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Early Days - Using sales to market and not sell

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Paul from Firelake Clothing Co. with some more learning and advice for my fellow newbies ?

Disclaimer: I am not an expert and I like to do things the hard way (I find I learn better by doing than reading, so telling you this actually goes against my morals... but, meh, whatever ?)

I'd like to add some comments on sales and giveaways, as feel it's too easy to think that throwing money at the problem (because it will cost you) will solve your issues.

I actually just finished a sale and you know what, I sold more AFTER the event had ended than I did during - nuts? not really.

So I'm sat there realising that it's too early, it's too early to think that a good old sale will just drive people in and convert them because stuff is on offer - this comes down to brand confidence and awareness and actually in the early days I think a sale (and especially the promotional work you should do on it) should be more about driving awareness than sales themselves.

Don't be too keen to devalue your product (and subsequently brand) in the hope of a quick fix, people still wont buy from you because they dont know you and actually, you probably made them less likely to buy because they may now view your product as a cheap / inferior alternative trying to cash in on the market).

But do use your activity to show how good your store is, to capture their details and re-engage with them later.

Some of my own advice here goes against my own "salesman" experience and methods (convert them whilst you've got em there etc) but these only really work face to face and in the online world, people like to mooch about, they can browse a virtual highstreet in a few clicks rather than an hour of walking (or 4 if you're with my missus) so they do.

Instead of focusing on the ideology that a low price = more sales, focus on the extra stuff about you and your company, the stuff they will remember when they leave your site empty handed, but return at a later date because you struck a chord with them and got inside their head (this could be your ethics or contribution to worthy causes etc).

Using heatmaps, I've seen a lot more of my traffic hitting the "about us" button than actual product and this is such valuable information to see, because it tells me people want to know more about me and the company first, before they'll invest in our product.

I've more work to do on this myself, but like to share my insights with those starting out as feel I can give you some hope, even if you think you are failing.

You're not. The online world is so saturated now, it is a very difficult place to launch a business (even if technically easy through amazing platforms like Shopify).  Success stories like Ugmonk (a store that inspired me) had it far easier than you do now, the world was far less internet savvy and saturated with ecommerce.  It doesn't mean it wasn't hard work, but those with vision and passion for what they did, had a much higher chance of achieving earlier success than you do now - it's just a numbers game.

I worked for a PC Software & Hardware company in the early noughties (1997-2007 to be precise) and experienced the .COM explosion (and bursting) first hand.  Even now, BIG corporate companies are only just getting themselves setup online properly, some 16 years after the Internet / Ecommerce exploded into life.  Just think how it will look in another 15-16 years... scary... so you're actually STILL in a good place to make a go of this 🙂

Remember: The world is a big place, like, really big... and customers like choice, lots of choice... so there will always be a place for you and your product and there will always be people that connect with it - you just need to find them.

Somebody tried to tell me that it was no good trying to be like a Gucci or Armani (hell I'll even take Hollister or Abercrombie to you US folk) as they wouldn't know who `Firelake` were - sure - I agree with this to an extent, those companies have decades of history and loyal fan bases, but I'll tell you what - people like choice (did I say that already?) and if you can create designs and products that they love, it doesn't matter who you are, you WILL sell them.

So what will set you apart from the other 1000s of stores trying the same thing? (and you'll see many of them on these forums, opening and closing) your sheer determination and will power, plus the knowledge that in 15-16 years time the net will be even more crowded than Waterloo / NYC station in rush hour.

Build your story, take your customers on a journey (to coin a phrase) and do read the various articles on these forums about creating a brand identity - I would really say to nail that before you do anything else - if you focus on driving people to your store first, you'll be wasting your time and energy (but if you're like me and like to learn by doing, testing things, go for it - just know what to expect and be in it for the long run).

Feel free to message me for any help or advice, either on this forum, my site or social media @firelakeco.  I'm still a novice, but can share more of my experiences with you, plus I'm also a savvy and resilient son of a... ?

Good luck!


Founder & Designer
Firelake Clothing Co.

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