Marketing For Kids, Part 4: Marketing Strategy and Tactics

So far, we’ve identified what our unique product is, and what banking, transaction processing, and storefront options we have. Let’s now dig into what you’ll need from a marketing perspective, both strategy and tactics.

Marketing Strategy

I define marketing strategy as deciding what goals we want to achieve, what methods and tools we’ll use to achieve those goals, and what limitations we face.

Our first goal should be to sell at least one of our products to someone who isn’t a relative. It’s great if Mom, Dad, or Grandma buys something, but they’re not a sustainable market.

Our first method should be to use the Internet as a means to attract customers and convince them to buy something from us. We identified some of the potential ways people would search for our product in Part 2, our unique selling proposition. Search marketing will thus play an important part in our tactics.

Our limitations are that we have to create our business on a dime, almost literally. The storefronts, transaction processing, and banks we identified in part 3 are all low fee or no fee services, keeping our costs near zero. We need to do the same with our marketing.

Marketing Tactics

How do we help others find our newly-founded business? We need 3 pieces of technology: a website, an email newsletter, and a social media presence.

Website

For our website, we want to again emphasize the lowest cost to begin. I recommend setting up a WordPress website to start. While you can set up a free account on WordPress.com, you don’t get any kind of measurement tools like Google Analytics, and even a kid’s business needs marketing metrics. My recommendation (disclosure: client of my employer) is to use GoDaddy’s WordPress Hosting. It will cost $4 a month, but it’s a much better deal than what you get from the “free” service at WordPress.com.

Start by choosing a domain + website:

Domain_Names___The_World_s_Largest_Domain_Name_Registrar_-_GoDaddy.jpg

Choose the middle plan, which incorporates WordPress:

Get_a_Free_Domain_Name_With_Any_Website_-_GoDaddy.jpg

Choose the Basic plan:

WordPress_Hosting___Hosting_with_Unlimited_Bandwidth_–_GoDaddy.jpg

You’ll be asked if you would like a free domain name. Remember the unique phrases we were studying in part 2? One of those would be a good choice here, like white chocolate candy horses:

GoDaddy_Domain_Name_Search_Tool.jpg

Finish the checkout process, but change the time frame to one year. No sense in paying for 3 years up front if we’re not sure how well our business will do. Accept anything else free that you’re given, but don’t pay for extras right now:

GoDaddy_com___Shopping_Cart.jpg

Once you’ve got the website created, it’s time to create content. We’ll defer that part until later, when we talk about the execution of our marketing plan. For now, know that you’ve got the website handled.

Email Newsletter

The second piece of the puzzle is to set up an email newsletter. Because we’re just starting out, the service I recommend is Mailchimp’s Forever Free plan. Mailchimp will let you sign up for free and for the first 2,000 subscribers, we pay nothing.

mailchimp setup.png

Set up a free account and sign in. This is the second tool we’ll need.

Social Media

The third and final piece of our marketing puzzle is a social media account. There are so many social networks, it’s difficult to know where to begin, but if our product is a physical good – like white chocolate candy horses – my recommendation is to pick a network that focuses on pictures and has great analytics: Pinterest.

Head over to Pinterest.com and set up a free account there.

Now What?

We now have the three pieces assembled: website, email, and social media. These are tools, like a spatula or a spoon in your kitchen are tools. If we just leave them in the drawer, nothing happens. In the next few posts in this series, we’ll examine what to do with each tool and how to set them up in greater detail.


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Marketing For Kids, Part 3: Handling the Money

Once we know what we’re going to sell, we have to set up the tools needed to actually sell things. Setting up a home-based business for kids isn’t just a matter of slapping up a page on Etsy. To do it right and prepare it for scale, we’ll need to do a little planning around money.

Slackershot: Money

For parents reading this with kids, know that this section is where you’ll need to provide the most help, especially if your kids are not of legal age to sign for things and open accounts.

Banking

First and foremost, the underpinning of modern selling is money. Money means we’ll need some way for us to save and collect money, like a bank account.

If you don’t already have a bank account, ask your parents for help setting one up; look to a kind of bank called a credit union. Credit unions function just like regular banks, except they tend to have much lower fees. Since we’re just starting out as a business, we want to minimize our expenses as much as possible. Be sure to open both a savings account (called a share in credit unions) as well as a checking account.

If a credit union isn’t available, look to community banks and reputable online banks like Ally. Refuse to do business with any bank that isn’t guaranteed by the FDIC or NCUA.

Physical Transaction Processing

In addition to a bank account, one of the other financial tools we’ll need is a transaction processing service, especially if we’re going to accept money in the non-digital world, like at craft fairs. Three reputable services exist to help us do this: Square, Paypal, and Amazon.

Each service gives you a little credit card swiper that plugs into your smartphone, along with apps that help you process transactions. There are 3 different kinds of transactions:

  • Swipes are when we take a physical debit or credit card and swipe it through a card reader to process payment.
  • Online transactions are when we take a debit or credit card online, when someone else types their card information into our website.
  • Keyed in transactions are when we type a customer’s debit or credit card number into an app instead of swiping it.

How do the 3 services compare, in terms of fees?

  • Square offers card readers and registers; it charges 2.75% per swipe or 3.5% + 15 cents per keyed in transaction but has no setup fee.
  • Paypal offers card readers but no registers; it charges 2.7% per swipe, 2.9% + 30 cents online, and 3.5% + 15 cents for keyed in transactions.
  • Amazon offers card readers but no registers; it charges 2.9% + 30 cents across the board.

Which is best? It depends on how much selling we’ll do physically, at places like craft fairs, yard sales, community events, etc.

  • If the answer is none, then choose Amazon; their flat fees for keyed in transactions is lowest.
  • If the answer is some, like a couple times per year, choose Paypal.
  • If the answer is quite often, like every month, choose Square for the ability to purchase a cash register-style card reader.

Digital Storefronts

In addition to a bank account and a transaction processor, we’ll need a digital storefront, a place to sell our goods. This can be part of a regular website, or it can be a standalone service. Note that this is different than accepting money in the physical world. What we sell determines what kind of storefront to use.

Are you selling a physical good, like craft soaps, jewelry, etc.? Etsy is the most well known digital storefront and is reputable. Amazon Handmade is another alternative. Both services take a commission similar to the way the card swiping fees work, as a percentage of your item’s price. Some folks enjoy selling directly on eBay, but that’s practically a profession unto itself.

Are you selling a digital good, like drawings, videos, eBooks, etc.? Services like Gumroad and Selz are reputable. Each comes with its own transaction processing fees in lieu of the card swiping fees.

Review

We should now have a bank account of some kind, a way to handle physical world payments, and a way to handle digital payments. These fundamentals let us conduct business; in the next part, we’ll look at the marketing pieces we need in order to run a home-based business for kids.

Disclosure: Sadly, none of the links in this post are affiliate links.


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Marketing For Kids, Part 2: Finding a Unique Product

No amount of marketing will save a bad product; many businesses have tested this cliche and found it true, to their dismay. Before we do anything else, we have to ask: does anyone want the product we plan to make?

As a parent, nearly everything my child makes is great – to me. One of the jobs of a parent is to provide encouragement, love, and support. As a marketer, a guaranteed market of one customer is a terrible place to be. If we want to sell our stuff, we need to know lots of people want to buy it.

Let’s begin by understand what people want.

What People Want

When people want something, they tend to search for it, discuss it, and then perhaps buy it. We want to find a broad category of product people want, then find our own unique take on the category, something that fewer people want, but want it very badly. For example, peanut butter in chocolate is a very popular combination in America. Garlic in chocolate is not; however, it’s a popular kind of candy in Lithuania. If we were to make it in America, we might be able to find people of Lithuanian descent in America and sell them their favorite candy that’s extremely hard to find here.

Another example is a particular type of Norwegian cheese called gjetost. Gjetost is a caramelized cheese, made by slowly melting and cooking it for hours until the natural milk sugars caramelize. It’s almost impossible to find in America except for one or two restaurants. In this example, the broad category is cheese, which lots of people search for. The narrow, unique take is a very difficult to find kind of cheese.

Tools

What if we don’t necessarily know exactly what people want? We can use tools and software to help us. While grownup marketers have million dollar software at their disposal, kids generally don’t. So what could our kids use to find out if their great idea is actually great? Google provides 3 excellent, free tools to help us identify if our idea is on the right track. If you’re following along, you’ll want to have a paper and pen or spreadsheet handy – and if you’re a kid, be sure you have your parent’s permission to use the Internet.

Google Trends

Our first stop is Google Trends. Google Trends tells us how many people are searching for certain kinds of words, based on a starting word. Here, I’ve typed in chocolate candy:

trends1.png

Hit search, and we get these results:

trends2.png

We see that chocolate candy is quite popular, and is especially popular every December, February, and April, corresponding to three holidays – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.

If we scroll down the page, we can see some additional ideas for our product based on what people search for:

relatedtrends.png

People look for candy bars and white chocolate; if we’re thinking about making handmade chocolate, we should put white chocolate versions on the list.

Google Autosuggest

Our second stop is Google’s Autosuggest, which pops up any time we start typing a search into Google:

autosuggest.png

Here, we type and look to see what else Google suggests for ideas, for what it thinks people are searching for. Anything that sounds like a product we should make (or an idea for a product) should go on our sheet of paper.

AdWords Keyword Tool

The third tool is part of Google’s advertising system, and requires parental supervision. The AdWords Keyword Tool is part of Google’s AdWords advertising system. You don’t need to spend any money, but it will ask you as part of signing up for it to put in a credit card. For safety, I keep an unfunded (but still valid) American Express gift card handy to put in for the credit card.

Once you’ve signed in and created an account, go to the Tools menu and choose Keyword Planner:

akp1.png

Choose “Search for new keywords” and type in our list of ideas we’ve generated so far:

akp2.png

Click Get Ideas (the blue button at the bottom), and look at the results:

akp3.png

In this long list will be additional ideas. What we’re looking for are things which are searched for frequently (a high number of average monthly searches) and low competition. These are the products and services that are relatively underserved; people want them and search for them, but companies that buy ads aren’t necessarily spending much or competing much to advertise to those people.

Finishing Our Unique Product Idea

The very best product ideas combine popular things in interesting ways. If you like horses, making white chocolate candy (which is popular) in the shape of horses (also popular) is a more unique idea. Use these tools over and over again until you find an idea you really want to make and that you’re capable of making.

In the next post, we’ll look at the marketing tools and technologies you’ll need to sell your product online from home!


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