Last Chance for a Free CCE Ticket!

The free ticket giveaway on design*sponge ends tomorrow at 8AM for the Conference of Creative Entrepreneurs, so if you want a chance to win, act quickly!  The rules are at the bottom of my latest “biz ladies” article, titled “Maintain Confidence in a Competitive Market,” which is all about keeping it together as a creative professional when everyone else in the world seems younger, skinnier and more talented than you.

If you’d like to remove the element of chance altogether, you can get your ticket at the CCE site, which has day passes and full weekend passes available for extremely reasonable prices.

News Update Announcement Sharings

You may have also noticed a conspicuous lack of business-y articles on here lately — but NOT because I haven’t been writing them.  On the contrary, I have been working super hard on some of my best articles ever, as the newest Biz Lady contributor to design*sponge!  My first Biz Lady article, all about accepting credit cards, runs Tuesday (2/16).  Another big article all about pricing will run the week of the 22nd.  I’m honored to join the team.  The Biz Ladies put together some of the clearest and most thorough small business articles on the web. If you haven’t visited the Biz Ladies yet, make sure to check it out.

Also happening tomorrow is the New People Artist’s Village in San Francisco’s Japantown.  If you love Japanese pop culture (or have a Valentine who does), you’ll love this event.  I’ll be there peddling some of my latest designs along with ten other super talented artists and one VERY delicious cupcake baker.  This show is a collaboration between New People and Bazaar Bizarre SF, so you know it will be good.  New People is at 1746 Post St. The show runs from 12-8pm.

And finally, I’m excited to announce that Gryphon the Yoka is just about ready to begin his journey with the DKE touring exhibition!  His first stop will be at the Black Maria Gallery in Los Angeles.  To see the show containing literally hundreds of customized Yoka toys, visit the exhibition from February 18th-23rd.  The opening reception is Thursday, February 18, 7:00 - 10:30pm.  Black Maria is located at 3137 Glendale Blvd. (in Glendale, obvs.).  If you haven’t been there before, Black Maria is a really great gallery.  The space is perfect for these kinds of shows and they carry other designer toys (including Sweet Meats!) at the gallery shop next door.

I think Gryph is pretty neat.  His legs, “arms” and head all move in their sockets and his wings are totally bendable.  That means you can shape him into literally millions of different poses!

If you want to make Gryphon your own, he will be available for purchase at the show.  You will receive him when the exhibition finishes touring this spring.

Inexpensive Marketing and Promotion (Part 1)

Fifteen years ago, it was nearly impossible to reach potential customers outside of your immediate geographical area without spending thousands of dollars, which gave big corporations a huge advantage over small businesses. These days, however, thanks to the Worldwide Web, the scales are tipping. A small business can reach millions of people around the world overnight, and those millions can buy your product without even standing up. Furthermore, the long tail of the Internet tends to favor small, nimble ventures that can take creative risks without some mammoth bureaucracy slowing down their decision-making process. Just look at the success of port2port press or a self-released band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who sold 20,000 copies of their self-made debut album.

Yesterday I wrote about trade shows, which are perhaps the most expensive marketing tools a small business can use, but they are just one type of weapon in an arsenal of less expensive marketing options. In this post (and three more to follow) I’ve described a few alternative and inexpensive ways to get attention for your awesome new ideas:

Go door-to-door: (Cost: two or three days of your time, plus printed materials) It’s how those Uglydolls got started. They walked right up to the owner of Giant Robot, one of their favorite local stores, and asked if they could sell their wares there. Then they approached a second local store, Plastica, and later, a few others. Giant Robot also has a magazine, which gave them some press, but all in all, it was the word-of-mouth by excited customers that got them where they are today.

When going door-to-door, it is important to check out all of the stores in a particular neighborhood you are thinking of approaching, and then rank them by preference. Approach those stores in order, and stop when you have gotten orders from two or three of them. You do not want to create competition for the stores you are trying to buddy up to and you don’t want to saturate your local market too quickly. It is also important to only approach stores that you really think are appropriate environments for your products. If there is only one store in your neighborhood that fits your style, don’t approach a second store that seems like a long shot. It is a big waste of your time and theirs to try to pursue a connection that isn’t there and you might get a reputation for not knowing your audience.

Get yourself some press: (Cost: two or three days of your time, possibly postage, envelopes/boxes, printed materials) You need to put an appropriate amount of time into this for it to work (and have good photos of your stuff), but it can work really well. Grace Bonney of design*sponge has already done us the amazing service of putting together an excellent (and short!) step-by-step public relations guide, so I’m not going to include any separate instructions here. One note, though: give popular blogs equal attention to popular magazines. Not only do they often have just as many devoted readers, they link right to your shop!

Check back tomorrow for more inexpensive marketing and promotion ideas!

Sources: Crowndozen.com Interview: Uglydolls
(port2port interview) Mateo Ilasco, Meg. Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2007.