Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marketing for the Holidays.... Oh, where to start!

Getting ready for the Holidays is stressful enough when you are just trying to take care of all the million and five tasks you have for your family and friends!  But, when you are trying to develop and market a home based biz, it can be even more of a challenge!  The last year I have been overwhelmed with my job, my family, and my classes- barely having enough time to work on the projects and art I love!  But, recently I decided to make some changes in my life- prioritize- and move forward towards a more fulfilling and happy existence!  In doing that, however, I had to step down from my previous job (to give me more time with my family and focus on my classes!), and with that comes a significant change in the family income!  So, I have developed a pretty good customer base, and have some awesome products (I think)- and I decided to really give the Mommy Tyme biz a serious go- that means organizing and treating it like a business (or job) instead of a “hobby” (which is where I have been with it!)  I decided that the Mommy Tyme Gifts shop, needs a complete overhaul- basically starting at ground zero again!

Any observant person has probably picked up on the fact that I am a little ADHD with focus on the HD; thus I have my hand in several cookie jars at any given moment!  Last year I did not focus too much on the holiday sales, the Black Friday mega money making day, or even Xmas specials- Wow!  What a mistake that was, right?  So, with my new found Mommy Tyme ambition, and the holidays approaching fast- I decided to check out a few business and marketing blogs, magazines, and tutorials.  I even checked out a few books and downloads available through my school to give me advice on where to start- so, now I have a direction and a goal, just not a lot of time to get it implemented!  But, as long as I am heading on this journey, I thought you all might want to tag along and maybe you can pick up on an idea or two; or you may have some sound advice you could share with us… so, off we go!

 The first thing any business owner would do when starting a new venture is to create a business plan, right?  So, that is what needed done first and foremost- I took a look at some various business plans and goals that are taught in basic business courses at college.  A business plan needs to have short term and long term goals.  Basically figure out what you want to create, what you want to sell, and where you want to sell-( ie what avenue or method of selling).  So, for me, I want to create items that make great gifts for women, and help them to feel special/spoiled/appreciated at the end of a busy, chaotic day!  I love to do the craft shows and flea markets, but with a five year old son it is often hard to get to all of them, so my approach is to choose a few select shows, and possibly find a consignment deal.    So, for the short term goal I decided the priority needs to be:
1.        Determine what products I will sell- and establish an accurate inventory.
2.       Establish a presence on two marketplaces
3.       Establish a higher ranking with my website and set it up to sell directly.
4.       Figure out appropriate pricing for the items by evaluating the cost and time to create each item

On to the long term plan:
1.        Establish a good customer base, and RETURN customers
2.       Sell a specific inventory out of brick and mortar shops locally
3.       Improve my skills and techniques by taking classes, attending workshops, etc. that focus on the product types I am selling.
4.       Establish a business presence that can ensure daily orders/daily processing and turn around.
5.       Create a specific workshop time/area  for me to “work/create” the projects and find a way to streamline it for producing multiples of each item at one time.
6.       Break even (as most business classes teach that it takes up to five years to gain profit- so I will remain hopeful to break even)

Finally, the online marketplace is an excellent arena for hosting my products- but which ones?  Right now I am scattered all over the place with free shops and not having a ton of views or hits!  So, I took some time and evaluated my options- and believe me, there are a ton!  Below you will find several marketplaces that host handmade- but which one to choose?  Well, over the next few days let’s explore these and figure out the pro’s and cons of each.  In the meantime, I welcome any ideas or advice on business plans and marketing your handmade!  Especially in the upcoming week or so as we approach Black Friday! 
I am curious to hear from the readers out there, how many shop on Etsy?  Shop handmade?  Artfire?  Zibbet?  Fuzz B?  etc etc?  (are there more?  If so, share these with us!) and how many sell at each of these?  Which do you prefer and why? 

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