The Entrepreneur Journal #2: Mistakes that Impacted my Sales this Spring
There’s really not enough prep work to make sure you are completely ready for whatever comes your way. There could be trends that completely change the appeal of your product, making your strategy until that point to fall off the tracks and sometimes, not riding the wave could mean losing potential clients and making a sale. This is just one the things that I’ve overlooked during my last campaign for Circul Magic.
In this new episode of The Entrepreneur Journal, I’m sharing the 4 mistakes I made this year in planning and running a marketing campaign for my handmade business, Circul Magic. Hopefully, these will help you know what you should be on the lookout for.
Note: In one of my recent posts, I talked about some of the best marketing lessons I learned as a handmade business owner. As mentioned there, I usually have one selling season a year and that’s mostly because of a lack of time, that’s why I invest all my resources in preparing for this time. The active selling period is somewhere in the span between 2 to 5 days and usually, things go crazy at that time.
1. Overspending on ads
Over the past 4 years, I’ve seen my traffic doubling for the duration of January through early March, much of it coming organically thanks to optimized content and social sharing (mostly Pinterest). This year, in February, the needle wasn’t getting the expected traction, as compared with data from previous years.
Since I’m usually posting new content for Circul Magic about 3 months a year, I had an issue with increasing website traffic. I noticed a drop in web search rankings for some of my most specific and revenue-generating keywords and I decided to boost my advertising budget by 50%. In all honesty, I have one other reason for overspending on ads. As I was taking pictures and seeing how great the products looked, I got too excited about the product and forgot about strategically implementing my campaign step by step. I was too eager to get feedback.
I decided to run both Google Display and Facebook Sponsored ads. My main goal was getting a boost in blog traffic just before the 5 days of active selling. This was a strategy that had brought in 3 orders, but when putting in the costs, this wasn’t a profitable choice. The total order value coming from paid clicks has generated only 25% of what I had invested in paid advertising. It might not sound like a really bad conversion rate, but in a small business, you need to be smart about how much you’re paying to get a new client to make sure you’re actually generating revenue.
2. Trying to sell too many products
Next to overspending, my second biggest mistake this year was trying to sell too many products. I’ve worked in fashion sales for a couple of years and I learned that product selection is important, even more than the actual number of designs in a collection. Having designs that are hard to push results in losses and busy storage space. This is ever more important for a small handmade business. I’m working out of my apartment and storage space is something very precious in my home, getting stuck with products that don’t sell is an issue. Not to mention the cost of paper, glue and time invested in creation and marketing.
When it comes to creative minds, it’s really easy to get lost in too many projects. Thing is, you can’t actually put a limit on how many ideas you get and if you’re feeling inspired to put those in practice, then you’re in for a long night. Or long nights as is often the case. When I first started planning for this year’s campaign I had decided on a selection of 10 products. By the time I sent my first selling pitch, I had about 20. That’s 50% more and although it was fun creating those beauties, I lost sight of my initial decision to stick to 7 best sellers and 3 inspirational models.
The bottom line is that trying to sell too many products impacted my entire strategy, from inventory to pricing, advertising and sales.
3. Spending too much time on product development and not enough on marketing and sales
Getting lost in product development, resulted in having to promote twice as many products, talk up products to clients, manage more complex stocks and overall, losing precious time for sales and marketing. And to top it all, out of the 10 plus products I had designed, none became a bestseller, although they were getting traction on social media and page visits. Finally, the most frustrating issue of investing too much time in product development is getting stuck with stock.
Thinking back, it would have been a lot more profitable to invest additional hours in making sales pitches instead of developing and producing new products, taking photos and posting on the blog, creating new social updates and so on.
4. Not getting with the trends
Jumping on board with popular hashtags is a great way to create content on social media that shows your brand is alive and kicking. Obviously, not all trends will work for your brand or get you sales, so choose wisely when the new hype comes along. However, there’s also the case when you have your products ready to go, your marketing campaign up running, you’re eager to start a successful selling season when in only 24hr a whole new trend brings an opportunity for a new product with compelling revenue potential. What do you do?
For small business owners, when such events come along, they can wreak havoc. Small business owners don’t have enough human resources, budget or time to make a 24hr complete turn when a new trend hits the market. In my case, during previous seasons, trends didn’t make such a big dent. However, this year I was taken by surprise and I did not want to get on board - it was too late to start designing a new model, then market it properly.
Drawing the line, with all the ups and downs, I have doubled my online sales, which was after all my objective for this year. The truth is that although I’ve been running my business handmade for a couple of years now, each year brings new challenges and new solutions. Being stuck with stock generated a completely new business direction and I’m so excited about what’s coming. Stay tuned. I share more details about my upcoming project in a new episode of #entrepreneurjournal.
Since DIY is such a big part of my life I decided to dedicated my first marketing course to help those of you with handmade businesses, looking to learn how to actively grow your sales. You will learn how to leverage online tools to raise brand awareness, how to market your products to grow sales and how to optimize your web properties to get higher rankings in search engines results. More info on this marketing course is coming soon. Make sure you subscribe below to get the news when the course becomes available.