How's business? If your answer was anything but, "fantastic", then it might be time for a radical change.
Did you just get a shiver down your spine? That's not the Halloween spirit, that's your natural inclination to avoid change - especially "radical" change. But if you've poured everything you have into your online business; the best products, marketing, branding and it's still not paying off the way you hoped, then it's time for something completely different. What? To figure that out, we're going to take a tip from TV's Marcus Lemonis and look at People, Process and Product.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to get an uninterested party to evaluate your goods. Not a family member or friend, but someone who won't be afraid to tell you the truth either to your face or anonymously. Set up an online survey and solicit responses through social media. Offer a prize to one participant or give everyone who takes the survey a coupon code just make it clear that you want honest feedback. You want people to evaluate your items from what they see on the site. That bracelet might be gorgeous in person but if it looks cheap or off-color on your site that's what matters.
The most important question on the survey is this: Would you buy from my store? If no, why not?
If you've had the same products up for sale for more than a year without a buyer, take them down and start over. Change your style. Change your materials. Change your inspiration. Create something as different as you can within your field. It'll be good for you and your store.
It's kind of a sad fact but bad products, low quality products, and dumb products sell just as well as beautifully handmade, high-quality, useful products. Pet rocks. Souvenir bottles of air. What those products have that you might not have is a story. People don't buy dirty rocks for their desk, but they do buy rocks that come in a pet carrier with instructions for their care and feeding.
With the right story, the right packaging and the right marketing plan, you can sell anything. So if you want to stick with the line you have, you need to invest in a new process. Brainstorm new ways to present your products so they evoke an emotion. A bracelet is just a bracelet, but when it comes in a sparkly box with a sprinkle of pixie dust, it's a magic. A painting becomes a nostalgic trip through time and citrus scented soap is a half hour on a private island at the end of a hectic day.
What's your story? Now use that story to build a marketing campaign. Help people see your store in a way they've never seen it before.
In a small business, "people" is mostly "you" and you're probably standing in your own way. There are all kinds of psychological reasons why we sabotage ourselves from fear of failure to fear of success. (I have a hard time with that concept but they tell me it's a real thing.) If that's the case, and you are serious about taking your business to the next level, then you have to make some radical, personal changes.
Guided meditation works for a lot of people. Search YouTube and iTunes for success and wealth recordings that relax you while gradually changing your mindset. If you prefer help that's less self-directed, hire a business coach or an accountability partner. Someone who will tell you honestly when you're throwing stones in your own path and encourage you when you feel down.
Changing your mindset is the hardest change to make but you can do it. You've come this far; you're talented, creative and you were brave enough to put your work out in the world. That's amazing. And it's proof that you have it in you to take it as far as you want to go.
The comfort zone is a nice place to visit, but you don't want to live there for the rest of your life. Step outside and watch what happens. It may not always be wonderful, but it will always be an adventure.
Image from Albumarium