Selling products is incredibly empowering and fun; whether it’s how you make a living, or something you do on the side. Formulating a plan to make your products stand out, without appearing to be a corporate demon intent on world domination, is a great way to guide your success. Here’s some advice on doing so, which will help you connect to you audience, find your place and build your brand – it’s not as scary as it sounds.
This is the most important thing in making and selling products, online or anywhere. If you follow the model and approach of a rival company, you’re always limiting your scope. Maintain your own image, ideas and ways of doing things – embrace them and stay on your path! Do whats comfortable to you – in the beginning it might feel weird, and you may not be sure exactly what to do, but you’ll eventually find your footing and be able to craft exactly what you want to be, and find out what your customers like.
Let There Be Access
Customers and potential customers will appreciate their questions and suggestions being responded to – it’ll show that you care about your products and the satisfaction of the people who buy your stuff. There are lots of buzzwords about engagement and interaction now, but you don’t need to go down that rabbit hole, just offer your support on a range of platforms and give people the chance to communicate with you on their terms. Even a phone number, remember those!?
Unify Your Image
In this world wide web of infinite information, it’s important that you appear in one place as you do in another. Make sure your overall image has consistency. Use the same color scheme, shapes and proportions of images to make people build a mental bridge from one product to the next. Some people like to have a “calling card” in their images, such as a certain background or object alongside their product, but this needn’t be the case for you. Make sure your photos are treated the same, are taken from similar angles and it’ll more subtly bring it all together.
Compose Your Pictures
Image is everything at the moment, I’m not saying the world is a superficial jungle of judgement (I am!) – but a picture does tell 1000 words. If there is a bowl of cereal in the background, if you’ve accidentally cropped the top off your product or if the image has bad lighting this will translate to your customers – and they’ll connect this to you and your products. Make sure your images are clean, clear and as crisp as they can be. Get familiar with using photo editing programs to improve your pictures – changing contrast, color saturation and lightness accordingly.
The Name Game
Give your company a memorable name, which reflects who you are, what you sell or is simply easy to remember! Bands like the Arctic Monkeys got big through hard work, dedication and talent, but their name was memorable whether people liked it or not! Many big companies use collocations (joining of two words) to create a strong fusion of familiar terms – this can work for you too, but make sure it simply reflects you and your products. Using humour (not vulgar humor, stop it!) is also good and shows you’re not taking life too seriously/corporately.
Logo For It
A logo goes hand in hand with your company name, and should act to reflect all of the things mentioned above. A logo can potentially tell customers more than words can convey, but you don’t need to spend your hard earned cash on making something too intricate – as long as it looks memorable, simple and interesting. Using the first letters of your name is a good start.
You have to be prepared to shout about your products to a certain extent! People will eventually find them anyway, but if you spend a day or two before release contacting blogs, website and magazines, you’ll find sales are markedly better. Make sure you have some strong and clear photos, with a concise paragraph explaining what you’re selling, what it does and where to get it. A hands on video is exciting, but ensure you take time to reflect the product in its best light. Don’t just throw a video together and hope it works – it needs to be planned, edited and showcase the features.
Believe The Hype
The best piece of advice I can give is make sure people know about the product before release! This generates anticipation for your audience, which means they’ll look forward to the day it’s on sale and more likely to be excited about it. It can also work to have a limited edition model, or offer a special pre-order/early-bird price; which gives you strong early sales and will attract people to being the first to own your products.
Put On Your Platforms
We live in a world where online sales are driven by “social media” platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. These are important places for you to make announcements, engage with your customers – and also offer a place for you to follow similar companies in the market and see what’s currently available. You’ll see whose approach you like, what works for you and eventually you’ll be comfortable with your own approach. If you want to make a budget for promotion, these platforms will allow that, but I’d be cautious of relying on this – as you can build a brand naturally without paying for artificial word of mouth.
Ensure that your products look and feel the same – and give them thorough testing prior to release! This is probably something that is more akin to production than brand building, but you’ll be known for the quality you provide, so make sure its the best it can be – don’t cut corners which cheap components which may be prone to breaking after extended use. Customers will talk about and feel the build quality immediately.
Send your customers an email when they order – perhaps the moment you’ve shipped the product to tell them it’s on the way. Make it personal by using their name, including when they can expect to receive it – and link to any documentation they might need. This is a good time to invite them to ask any questions they have, which will make them feel reassured, and also ask them to give you some feedback or reviews once they have them!
Packaging and included documents are the first thing your customers will see in the real world (remember that place?!) – so it’s good to make sure they arrive on the doorstep in the condition they left your home in. Perhaps even in a box they can keep it in forever – this could have your name on it! If you can make a quick reference card, all the better – people love something to hold in their hands, if the product needs explaining and a computer is not handy.
Build A Team
Everyone started off small at one point, and this is a very good way to control your whole business and image. Eventually your company will grow and this is a nice time to spread the responsibility and get people who specialize to do the jobs you can’t do so well or don’t like. Along the way it’s always good to have input and feedback, so find this from a broad range of people – remember your friends will always be biased to you and may not be incisive, you’ll need that sometimes.
Take Criticism On Board
We’ve all been criticised at some point, so don’t be disheartened – no one does everything perfectly the first time. The biggest and best brands got there with a world of criticism which has shaped them to be the world-beating-perfection they now appear to be. Don’t react angrily, try to see the reasons behind it. Is it rational? Most of the time critisism hurts the most when it has an element of truth, so see their point of view. Some people do rant for no reason too, but don’t always assume this is what’s happening – it’ll make you and your brand stronger in the future.
And that’s it! The bottom line is you want your customers to have great products, have fun and get in touch with you easily. Don’t be concerned about getting it all right the first time, nobody does that – do what you can and do it to the best of your ability and the rest will fall into place.