Current Trends for International Crafts Marketing
The economic downturn experienced in European Countries and the Americas has created a challenging environment for those in the Commercial Craft Sector.  For many orders have reduced dramatically or all together dried up as much buyer focus on essential purchase and saving in the face of uncertainty.  Although the downturn has created challenges, opportunities to thrive in these markets still exist for those who are willing to adapt. Too often there is a singular emphasis on product innovation without considering developing other aspects of the business.  Approaching innovation holistically may give you the edge in markets others may believe to be inaccessible.  The internet is a hotbed for fresh ideas and innovation, below are four simple “e- tips” that can help you transform the internet  to a more effective tool to help develop your export business.

1. Develop a comprehensive Social Media Strategy
Marketing through Facebook and Twitter have assisted some attract customers and raise the profile of certain companies.  Many have done this successfully by using the social Media to its best.  Having a successful business Facebook page means having people talk about it. It is increasingly important to have an active page with regular updates and information.   Remember social media is about relationship building not just sales. Using social media to communicate your enterprise’s values and objectives will help your current and prospective clients.  One must also remember to set reasonable targets for social media use; Social media requires commitment and willingness to be open with other users to be effective.  One must consider the time, and effort required to manage a successful social media strategy.  

Think beyond Facebook and Twitter!   It may be worth considering combining your online marketing strategy to include sites such as www.pinterest.com which allows the user to categorize areas of interest will ensure you’re only engaging those who are interested.   Using specialized sites to market your products has the added advantage of letting you see trends develop based on what others are posting.

2. Finding new Customers in New Places
Take advantage of specialized craft websites such as www.esty.com and www.craftscouncil.co.uk which aim to bring together small producers and the customer.  Etsy.com is a website dedicated to bring together small scale craft producers and buyers.  Large scale producers and corporate entities are prohibited, thus such a website may assist to connect you with small scale buyers.   Etsy currently over 800,000 small scale businesses from over 150 countries buying and selling crafts.  Craftscouncil.co.uk is targeted at the UK’s craft makers but provides comprehensive lists of opportunities such as buyers, exhibitions, and Networking events to help connect the craft maker with players in the sector.
www.etsy.com provides a portal for small companies to display and sell their wares.

3. Use packaging as a marketing tool
Packaging matters, one way that to innovate is to update your packaging. The initial outward appearance of a product is highly influential in how people feel about what is inside. Visual beauty is part of what a crafter sells, and it should not begin and end with just the product.  Distinctive packaging is also a chance to make your brand more instantly recognizable.  The internet is full of creative ideas for packaging, even when one opts to use recycled materials.

4. Take Great Pictures!
Often the first interaction your client has with your product is a picture; therefore it is important to ensure that you take great photos to depict you product.  Be sure to take advantage of websites such as Pinterest.com and  Etsy.com to help develop ideas on how to compose your picture to make sure it is appealing .  One can chose to hire the services of a photographer, or take the pictures themselves.  If you take your own pictures consider using simple photo editing software like google’s Picasa,  (www.picasa.google.com) or  online photo editing websites such as www.picfull.com.  

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