DO A REEL!
I hadn't used a pen to write in months so my words looked strange to me as I scribbled down notes, the same way they would after 6 weeks of summer holidays and it's your first day back at school writing your name. However this particular note taking sesh was for a far more exciting reason. My application for A South London Makers Market had been accepted (so much yay) and I was now sitting in on Daisy & Liv's Sales Power Hour zoom call (how to make the most out of your online market day and beyond).
Squares & things at this point in time (August - Septemberish) was getting some OK traction, in my previous blog post I mentioned the stage I was at mentally - fire in my belly, ready to push my business further - but my instagram content wasn't matching this energy. Hence why I thought it'd be great to get some extra tips from A South London Makers Market - two ladies who both clearly knew what they were talking about.
I've kept my sheet of paper I took notes on and often refer back to it - the most important points like 'DO A REEL!!!' marked in red pen. I felt it was important for me to share a few of the content tips that have worked for ME personally and how I implemented them in the lead up to market day, as it essentially changed the course of squares & things and it might help you!
1. The Magic Dust
The magic dust being YOU! Get on camera and introduce yourself, show your brand and genuine passion for your product. I maybe had two or three posts that showed my face them on my instagram - ironic as my personal account was just me me me and then sometimes me modelling in underwear. I hadn't switched onto the fact that I needed to show the small but lovely following I had (350 at this point), who I was and why I LOVED what I was making.
In my day job I have to self promote all the time so I was ready to put this skill into practice for my personal business. I got straight on the reels, posed with my products and just hoped my friends that followed me weren't taking the piss - they didn't, they're my biggest fans and I needn't have worried! I noticed more likes and more engagement, my DMs were starting to get messages from other makers striking up conversation about my work and I was loving it. I felt the buzz of genuine connection and it was the first time I realised I wanted to put Customer Connection at the top of my core values list for squares & things. People love to put a face to name/brand and eases the pressure off always trying to push for a sale. People might be coming onto your instagram for an escape or to look at something pretty, so why not give them a friendly face too.
Recently I received a message from someone who told me they refer back to a picture of a sculpture on my instagram, saying 'sometimes when it's a cold and gloomy day, looking at this makes me happy'. I nearly cried reading it, I was so happy, as someone was using my work to cheer themselves up - another core value of squares & things. Whilst I know making a sale is essential for the growth of your business, this feeling, to me, was better.
2. DO A REEL
This one speaks for itself but was a great help for me in the run up to the market. We were told that Instagram will be promoting reels more than anything as its a new feature, so we should all jump on the bandwagon. Literally as soon as I got off the zoom call I started making one. I didn't really know what I was doing, I just knew I always wanted to use 70s disco music as the soundtrack, as this always puts me in the BEST mood. I got to be silly and show my unreleased products off in a way that just isn't possible with normal grid posts. Reels worked a charm and I once again found myself connecting to people over a laugh, some even asking for help with their reels! I wanted to have fun with them and show my personality, so I found it easy to just be myself.
Whenever a new reel was posted, people were more intrigued over products or my work and this led to some lovely conversations (and sales!) - I realised this was going to be an essential tool for me to stay connected to people.
3. Build Up A Buzz
My previous product launches pre-A South London Makers Market would be posted on my grid as soon as I made them or had them ready. Nothing wrong with this - however as someone that tries to do everything in one go, I had to learn how to build up a buzz and patiently promote a new product launch. There's value in taking your time to introduce a new product, teasing customers with pictures of the making process and using the classic 'coming soon' to build the hype.
We were also told that showing behind the scenes of the making process is the juiciest content out there - who doesn't want to see someone going at it on a ceramics wheel or showing off their brushstroke skills or watching clay get sanded down. I know I love to see it, so why wasn't I doing it! I started posting photos and videos of me painting the enamel onto the wires for my sculptures, thinking the gloopy paint would be the most visually appealing part of the process (A LOT of time is spent in the kitchen baking clay in my gym pants and I wasn't ready for that content yet). It helped to show how long the process can take for a sculpture to reach completion and it connected the dots between idea to finished product. People love to be taken along for the ride of something and see how your journey plays out - when you see the work that goes into a product AND it's launch it makes it that more interesting and impactful when said products goes live on your website.
For every new product launch I now use this same template of showing people the making process of sculpture, whether that be through stories, a reel and show them what goes on behind the scenes. Once a product is ready, I shoot them in various lifestyle shots and shoot my website product images on a backing board that I've painted in a colour that I feel reflects the collection. This is actually my favourite part as I love going to hardware stores and picking out paint pot samples!
We really do end up doing everything without the help of a PR team or photographer but I've learnt so much by doing it all myself. I relish the control I have over the creative aspects of promotion! Squares & things is a new baby and whilst being a one person band can get a bit overwhelming at times, I wouldn't change it for anything, as I'm so proud of where I've taken squares & things so far.