Tips for Growing Your Secondhand or Upcycling Business Online

Growing Your Secondhand or Upcycling Business

Reaching Customers Online: 6 Ways to Build Your Reputation and Client Base Without a Large Marketing Budget

Lara Knight – 26 June, 2020

We know you work hard. Dealing in secondhand or upcycled goods and services takes loads of energy and you don’t always have time to build your business. Especially if it involves internet marketing.

BUT… most Australians keep a smart phone in their pocket and digital authority has become more and more vital.

Businesses that keep up will reach customers first. It’s that simple. So, which ‘online stuff’ should you spend time on?

Most of it gives you a headache. We get it! Building a website is more complicated than you thought. Social media platforms rise and change and you’re not sure what to post or where. Marketing a business online can feel complicated and confusing.

The good news is that, like your business, pulling the right pieces together over time builds your reputation and expands your clientele.

And many of the first steps are free. Here are six ways to increase your visibility online without a large marketing budget. Choose one to kick off with and start moving your business into the future.

The Free Stuff

You may have ticked off these first few already which is great. If they’re still sitting on your to-do list it’s time to get started!

1. Claiming Your ‘Google My Business’ Listing

Google works hard to be the top search engine on the planet and has been mapping local businesses for years. But if you haven’t claimed your listing, the information they pull together may be wrong or incomplete.

If your business is new they may have no listing for your address.

Why you should care:

  • Google My Business listings deliver information like your website, address, directions, map, photos, social media pages, open hours and reviews directly on the search results page.
  • Google shows local listings on page one for town, city and suburb searches (eg. recycled building materials Melbourne). Verified local business listings with great reviews get you in front of competitors who haven’t claimed their listing.

To claim or add your local business page, and make it as accurate as possible, get started here.

Note: Google My Business listings only work for businesses with a street address OR a local service area. “Brands, organisations, artists, and other online-only businesses aren’t eligible for Google My Business listings.”

Google My Business Tips

When filling out any kind of directory profile be thorough and consistent and add photos wherever possible. Use the same business name, address and phone number on your website, social media and all directories so search engines recognise connections between them.

If you have a problem with Google My Business you can get help by clicking on the question mark on the top right of your Google My Business dashboard. The popup box will give you FAQ articles and contact options.

Keep a record of all logins and passwords and check directory listings regularly. Out of date information and unsupervised reviews can become a liability rather than an asset!

2. Collecting Testimonials and Reviews

Online reviews are literally changing the world. We check food reviews when we eat out, accommodation reviews when we travel, product reviews when we shop, and service reviews and testimonials when we hire someone to help.

Ratings are now included in search results, and can influence where your business appears and how it’s perceived by potential customers. Ignoring reviews is no longer an option.

Happily, collecting rave reviews isn’t as hard as it sounds.

The best way is simply to ask your current customers, say how much you’d appreciate their feedback, and give them a direct link to one or two of your review pages.

  • Your Facebook business page is an easy option.
  • Google My Business is also simple for anyone who uses gmail. (Read how to get a direct link to your Google review page here.)

Check for other review sites relevant to your business. Then encourage your favourite customers and fans to tell their story.

Personal, detailed, honest feedback can send lots more customers your way so don’t waste energy feeling squirmy about it. Make asking for reviews a simple part of your customer service and follow up with a friendly reminder.

Bad Review Tips

Sometimes you get a bad review. Awful customer, bad day… whatever the reason it can make you feel terrible. It can also repel new customers. If you get a bad review take time to breathe deeply and craft an ultra-polite reply. A rude, defensive response can make the situation much worse!

Publicly acknowledge the complaint and say sorry they didn’t have a good experience. Offer to look into the problem; discuss it further (include your contact details); or provide some form of compensation that brings the customer back to the store. Fixing an error can sometimes turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.

A mudslinging bout with a nasty character can destroy your reputation. A bad review handled calmly makes your business seem caring and genuinely focused on customer service. If you get a bad review deal with it carefully, then work hard for good reviews to counter it.

3. Building One Active Social Media Channel

Let’s look at monthly active social media users in Australia.

Facebook – 15 million
Youtube – 14.5 million
Instagram – 5 million
LinkedIn – 3.4 million
WhatsApp – 3.1 million
Twitter – 2.8 million
Snapchat – 2 million
Pinterest – 280,000

That’s a lot of potential customers and advocates for your business to ignore if you’re not using social media. 

So, what does your business social media look like?

  • You don’t have any social accounts.
  • You have several accounts on different platforms and never get around to posting on them.
  • You use one or more channels regularly to keep in touch with past, present and future customers.

Obviously the last option is the only one that makes a difference but why should you spend time on it?

  • Social media is one of the cheapest ways to find, engage and nurture customers.
  • 71% of Australia’s population is active on social media and it accounts for 1 in 3 minutes spent online.*
  • Australians use social media to research products and services.
  • Social platforms collect data on users that helps you reach out to them with highly targeted advertising.

Before you start:

Social media is people. Different ages, interests, incomes and stages of life. Before you allocate time to social media it’s important to work out who your ideal customers are and where they hang out. You may love Instagram, but your highest paying customers may only have a Facebook account. Find a fun way to ask customers which platforms they prefer.

Here are some articles to help:
*Digital 2020 in Australia – an overview of social media use, platforms, mobile use.
The Ultimate Guide to Buffer – how to queue posts ahead of time on different accounts.
120 Social Media Post and Content Ideas – a big list to help vary your content.

NOTE: Social profiles can be great for traffic and reputation but it’s also important to work towards digital content you own (like your website and email list). A simple algorithm change can wipe out a business that relies entirely on social.

Social Media Tips

Don’t get stressed trying to cover all social media platforms! Build one social account where your ideal customers are and learn how to manage it well before adding other platforms.

A productive social account requires regular content and engagement but you need time to run the rest of your business. Look into tools like Buffer or Meet Edgar to help you schedule content.

Try visiting your social profile at set times each day to answer queries and comments rather than allowing notifications to interrupt your whole day.

Respond to questions, comments or complaints promptly. As with reviews, a rude or unprofessional response to criticism can backfire badly so always, always be polite.

4. Using Video

Video used to require big crews and big chequebooks. Of course those days are long gone and anyone with a smart phone in their pocket has the ability to tell stories and connect via video.

It’s one of the fastest growing marketing channels available but many Australian businesses still put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.

So, how can we simplify it. For junk businesses the first positive is that your customers don’t expect perfection! They expect dust and dented surfaces and potential rather than glamour. Videos that tell the story of what you do and how you solve their problems can be very simple, and you can test what works before getting bogged down in fancy production.

The basics for watchable video:

  • A tripod or something stable you can attach a camera to.
  • A smart phone or digital camera.
  • An external microphone (eg. Rode Smartlav which plugs into a mobile phone jack).
  • Natural light or adjustable portable lighting.

Good lighting and sound are important for watchable video so spend a little time getting these right. A basic video editing app or program helps too but if you haven’t got that far ahead shoot short snippets, do a few takes, and choose the best one.

Quick videos can be uploaded directly to social media. Or start building a library on YouTube or your website.

Don’t get stressed about video. Start with simple experiments, have some fun, and let your customers tell you what they like.

Some videos to try:

  • Most junk businesses change stock regularly so do a slow pan around your space or collate photos of new stock.
  • Speak to the camera and answer some FAQs.
  • Tell the provenance and story behind special finds.
  • Follow up with a customer to show where a piece ended up.
  • Demonstration or ‘how to’ videos.
  • Customer testimonials.
  • Introduce your team.
  • Behind the scenes.
  • Time lapse of something you do.
  • Before and after of a restoration.

Creating a YouTube account:

To open a YouTube account you can use your existing Google account (if you use gmail you have a Google account).

Or create a new account by going to youtube.com. On the top right of the page click Sign In, then choose Create Account. Read the first article in the list below for step-by-step help.

Video references:
How to Create a YouTube Account for Business
YouTube Help: Upload videos (from desktop, mobile or ipad)
Facebook Help: Uploading and Editing Videos

Shooting Video With an iPhone (There are lots of business video tips in this Wistia Learning Centre if you want to improve your skills.)

Getting started with video just means pressing record. Your first attempts won’t be masterpieces but you’ll improve with practice.

Try experimenting with content. What do your customers respond enthusiastically to? What increases enquiries? Which videos are viewed over and over again?

If you can improve leads and sales with in-house videos you may be able to allocate funds for professional help next time.

Video Tips

Experiment with landscape and vertical videos. Landscape currently fits more formats but vertical or square is perfect for mobile. 

If one person is talking to the camera, position them slightly to one side rather than in the centre of the screen. Check what’s in the background and remove any clutter or distractions.

Use soft natural light from a window or door to light your subject’s face if you don’t have portable lighting. Reduce shadows on the face as much as possible.

Keep most videos short. Try and convey your message in less than 2 mins.

Consider captioning your video for quick viewing in social newsfeeds.

Link to your website or ask viewers to subscribe or take some sort of action at the end of the video.

Consider hiring a mid-priced professional for testimonial videos. It will save loads of editing time and make your business look organised and trustworthy.

Investing for Growth

Local, highly targeted and cost-effective. Or global. Digital advertising takes small business marketing to a whole new level.

5. Niche Directories

As more businesses move online it becomes harder for each one to stand out and be found. It also becomes harder for customers to find the business they need (instead of the one with the largest marketing budget).

Niche directories bring related businesses together so visitors can research and compare quickly and easily.

Why they’re important to your business:

  • Directories rank well in search results and draw traffic on multiple keywords.
  • A directory listing can reach more people each month than your website. Or introduce your business to a different market.
  • Niche directories collate extra educational and inspirational content to attract your target market.
  • Busy professionals like designers, stylists and media scouts head to sites they already know and trust rather than trawling around the whole internet.

Joining one or more niche directories is an excellent way to expand your business reputation; add back links to your website and social pages; attract media attention; and reach new customers.

Niche directories for secondhand and upcycling businesses:

The Junk Map (that’s us!)
Sometimes it’s not about reaching thousands of people, but finding those who appreciate what you do and have the budget to pay for it. The Junk Map is a reference hub for home owners, renovators, builders, architects, furniture makers and design professionals who see potential in secondhand materials. We help them find salvage experts to buy from, and makers and services to assist with repurposing plans. For more information on joining The Junk Map CLICK HERE.

Handkrafted
A commission-based hub for Australian furniture makers and artisans. There isn’t a specific recycled/upcycled focus at Handkrafted but the team is passionate about supporting creative craftspeople.

Vintage Shops Australia 

HeyVintage

Search Secondhand 

Directory Tips

Use the same business name, address and phone number on your website, social media and all directories so search engines recognise connections between them.

Ask your developer to add Google Analytics to your website so you can see where visitors and referrals are coming from. Also ask all your in-store customers how they found you.

6. Social Media Advertising

Advertising is always changing. From radio to television. From print to digital. From blitzing everyone to reaching one customer right now.

It can be frustrating keeping up but advertising is also getting cheaper and more effective. If you haven’t run ads since TV and Yellow Pages ruled Australia it’s time to check new options.

Most people have heard of Google AdWords (ads that appear at the top of the page when you search online), and it’s often where larger businesses start when they pay for marketing help.

AdWords can work well if you have regular cash flow and the campaign is set up and monitored carefully. Expert help is recommended. But costs can add up quickly if you’re competing for keywords and paying your account manager a monthly fee.

For smaller businesses there are effective social media alternatives. Facebook has become a valuable, highly targeted ad channel for Australian businesses. (Instagram ads are also managed through Facebook).

So how do you test ads for your business? Like most advertising a lot depends on your budget. Here are the main options:

  • At the top end of town there are agencies and account managers who run all your campaigns. This usually involves a monthly retainer on top of your advertising dollars. Costs add up but if your business is good at converting leads to sales, and you earn more than you spend, it works well.
  • In the middle are bloggers and influencers who can run individual ads or campaigns for your business. This gets you access to their audience as well as demographic and interest-based audiences. If you don’t have the budget for an agency this is a good way to test ads without setting up your own account. 
  • Or organised business owners can manage their own accounts. Check out posts like How to Advertise on Facebook to get started. 

Facebook has HUNDREDS of targeting options beyond basic demographics like location and age. Your audience can be as broad or as focused as you need.

The point is to test new forms of advertising and see what works. Social media success is not just deep pockets. It’s what excites and encourages real people to interact with your business.

The Junk Map offers one-off or monthly social advertising for clients and sponsors. 
Watch the video below to see how it’s helped Tread Sculptures grow year after year.

Lara Knight, editor of The Junk Map

The Junk Map Editor – Lara Knight

If you run your own business you’re used to wearing lots of hats. And the job list gets even bigger with digital marketing. The Junk Map is designed to connect creative recyclers and introduce your business to customers without you having to do ALL the work. See what’s possible here.

Or join our newsletter (sign-up form in the footer below), Facebook (our main social), or Instagram page to stay in touch. I look forward to meeting you somewhere in your junking journey!

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