When I first started making greeting cards, I found 12 ways I could successfully market my designs when I had a lot of ideas, but no marketing budget. I wanted to actually get my cards into people's hands, beyond friends and relatives.
Most of these things don’t take very much time. If you commit to doing one a week, you will effortlessly get your designs noticed. Remember, there are people out there rooting for you, who like your designs and would probably buy your cards if they knew they existed. They just don’t know you exist yet. This is where marketing comes in. How can you let people know you exist?
1. Remember the Dentist
Your best advertising is your cards. Send them to everyone. Send them to your dentist when you pay your bill. Send them to a magazine when you renew your subscription. Send them to the secretary who receives your time sheet at work. Send them the bank clerk when you mail your deposit. Send them.
2. Invent a New Kind of Business Letter
Send cards instead of business letters. As weird as it may seem, when the occasion arises to send a business letter, send one of your cards instead.
Be creative and try to make most of your business interactions via greeting card. Do you really need to type out a note or reminder to someone on a piece of paper?
3. Publish an Article
Send your cards to a blog author, local newspaper, art newsletter or monthly paper. They are always looking for new stories with colorful images, and cards are a perfect topic because they are occasion based, and calendar oriented, so stories can be sent year around.
4. Celebrate New Years Day
Send out cards at New Years. People tend to be overwhelmed at Christmas time, and completely ignore New Years. If you normally send out Christmas cards, consider sending out New Years cards a week later. People are often surprised to receive a new year's cards and they are less likely get throw away with Christmas wrapping paper.
5. Contact Trade Publications
Submit your cards to trade publications and product design blogs. Many trade publications such as Gifts and Decorative Accessories and Greetings etc. Magazines profile new cards on the market.
6. Submit Your Cards to Reps
Whenever you hear of a new sales representative in your area, contact them and send a card sample. It doesn't cost you anything but time, postage and a card sample. What can you lose? If they decide to carry your line, you have just hired a private salesperson!
7. Offer Raffle Donations
Donate a stack of cards to your next church raffle, school fundraiser or community organization. Often when prizes are given away, your business name will be posted or announced. Sometimes the business donations are listed in publicity literature also.
8. Use Your Printer's Bulletin Board
Ask your printer to profile your cards on their bulletin board. Or better yet, asked to be profiled in the print shop sample book, where they show samples to potential customers.
9. Speak To Groups
People from all walks of life seem to be fascinated by the subject of greeting cards and want to learn more about them. Offer to speak about your card business at brown bag lunch meetings sponsored by organizations such as the YWCA, Senior Centers, Chamber of Commerce or other professional organizations.
10. Teach a Class Next Month
Volunteer to give a card making class at an art center, library or senior center. Trust me, if you are already making cards, you know way more than the average person about how to do it, so jump in and teach a class.
11. Hand Out Greeting Cards Instead of Business Cards
Create a new kind of "business card." Instead of passing out traditional business cards at social events, pass out your greeting cards. If your cards are attractive or have a witty quotation on them, people tend to keep them around longer and share them with others.
12. Help Other People Make Money.
Offer to use your cards as fundraiser. I did this once and the organization reported to me they received a higher donation response than the year before. Usually organizations will be happy to cover your materials costs if you offer to take on the task of mailing out the fundraising letters.
Marketing on a shoestring is really about setting small goals for yourself and following through on them. There is no one thing or person that is going to “make it” for you. Rather, you have to continually create conditions for success and opportunities. But it doesn’t have to be hard. Just ask yourself , when you engage in your daily activities: “Can I send a card instead?”