What is UP my friends and fellow busybees, I hope your day is going well so far and you’re excited to talk all about marketing your furniture painting and refinishing business in today’s episode. Now, this is a conversation that I have more so in my one-on-one chats with my clients rather than getting public comments or questions and so what I’ve gathered is that people are a little hesitant to talk about the fact that they want to grow and market their business better because they… I don’t know, maybe don’t want to admit that they don’t yet have it fully figured out?
I’ve also seen it where people may not have the right systems set up (or any systems set up at all) in their business so they spend a lot more time on other administrative and other smaller tasks and then don’t necessarily have the time to solely dedicate to marketing their business to get more eyes on it. Other times, I find that people are often doing the same things over and over hoping that they might end up sticking and reaching the people they hope to be instead of trying to think up other ideas and trying something new out. Whatever the reason may be, if you are someone that has been having the thought in the back of your mind that you need to increase your brand awareness and reach more people to further develop your client list or increase incoming projects, then this episode is for you! Even if you’re pretty happy with where your marketing efforts currently are, maybe you’ll get an idea or two rolling through your head by the end of this episode for something to add to the To Do list in the future or something different that you could try out to see how it goes.
So… when you run your own business, fortunately or unfortunately, you are the one doing all of the work, at least in the beginning. This means that you are magically given the title, among many other things, of Chief Marketing Officer. Congratulations, but do you have any idea what to do with it? It’s totally fine if you don’t, but let’s talk through the way you can figure out a blueprint for yourself and your small business.
First think about the services or products you offer and then think of the types of people who would be willing to purchase those things. Depending on what you offer, you might have to think up multiple categories of people because, for example, you might have one group that would be willing to purchase your custom refinishing services but another different group who is interested in investing in a 1-on-1 call with you to discuss an upcoming makeover they’re going to take on themselves.
So consider who this ideal client is and then try to do a deep dive into who they are, what they do, where they spend their time, and where they spend their money. This will help you to better understand where you need to show up and what you need to say in order to get onto their radar and have them consider spending their precious, hard-earned money on you.
There’s also the notion of proximity to consider– are you trying to grow your clientele locally, or grow a following more broadly, maybe on social media? And if you are already trying to grow like that on social media, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why? I feel like it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the Instagram or TikTok worlds and think that we’re always needing to create content and output as much as we can as quick as possible… but if you’re only looking to sell to local clients and you’re not optimizing your posting for your location, then I’m sorry to tell you my friend but you may be wasting some of your time!
While it may be important to have a social presence to increase your credibility, particularly if you don’t have a website, and you want to have somewhere to act as a portfolio to show off your work, you don’t necessarily need to be showing up there super consistently day after day. Now, if your intention is to be a content creator and partner with brands and teach others and eventually monetize that in some way then yes, absolutely, you may very well want to be consistent on your socials. But just some food for thought because I know how incessant the content creating and posting can get and if you’re finding that you don’t have enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, that may be an area that you can step back and it won’t have a negative outcome on your income.
Alright, so while we’re here, let’s talk about using social media to market your business. Again, whoever your ideal client is, you want to be thinking about where they are hanging out on social media, when, and what they’re searching for or the algorithm would be putting in their feeds based on their interests and their activity online. Now obviously you need to be doing a bit of guessing with this, but you can also do market research by looking up any consumer trends and reports that may be relevant, or even polling your existing following or your family and friends who fall into the rough category of your ideal client and see where the overlap is. Then, show up where they say they are and use the same words and phrases that they do so that your content gets in front of their face.
Social media and the platforms change almost daily so there’s always small nuances within all of this, but that’s the gist of it. If you are looking to grow your local following, make sure you use the locations tagging in your posts and on your stories. Use hashtags relevant to your area. Maybe even create some content relative to your area, like “my favourite stores to shop for my furniture makeover supplies in *insert city here*” and hope that you come across people with mutual interests to yours and your work.
I also recommend networking with other people in your local area that would have similar but adjacent clients to yours and see if you can collaborate in some way, or even just shout out their business because you love it and sometimes that opens up doors for further conversation and potential collaboration down the road. So for furniture painting and refinishing, similar but adjacent places may be things like thrift stores, zero waste supermarkets, stores that sell eco friendly products or sustainable home décor products, things like that.
Whenever you can access these audiences, you’re more likely to be able to get their clients into your orbit because the chances are, the people who shop there are the kinds of people who would be interested in shopping your products as well. You don’t necessarily want to find the person who doesn’t know what recycling is, uses solely single use products and doesn’t have a home to furnish. That person may be a harder sell on buying refinished furniture pieces than someone who already has demonstrated a vested interest in sustainability, being eco friendly and is a recent homeowner who has a big space to fill or something like that. You know what I mean?
It’s the same thing when I’m trying to market my podcast – I do market it on social media and let people know when new episodes have launched in case anyone is interested in listening in, but the large majority of my marketing time and efforts are put into advertising to people who are already podcast listeners, by guesting on other podcasts that make sense for my niche and trying to connect with podcast listeners in other ways online, like through forums and discussion boards. You want to take the path of least resistance when it comes to acquiring these clients, especially at the beginning when you have so many things to get done and limited time to do it in. So sit down with a pen and some paper and map out what that would look like for you and your business.
When it comes to social media, I am also very much of the belief that you should do what you can and say fuck it to the rest. I guess a nicer way of saying it would be “do your best and forget the rest” (anyone else immediately brought back to the p90x days hearing that guy repeat that over and over as you can barely see through the amount of sweat pouring down your forehead? No? Just me? Okay great).
If you don’t have the time to post every day, then don’t. If you don’t have the time to post every other day, then don’t. If your time and your schedule only allow you to post once per week, per month, whatever– just do that. Do that, and don’t spend another minute thinking about, stressing about or worrying about it. Save that time and use it for something more useful. So often we spend so much time and brain power should-ing all over ourselves (“I should be doing this! I should have done that! Wow, I have some free time, I guess I really should do X…”). No. Make your decision, stick to it, and then turn your brain off of that frequency past there because again, it’s just a waste of your time and I want to help save you time. And as long as you’re consistent, you’ll eventually form it into a habit and it will become part of your routine and be less of a have to do thing in your mind and on your To Do list.
Another thing worth exploring is what platforms on social media you want to be on. Like I said earlier, figure out where your ideal client is and try and make that your primary platform that you show up on but if in the future you decide you want to expand into other platforms, my recommendation and what I have been doing recently that seems to have been working is to show up on the platforms where the furniture flipping community maybe isn’t so salient. We all know there’s a huge group of us on Instagram, but have you ever taken a look over on Twitter? Reddit? Clubhouse? Twitch? Some of these other platforms that still have millions and millions of users, but that market just hasn’t been tapped into yet in quite the same way. Wouldn’t it be neat to be one of those who helps pave the way on those platforms, especially if they’re already platforms you know and like and use anyway? Just some food for thought!
And if you want to market your business locally, not necessarily on social media, again, think of those places you can show up that your ideal client might be. Some quick options that come to mind for that:
Participate in a local market or fair, especially if there are ones tailors to secondhand items and/or sustainability products;
Some people choose to host an ongoing booth at things like vintage markets that are more ongoing versus a craft market that runs for one weekend only;
Connect with other business owners who would have clients that may be interested in your work - is there a way you can potentially collaborate where you promote each other’s items? Maybe you could have some of your pieces used to hold items in their storefront with some of your business cards laying around for those who are interested?
If you care to spend money on your marketing, you can also pay for ads online and target certain demographics through the Facebook and Instagram ads or on anything else you think would be relevant and helpful to get the word out about your business;
Are there local publications you can connect with to get the word out about you and your business - think local business bureaus, newspapers, magazines, podcasts, radio shows or newsletters;
Are there local spots you frequent that have somewhere where people can leave their cards out for others to peruse? Maybe a local coffee shop, coworking space, or even community bulletin boards? The best advice I can give is the more creative you get, the more you will see the impact!
Another thing that was something I needed to learn and push past the awkwardness of is just being comfortable actively talking about your work with new people. Don’t be annoying but whenever it comes up, lean in and chat with people about what you do because most people are interested in it and know very little about this world so it’s a great way to help inform people that there’s other options out there instead of buying new, and/or they might just be interested in your work and what that looks like day-to-day! Either way, every conversation is an opportunity to share knowledge, teach, and potentially network. It’s for this reason that I always make sure that I have some business cards on me wherever I go.
And yes, I recommend having business cards– for some industries they aren’t very useful, but for ours, I think it is. Whenever you’re chatting with someone about your work or if they’re asking about the projects that you’re working on, when the conversation wraps up just grab one of your cards and say “here’s my card with some information on where you can check out more of my work if you’re interested!” or whatever. They might just take it to be nice and toss it later, but they might check out your website or your social media or if nothing else, they might look at your business name and then down the line when they’re chatting with their cousin and they mention wanting to refinish a piece of furniture in your home, they might remember your business name and be able to refer them to you. It’s all about getting as many touchpoints with people as possible so that when the time comes to find someone who does furniture painting or refinishing, that you’re the one who comes to mind.
I also include my business cards with the thank you cards that I write for everyone that buys one of my pieces– again, to get that exposure for me and the business but I always put at least two cards so that they can share one with a friend or family member or whoever that may be interested, if they can think of someone. Word of mouth and referrals have been huge for me and my business as a way of getting new clients into my world, because people just feel more comfortable choosing a product or a service provider that someone they know or trust recommends and had a good experience with.
I know I do the exact same thing– when we got our new puppy, I obviously researched vets in our area and looked at reviews and the services they offer and the service providers themselves, but then I took that short list and asked our friends in our area which vet they use for their dogs and their experiences there and I used that to inform my decision.
Because reviews are great (and as a service provider and business owner I can tell you that there is no better feeling than receiving a positive public review on my Google page or Facebook page or something) but at the end of the day, I don’t know the integrity or the level of quality that the people writing these reviews expect. So instead, I like to listen to those that I know closely and can be reassured by their perspective and experience. So always remember that when you’re working with clients because your reputation is everything… and also, as my first employer once said and I will never forget it: “it’s nice to be nice”. So just be nice to everyone you work with, and the rest will come naturally.
The biggest thing to remember is that you never know until you ask. And get comfortable with being uncomfortable asking because the more you do it, the more it will be second nature to you to put yourself out there and not even be phased by it. The reality is that nobody else is going to do this for us, other than our raving clients who leave us reviews and spread your name through word of mouth, so you need to put aside any worries or concerns about maybe looking silly or being awkward and step into business owner mode and ask yourself, would a CEO of a huge company give a shit about doing this? Probably not, so let’s embrace that energy as we move forward trying to put ourselves on the map, shall we?
And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.
So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is from Rob Dial on the Mindset Mentor podcast and it is: Create the life you want or settle for the one you get.
Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!