Every so often, even the most unconventional free spirits must shackle themselves back to traditional thinking. Sorry! But here’s the good news. You can still do very ordinary things in a very extraordinary way, particularly if you’re in the entrepreneurial world.
When you’re thinking about choices for starting your own business, especially online, it’s critical to remember some of the old standards of marketing. One of the biggest is about your company’s identity.
Look in the box for a minute. Until e-commerce came into its own in the last couple of decades, you had storefronts and mail-order catalogs to operate most retail entities. Those were the hands-on days! But now that most hands are on a mouse or a touch screen instead of a steering wheel or shopping cart, we must look at old-fashioned marketing facts in a new-fangled way.
The little things matter more than ever. Back in the days of mail-order retail, goods arrived in boxes imprinted with the company’s logo and maybe a toll-free number. Stop and think about why that stuff was there. If you’ve already bought the product, don’t you know who they are and how to reach them? Of course you do. But the box wasn’t necessarily designed for your eyes, it was for all the other eyes that happen across it. If you picked up your shipment from the post office or in a store, you’ve walked by dozens of other people on the way to your car. They’ve seen the logo, and that’s why it’s on there.
With modern technology, a quick buy-our-stuff-dot-com web address featured prominently on the box makes it even easier for passers-by to follow up on their coveting of your stuff. After all, web addresses are far easier and more logical to remember than randomly-assigned phone numbers. If you’re the seller, that’s great news, especially if you don’t have an actual store somewhere that those passers-by are also, well, passing by. Customers toting your boxes are walking ads for your business. So as you find computer suppliers, sources for inputs, and all the other necessities for your venture, don’t forget to locate corrugated box manufacturers who will make a nice little billboard for your customers to carry around.
What goes on that billboard? You. The face of your business must be distinct, memorable, and self-explanatory. If you’re making outfits for babies, the happy tot in your logo should probably be a full-body (and fully-clothed) image. If you make ceramics, a stylized potter huddled around the spinning wheel would make sense. Get an identity that makes sense for who you are and what you do, and then use it consistently in everything you turn out. Make it the clip art on your invoices (for heaven’s sake, avoid those templates that came with the software if you can’t customize them), have it on your web page, use it as your profile pic. Get it out there any time that your name is seen, and make sure it tells as much of your story as it can.
Cardboard boxes and invoices are as traditional as business comes, but addressing those needs in a new way is a key step in making your little cottage industry a success. You may now exit the box and resume your normal rebellion.