6 Tips For Building A Brand On Etsy And Beyond

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There are many steps that come in between having a great idea for a product and selling it successfully on Etsy. But one of the keys to your merchandise's success is developing and promoting a strong brand around it. There are plenty of online outlets to sell your wares (Ebay, Craigslist, etc), but Etsy is unique in that the buyers are searching for handmade, vintage or customizable crafts and goods. Etsy has over 1.5 million active sellers, so if you are going to throw your hat in the ring as one of their “creative entrepreneurs” you have to pioneer a way to stand out. Your item will be one of 36 million and sadly, quality alone cannot speak for it — as the potential purchasers are looking at it on a screen and not holding it in their hand.

Etsy itself knows the value of good branding — they have 99 articles on branding and marketing on their site to help their sellers. In one of the article from the Etsy’s Seller’s Handbook, marketing coach Sarah Stearns writes, “A strong brand can be a company’s most valued asset. Brands are based on a promise and built through consistent customer experience. Each customer interaction is an opportunity that can make or break the customer’s relationship with the brand.” But just how does one make a name for themselves? Following a few of these quick and dirty tips and you can turn your fledgling business into something exciting.

1. Define Your Brand

Etsy encourages that you think of your brand as "the promise that a shop makes to its customers." Branding is like turning your company into a character, and then everything you do for it has to be written in the character's voice and designed in their image. To find your company's image start by asking yourself some questions: What are the values intrinsic to your shop? What are the non-commercial reasons that you make the product?

These answers will help create a story and ethos around the products — it sure worked for Toms and Ben & Jerry's. It will also make your product seem even more special, and make the customer feel like they are part of something bigger (next stop brand loyalty!).

2. Define Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Why should customers choose your product over a competitors? What is special and sets your products apart from the herd? This ties into the idea of branding as a promise to your customers — so what is that promise? Are your pillows stitched by hand and made of only recycled materials? Is your jewelry nickel free and hypoallergenic? Ask yourself: how does your product better serve the customer's needs?

3. Find Your Key Words

Have you ever been asked on a job interview to describe yourself in three words? It may seem difficult to whittle down our entire being into just a few choice adjectives, but it's vital for selling a brand. These descriptors are important to make sure you stay "on brand." To find the right words try the 20/10/4 exercise. Write 20 words that describe your brand and products, then eliminate half, and then whittle the remaining list down to four. These can be emotional words that define the shared experience of your products, such as optimistic, peaceful, ethical, or sardonic. See an example of 20/10/4 used here on the Buy Me Love blog. You could hit your head against a wall for hours trying to think up the next "Just do it," but you shouldn't stress over a slogan till you have these key words figured out.

4. Define Your Target Market

Getting your message out can be exhausting. Trying to sell to everyone will fatigue both you and the possible customers. You can more successfully market your product by focussing your efforts down to a specific group of consumers. Your target market are the types of people who would actually use your product. They are defined by certain characteristics related to what you are trying to sell. For example, you wouldn't market dog sweaters to cat lovers. Your target for doggy coats most likely own a dog, and live somewhere with a cold season.

And just like you can think of your brand as a character, it can be helpful to "personalize your target market by creating your very own ideal customer," recommends Brenda Lavell, a full-time Etsy seller. Her excellent article even contains a helpful worksheet showing how to determine your ideal customer and will help you focus your brand even more.

5. Make It Attractive

All your packaging, labelling, website design, and essentially the whole customer experience should align with the attributes of the brand. The more unique the experience the more exciting. However, you still need to maintain a clear message and make sure it matches everything from the colors you choose to your social promotion.

6. Deliver on Your Promises

Good customer service speaks volumes so be sure to handle the business side of things with panache. Going the extra step to make sure the entire process runs smoothly is always appreciated by consumers. This could even extend to a follow-up email asking how they are enjoying the product, adding a personalized note in the packaging, or giving promo discounts and coupons. Be sure to get feedback from your customers on their experience and be ready to change if there is a way to better serve them. Now go out there and wreck it!

For more info and stories check out the Etsy Success Facebook page.

Image: Malik Evren/E+/Getty Images, giphy