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    8 Tips for Market Stall Success

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    By Monica Ng

    You open your inbox and you see a new email from the market you’ve recently applied to.

    “Congratulations! Your application was successful!”

    You ogle at this sentence and you begin to buzz with excitement. You do a happy dance, Elaine Benes style to celebrate your success and show off your rad moves to the four walls of the room you’re sitting in. Yaaay!

    My jewellery shop, Geometric Skies has participated in a variety of showcases and markets including some specialty designer markets such as the Sydney Finders Keepers, the Etsy Interactive Exhibition at the Fracture Gallery in Federation Square as part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, RAW Artists’ first Sydney showcase, The Makery and the fashion markets at Bondi Beach and Kirribilli.

    I started from scratch as a complete newbie and through these experiences over the past year, I’ve gained some insight and learned some tricks that may help set up your market day for success. Regardless of whether it’s your first time, or if you’re a seasoned stallholder, here are a few pointers to help you prepare for your next event.

    Think about your display
    Dedicate some time to how you want to set out your work. This is especially important if there’ll be a lot of other stallholders selling similar types of items, like jewellery. I’ve seen a lot of jewellery designers at markets lay their pieces flat on tables, which may make it more difficult for customers walking by to see the work from afar.

    Ask yourself:

    How can your display be different to other stallholders?
    Can you arrange it at different levels? Use busts? Racks? Trees?
    Will you be buying these props or will you construct them?
    What materials will they be made from?
    What do these materials say about your brand?

    Try to be consistent and use the same materials to display your goods, as this gives your shop a cleaner and more cohesive look.

    Also, consider using a mannequin. I use a half body mannequin, so customers can see from afar how some of my more adventurous pieces like ‘The Lily body chain’ looks and fits. Often, this draws in customers who wander up to my shop to have a closer look and to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’.

    How will you display your shop’s logo? Laser cut on acrylic, wood or another material? Painted or printed on canvas? Wooden or metal letters? Sounds like a fun DIY activity!

    Will you be bringing your own table or will you hire one? If you’re using a tablecloth, make sure it’s wrinkle free.

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    Bring marketing materials

    What if the customer doesn’t buy today, but wanted to show their friend first before making a decision? How will they ever find your work again? What if they do buy, and want to share your other work with their friends and family?

    Be sure to bring business cards, postcards, a mailing list sign up sheet, branded packaging, or an iPad with photos of your work and a slideshow of press clippings. These are all great items to promote your shop. If you need help designing these, why not ask your friends and family to see if there’s someone who can help you?

    Printing business cards doesn’t have to be expensive as there are some inexpensive online options like Moo, Vistaprint, or Print Together where you simply upload your design, and they’ll print it and post it straight to you.

    Also, prior to the event, remember to publicise it! Speaking of publicity…

    Tell everyone about your event!
    Tell your friends, family and colleagues. Even if you think they won’t ever buy from you, they may forward the news of your event to people who will. Let your existing customers know too!

    Publicise your event through different channels such as your blog, word of mouth, newsletter and social media.

    Be a “yes” person and set up future sales
    Is the size too big, too small, too short or too long for your customer? Offer the option for customisation.

    At the market, consider offering a free shipping or discount coupon to customers for their next purchase.

    Running a competition can help direct traffic and add new followers to your blog, mailing list and social media channels. Why not try partnering up with a blogger to help increase your competition’s outreach?

    Be prepared for all weather conditions
    If the market is outdoors, bring warm clothes, hat, sunblock, snacks/drinks and a chair to keep you going during the day. If business is super busy and you can’t get duck away to buy some food, at least you have some snacks to keep you going.

    Also, sandbags for your gazebo are a lifesaver (in case it gets windy). I’ve seen some gazebos blow away before and not only is it dangerous to yourself and others, it could also result in property damage. If weather conditions become too dangerous, it’s the organiser’s discretion whether trading can continue. Safety first!

    Pack!
    Pack the night before (or even earlier), to save yourself a freak out the morning of the event. Use the checklist below so you’re not kicking yourself at the event for forgetting something.

    • Stationery/admin: blu-tack, pen, notebook, measuring tape, screwdrivers, drill, receipt book, bull clips, plastic bags, duct or masking tape
    • Sales: Sufficient change in your float, credit card machine, mobile phone, phone charger
    • Furniture and accessories: tables, chairs, trolley, gazebo, sand bags
    • Props/display: Stands, mannequins, table cloth, signage, business card holder + extra business cards, price tags, mailing list sign up sheet, packaging
    • Enough stock to sell (always better to take more, than less)
    • Personal: Mini first aid kit, snacks/drinks, hat, sunblock, warm clothes, umbrella

    Network with other stallholders
    Get to know your neighbours and become friends! Gather business cards so you can remain in contact after the event. You never know when a collaboration opportunity might pop up and you’ll be kicking yourself for not getting their contact details.

    Have fun

    Sometimes business is so crazy, before you know it you’ve sold out of everything. Congratulations! On other days, business may not be as well as you hoped it would be. Perhaps it’ll pick up later on in the day or the next person that stops will shop up a storm. Stay positive and enjoy the experience.

    Good luck!

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    Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 and began studying a two-year jewellery and object design diploma at the Design Centre, Enmore in 2014. She blogs at www.geometricskies.wordpress.com and you can also find her on Instagram @geometric_skies, www.facebook.com/geometricskies, and her Etsy shop


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, my advice, resource | Comments Off
    Posted on

    What is content marketing and why is it important for your creative business?

    By Domini Marshall

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    There are so many definitions for ‘content marketing’ out there. The Content Marketing Institute defines it as:

    A marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

    That sounds lovely and professional and yes, it defines the process of content marketing well. It is about creating valuable, relevant and consistent content for your customers with the objective of gaining greater conversion, revenue and other positive results.

    In its very simplest terms, however, I like to think of content marketing as storytelling.

    Before we delve in, let’s talk about the term content marketing a little more. With content marketing, your content comes first and channels come second.

    What is content?

    Content encompasses anything you create to tell your brand story. It’s the story itself. Think engaging blog posts, compelling product copy, beautiful imagery, videos, infographics and so much more.

    What are channels?

    Channels are where and how you share that content. So, a blog is a channel. Social media, videos, emails and printed catalogues are all channels. With content marketing, content comes first, channels come second. The importance is on creating engaging and valuable content for your audience. Then, once you have that content, you can decide where and how you’re going to share it with the world. Ultimately, it’s about the customer experience, not just a product or service at the end of the line.

    Amy Crawford from The Holistic Ingredient does an amazing job at creating consistent content across her channels. With regular emails, eBooks, social media posts, recipes and more, she inspires her audience to live a life of wellbeing.

    Amy Crawford from The Holistic Ingredient does an amazing job at creating consistent content across her channels. With regular emails, eBooks, social media posts, recipes and more, she inspires her audience to live a life of wellbeing.

    Why is content marketing so great?

    The reason why content marketing has become so popular is that it offers brands and businesses a way to connect with consumers that is different to traditional advertising methods, and that has a proven track record of resulting in greater engagement, which builds greater brand equity and which translates to greater conversion.

    Great content marketing:

    • connects with your customers – connect is the important word here
    • takes them on a brand experience
    • builds brand authority – which means consumers look to your brand for relevant information on specific topics and which encourages positive word of mouth marketing for your brand
    • improves SEO (search engine optimisation) – Google rewards quality content with higher rankings which means your site will appear higher in search results
    • increases the time spent on your site through greater engagement which, in turn, increases conversion and revenue.

    Which leads us to storytelling.

    Why storytelling?

    At the core of all storytelling is the desire to connect. If content marketing is all about connection, then it’s also all about storytelling.

    We all have a story. We all crave connection. When someone tells us their story and their reason for being, we naturally engage with it because we have one too. If you find a brand that has a story that you find compelling and a message that is inspiring, it’s likely you’ll support that brand and share your love for it with others.

    Fete Press make the most of all their beautiful content. You can try out delicious recipes, find party and food inspiration in their online gallery and enjoy their consistent social media posts on Instagram and Pinterest.

    Fete Press make the most of all their beautiful content. You can try out delicious recipes, find party and food inspiration in their online gallery and enjoy their consistent social media posts on Instagram and Pinterest.

    What’s your story?

    In your creative business, what’s your reason for being? What is it about what you do that you absolutely love? What gets you up and out of bed each day? What inspires you? Start here.

    Think about those questions. What are your answers? Do you share them with your community often? Do your customers know your story? How are you going to communicate your passion and inspiration with them?

    For me, I love learning. I love that moment when I’m reading a book, hearing someone speak or watching a film and I lose myself.  I’m totally involved in the experience and my emotions take over. I feel inspired and afraid and vulnerable all at once.  I crave the moment that someone’s words or creations alter my way of looking at something and I want to create things that do that too.

    In order to connect with people you have to open yourself up to being vulnerable and sometimes that means taking a risk, but if you tell your story with conviction, courage and passion, you’ll discover a world of people who want to know more. In that story (in you) is all the compelling content you could ever want or need.

    Get organised, throw it in a content calendar and go!

    If you’re not already, use a content calendar. Organise all those amazing, wonderful, inspiring ideas that are bubbling away now and get them down on paper. Create something simple in a word or excel doc and plan ahead.

    Once you’ve got it down you can start thinking about where you want to share it. Start a blog. Create a YouTube channel. Sign up to Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. You choose. Once you’ve got your story, once you’ve got the content, you can decide on your channels.

    Just remember that in storytelling there needs to be a listener or reader too. So, have a conversation with your audience. Share your story and ask for theirs too. Own it, embrace it, and listen to what others have to say. It’s there that you’ll find connection and plenty of ideas for content too.

    Domini Marshall is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. A love for great stories and connection inspires her work for brands and businesses in copywriting, content creation and social media. A creative at heart, she also writes short fiction and screenplays and you can find her sharing inspiration and more on Instagram and Pinterest

    (Photo credit: josemanuelerre via photopin cc)


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, what's new in social media, women who write | Comments Off
    Posted on

    How to relocate your business overseas

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    By Diana Scully

    As I write you this post, I am sitting in a Los Angeles cafe enjoying a pretty good cup of coffee (my standards are high given I’m from Melbourne!) and using the free wifi available. This has been my “office” for most of this year, as I spend time in the USA.

    I am an interior decorator and manage my own business, both in person (when I’m in Melbourne) and via an on-line decorating service I offer through my website, Spaces by Diana. This year, my husband and I decided to spend some time in the US to advance and promote his start-up business, Sports Where I Am. Along with all the issues associated with moving overseas, this year has been a big learning curve (huge!) in understanding how to re-establish my business in another country. If this sounds like something you plan to embark on, and assuming that you have already sorted out all the other generic issues associated with relocating overseas (visa requirements, accommodation and healthcare), then let me share with you some helpful tips to get you on the right track!

    What sort of business do you operate?

    I think its safe to say that not every business is easily transferable to another country. Most notably, if you work for yourself and operate an on-line business, this sets a good foundation as it gives you control and flexibility in your work. In addition, these other characteristics may also assist in a smooth(ish) transition:

    + Your industry is established in your new destination.

    + You can still maintain relationships with existing clientele from home.

    + Your business already has a market presence or connections with people/companies in your new country.

    For me, interior design in the US has a great influence on the Australian market. I decided that if I could tap into this market by setting up trade accounts with furniture designers in the US, I was able to offer my Australian clientele, a greater selection of ideas and products to furnish their homes. In effect, I could become the conduit between the two markets and draw and source inspiration from the US to Australia.

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    What’s the purpose of your relocation?

    This is an important consideration as any effort to relocate your business to another country is BIG work. If you understand the purpose of your relocation, this will then assist you with setting the right goals and time frames for your business. You may find yourself having to start over again if you do not already have a presence in your new country.

    For me, our greatest motivation was to set up and grow my husband’s business in the US, rather than expand my interior decorating business. While I personally believed (and still do) that relocating to the US has only been beneficial for me, it has required me to reconsider my services in the market and assess the suitability of my existing and future clientele. This has consequently led me to build great relationships with US furniture designers, as well as expand my on-line services.

    What’s your new market and who are your competitors & clientele?

    Preparation and planning is vital before your departure. I recommend some initial ground work about your industry in your new country. As part of my research, I considered the following issues:

    + Is my industry established in your new country?

    + Are there existing businesses already in my space that offer a similar service? Can I offer something different?

    + How long will it take to grasp my new market? How will it impact my operating business?

    + How will I market myself? How will I network to get my name out there?

    After all this research, I knew it was important for me to develop relationships with furniture designers in the US, expand my on-line decorating services, and network with local designers/creatives by attending workshops in order to establish and grow my business overseas.

    Other considerations…

    Regardless of your industry and business style, you will also need to keep in mind these issues:

    + Are there any legal barriers you need to be aware of in relocating your business? Visa requirements? Do you need to register your business? Tax implications for both your new country and home country?

    + Where will you work from? Home, office, shared workspace, coffee shop?

    + Will any time difference affect your relationships and communications with clients or customers?

    + What items are fundamental to setting up your business in a new country? For example: laptop, internet, bank account etc?

    As a very minimum, it is certainly wise to get in contact with a good Accountant and Lawyer in the initial stages prior to your departure, (you may even need one in your new country too).

    Make friends.

    You are in a city that you don’t know, immersed in a culture you don’t understand, away from all your familiarities, including your local supermarket, doctors, hairdressers and good local coffee shop. You can’t underestimate the importance of connecting with people, forming friendships and networking. This is integral to your survival in a new location and good time should be invested in this aspect of relocating.

    When my husband and I arrived in LA, we didn’t know anyone. A friend of mine connected us with an Australian living in LA, so we arranged to meet him in our first week. Fortunately, he was a superstar and we have become great friends. He has introduced us to his family and circle of friends, both Australian and local. He’s also been a great source to ask questions about working overseas including, recommendations where to work, how to open a bank account, finding a good immigration lawyer, locating the equivalent Officeworks etc… Tap into your social networks and let your community of friends know where you are moving to. Someone should know someone they can recommend you to meet!

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    Here’s the basics to get you started.

    + Do the initial research - if you are still keen, go for it!

    + Find a shared workspace close to home and join a communal table. Here you’ll find like-minded people you can chat to about work, as well as the local area. You will also have good access to the internet, phones, printers and other office-related tools. If you are in the US, check out We Work and grab a monthly pass to gain access to their communal work spaces.

    + Alternatively, if you choose to work from home, set yourself up with the basics, including a desk, chair, lamp and storage. If you are in the US, check out Craigslist to pick up some good second hand finds in your local area.

    + Crunch the numbers. To establish your business in a new market may take some time… so if possible, set up a bank account with some savings (three months would be ideal). This will also allow you to attend networking events, seminars in your industry and join a couple of organisations related to what you do.

    + Set up a bank account (and credit card) in your new country so you can access local currency immediately and start earning a good credit history to your name.

    + Join a local gym or social club to meet people in your area, spread the word about who you are and what you do. As I said earlier, connection with people is vital to your success as an individual and also your business.

    While this may all sound a little daunting, I can honestly say, it has been worth every bit. Having the opportunity to relocate overseas with your business is one of life’s greatest opportunities. But keep in mind, it should not be romanticised too much as it can be a challenging transition. From experience, being passionate about what you do, doing the initial research and believing in your business, sets the foundations for success and will keep you on the right track.

    Where possible, be ready to adapt your business. As much as you try to plan your road ahead, inevitably things don’t always go as your envisaged. But hey, that’s ok. You are after all, not in Australia any longer – and that’s the point, right?

    Wishing you safe travels and all the success in work!

    Diana Scully is the founder of Spaces by Diana, a residential interior decorating business that offers personal and on-line services to inspire you to find real solutions to design a home that’s a reflection of you. Read her blog, Spaces + Places, and follow her on Instagram for genuine, cool interior inspiration for your home.

    {All images sourced via Death to the Stock Photo}


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips, guest blog, how to, my advice | Comments Off
    Posted on

    Advertising tips for small creative businesses

    Today’s post is by guest blogger Jes Egan of Paper Chap. Welcome, Jes!

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    Creativity is in my blood. I come from a mad creative family and I had a pretty conservative schooling, which I tried to conform to, but in the end the creative flair won and I went and studied design at university. Being surrounded by creative people is inspiring and a guarantee you’ll get a taste for coffee or wine. Or both, as in my case. Upon graduation, I went travelling. However, in fighting some of the madness of my upbringing, a sensible and practical person developed alongside my creativity. So instead of sticking to being a designer, I went to what I aptly call the ‘dark side’ and became a ‘suit’ in the account management department of some of the biggest advertising agencies in the UK and Australia.

    Now days, my brain is back in creative mode and I run my own little business, Paper Chap. My creative outlet, illustrated and hand cut paper cuts that I can make with love. My practical side still exists however, and it is possible to be creative and business minded, it just doesn’t always come naturally. I share my practical side with design students, lecturing in ‘Design and Business’ at Billy Blue College of Design.

    My past life in big-brand advertising has taught me many things that can be applied to a creative business and successful brand.

    Find your point of difference.

    There is so much competition, there are other companies who do what you do, just under a different brand. But you will have a point of difference (POD), this might be service, design, price, it can be anything that is a benefit to the end user and is different to your competitors. Find out what yours is, if you can’t pin point what it is then neither will your customer. Once you know what your POD is you can use this to your advantage. We are so used to choice these days, we expect it and we make informed purchasing decisions daily. Stand out from your competitors, be bold and show how you differentiate yourself.

    Know your audience.

    It doesn’t matter what type of business that you are in, knowing your audience is paramount. You can waste time, effort and money targeting the wrong audience. Depending on what you do there are numerous different ways to find out who your audience are and if you are a small business one of the best ways to do this is look at your existing clients/customers. So many key learnings/insights can be taken from them.

    Be targeted.

    When you know who your audience is target them specifically, this will save you time, effort and money. For example if your audience frequent certain types of websites or publications, or favours Facebook over LinkedIn, put your time and efforts into those places. Be it paid advertising or just doing it on your own, you are eliminating wastage and sending your message to places where your audience is.

    Chose your social media sites carefully.

    You don’t have to use all the social media channels out there, chose what will reach your audience best and focus on those. Don’t over stretch yourself, if you are selling a creative service or product then visual channels might work best for you such as Instagram or Pinterest. If you sell a service then maybe LinkedIn, Twitter etc are better. It will be depend on where your audience is participating in social media as to where you need to be.

    Be on message.

    Often businesses try and cram every message they want to say into a very small space. This can dilute your message and make it really confusing for your audience to understand what you are trying to get across. Try and stay single minded. Even if it is a tweet or a Facebook post, if you have two things to say, do two messages. It might sounds simple and that is the point, it should be simple. It will take little time and effort and be more effective.

    It is better to pay more for fewer ads in the right places than less for multiple ads in the wrong places.

    Does paying for advertising work? Given my background, this is often a question I am asked. Without doubt, it you have the budget to pay for advertising then yes it can pay off. It can build your brand awareness and potentially convert into sales and hopefully you’ll get a decent return on your investment. But if you’re going to do it, do it properly. Make sure your creative is on message, targeted and made well. Also, make sure you are hitting your audience – don’t try hit the masses by buying cheap ad spaces across as many channels as you can. It goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t let your add get lost or ignored.

     

    Putting yourself and your creative business ‘out there’ can be easier said then done, I know. Particularly if your heart is entrenched in what you do, which is often the case in the creative world. But there are so many ways to put effectively advertise and market your business while staying true to your values and integrity, it’s just about making an educated decision on which avenue you want to explore and being creative with your budget.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ with a past life in advertising. These days Jes is an artist, lecturer, and small business owner who can be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook

    {Image by Jes!}

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: advice for students, business tips, guest blog, my advice | Comments Off