.
What have been the marketing “things” you’ve tried over the years.
Events – Spark and Hustle was a big one for me…though it “looked good” I maybe got ONE sale. It was then I learned to be strategic with events… and NOT be a sponsor because that was just a way for the presenters to have other people pay for the event.
Social media…IG since 2014…didn’t post a lot…but it was back then…when everyone got seen.
Ugly cries of failed campaigns – the things that didn’t work…that you thought would.
Ugly cries for me were events and sponsorships…I thought it would get by brand in front of a lot of eyeballs…but it wasn’t the right audience.
That’s when I got very strategic with my ideal client.
Just because every woman had skin…didn’t mean they ALL were ideal.
I knew that my woman really needed to be into natural skincare and REALLY read labels and knew what she was and wasn’t going to put on her family’s skin.
I knew she also want to “go back to basics”
I started thing of website urls and wanted something easy, that would stand out…and wanted a play on words (plus my daughter was really into GR8 and better than that was GR9…) yep I got that download from the universe.
Even though catalogs were the best for me…the first one was not!
I had one catalog I spend a ton of money on…and had to get a boatload printed. It was good the first time I sent it out…I would send catalogs every 2-3 months and after the 3rd time I sent them I didn’t get any orders.
It was that, they already had THAT catalog. So I kept them for shows and event to give out.
Sweet moments of Success! Campaigns that worked
Events…farmer’s market…but I was strategic! Wineries that had event were really good. Garden centers that had events as well.
and getting stories in the newspaper…that helped build authority and credibility.
I gathered names and emails from everywhere. And email became one of my biggest marketing tools.
The Biggest were postcard, catalogs…I always new how good direct mail cold be…if done right. I made colorful postcards all the time…every offer had a postcard.
June was Lavender month – postcard
Olive Mia Pele was a huge seller…I would send postcards out and get preorders…because if was only available in September.
Share your conversion numbers…% increase in sales etc
Catalogs has an 85% conversion rate…I tracked every one that when out and who ordered from the catalog (I had a code)
What has been your most successful marketing activity? Definitely postcards and catalogs
I always had different postcards. And I put a “how to” postcard in with every order. I also put samples in with every shipment – cross sell other products.
Catalogs…I created new catalogs every quarter…ever season. They were small 4-6 pages and would highlight the products of the season. They were more like magalogs because I would have how-tos and other info not JUST products.
PLUS I made sure I had fun and interesting product descriptions.
Top 3 Marketing Tips for rising stars
Don’t be afraid to try things…
events…be mindful of the kind of event…just make sure YOUR people will attend the events.
EMAIL…collect emails from everywhere you go…collect then online…CTA on your posts to join your list (give them valuable info…don’t just call it your newsletter.)
Direct Mail – postcards and catalogs. Experiment. Talk to your customers and ask what they like to see, what’s interesting to them…and add valuable tidbits of content, like how to use a product or tips for winter skincare…or the 4 best types of glasses for whisky tasting…whatever your product is.
And as always, keep trying. Some marketing strategies may work, some may not. And some you’ll have to tweak to make your own.
Maker Marketing Mail – yes this is where product makers get the messaging and marketing goods