I got an email from one of my favorite clients, Gayla at Cool Kids Chairs. Gayla is a stay-at-home mom and has experienced awesome success in the past selling children’s furniture online. Here’s what her email said:

I just had a quick question for you. I was thinking about my website this morning. I think I started it almost ten years ago, and times have changed since then. 🙂 I am wondering if there are [retail] websites out there that are similar to mine that even do well….With websites like Amazon out there, it seems like so many just order through them rather than bounce around to little sites like mine. (I know I prefer Amazon!)

This has been my slowest Christmas season yet, which is what makes me think a little more about the potential for ever resurrecting my site. Granted, I know I don’t put a lot into it, but I have just wanted to keep it afloat in case in the future it might be something I want to put more into. I work on my website a little each day, it still just isn’t a huge priority. But maybe I should just be done with it? I definitely do not keep abreast with the latest in the world of Internet sales. Just wondered if you might have any insight!

This is a fantastic question that many of my clients need to get answered. So, with permission from Gayla, I decided to answer her question publicly on our Fiddler Online blog. Here are 6 guidelines to accomplish this and then how to apply these applications in less than 30 minutes a day.

Stop selling a commodity

If I try and sell a couch in front of a large big box furniture retailer and customers can simply walk pass me into the store and buy the same couch for $500 cheaper it’s a lose-every-time proposition. Amazon has the power and resources to scale that a stay at home mom can never compete with (I realize I am stating the obvious). So get out of the mindset that you sell the cheapest children’s furniture. You will never win until you get out of that mindset.

Here’s where to go from here…

Determine your niche

Who are you selling to? And when you answer this, be as specific as possible. “People with children that like nice furniture” is not a good answer. If I promised you $1,000,000 in cash if you sold a kid’s chair in the next 7 days who would be the easiest person to sell it to? Are they male or female? How much do they make a year? Where do they eat out the most? Where do they live? Do they have kids? (duh!) What do they do for work?

I’m not sure if those are the right questions, but look at your database of past clients and get so specific with who it is you are trying to sell to that most people would think there are no more than 10 people with those specifications.

Now that you know who you are selling to you can then come up with ideas of how to add value.

Build value around your product

The best way to create value that Amazon can’t compete with is to sell something that Amazon doesn’t sell. This doesn’t mean you can’t sell the same chair as Amazon, but it may require that you add additional features that Amazon doesn’t offer. Let me give you a few examples that come to my mind (you can probably think of better ones).

Idea 1: With every purchase of product off your website they get a call from Gayla. “Hi, this is Gayla, I’m the owner of CoolKidsChairs. I just got your order online. I just wanted to make sure I have your order right….Is this for your own child?….Oh fun! I really hope you like it.”

It humanizes the experience and I’m guessing your target market would enjoy that. Many mom’s (or grandma’s) ordering the furniture might enjoy talking to other mom’s (right?). This would also give you a chance to understand more completely who is buying these chairs.

Idea 2: Is there an additional product or service you could offer that adds value. Maybe a popular children’s book that arrives before the chair with a handwritten note from Gayla, wishing them the best experience with the new chair. Maybe a furniture cleaning kit (heaven knows the kid will draw on it). This could easily be done for less than $5 which you would add on to the cost of the chair (again, you aren’t trying to be the cheapest)

Idea 3: An automatic email that goes to each person that has a video of Gayla thanking them for their business. This wouldn’t cost any additional money and is easy to create.

These are the first 3 ideas that come to mind. I could go on and on…

Partner with other retailers in your niche

Once you know who you are targeting you can quickly find other companies that sell different products to the same niche. You can then partner with this company to promote each other’s business or offer an add ons.

For example, in 5 minutes (with the help of Google) I found Budsies. It’s an online business that will turn a child’s drawing into a plush toy. It would be worth reaching out to the company and seeing if you can get some plush toys you can send to each person that orders. The plush toy can act like your Cool Kid’s Chairs Mascot. Because you are promoting Budsies the owners might give you a price break on a bulk order because you are getting their service in front of the audience they want to reach. Again, I’m not saying this is the best partnership, but I’m sure Gayla can think of a better one.

Become a mommy blogger

I’m guessing Gayla owned a kid’s chair or furniture before she started selling them. This means the owner of the business can relate to the customers of the business. They have similar lives full of kid drama and it might make for interesting content.

Write about what is going on in your life. Become a real person to the visitors of your site. Post your entries as a blog post on your website and then start sharing them on social media. This builds your audience and you have a better idea who is out there wanting to buy your stuff.

Or better yet, guest post on other mommy blogs and borrow their audience and suddenly they will start coming to your website to buy great furniture for a quality measured price.

Start using one (and only one) social media platform

Creating content leads into how to share the content. Have a social media strategy! Most people don’t know where to start with social media. The best place to start is with just one, and only one, social media platform–it’s easier to manage. In an industry of cute kid’s furniture I’d suggest you start with Pinterest. Go back to your target market and ask yourself, what sort of things do these people like? Then start pinning and sharing–start building the audience.

How to do all this daily in 30 minutes or less

Gayla is busy! She is raising a house full of kids and she might feel like she doesn’t have time to execute an in depth online business strategy. That’s ok. Here’s a list of 10 activities that take less than 30 minutes. Do one a day and watch your sales increase.

  1. Determine your niche. Write it down in clear terms.
  2. Write down 10 ideas of how you can add value or customize your product.
  3. Write a script of what you would say if you called a customer at the beginning, middle, and end of sales cycle. This script could also be turned into a video that you email to all your clients.
  4. Find 10 products you could send as an add on that would add additional value (I bet you could find 100’s that would cost you less than $5 per transaction)
  5. Once a week contact one small-business retailer over the phone and determine how you can cross-promote
  6. Write a blog post in 30 minutes or less. Don’t worry about sounding like Stephanie Meyer. Just be authentic and post whatever comes out.
  7. Once a week contact one blog (that has your same target) and ask to guest post.
  8. Spent 30 minutes creating boards, pinning, and repinning on Pinterest
  9. Increase your search engine optimization by doing one of these SEO strategies.
  10. Call Kurt (801-968-6166) and assess how things are going.

Kurt

Kurt Francom is a former partner at WordXpress. He currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has two kids and a massage therapist wife Alanna (a mechanic never has time to work on his own family cars). Kurt enjoys reading, writing, time-travel movies, attending college football games in the fall, and drawing caricatures.