Use Product Stories For Content

Content Marketing Is A Must For Any Business

Second Hand and Creative Retailers Are No Exception

  • Are you operating a second hand retail or creative business?
  • Do you struggle with building a consumer message about your products?

Content marketing is just one piece of an overall business development strategy. It is a great tool to keep a website active and informative to increase authority, trust, and SEO. It doesn’t replace traditional promotional practices you have in place, but it enhances awareness and enriches consumer experience with your brand. The content also doesn’t have to just be on your website, especially if you have a foot traffic location. With this article, I want to offer you a new approach to sourcing your content marketing copy for your products.

Who Can Benefit From This Content Marketing Strategy?

Whether you are solely an online retailer, a brick and mortar shop, or both you can benefit from this content generation strategy.

  • Used Furniture Stores
  • Antique Retailers
  • Consignment Shops
  • Garage Sales
  • Flea Markets
  • Art Dealers
  • Auction Houses
  • eBay Store Owners
  • Etsy Store Owners

The Second Hand and Creative Retail Challenge

Connecting with potential customers takes time and money spent in multiple channels where context can change. Gone are the days of sit and wait for the Yellow page and local newspaper ads to come save you. The antique, second hand retail, art, or consignment business marketing machine has been historically all about the sale. Every campaign bounces from one holiday to the next with nothing real to say in between.

Go Beyond The Price Tag. Go Beyond The Description.

Humanize your second hand and creative products with personalized stories to help them sell. This is not a new concept, but can be used in a new packaging. The second hand products market has this advantage over new retail. Adding a personalized story in the form of marketing collateral to an antique or piece of art extends it’s reach. It can build a connection between a potential buyer and the product. You can use this content broadly for every product you sell, or you can use it tactically on products that maybe are not moving like you had hoped.

Think about the Antiques Road Show. Even people not interested in antiques can get caught in the story of an item when flipping through the channels. Sure, it is exciting when someone finds out they have been sitting on a gold mine for years. Equally, the histories unraveled by the historian’s examination of the items draws and retains attention. Let the people providing your products be historians for your customers.

Collect the Story And Make A Connection With the Customer

You can leverage your product suppliers as a resource to help you generate sales copy and personalize your marketing content for your web presence and in store promotions. This method can take weight off of your shoulders when developing a product’s message. You just do not have the time to convey every detail to potential customers. If you are looking for a way to differentiate your marketing efforts, continue reading to learn more about the practical application of this strategy.

Use A Short Form As A Collection Tool

You want to make the collection of this information as easy as possible. Perhaps you already collect basic contact information during your transactions which can be helpful or even expanded upon. Especially if it is a consignment deal, so tailor this to your needs. I would start with having three methods of collection. Allow your preference and work flow to guide you through these recommendations.

The Print Form

If you have a brick and mortar shop, a print form is a quick way to integrate this content marketing strategy.

  • You can make print forms ready for display on the spot, as long as it is legible.
  • Depending on the type of product sourcing you have, you may never have another opportunity to get the story unless you push to have it written right on the spot.
  • This could lead to additional data entry work if it isn’t legible or the form itself isn’t ready for presentation.

The Web Form

A web form can give you more flexibility once it is setup.

  • It’s output will always be legible and consistent in presentation.
  • Unlike a print form or email template, you can limit the character count of a response so that it fits within the capacity of your “Story Display”.
  • It can be modified, shared, and you can have multiple forms for different reasons.
  • It is also mobile friendly giving people little excuse of accessibility.
  • Most importantly, like email, you will be able to just “Copy and Paste” the responses into your “Story Display” template before you print it.
  • You could have an iPad or a terminal of some kind if you are brick and mortar store for them to sit and type it out.
  • If the products are being shipped to you a web form would be ideal.

If you are using WordPress for your website you can use a free plugin called “Contact Form 7” which you can get here or via the WordPress Dashboard by going to Plugins, Add New, and then search for “Contact Form 7”. This plugin will allow you to create a custom form the person can use to submit their information and story to. You could create a page on your website called “Tell The Story” for them to go to. This could be publicly linked in your navigation, or just a direct link to send them to. If this is the solution for you and you have technical issues or do not know where to start, contact us to help you.

You can also use a more robust form solution  Gravity Forms to quickly design and build your WordPress forms.

Email Template

A web form is almost always the best solution for this kind of story marketing because of character limitations. However, that being said, email can also add an additional collection format.

  • Two way communication over collecting the information.
  • They do not have to go to a form, they just use something they know and use daily.
  • You can recommend the length of the reply. ie. 500 words or less.

Help Them Write It With Suggestive Questions

If you share why you want them to participate, especially in a consignment setting where it is mutually beneficial to sell the item, you will get a better story. However, if on the spot and rushed for time, you may want a short paragraph at the top of the form with some seed questions to help drive the idea of what you are asking for.

  • Where did it come from?
  • Has it been in their family?
  • How old is it?
  • If they were buying it, what would they do with it?

Some Closing Thoughts On Collecting The Story

By all means you can get creative with how you collect information beyond print, web forms, and email. If you felt really frisky or had the staff support you could take short audio and video clips. You could then later post the files to your website and social media. You could also transcribe the clips to use in print marketing.

How to Use the Content

Online Only Retailer

You now have an excuse to have a blog post for every product that has a background story. No longer on social media are you just blasting out e-commerce catalog products, you are sharing stories. This will help SEO and someone may find your product in a post organically before they would have otherwise in your e-commerce catalog. Every blog post should include the story, images, and link to the product in your e-commerce catalog.

BUT WAIT, THERE’s MORE! The story should also be in the e-commerce catalog description as well.

Retail Location Plus Online

If a story is available, you should display it with the products in your shop and online. Perhaps you already have a method of displaying creative promotions in your store or online. You can re-purpose those for brand consistency to provide templates for your product stories.

This is meant to educate your consumer. Presentation and consistency are important. As a customer moves from item to item if the same visual display is used they can dive right into the story.

  1. Print the story out on some stationary paper that has a border design. Perhaps something that can match your brand colors.
  2. Place story display next to the products in your store. Much like a description looks like in a art museum next to a painting. Perhaps you can use a non-damaging adhesive solution like the 3M 109 Wallsaver Removable Mounting Tape to mount the display.
  3. Next, make a blog post. Don’t just put the story. Describe where it is in your store and why you agreed to sell it. Go beyond money, let your passion bleed through.
  4. Once you have the blog post done, it is time to share it with the world. There shouldn’t be a social network that doesn’t hear about it.
  5. Don’t forget to include your stories in your newsletters.

This can be applied to any specialty retailer. For example, I have a client that owns a comic book shop with amazing statues, paintings, and rare hard to find comics. Displaying these items with a story and then marketing that story can be a powerful way to make you, your co seller, and your customer happy with the entire experience.

If you are having trouble with where to start with a visual story display the below links can at least give you examples of where to start. You can always mix things up with holiday displays, events, and other themes as well.

I’ve Covered Benefits Throughout This Article, But What Are The Drawbacks?

No new system is all up side. There is always overhead in some form or other. You have to weigh the pros and cons for your operation. Consider this a tool in the belt to break out when you need to charge the business battery with a new concept.

Time

The one resource that can’t be replaced. Start small. Build a work flow, document it so you don’t have to think about it and so you could hand it off to employees. As you roll this out, think of ways to automate and build expectations. Especially if you have regular product suppliers you work with.

Space

Perhaps you do not have the space in your brick and mortar shop to put “Story Displays” all over the place. If this is the case, perhaps a tactical approach to this strategy is needed. Choose a small number of products that have surfaces and space to display and then build upon it from there.

Willing Participation From Source

Not everyone selling to you will want to participate. Perhaps they will not have time to fill out your form. This is where having an online form can be important.

Buying In Bulk In Hectic Environments

If you are purchasing from auctions, estate sales, storage units, etc. it would be hard to get too specific about the products beyond their descriptions. You could still try to get something for a few of the key items. But this would be difficult for the non-aggressive.

Final Thoughts

This is a system. Successful businesses run on systems.

The world is full of people who only see end results and assume that Oz did magic behind the curtain to make it so. So like any system, it may be a pain to setup at first. But the future benefits can outweigh the pain in the implementation process. The scale of your operation will determine how far you can go with this.

Like everything else in this world worth producing, it takes elbow grease and sweat to fuel success. Don’t half ass things, because you get those results in return. A simple “Ask Me About This Product!” is not enough. That is an over played tactic. We are in an on demand world now. This strategy allows customers to connect with your offering both on their own terms and on their own time. It can serve as salesperson coverage when a warm body isn’t in place to pitch. I truly think it can spark conversations and lead to customers coming to you with more questions.

I wish you the very best and I hope this helps a retailer or artist out there move more of their products.