We are absolutely packing our summer schedule with design projects – let’s see how many businesses we can double sales for this holiday season! If you have been curious about what you need to make strong retail sales online, read on – I’m going to explain the six things you need to have and the six things our work is going to do for you. If your business is doing well, but your brand or website is not in tiptop shape, hiring a designer is likely your best way to prepare for holiday sales.
It was so much fun walking the National Stationery Show this spring and chatting with so many inspiring business owners. A lot of people were curious about what we do and how it serves them. Here’s a snippet of an email I received after the show:
I’m familiar with your beautiful work and I frequently dream about whipping my website into shape. But – to be totally honest – I’ve always been scared by the cost of building an efficient, functional, retail-driven website. Of course I know it’s worth it – I have no doubt about that. But I’m running a totally bootstrap business over here, and I’ve just never been able to come up with the money to put toward something like this.
It seems silly when I say that out loud, I totally know that this is a “spend money to make money” sort of thing… but it’s a reality.
This hard working business owner can’t be the only person wondering what to invest in and when, and specifically when to invest in a custom website, so I wanted to share some more info on that topic.
What you can expect from having a custom site created for you?
I appreciate that this is a big leap for any business. Our work is a significant investment of both time and money. I want you to leap with your eyes open and be informed about what to expect and what makes it work.
A project with Aeolidia should be an investment, that is, something you pay for now that will pay you back in the future with increased sales and profit. If you’re thinking of it as an expense, that tells me you aren’t planning to leverage our work to make it pay off for you. This is such an important topic, and I like all of our clients to realize that our work is in no way a “magic bullet” that’s going to take a failing business and bring it back to life with no effort on the business owner’s part.
Instead, where we are most effective is when we are able to put a high quality tool in the hands of a skilled business owner who is on her way up. So let’s think about a hammer. I could give the very strongest, best balanced, hand forged hammer to a beginner carpenter and it’s not going to make a big difference in the quality of her work. However, if a skilled craftsman has been using shoddy tools and then gets this “master hammer” built specifically for the type of work she does, she is going to know just how to use that hammer to get the results she wants with less exertion. We aim to meet you in that sweet spot where you know enough to use the tool well and improve what you do.
Another stationery business owner asked me for data and stats about what her business could expect after hiring us. This is different for everyone, of course, and largely up to the business owner. To use another analogy, you can think of your custom website as a very fast car. Once we’ve built your car, it’s up to you to drive that baby, and results are going to vary based on what you know about your own business and how much work you’re ready to put into promoting it. We want to toss those car keys to someone who knows how to race.
So, what can you expect from a project with Aeolidia? I’d like to double or triple your retail sales (or if you have been concentrating on wholesale and retail is somewhat new to you, let’s make that number exponential), and the results are ultimately up to you.
What you need to have in place to see retail success
We like to get involved when we know our work can be transformative and trigger exponential growth. That is why we evaluate each business that asks us for a project quote, to make sure we feel that we can make it more than worth their investment.
These are the six things you need to have in place to anticipate a good return on your investment with Aeolidia. You need these things whether you work with us or not. The good news is that if you are serious and smart about what you’re doing, the below should be a piece of cake. If you’re not there yet, use this list as a guide for improvement.
- A product that people are excited to buy. It’s best to invest in the next step for your business when you have a proven interest in your products. You want people to order enthusiastically, anticipate your new products, and share with their circles.
- A strong understanding of your brand, your target customer, and what differentiates your business from even your closest competitor.
- A measurable, attainable goal for the project that you will then put your energy into achieving. Do you want the site to double your retail sales? Help you triple your wholesale accounts within six months of launching? Change your audience’s perception of your business? How will you know if the project with us was a success or not? We need this marker of success as our beacon during the project.
- High quality content for the site, or the budget to hire us to create it. Beautiful, clear photos that answer all customer questions about the product. Copywriting that answers questions as well as sells the product.
- A plan for getting traffic to the site, or the budget to hire help. You can hire our marketing consultant and SEO team, or this may be something you work on yourself. Many of our clients have a plan for this or are already driving traffic to their site, and want the custom site to increase their conversion rate.
- A serious work ethic! The clients that we’ve seen go on to become superstars in their field do not do anything halfheartedly. They take that bull by the horns and do what has to be done to grow their business.
What a custom site does to aid in achieving your goals
Why a custom website designed by professionals instead of hiring your cousin or using a theme from Shopify’s theme store? Our work doesn’t make sense for a brand new business owner, just testing the waters with an unproven product and no client base. That’s the time when you should hire your cousin or purchase a pre-designed theme. There comes a time for every successful business when the website will start holding you back. It will get harder to use, it won’t have the features your particular business needs, it won’t look appropriate for the level your business is at. Here is what we do for businesses that are growing:
- Completely remove the “amateur” elements of your web presence, so you can confidently promote your work as a legitimate business. This can be HUGE for business owners, and the base for your work growing your company.
- Provide you with a website that is completely user-friendly and caters specifically to your perfect customer; something an “off the shelf” design is never meant to do. Your new site will tell your story in a way that makes your customer want to get involved, rather than just displaying your products and hoping they’ll care.
- Create features custom to your shopping experience. We build in the features your particular business needs to sell to your particular customers. Whether this be creating a smooth product customization process, catering to your wholesale shoppers, or eliminating tons of busywork from your internal tasks, a custom website can save you and your customers huge amounts of time and hassle.
- Take the confusion and drudgery out of running your website. We use Shopify (that’s an affiliate link, my friend), and we set everything up so that you can easily make your own updates to the content and products, while letting Shopify quietly make updates and improvements to the software behind the scenes.
- Establish you as a serious business that is willing to invest in your brand and customer experience. Even if your customers don’t know why your site doesn’t feel as trustworthy to them as the other sites they shop on – even if they aren’t design or internet savvy – they are going to have an instant “first impression” of your business based on what they see, and if it’s not totally polished and well-designed, they will click away. Society as a whole is much more design-aware than we used to be, and expectations are high.
- Create a “sales funnel” that maximizes conversions. Your website will be designed to lead visitors from your social media posts or Google to your home page, right to shopping, and off to the cart, without missing a beat. We know how to eliminate distractions, attract eyes to what’s important, and move your visitors to a sale.
What will a strategically custom-designed brand and online shop do for you?
I could talk to you about the stationery stars we’ve worked with, like Rifle Paper Co., Emily Ley, and Emily McDowell – who wouldn’t want to get there? And you know you’re not going to see any of them fumbling around with a theme from the theme store. We started working with them at the tipping point in their path, and that’s where we want to meet you. It’s going to be more applicable for you to think about the younger businesses who are more in your boat right now.
Handcrafted HoneyBee begins again with a new brand
Our current “valedictorian” client is Stacia Guzzo of Handcrafted HoneyBee. Her project has gone AMAZINGLY, and it’s taught us a lot about what it takes to succeed. Stacia and Robert came to us because they had been floundering at craft fairs and trying to reach out to wholesale clients. Finally, at an Etsy Wholesale event, a few large retailers told them that their branding and packaging was holding them back.
We started from scratch on their brand, packaging, and now we’re doing their website. Even before the website is finished, they have taken their brand and awesome packaging, found a sales rep, won an award for best new product, and in general have been totally killing it. Our professional design plus their incredible understanding of their brand and work ethic are making this a very profitable project for them.
Here’s a post they wrote on how they made the decision to hire Aeolidia
Little Hip Squeaks redesigns with a bang
One of my favorite stories of a business struggling with the tools they had is the story of Little Hip Squeaks outgrowing Etsy, which you can read here. This post talks about the return on investment they saw from their project with us. Amy’s website paid for itself almost immediately, because she used it to reach out to wholesale clients, who now saw her as a legitimate business.
Island Thyme steps up their homemade game
Another fun story is the husband and wife team of Island Thyme. They had been doing their own thing for years at farmer’s markets, finally decided it was time to do their brand and website right, and instantly saw a substantial increase in sales when we launched right before holiday shopping season.
Getting started with Aeolidia
This is the time of year when our work at Aeolidia can have the biggest impact and quickest return on investment. Let’s finally get your brand and/or website in tip top shape to work perfectly for your customers and really capture the potential of that long Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend coming up in November.
We work to get everything you need taken care of so that nothing will be holding you back when you go all out promoting your business. You’ll have a whole team on your side for two to four months, and we aim to make it a transformative experience for you.
If we are going to do this, let’s do this right. With goals and objectives, and without cutting any corners. Tell me where you’re business is aiming and I’ll help you point your boat in that direction.
We were fully booked, but still talking to so many creatives who were ready to make the most of this summer. Rather than make you all wait for a 2017 launch, we’re adding designers to our team to meet you this summer and help you with those 2016 sales figures. These spots are going to go like hotcakes, my friends, so let’s talk today. If you’re not 100% sure you’re there yet, email me anyway. I would love to learn more about where your business is at and discuss your best next step. We need to hear from you by the first week of July to launch your site before the holiday sales season in November.