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How to Promote Your Products When You Can’t Sell in Person

July 15th 2020

The pandemic created challenges for all businesses, but especially for product-based companies with a brick-and-mortar or face-to-face sales process. If you can’t meet with customers in person, how can you sell to them, many business owners wondered.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can pivot your face-to-face business to market and sell online. Here are a few ways to do that:

Create a simple website. Most businesses know that having a professional-looking website is almost a minimum requirement today, and there are several platforms that make it easy to get started. Shopify has easy-to-use templates, for example, so that you can showcase what you’ve created. WordPress is another option, though you need to then add an ecommerce component to be able to take orders.

Set up a shop on Etsy. If your products are handmade, vintage, or custom, an Etsy shop can deliver customers looking for more unique, hand-crafted items. Etsy takes a small commission on each sale, but the percentage is lower than on other platforms.

Post on Pinterest. Pinterest is a terrific platform for sharing eye-catching product images of your products. If your online shop is set up on Shopify, you can use Pinterest product pins to make it even easier for fans to buy from you directly.

Share product images on Instagram. Instagram is another social media platform where you can attract an audience that is interested in seeing more of your products. You can share product photos or shoot quick videos demonstrating all their features and benefits – for free.

Join Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). One of the world’s largest online stores makes it easy for you to sell your products on the platform, too, through its FBA program, where you ship your products to a specified Amazon warehouse and Amazon processes orders that come in for you. No need to try and compete with Amazon – list your products on the site and use the company’s customer base to expand your business.

Build a community. Bring together like-minded people who are prospects, customers, and fans through a free Facebook group. Then offer your audience special deals, inside access to your latest finds, and information to help them make smart purchases or to take care of what they’ve bought from you. Home décor subscription box Decocrated uses its Facebook community to share hints regarding what will come in the next season’s box and hosts videos suggesting different ways to style the pieces customers have received.

Use Facebook Live to showcase products. Rochester, NY-based consignment store NTY regularly uses Facebook Live to share new inventory with its customer base who, until last week, couldn’t visit the store in person (it was closed). Using 5-minute videos where a handful of new items are shown, viewers have the chance to claim products from the comfort of their home or office and then pick them up or have them shipped.

Host a contest. Consumers love the chance to get something for free, so consider creating a prize package and inviting people to join your mailing list for a chance to win something. Granted, you’ll end up with some people on your list who may not be serious customers, but if they’re interested in winning some of your items, they at least have some interest in your products.

Participate in an online trade show or conference. Kiana Muhly, co-founder of the Kay & Kay Group, which manufactures and markets AQUA Waterproof Headwear, participated in Black Vendor Con in July 2020, which was held on Hopin, an online event platform. Booth visitors could check out the company’s products during the two-day event by watching a promotional video and perusing the website, or by stopping by (virtually) during the 3-hour time slot when the business owners could interact live with booth visitors. The event was a success, with Kay & Kay generating 20 times the cost to participate.

Pursue publicity. Media mentions, or even blog quotes, typically attract more traffic to your business, whether online or in person. Fortunately, it’s not hard to find out what reporters and writers are working on right now. Sign up for a free account at Help a Reporter Out and you’ll receive daily emails listing all the topics that the media is reporting on, as well as the types of sources those reporters are looking for. Right now, during the summer, several outlets are already working on holiday gift guides, which could be perfect opportunities for your products to be featured.

Reach out to bloggers who serve your target audience. Bloggers with large followings can generate a slew of sales with just one mention of your company or product. The key is tapping into that audience by connecting with the blogger. Research who is talking about the types of products you sell, or has an audience similar to your customer base. Then ask how you might support them. Could you submit a guest blog post (if you’re interested in doing that)? Would he or she consider reviewing your product? Would they want to do a webinar together? Think about what kind of collaboration opportunity would do you the most good and then reach out to ask if they’d be interested.

Set up an affiliate program. Affiliates are business colleagues who agree to promote your products in exchange for a small commission. That’s how many bloggers and vloggers generate an income. To do this, you need to have an ecommerce system capable of tracking affiliate links (which identify who has sold what, so you can pay them their commission) and you need to be sure that you have enough of a profit margin to afford to pay commissions. There are affiliate networks that can get your products in front of potential affiliate partners, too, such as ShareASale, CJ Affiliate (formerly Commission Junction), and ClickBank.

This list is just a starting point, too. There are many other opportunities out there to get your business more attention and your products sold.

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