Marketing Gunstock at the Las Vegas Shot Show
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this post, it should be noted that there is a difference between marketing and advertising, though advertising is a part of marketing.
A full marketing plan consists of mostly behind the scenes planning and creating before advertising and promotion ever begins. Marketing can consist of market research and analysis, company branding, overall company design, advertising strategies, product pricing, and many other tasks that will ultimately lead to successful promotions and sales. Assuming that you have your marketing material in place and a brand design established, we would like to share 10 ways to locally promote and advertise your woodworking business.
1. Join Networking Groups
If your goal is to network locally, then joining a local networking group is nearly mandatory. It is advised to start by researching what groups are in your area and then to reach out to some of the different group members. Schedule a time to visit and see each group in action, paying attention to how they pass referrals and how inviting they are. You will also want to ask about membership fees, obligations and meeting times. Your goal should be to find out what groups might benefit your business. Remember, it’s not always about who is in the group, but whom those in the group know.
Also, be aware that there are two different types of networking groups, closed and open. Business Network International (BNI) is a great example of a closed networking group. Only one member from each specific trade or business is allowed. Let’s say you are a custom furniture maker who has joined a chapter of BNI. You will then be the only furniture maker allowed in that particular chapter, however a retail store owner that happens to sell some furniture would still be allowed. This keeps members from referring business to one member over another, and as long as you build trust and provide quality products, you will become the other members go-to furniture maker. On the contrary, an open networking group, such as your local Chamber of Commerce, has no limit to how many furniture makers can join. Usually joining a Chamber of Commerce is one of the quickest ways to get locally noticed. Most Chambers of Commerce provide consistent events, ribbon cuttings, publications, and other business resources to help you thrive.
All in all, joining a local networking group can greatly benefit your business. There are numerous success stories of businesses that started from nothing but grew exponentially from just one referral at a networking group.
2. Connect with other Local Businesses
Although joining networking groups may be one of the fastest ways to connect with other local businesses, obviously not all businesses are members of a group. Therefore, reaching out in person, through social media, and even sending a letter with an introduction and your brochure can open up business relationships that otherwise may have never existed. By connecting with other businesses, especially complimentary businesses, opportunities can arise for mutually beneficial arrangements to be made. Opportunities such as showcasing your work, selling through stores, cross-referring clients and many others can be birthed by simply initiating contact.
3. Occupy Public and Private Space
This takes creative thinking and may not be for everyone, but for those woodworkers whose products lean towards the artistic, getting placed in public and private spaces can be beneficial. There was an artist in my hometown that had a peculiar style of art. He would write poems and then paint the words in patterns and shapes on both canvas and objects. At first he was not very known, and I am not sure he was taken very serious. But he executed a plan that I thought was brilliant and eventually became known. He started by joining an art guild that had built the relationships necessary to showcase art in government buildings and public squares. Next he became a regular at social mixers where everyone from artists to dignitaries socialized. He then donated some of his art to a couple of political figures and organizations, placing his art right where he wanted it; all-the-while adding a monetary value that didn’t previously exist.
Most woodworking products could be considered art, especially live edge furniture and décor. Finding a creative way to get your products in front of the general public and your desired clientele could yield great results.
4. Farmers Markets, Local Events
Many farmers markets and local events have a small group of local organizers and therefore are not always easy to get ahold of. Staying informed and knowing where to look for future events can get you on vendor lists early, save you money on booth space, and oftentimes give you a better selection of booth placement. These events are not only good for woodworkers that have products but also woodworkers who offer services. Setting up a booth that displays large photos of work you have done and handing out brochures and business cards can also be beneficial, especially if the booth space is inexpensive. Many of the people that attend these events are locals who are invested in the community in one way or another, and it might lead to connections or even referrals for future work.
Sponsoring fundraisers, children’s sports teams, awareness walks and other community engaging events can get your name in front of people and rally community support for your woodworking business. This can be as simple as helping with the cost of t-shirts for a local soccer team or creating a custom wood piece and donating it to a nonprofit raffle. Also, by attending the local events you sponsor, or sending a representative, you maximize your potential for meeting with those who might want to know more about your business and woodworking skill.
6. Social Media
If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out our blog 8 social media for woodworkers, where we delve into choosing and maximizing social media platforms. These tools cannot be ignored and are a great way to reach your local audience. Learning how to use hashtags, check-ins and targeted marketing can really help create a local following that can turn into customers. Facebook even allows you to set up an online store to sell products right from your page! By liking other local business pages, joining groups from your personal page, and commenting on local conversations, you can easily begin to build relationships that will transfer from digital to face-to-face.
7. Print Media
It’s sad but true, print is dying out – but it’s not dead. Depending on the town or city you live in, advertising in the local newspaper or community magazine may be a good move, but be aware that advertising numbers are often exaggerated. The best way to check if advertising in a particular publication would be beneficial to your woodworking business is to look at the audience that reads it. Ask around to gauge if this publication is something people actually look at. You might also want to call some of the advertisers and ask if they have received any response. Again, this really depends on your particular community and whether or not print is still relevant where you live.
8. Through Your Website
Every business needs a website. You need a place to show off your skill as a woodworker, list your services, list any products you have, list contact information etc. Having a website adds legitimacy to your business, acts as a central hub for your business information and creates a destination for people to go learn more about who you and your business are. Your website should be listed on all your advertisements, business cards, social media pages etc. Also, you never know who may stumble across your website if you set it up correctly and take the time to write relevant content.
Since we are discussing advertising your woodworking business locally, you should definitely look into signing up for Google MyBusiness. Showing up on Google Maps can drive local traffic to your location, website and even encourage phone calls. Check out this blog on Forbes.com that explains in detail why it’s important to get on Google MyBusiness.
10. Email Marketing
As you engage with your community through networking, events, customer walk-ins, and every other method of meeting and talking with people, remember to get their emails. People change their phone numbers and addresses for various reasons but hardly ever change their personal emails. Once you have created a list, you can use an email-marketing program such as MailChimp to organize and send mass emails full of quality content. In fact you can add up to 2,000 contacts and send up to 12,000 emails per month for free! MailChimp also allows you to use their template builder to create beautiful and functional emails that are sure to grab attention. This is a great way to send out information such as sales and major company announcements to multiple recipients at the same time. Email marketing is also great for keeping in contact with previous customers, which is incredibly important. In fact, return customers will spend between 40% and 80% more than new customers – now that’s worth investing into.
We hope this post helps you engage with your local community in new ways and gives you some creative marketing strategies. As always, feel free to comment below!
If you are in the market for live edge slabs, gunstocks, burl, or any other specialty wood, then check us out at www.cpswoods.com