You’ve successfully set up and launched your sewing business, now you need to figure out how to promote your sewing business (with the help of some prior planning as outlined in this blog post.) For many designers and creators, this is either the easiest or the hardest task – and it can flip flop between them over time! In our experience, many designers either freeze at the amount of work that needs to do, or get started, then rapidly trail off.
We work with sewing pattern designers, with artists and creators and hands down they have the best of intentions, but like all business owners, they fall off the wagon in the execution. What does that mean? It’s easy to understand how to promote your sewing business – you can see what your competitors are doing on Instagram, Facebook and email and model that, but it’s much harder to plan, execute the plan and stay the course of your own marketing over time.
First, make a plan
Once your business plan is done, you need to expand and explode your marketing plan. What? A business plan contains a very high level marketing plan, but you cannot successfully market any business from that high level plan. You need to explode – or break that overview into its individual, small parts to be successful at marketing.
Do you really need a plan?
What happens if you don’t have a plan?
Having worked with a number of sewing pattern brands, we have seen firsthand what inconsistent marketing (or lack of it) does to sales. And you might think you can coast a while, but the effects of marketing drop off critically after just a few weeks of not marketing or inconsistent marketing. It’s simply not possible to have a successful sewing business of any kind unless a good percentage of your efforts in business are made in marketing. If you hate marketing, you’re going to have to pay someone else to do it for you. But the good news is, even if you only like it a teensy bit, you can use systems and processes to succeed.
A plan, however, makes it very easy to know what to do each day, and you can then easily tackle each simple step. And it’s simple to create this plan! If you love pen to paper, get yourself a journal, a day planner or a big wall calendar. If you’re more digital, try Trello (with the calendar power up) or Google Calendar to manage your day-to-day marketing activities and tasks.
A plan starts with an understanding of where you are and where you want to go. If you are starting from zero Instagram followers and want to get to 10,000, you have to plan how you’re going to do that. What specific content will you produce, becomes what individual posts and stories, what use of hashtags,and schedule you are going to use over what period of time to achieve that result. It may seem overwhelming – exploding and calendarizing the plan
Get started with the right foundation for success:
- A brand look and feel. What colors, photographic look, models, backgrounds, logos and typography represent your brand? A brand style guide will help you stay on track. (blog link)
- Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook (group and page), Twitter (for UK customers) and YouTube accounts.
- A website to sell your products (see recommendations here and here for platforms our sewing clients love) (blog link)
- A product launch schedule with dates of action items to get ready to launch each product.
Be detailed in your product launch plans
It’s not enough to say “we’re going to launch new product as we design them”, you have to plan for a regular execution of product. Some companies used to launch seasonal (e.g spring/summer, fall/winter) but more often now it’s 1-2 new products per MONTH. This falls more in line with what consumers expect for brands these days. They want new, the next thing. If you’re selling goods that you wholesale, you’re going to need to do mini launches of new product on a regular basis, at least monthly. And, as you well know, it takes time to launch new product – design, test, draft, grade, photograph, test again, package and place on the website – even before you get to the promotion part! You’ll have to be iterating continuously, and that will take a plan.
Start with your most-bang-for-buck social media platforms:
For most creative brands, the discovery platforms of Instagram and Pinterest are key to gaining an audience. Hashtag research and follow-and-share strategies are key to success on these exploratory social media networks. Facebook is a discovery platform if you have paid advertising and retargeting campaigns (these will play a critical role in growth) set up.
You should plan a week-by-week schedule of content(which will have to be created and photographed in advance), of performance(live video, podcast or recorded video), and of interaction(with your clients on social platforms.)
Look for marketing opportunities in a crowded marketplace:
Most sewing brands do NOT use live video,but this can be a great way to grow and connect with your audience. It’s also either highly time consuming or very easy, depending on the content you’re creating.
User generated contentdrives a LOT in the sewing and crafting business.Your customers are creating with YOUR designs, so build in hashtags, name products so they are instagrammable, and share user content more than brand content. Your current customers will help you discover new customers.
Create a streamable brand– your customers are increasingly spending time on streaming content through YouTube, IGTV and even Facebook. Maintaining a streamable content channel helps searchers find your brand through tips you provide.
Don’t assume people come through the front door. Many people have posted things such as “where can I buy your product” on a social channel because they arrived there from a side-door link or hashtag. Have your brand ambassadors answer this (always) with a friendly reply and a link to the shoppable pages on your brand website. Your goal ALWAYS is to direct people back to your product pages. Every video, post or photo should contain information and links back to buy that product.
Collaborating with others that offer similar products is key
If you’re a pattern designer, pair up with spinners, weavers and fabric companies. If you’re a weaver, dyer, spinner, or fabric wholesaler, pair up with designers. Everyone should be pairing up with retailers, both brick and click. Offer exclusives, freebiesand other time-incentivized products to build up your customer and prospect list (on email, please!)
You can learn a lot from smart brands in your industry. Follow them all (on a private user account if you wish). You’ll discover many are doing me-too products, but remember, you are uniquely you, and finding and communicating YOUR unique look, signature style, fit profile and customer is what will keep them coming back again. Learning to create a personal, digital connection to your customerswill keep them evangelizing your brand to others.
Accept the contributions of others
It cannot be overstated that your customers will drive your marketing and people will buy your products based on their user-created content. Embrace everything they create – even if they didn’t create it to your level of perfection, sharing their makes (even if they’re not studio-quality) will resonate in positive ways. Be present– your customers want to see YOU, the business owner, in your business. The more they can get to know YOU, the more successful your business. Sharing personal and professional milestones, and journeys will help your customers see the person behind the brand. And that’s truly the only thing they’re passionate about. They can buy products similar to yours from anywhere, but the connection that keeps them coming back is you.
Learning how to promote your sewing business is more about the planning and execution than it is about the great ideas or the perfect layout. Entrepreneurs who get out of their own way and get stuff done are more successful than those that agonize over every perfect detail before they push post. Your customers (by and large) will reward you for showing up, for your authenticity and your consistency than they will reward you for perfection*.
To create a perception of perfection, create consistency instead
Consistency is easy to master – you can use standard templates that you’ve created or others have created for you, you can use similar backgrounds, fabrics, lighting, colors to create similar looks. You can use applications like Canva and Illustrator to help you create consistent content over time. You can record video in the same spot with similar prop styles. You can create blocks of time to interact with customers each week so you stay tuned into them and their makes.
Forward momentum is rewarded. Launch with a minimum viable product and go from there. Even brands with rocky starts become successful if they continue to iterate to what their customer wants over time, and respond to criticism with an open mind.
What’s stopping you right now?
If you’re hitting a stumbling block, schedule some advice & planning 1:1 time (link to form) , or a tech training session, below. All work is done under a nondisclosure agreement to protect each of our clients. For as little as $65.00 (a 30-minute session) you can get key insights. Our first discovery call (30 minutes) is always free to start.