Wednesday, April 23, 2008

to advertise or not to advertise

Consistently, I am amazed at how unoriginal some thoughts are. And some ideas.

Recently I saw a video of Mariah Carey on the Oprah Winfrey show (thanks to the superficial), explaining to people how easy it is to eat healthy.

Now, I'm not sure if you see the problem here.

First off, there isn't a person on this planet that doesn't know eating healthy is good for you.

Second, 1% of the entire population of the world (possibly less) can afford to have someone cook healthy food for us day in and out.

Third, Mariah Carey is here to entertain us. Not teach us things. This whole segment is an insult, in my opinion. Let Mariah come over to my place and cook me some healthy food without burning my apartment down, and then she can let me know all about healthy living.

And she can clean, too, while she's at it. Seriously, my place is a mess.

My point is that what she's talking about, these are not original thoughts. But she's coming across as she's discovered THE SECRET. It's so absurd.

At this stage in our business, Soapier and it's wholesale division First In Line Soap, we have so much we're trying to accomplish, it's very difficult to determine what direction to go in first.

So, we decided on wholesale. It's A) one of the easiest ways to get our brand out there and B) provides more repeat customers with more regularity.

So. We can advertise our wholesale site in a number of different ways. Google ad words is one. And we've been utilizing this great service, and it's gotten us quite a few new accounts, since last year. Quite a few.

I've gotten some phone calls from Yahoo about advertising with them, and I think we're going to give it a shot. I think that if we try it, with a $300 per month budget, we'll have a good barometer on whether it works or not.

I still find it hard to believe that there are people who are loyal only to one search engine, but so be it. You never know where that new customer is going to come from, and over the course of 1 month, for $300, if we get two new customers, that will pay for our advertising for the month, at least.

The second thing we're going to do, which has worked in the past, is direct mail.

The way direct mail really works is repetition. You cannot send out 1 postcard a year and expect your customers to stay in touch with you. Postcard direct mail programs need to be very consistent. This is a monthly process, and for a small company like ours, can be very costly.

First, you need to find a company with good mailing lists. We have a list of just about two thousand previous customers.

Problem with previous customers is A) they either didn't sell our product as well as they thought (a subgroup of that is, they did not properly display our product, I'll get to that later) or B) they are no longer in business or C) they are no longer selling soap.

These things happen, quite often. I did some cold calling a month ago to 30 different old customers, just from last year. I got 1 order. I got three hang ups. One rude guy. And the rest explained that they just don't sell decorative gift soap anymore.

Now, if I were to call up all of our old customers, once a month, I'd go batshit. Seriously. It's not going to happen. Between 3 people, we cannot be a call center, too. It just wouldn't work.

So, finding a reputable list, in the demographic you want to mail to, can be difficult, and a gamble. Keep in mind that most places have a minimum. We've found two with them. 3,000 and 5,000 names.

I think that getting new customers is more important than keeping in touch with old ones. Old ones meaning, those who haven't ordered in three years or more. I'm certainly not talking about customers we already supply. They are the life's blood of the company. You HAVE to stay in touch with them. And while making and keeping personal relationships with them might be out of the question (again, we're only three people), you still have to contact them every once in a while via phone and ask how things are going. This we do.

But in regards to people who've dropped off the face of the Earth...? Well, since we own our own retail store, we know what sells and what doesn't. Things that sell, we're not likely to forget who we purchased the items from. And if these customers, out of touch three years, liked our product and it sold, well, they'd be customers still.

I recognize a certain amount of babysitting is needed, but still. I can't go chasing them and grooming them for a $100 sale every year. It's not worth it.

So. My opinion. A 5,000 piece mailing. Large postcard, with a deal to start. Free shipping on orders of $100 or more. And believe me, $100 an order is almost ZERO presence in a shop. That's 3 loafs. It's nothing. In a future email I will explain the worth of presence in regards to selling a product (another non-original idea).

5,000 postcards, the list, the postage, we're talking about an investment of $2500. Easy.

Now, keeping in mind that the economy is messed up, I'm gonna throw some more figures at you.

1% of that mailing should lead to new customers. That's 50 customers. At a minimum of $100 per order...

See what I mean? This should really be a no brainer. But I don't know about you, but shelling out $2500 during the slow season, and committing to doing this every single month is scary shit.

Does it HAVE to work? Of course not.

Should it work? Yes, it should. If A) the list is good and B) these companies, while feeling the pinch, dig our product.

Advertising this way isn't original. You'll find advice up and down the internet on how to do this right. Doesn't mean they're not right. My comparison to this is that Mariah isn't doing any of the work. So who needs her advice?

So many other questions. But I'll keep you posted on what we do do (eyeroll) and what we don't. Should make for an interesting summer.

You can donate plasma once a week for $50.

Did you know that?

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