Navigating the New Normal – Marketing Your Products: Part I

As we prepare for our new normal and do our best to embrace the changes of the past two months, CPiF has started a new blog series to help our community navigate this uncharted territory and face the challenges ahead

So far we have covered the topic of pricing your work for profit as well as how to take great photos of your designs using your smartphone or a DSLR camera. Over the next two weeks, we are shifting our focus to the ever-important topics of social media and marketing. Since there’s a lot of ground to cover, we reached out to two extremely knowledgeable experts to help us navigate the finer points of effective social media use and presenting our brand in a way to get noticed.

Up first this week we are speaking with marketing and social media expert Georgette Jupe of the all-things-Florence blog, Girl in Florence, Georgette is also a long time champion of handmade goods and products and often features CPiF members on her blog and throughout her social media. Thank you, Georgette!

Georgette has grown an impressive Instagram following of 80k, a Twitter following of 13.5k, and a Facebook page of 33.7k. We are so fortunate to have her here to share her advice on how to up our social media game. In her much-appreciated straight talk, she has generously outlined some key details for social media success.

Be sure to check back in next week when we continue the conversation with photographer and marketing pro Tracy Russo who will dig into the details of marketing and curating the right image.

Let’s get started! Here’s what Georgette has to say:

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Your products may be high-quality and creative but then again, so are everybody else’s. To reach customers beyond your friends and family, you need to focus on making your goods standout. Work on your branding. You should have a logo, color scheme, a voice, and values.

Once that is figured out, decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. Be specific. Who do you want to sell to, what do you want to sell them, and how much do you need to sell to make your efforts worthwhile (for more on this topic, check out our recent post on pricing) How will you reach new clients and get them to notice you? What are their needs, including packaging, shipping, and payment? How are you going to address those needs? Are you prepared for their questions?

A decent website is essential, even just a simple one-page site made on WordPress/Squarespace. If you solely drive traffic to an online marketplace, you will almost always lose out to another competing seller. Even if potential customers are sent to your store on a marketplace, the sidebar and bottom of the page are filled with suggestions for similar items from different sellers. Need some help creating a website? Hire someone local, or use a freelance site like fiverr. 

CHOOSE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS AND CREATE A STRATEGY

It is extremely important to not only use the right platforms, but also to be consistent in your content strategy. It makes no sense to have 10 different social media platforms and post haphazardly.

Pick a few you know you (or that your social media manager/intern can maintain) and create a strategy for sharing content that is reasonable and manageable. You might start with something as simple as a dedicated time slot at the beginning of the week to create and schedule content throughout the week. Use tools like hootsuite or buffer, or simply schedule through Facebook (you can now schedule Instagram posts from there too).  

Treat this time slot as any other “work” hour that you would absolutely respect (and try not to procrastinate). You likely have a ton of photos of your items already, so use this time to curate your images and explain your product in detail so that your customer understands the value of the item. As an artisan, only you know exactly how the product is made and can explain the full start-to-finish process to your customer. Mass-produced items simply don’t offer the same story. There is a natural transparency with handmade products, and it’s important to emphasize that to customers. 

For more tips and ideas about how to create effective posts on social media or communicate in different ways, try listening to creative podcasts. Some that I love personally include: 

THE WORLD OF SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCERS

I get a lot of questions about what influencers are looking for, and I imagine this is very personal depending on who you ask. For me, it needs to feel organic. I wouldn’t feature something that I wouldn’t normally use in my daily life. I want to be just as enthusiastic about the product as the artisan or maker. That excitement comes from the way they describe what they make and why – details count. I love when creators are open about their creative processes, even regarding personal challenges they face in their business. I like seeing collaborations within the community and feel more motivated to help those who aren’t focused solely on competition or on talking only about themselves. The more open people are, the easier I find to connect with them on a deeper level. 

EFFECTIVE WAYS TO APPROACH INFLUENCERS

In the day and age of influence, I’m often asked about how to find and contact influencers. First, think like a customer and do some market research before reaching out. Do you sell in Italy? Well, who are the people that typically follow Made-in-Italy content? Who do they follow and respect. and whose posts to they comment on?  Start by making notes about why you appreciate different influencer accounts so that you can better approach them when you’re ready to propose a collaboration. 

For hints, look at who is following you already. If you’re looking to collaborate with an influencer on a branded campaign or co-branded project, it’s a good idea to find someone who is already engaging with your brand on social media and showing real interest in your work, In this way, when they announce their collaboration with you to their followers, it will naturally feel like a good fit, especially if that influencer has featured or mentioned you previously in the past. 

COLLABORATING WITH INFLUENCERS

When finally approaching an influencer about collaboration, it helps to have had some interaction already. Maybe you’ve commented on social their media posts, sent an email reply to a sent newsletter or said hi in the community. Be direct. Transparency is key. I prefer when people ask me for my email instead of simply sending me a super long message on social media that can easily be missed, especially if we’re not already friends in some form. It’s also nice when someone shares their thoughts on your content, work, or expertise.

The easier you make it for an influencer to help you, the more likely you’ll be to get a favorable response. Provide instructions, sample content, or images that they can use or refer to. Don’t expect them to “sell you” on how they can help if you are the one who has approached them. Have a couple of ideas waiting. 

Offering free products may work with some influencers, but for those established in the business, they are probably used to getting paid to post/promote things. The advantage of a monetary agreement is that it is treated like any other business relationship – you can feel free to have more expectations and come up with a strategy together to promote the product, whereas by offering only free products, the expectations are more vague. 

When asking influencers to create content, make sure to ask them to showcase the item as they would naturally, in a cozy space within their home, wearing it, or while out and about in daily life. Invite them to your studio to see how the product is made (a great opportunity to create IG stories for example).  

For more insider advice and tips on life in Florence, head over to Georgette’s blog Girl in Florence. You can also find her on Instagram, LinkedIN, or read more of her writing in Italy Magazine.

As always, we appreciate your kindness and support of the local creative community here in Florence.

When you share our posts and the work of creators you help them in many ways! Be sure to follow their social media channels and like and comment on their posts. We know that algorithms are tough codes to crack and your participation helps keep their content in searches and feeds.

If you’d like to become an official member of Creative People in Florence and help support our community you can do that here. Or you if you’d like to make a one time donation you can click on the donation button in the sidebar on the right side of this page.

We have also recently started a new patreon page where you can become an official patron of the arts in Florence.

All of your support goes directly back into the community to help support this blog as well as a new and very exciting project that we are working on to help get our creative community get back on its feet after Coronavirus.

Thank you for your support!

About us – Learn more about CPiF here

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