CrowBiz

…funk for the old soul…

Posts Tagged ‘marketing’

Twittering Your Business Away

Posted by crowbiz on June 30, 2009

 

Love it, hate it, # it

Love it, hate it, # it

Ah, social networking!  Say those few syllables over and over…. yes, it does take on the timbre of “anal itchiness,” “festering pimple,” and “supreme nausea.”  I would like to include “gaseous blowhard,” but it would require the British pronunciation “gas-ee-uss” rather than the clunky American version, “gash-uss.”

 

Do you wish you had a nickel for every forum poster who oozes about how great Twitter has been for their business?  How they find it so fun to spam, er I mean, post their items to their 11,000 followers and then sit back and watch the love roll in?  What is it about the magic number 11,000, by the way?  Did I miss the meeting where they handed out the secret code behind the pyramid that night?  And did you notice that after someone proclaims Twitter as crucial to their success, you check their Etsy shop and see they’ve made 7 sales in 2 years?  Then the chipper seller lets drop, “Well, I can’t be sure how many sales came directly from Twitter, but I know it’s helped!”

Yeah, it’s helped immensely – in sucking your time and your mind.

My feelings about the big twit are ambivalent.  I have some loose connections, do the occasional pimp, and mostly pick up links to hilarious sites that would take me too long to find on my own.  So right there, Twitter saves me time on my time-wasting, which I can now do in a much more targeted and efficient fashion.  Despite having over 300 followers, which is so low that I’m not even at the uncool kids’ lunch table, I’m still talking mostly to myself on Twitter.  When I eventually tweet the link to this very post, I’ll be able to watch the blog stats rocket upward by one.

There are several creepy followers who seem to be Stepford Twits, manufactured somewhere in that same factory that makes people to give testimonials for weight loss ads and mysterious work-from-home pitches.  They have what seem to be regular, homespun avatars, what with their undoctored faces, or pets, or children.  Yet their tweets seem to be a preprogrammed regurgitation of How To Get (fill in the number) Followers in (fill in the time frame).”  No other content, really.  Get followers so you can tell others how to get followers so they can say they got followers that will want to know how to get followers.  What does Jane Doe need with 11,000 followers?  

Once I boldly asked what the heck I needed with 10,000 followers (I was being conservative), and got an immediate reply from a nonfollower/nonfollowee with a curt, “I would think that would be obvious!”   It wasn’t to me.  It was one of the few, and certainly the quickest reply I ever received.  And the guy seemed offended.  It wasn’t as if I’d said, “Who needs liquids to live?” or “Oxygen is so overrated” or “Too bad you don’t know your real dad.”  Yet this stranger instantly heard my tweet – perhaps it registered on his Twitter Dissent Meter – and jumped in to scold.  Kind of like Big Brother and the Wizard of Oz combined, only without the rat cage or technicolor.

Take aaaall that time you’ve spent on Twitter.  Subtract out any real humanesque interaction – be honest now.  I’ll let you keep that, because sometimes it is fun to check someone’s link to a picture of the sleeping guy next to him on the flight (thanks, some funny guy who follows me).  Now how much time do you spend talking to the great void?   When you post your latest doohickey, do you rush back to check the views on Etsy?  Then back to Twitter… then back to Etsy… then…oh, right, leave a @reply to someone, because that will seem human of you, and there’s a 25% chance that the person you reply to might, in some future moment, click on a link that you’ve posted.  Which you will dutifully check by rushing back to Etsy.  Not that you’d be able to document this in any meaningful way, but you’d give yourself the idea that Twitter “definitely helps.”  

Is this your marketing, promotion and sales strategy?  No really, tell me it isn’t.  Visually, I picture it like this:  you run outside and leave your business card on the sidewalk, or maybe a picture of what you’re hawking with contact info.  Some people walk by, maybe even 11,000 people.  Maybe someone picks it up, maybe not.  After a few minutes, you dash back outside to check if anyone picked up the card.  If so, you put another one on the sidewalk.  If not, you go back and wait.  Repeat process indefinitely, or until you realize you sure need a shower or a meal or to leave for your real job.  

My heretical suggestion is that you get your bum off Twitter now and then. Next, take that time and pour, shovel and cram it into something that might be called an activity.  Find better outlets.  You may even have to – god forbid! – spend a few bucks advertising to a qualified, target market.  Sure, go ahead and send the pictures of your fingers photoshopped to look like sausages (I laughed till I cried) – enjoy it for what it is and don’t count on it bringing in the sales.

Yeah, yeah, there are those who will vehemently disagree with me and insist that their Etsy business booms because of Twitter.  You are free to tell me I don’t know what the bedazzzler I’m talking about, and I don’t mind, because I know your secret; you come from that different midwestern factory where they make the rare bird who is a success right out of the starting block and don’t even realize it.  I think there are three of you.  Maybe you interpret my crabbiness as jealousy, but I’d redirect you to frustration instead.  Anyone who reads my blog knows the idea of constraining myself to 140 characters is like something right out of Dante’s Inferno.

To wrap up, self-interest dictates that I should drop my info here.  If you have a soft spot for the unflappable, uncool kid on the fringe of the cafeteria, I’ll be there with my flabby sandwich:  https://twitter.com/CrowBiz

But I’m only one voice in 11,000.

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Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Lemonade Stand Mistakes for Etsy Sellers

Posted by crowbiz on May 13, 2009

This is a parable about some really bad ways to start your business.  If you can’t uncover the parallels, you might want to compress your head in a sliding glass door for 30 minutes, then come back and try again.  One of my favorite sayings is, “Look within.”  

Growing up, I lived in an odd, remote semi-suburban, semi-rural compound that could be called a neighborhood.  It was a small arc of a “street” containing exactly 18 houses, with another six facing the busy roadway from which our lonely road sprang.  We were bordered by the busy road on one side, and large tracts of woods and farmland on the other three.  We had ditches in front of our houses. The road was not paved, but was made up of an unappealing oil, tar and chipped stone mixture.  Summer fun sometimes involved popping the tar bubbles that swelled up, and since we had no traffic except for the few, not-very-on-the-go residents, a kid could actually sit in the middle of the street doing something as mindless as popping tar bubbles. Every eye from every house would widen and follow any nonresident car that happened along the street.  

Luckily, I had several friends around my age, so childhood life went along almost normally, except for the strange themes that we developed because of our isolation.  We were rather like specimens on the Galapagos Islands, following the general rules of life, but evolving our own bizarre mutations.

Thus is was that we decided to open a stand to sell something.  Something.  I don’t recall what the actual stand was – an appliance box, perhaps, or a piece of hand-me-down fort from neighborhood boys?  Whatever its form, the physical stand was the impetus for opening shop, though we had no plan.  We lacked supplies for lemonade or Kool-Aid .  So after straining our collective brains a bit, we came up with a suitable alternative:  salad dressing.  Into the blender went a load of ingredients, a pinch of this, a 9-year-old’s fistful of that, until we whizzed up what we thought was a perfectly acceptable concoction.  It tasted salty, so that was good, and it was a loud green color.  

Great as a marinade, too!Now, to marketing.  The name we agreed on (by a committee of four) was “Grople.”  Pronounced GROPE-uhl.  Like Snapple, but with Grope instead of Snap.  And way before Snapple was invented.  Say it a few times.  Mmmm.  We kept the Grople in a large plastic container and planned to dispense the customer’s portion into a paper cup, the kind you’d use for, oh, lemonade, say.  We expected them to run right home with it, eager to try it out, so we wouldn’t even bother with a lid.  Or perhaps we thought customers would rush our stand with their naked salads and use the cup to dip the lettuce in.  Our target market consisted of street traffic.  If you’re not sharp, you may want to reread the second paragraph.  It was a sweltering summer day.  All systems were go!

Let’s spare ourselves the grueling details of the grand failure and just skip to the part where we disband later in the day having sold not a drop of Grople.  What happened? we asked.  How could this have bombed so badly?  Were we not shouting loud enough to attract people?  Did we set up the stand too far away from the street?  Were our signs hard to read, or written too small?  Was it the economic climate?  It was a blend of mystery and disappointment for all of us.  Not only did we not make a penny, we had wasted a good summer day sitting there minding the stand, had shouted ourselves hoarse, and had a gallon of spoiled green oil and spices to deal with.

Have you started looking within?

When you’ve grown close to something, it’s hard to see its faults with a clear eye.  Your project, your product, is your baby, just like our Grople was to us.  After a session back at the drawing board we crafted some important changes and vowed we wouldn’t go down in retail flames again.  Several weeks later we reopened another shop with new conviction.  Our sweeping changes?  The salad dressing was now lighter green, and we’d rechristened it Grople II.  If you can’t guess what happened, you probably should have just left your coat on.  The bus will be coming soon.

Sweet mother of invention, we can be thankful there was no public outlet for our distress.  Nowhere to ask, plead and beg for answers about why we weren’t selling.  No one to hear us lament, “OMG, the kids in that subdivision a mile away are copying us!  They’re selling liverwurst in ceramic mugs…that’s food, that’s cups… It’s so unfair!  How come our parents won’t do anything about it?”  No one to ask, “How long did it take to sell your first cup of hot, green salad dressing?”

Don’t be a Grople Wanker.

Posted in Business & Etsy | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »