August 20, 2018 Cindy Bendel

Prepping for Q4

Holy crap I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I blogged on this site. So much has happened since then, I’m not sure where to start. I still have a Shopify store that’s growing. I also have my existing Etsy stores that have been around many years.  There’s so much that goes into running a store, as a small biz owner you end up wearing many hats. Design, product photography, marketing, order fulfillment and customer service. It’s sounds simple but there’s so much involved with each area.

Even though it gets very crazy I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. I wouldn’t go back to POD like Red Bubble, Society 6 and Zazzle.  I LOVE having my own independent store.

We’re about to head into September, which the retail world refers to as Q4. It’s where a big chunk of sales happen, and if you prepare now you can reap the benefits. Time look back at last year’s Q4 and review what went well. And what didn’t.

If this is your first Q4, my advice is to build up your email list. Why? Advertising costs are much higher than other times of the year. If you run Facebook ads, you’ll be competing against other businesses for slots. That drives the price up. Compare that with an email list.  In terms of dollars, it costs almost nothing to send an email to your subscribers.

The next consideration: Black Friday sale? Cyber Monday sale? Or none of the above? If your margins are fairly thin you may not be able to afford a sale. But that also means you may be underpricing your products.  If you can build more of a cushion between base cost and sales price, you will have room to have a periodic sale. Especially during a time of year where people are looking for holiday deals. And if you don’t use that extra cushion for sale discounts, that money could go towards advertising.

Of all the advertising mediums I’ve used, Facebook by far is the most effective. If you’ve never run an ad check out Facebook Blueprint.  There are dozens of courses to walk you through each step of the way.  And no I don’t recommend blowing a thousand bucks for a course. Just start with Facebook Blueprint.  Most everything you need to learn can be done for free.

Aside from Facebook, what are some other ways to advertise?

  1. Locally. Arts and craft fairs, various festivals and concerts. There are many events which accept vendors.
  2. Other social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat. The key to being successful on these platforms is knowing who your customers are. What age bracket are they in? Younger people hang out on Instagram and Snapchat. The older folks are on Facebook. Do some research if you don’t know who your customers are.
  3. Google Shopping. I’ve never used it though I plan to learn this holiday season. So unfortunately I can’t recommend much in this area. But it is a way to reach customers.
  4. Fulfillment by Amazon. It may be too late to sign up for Amazon, they close the gates before the Q4 rush begins. But it may be worth your while to ship products to Amazon’s warehouse and sell in their marketplace.

So I just threw a few ideas out there for reaching customers. You may have others that aren’t mentioned, you’re always welcome to share them in the comments. I do read them all (after I have sifted through all the spam lol).

If this is your first Q4 don’t get your expectations too high. Think of it as your trial run, you get to learn from it. You might be wildly successful. Or you might find it frustrating. We’ve all been there, believe me. Just do the best you can, give it your all. And do be too hard on yourself if you don’t live up to expectations. We all learn and grow, especially in the eCommerce space.

I think that’s it for now, I already threw a lot of information out there. Maybe TMI.

What are your plans for Q4? Chime in below and share your thoughts!