You can never have enough exposure for your product. It’s so true! When I started my business, most of my time was spent creating new designs but today I spend 50% or more of my time on marketing. I credit my savvy in that area for the remarkable expansion of my business. In 4 ½ years, Tail Wags Helmet Covers has grown in to a business with sales across North America and rapidly growing expansion overseas. How did I do it? Read on … Businesses used to rely primarily on traditional media (TV, radio, magazines, billboards and newspapers) to spread the word about their product or service; however, the cost of these advertisements had been largely out of my reach as a small business owner. Fortunately, today there are numerous less expensive methods for promoting your product. Here’s a list of the most effective means I’ve found of expanding Tail Wags sales: The social media network is changing the marketing landscape. This is certainly true for my business. For example, one month after starting a Facebook site, www.facebook.com/tailwagshelmetcovers, I saw a 200% increase in hits to my web site, www.tail-wags.com. Today, I’ve expanded my social marketing efforts to include Twitter at www.twitter.com/tailwagshelmet and a blog site at www.karynclimans.com. What does blogging have to do with my business? Blogging is just one more way for people to learn about my product and me. Keep in mind that people are more likely to buy a product from a person they “know” rather than a complete stranger. Breakfast Television, City TV, Donny Deutsch’s Big Idea, and The Mom Show. These are all television shows that have featured Tail Wags. So am I contradicting myself after stating I haven’t relied on traditional media sources? The difference is that I didn’t pay for any of the above exposure. I pitched my product to the editors of these shows and they decided to include a segment about Tail Wags because they recognized my helmet covers as a great way to encourage the use of safety helmets (currently a “hot” topic). Dragons’ Den is a hit television show with an audience of over 2 million people in Canada (the equivalent show in the United States is the Shark Tank). Entrepreneurs pitch their product to wealthy investors (known as “Dragons”) on national television. Most entrepreneurs appear on the show with the hope of gaining investment dollars from the Dragons. I went on this show strictly for the publicity and it certainly worked. For fifteen minutes, over 2 million people saw and heard details about Tail Wags helmet covers on national television. The show also goes in to re-runs all summer long. Now when I’m at a marketplace event, at least half of the people who walk by comment that they saw me on the Dragons’ Den. Marketplace events are a fabulous way to meet with your customers in their neighborhoods. I’m lucky in that marketplace events have consistently been a great source of revenue but the benefits keep on going. Even though some customers may not purchase during the event, they consistently place an online order when they need a great birthday or holiday gift. Another benefit of marketplace sales is that I generally recruit new retailers during the shows. Retailers see the crowds of enthusiastic buyers crowded in my booth and want to be a part of the action. Just make sure to have plenty of business cards to hand out to potential customers during these events! International Trade Shows have been the best and fastest way to increase the wholesale side of my business. A word of caution: make sure you are attending a show that properly represents your business. There’s no point in pitching your product to buyers who don’t purchase your product category. No matter how much they like what you’re offering, you are wasting your breath if it’s the wrong category. One other point to keep in mind is that trade shows are extremely expensive. The booth fee is incidental compared to the other expenses, for example, shipping costs, hotels and restaurant meals, unionized drayage fees, marketing materials etc., so be absolutely certain that the additional sales you drum up will offset your trade show costs. I am confident that if you apply all of the above marketing methods to your business, you will also experience tremendous success. I’d love to hear back from you if you’ve got any further words of wisdom. Sharing ideas and strategies is a great way for all of us to succeed!
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