Abby – Co-founder & Marketing Director
As Nancy and I prepared for our first summer market at Yorkville Village this past Wednesday, we found ourselves in a tornado of product fulfillment and booth set-up prep. Over the last few days, I’ve spent hours sitting on the floor of my basement, mixing and matching our assorted card sets amongst skyscrapers of boxes. I’ve singed my fingers over and over again as I try to figure out how to use the G-D shrink-wrapping machine for our wrapping sheet rolls. And Nancy has spent countless hours building individual square card holders, going so far to drill and drop metal pellets into each to give them weight so our cards won’t tip (genius!) and painting each one black. She’s ransacked her place to collect vintage pails and wash them in her bathtub so we could fill them with our wrapping sheet rolls, scoured the city for the best deals on fresh flowers, and found empty boxes and recycled ribbons to wrap “presents” for our booth display.
Our goal is to stretch every dollar we spend, by re-using and reimagining the function of items we already have, but consciously investing in items we definitely need, like our custom Bonnefetti sign to be used at every summer market. It’s sleek, premium, and beautiful – reflecting our passion for quality, artistry, and bespoke design.
We could probably have paid someone to fulfill our product assortment or paid $24.00 per each manufactured tiny square card holder – but we would then be paying to run our business…which seems like well, bad business.
So we’ve learned to get pretty resourceful and scrappy – and we’ve both luckily stayed curious and enthusiastic throughout this process. Despite the calloused fingertips that I’m typing with, I honestly love how enterprising and inventive we’ve become.
From product photography, Instagram posts, website creation, to SEO, and even bartering brand strategies for PR – these are all skills we learned and developed in the last decade of our careers.
So I thought it’d only be appropriate to write and share a business hacks series. Today, I thought I’d focus on our website. Nancy and I both have some serious digital chops – our background and expertise is in digital strategy & planning, such as UX (User Experience), UI (User Interface design), digital content creation, keyword trends and adwords, SEO, and on-site analytics and reporting. Needless to say, the website was probably one of the easiest (but time-consuming) pieces to tackle.
If you’re an up-start start-up, it’s important to recognize that a website doesn’t begin and end with a domain filled with images and words. There’s a lot you can do to improve your presence or rank in search engines by optimizing your relevance and authority, as well as enhance usability for your customer. The sum of these actions will improve the experience your customer has with your company and brand, as well as provide non-paid (or organic) exposure and awareness to your consumers.
Below is a short but focused list of questions to answer before you create your website – trust me, it will save you from going off into a million directions and thinking that your website has to do absolutely everything (ie: capture leads, live chat with customers, show a pop-up when someone’s about to leave your site, send an email immediately if they abandon cart, etc), which ultimately creates a really poor, disjointed experience for your customer that will make them b to the ounce.
So before you start taking that product photography or writing snappy headlines and descriptions, create a blueprint before you build your ‘house’. Even if you’re using a Shopify or Squarespace template, it will definitely help you decide where to spend your time and resources when developing content, provide an easy user-experience, and ultimately yield conversion to sales!
Questions to ask before you build your website (with some examples to help demonstrate):
What’s my business objective?
Make Bonnefetti the desired and preferred paper goods choice of stationery enthusiasts!
How will I acquire, engage, and convert my consumers on my website?
Acquire: Drive qualified (not click-baity) traffic to your website
PR: make sure you’re always asking press to mention your website. It’s great to have your company name peppered throughout an article but a link to your site in an online article will a) drive traffic to your site, and b) provide more link authority, because any links from trusted external websites will improve your domain authority, and therefore improve your search ranking.
Facebook & Instagram ads: – target your desired audience and include interests (related to your product or service) in your targeting! Make your dollars work harder, and those with like-minded interests may be more likely to care about your product/service.
Influencer mentions: Celebrities, digital personalities, or influencers that mention or take photography with your product/service will help spread awareness to their community, while also driving traffic to your site
Engage: Create interest and consideration of your product/service.
Great photography can show off your product and create aspiration (Nancy will take us through some photography hacks from lighting, to set up, and angles in our next business hacks series).
A Blog & an About Us section is another platform to share your story beyond the product you’re selling, to help create support and a community that provides ongoing positive sentiment and loyalty.
IG stories are a quick, easy, and cheap way to update your community and is a more forgiving channel for lower image or video quality in exchange for real-time content.
Outcome: Motivate and enable purchase
Whether you’re selling your products/service online or driving people in-store – make the transaction easy-peasy. Organize your products by collections or price, create logic to your digital display and consider how people would browse and shop in real life. Allow people to go back and forth between products easily instead of forcing them to click the “back” button every time they want to compare. And make sure it only takes one click to add to cart and checkout.
Provide incentives or test different shipping rates / or even ship products at a small loss (but not at the loss of all profit margins!) when you’re first starting out. Losing a sale because of shipping costs, can really undermine interest or desire for your product or service – and unless the shipping cost is a fairly small percentage of your product price (5-10%), it might be hard for consumers to follow through to purchase.
How will I measure success?
How many sales do you need to operate at a profit? What about to break-even? You should have this number in mind before you start investing money into anything to operate your business. It will help you decide how to budget and where to splurge. It will also give you a sense of how much traffic you need to drive to your website based on what percentage convert to purchase. As much as that income statement can be tedious, it’s important to have a goal if you want to take your start-up to sustainable. Set targets. Reach them. Set new targets!
Now that you have a plan, reconsider how you’ve evaluated the different website templates that you’ve perused. Are they helping you reach your goals? If you’ve used other channels to tell your story (ie: social or PR), your website may be perceived as more of a marketplace. For example, a fashion blogger could show off an outfit from Revolve on Instagram, so a consumer is ready to buy that outfit by the time they reach the Revolve website. Take a look at the Revolve website (http://www.revolve.com) – you see best sellers and product for purchase first. EVERY CTA is “shop”. Homepages that feature and focus on look-books or your company mission, may distract your consumer from “shopping” – so you might rather select a template that immediately shows off your product selection and prices on the homepage if your consumers are ready to buy, by the time they reach your site. All some food for thought before you start.
In our 3-part Website Series, next Nancy will chat about the process of styling and populating a templated website and then I’ll round it out with some sexy SEO talk.
Happy creating and wish us luck as we continue touring Toronto summer markets! Despite this era of digital engagement and social media, we also know the power of the face-to-face marketplace. We love meeting our customers and they seem to like meeting us too. Also, people like to touch things they buy – who would have thought?! We’re taking confetti to the concrete – meet you all there!
Stay classy and sassy <3
Abby & Nancy