I have a list of more than 60 successful marketing ideas for our industry, so to choose my top 10 was a challenging task. Successful marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. One of the criteria I used for determining my top 10 was if the marketing technique was free.
You may be surprised to find out that many terrific marketing opportunities
exist that not only are free, but sometimes actually earn you money
for doing it! Sound impossible? Read on.
1. Send a news release or special interest story about your business
to a local newspaper.
I recommend to all students at the workroom trade school that they
send news releases to their local newspapers announcing that they
attended the school. Many newspapers will publish releases about
businesses if the businesses will write up the information themselves.
Like many of us, newspaper journalists have a difficult time getting
everything done they are assigned to do. They also are always looking
for material to publish. If they don’t have to take the time
to interview you and write it themselves, they are usually very
receptive to placing it.
Two women who attended the school that did follow my suggestion
and sent in their school news release had an unexpected response.
The newspaper was so intrigued by the business they were starting
that it did much more than publish their release. The newspaper
sent a journalist and a photographer to their place of business
to do a full feature story. The workroom got so much business from
that one story that they couldn’t handle it all!
2. Write a newspaper or magazine article or column.
You may not think you can do this because you are not a professional
writer. Well, just as I’ve mentioned already, newspapers and
trade magazines are always looking for good material. They appreciate
knowledgeable professionals sharing information. They are very willing
to edit it to their satisfaction. (This is very true of this publication,
too. So, don’t hesitate.) In the beginning the publication
may not want to pay you, depending on its budget. Do it anyway;
you’re in for the exposure. But, this is one marketing technique
that can actually earn you money while doing it.
3. Be a guest professional on a television or radio show.
Most guest speakers are not paid, but the exposure is invaluable.
You probably could not afford to pay for the same amount of television
or radio time if placing an advertisement. Many local stations have
a talk or interview segment for their noon news programs. Call and
offer to be a resident interiors professional. Some topics you could
talk about would be trends, common mistakes, etc.
4. Present a seminar for consumers or designers.
You may be intimidated by this idea, but let me tell you how much
fun it is and how successful. Just be yourself. You do know a lot
that you can share!
A few years ago the second from the top salesperson who owns a Decorating
Den company (there are more than 500) told me her No. 1 marketing
technique is consumer seminars. She does one a month and people
line up to get on the list for her next presentation.
5. Donate leftovers and “mistakes” to fundraising projects.
Unless you are very unusual, you do make mistakes. You may have
fabric, bedspreads, window treatments, blinds, etc. of the wrong
size or color. They make great items for auctions. You get a tax
write-off, the goods are out of your way and sometimes you can make
money altering their sizes for the new owner.
6. Make an accessory out of leftover fabric.
Your best new customer is your old customer. Selling additional
products to an already satisfied customer creates the greatest profits
because you did not have to work to get them as a customer. A little
something extra that they didn’t expect leaves an incredible
impression. You know they will be telling others what you did and
will call you when they need you again.
7. Serve on a community service club or committee.
People buy from you if they know you. The more exposure you have
to people in your area, the better chance you have of picking up
new customers. I served in the local Chamber of Commerce for many
years. Many of the other members bought window treatments from me.
When a member of my Sunday School class mentioned he started a carpet-cleaning
business, who did I use? Someone I didn’t know or the friend
8. Have your work published in trade magazines.
If you sew for decorators and designers, trade magazines are the
perfect market for exposure. If you sew for consumers, being able
to show that you have been published adds great credibility.
9. Make sure your hairdresser knows what you do.
Word-of-mouth is always the best marketing tool. Everyone wants
to use a company that their friends have used or have heard good
10. Network with other workrooms.
You’d be surprised how much work you can get from your “competitors.”
Many workrooms are too small to take on a big job that may come
their way. They can, however, go ahead and accept that job when
they know they have resources available to help them. Sometimes
a workroom has so much work to do that it would gladly turn some
of it over to another workroom.
Strickland is owner of Professional Drapery School, Swannanoa, NC,
and is an internationally acclaimed speaker with 20 years experience
in the window coverings industry. She is the publisher and editor
of Sew WHAT?, an international monthly newsletter for professional