Marketing: The Magic & Mayhem of Year One

As we round the bend to close out our first year, we’re reflecting on the marketing decision points we’ve had along the way. As expected, some things have gone well, some not-so-much, and a few we’ll just have to wait and see. 

Investing in our website (web lessons here) and a professional photographer (photo lessons here) are two of the best decisions we’ve made.  As an online product company, the web is the first place people come to check things out, and it better look good!

Learning the timeline for advanced planning with a photographer, a full season ahead, took us some time. You need the best marketing photos at the right moment! Initially, we felt like we were always realizing it a season behind (An image of a gerbil wheel comes to my mind.). We had the gift box content, but the photos, and therefore web postings, were not in sync. Planning ahead is a real thing with an online product business. That can’t be emphasized enough. My gut says there’s more for us to fine tune on this front. 

Carrying sample hand-crafted, wood boxes into appointments can be a bit daunting, which means we needed the added marketing tool of sleek over-sized postcards. Approximately eight months in, we finally got them ordered through MOO. In some ways, this was the right time. It gave us time to learn what worked best in the gift boxes, and which boxes to feature. One could argue we should have bit-the-bullet and run with what we had sooner. Either way, we’ll be adding more glossy pieces soon, as the visual aspect is so important in our business. 

In addition to the postcards, we also have stickers that are applied during the wrapping of each gift box. And if you haven’t noticed on the gift boxes themselves, each box has our logo – either fire branded or laser cut - on one side. We keep our logo in front of customers in what we hope are subtle yet fun ways. 

While it’s a nice gesture to participate in Silent Auctions, one needs to understand the audience and come to terms with it being a true donation, not marketing. If the organizations’ clients don’t have an appreciation for artisan, hand-crafted items, odds are good they won’t see the real value in our work. Know thy audience! 

In terms of digital marketing, we are still processing all the options and challenges of the social platforms. We’ve taken to heart some of the best virtual, digital advisers (I.e. James Wedmore, Jenna Kutcher, Amy Porterfield) and engaged on the platforms (Instagram: @red.rugged or pinterest: redandrugged) where we feel most comfortable, and frankly can keep up (mostly…) consistently. Another work-in-progress. 

I’ll just say, it ain’t easy, and this is only one piece of the bigger puzzle of running a business. It’s all a reminder that starting a small business is hard, and time consuming. You better love it and have a real passion for the journey! That’s what makes it all worthwhile.