Marketing your stuff in Second Life
June 11, 2007 § 33 Comments
EDIT: Updated 6/13 because I forgot the PONY! Updated 6/14/07 to add addition tips from the comments. Updated 7/8/07 to include more info
How do you break into the fashion market in Second Life? You’ve got your store open, but not many people are buying your stuff. What’s wrong? If you are like most new SL designers you don’t know how to market your stuff and you’re shy about it. And you can’t afford to hire a friend to do the marketing for you.
Linden Lifestyles did a Marketing 101 article a way back in June 2006 (Update: Nicola Escher’s Marketing 102 article), but I’m going to add to it and some things have changed in the SL community since it was published a year ago. (FYI: Second Style additional article in which Celebrity Trollop tells what catches her eye to blog.)
Release new items frequently
Pick a day, any day of the week, or every 2 weeks. Make something to release on that date. Keep releasing new stuff to have customers come back.
Have a new items wall
If your store is larger than say a 512m size include a new releases wall. I hate searching and searching in a store and cannot find what I want. In fact I may just leave without purchasing the item I wanted.
Put a landmark to your store in the box
Whether you box stuff up for a vendor or sale the contents of a box take a few minutes to throw in your store’s landmark. A month later when I want to return to check for new items and I may have forgotten your store’s name. Sorry! I cannot remember everything.
Send out review copies to fashion bloggers
Pack a folder or a box full of stuff to catch their eye. Drop in a notecard with the name, prices, ad photos & any description or features you want to point out to the blogger. You should date it. Like Cool Shop – Reviewers Pack – 2007 June. I like folders over boxes. Boxes get lost in my object folder and I find them weeks later. I have like 20 prims extra on my land so if I go to open up a 21 prim extravagant gift box (which is usually a work of art itself) I cannot rez it. I am impatient with the box you open and suddenly you have 10 more boxes to open. Especially, if you hit me during my work week. (In RL I work a week of 12 hr days, then a week off. So I might get 2 hours/day on SL on a good day that week.) Update: Or if you use some sort to store gift card system give the bloggers one of your store cards.
Some people would say “Why should I give out my stuff for free to these people?” You’ve already made your product. You’ve already gone through the expense of the uploads of textures. So it doesn’t cost you a L$ extra to folder or box up a copy of the item and give it away. And the hundreds of customers they will be reaching will more than cover the extra work of passing out a review folder. There are over 100 avatar names for 23 locations on the list I have compiled. You probably just want to look at the blog and pick a blogger who’s published recently and look for one who most closely matches your style. If you still don’t want to give out products, then give out image textures with your ad on it. I recommend doing this about once a month to keep bloggers fresh with who you are.
Who are the members of the SL Fashion Press? This page has several people who maintain it from various press venues to try to keep it up to date with the various blogs and the avatars who write for them. If there is anything you spot as incorrect please let me know so I can revise it. If review items are not accepted it is noted on this page.
Post on the New Products Forums
SL New Products Forum Post here. You won’t get comments or flames because comments are turned off. Just make the announcement and quit worrying about it. Most of us check them when we have a moment. I don’t always keep current during my work week so I miss several things. Tip: post a photo or link to a photo of your product!
Post to SLB or SLEX or both
SL Boutique or SL Exchange are online/out-of-world shopping venues. Both have the positives and negatives. They also take a cut of your profits on items sold through thier service. But consider posting your products to one or the other or both. (Even if you have to increase the price a little. Although you’ll want to put in the description that it’s less expensive in-world if you do this.) This will let customers look at your product without having to wait for your vendors to rez in world. They can always find your store and buy in world. I do this frequently. Search through SLB or SLEX then go buy in world, because my L$ balance is 0 both places.
SL Boutique can give you a personalized URL such as www.slboutique.com/Tanya_Book/ to direct your customers and an RSS feed they can subscribe to if they use an RSS reader.
SL Exchange has forums, a currency exchange, auctions and can take payment in USD as well as L$.
Run an in-world classified ad
It costs a minimum of L$50 per week, but even a cheap classified ad can turn up in the right searches. Higher payment means higher placement, but doesn’t necessarily increase sales. Go with what you can afford. And either keep it auto repeating or make sure you replace it at the end of the week. Rotate your photo every few weeks to increase your traffic. Tip: add a keywords section at the very bottom of the ad. to increase your chances of it popping up.
In-world Places listing!!!!!!!!
I searched for Tomboy today. Didn’t find it. I found out later that it was because it wasn’t open yet, but I have run into things that are open, but aren’t listed in places. If I don’t have a landmark to a specific store in my inventory, I usually go to the places search next. It’s a L$30 a week fee, but if you are renting and do not own your own land then it may not be possibility. Also rotate your photo frequently. This has the psychological effect of making people want to go see if anything in the store else has changed.
Add your shop to your Picks in your Profile
Cost L$0. The designer I do this all the time is Lovey Darling. I know she’s not in the places listings and I can never remember how to spell Boutique (thank goodness for spell check) so I just find her in the People search and open up her PICKS tab and the top one is Lovey’s Boutique in Fashion Mode with the teleport button right there at the bottom. When I was doing the Shopping Directory, I changed to add landmarks in midstream, but I didn’t have landmarks from everyone so I went to look at the shop owner’s profile. On a few, Nothing! No mention of their shop. Not in the description, not in picks, no mention of it anywhere.
Update: As suggested by Sasy, Number your picks so YOUR shop is #1. Otherwise we have to page through your friends/family pics to find which one is actually your shop.
Have well designed vendor packaging
I look at the vendor box in world and go “No, that’s not for me.” Well it might have been! I just was turned off by a bad design of the product packaging. Alaska Metropolitan did an article Bad Designs Hurt Sales and it’s true! Read the article. She’s advertising the same product in all 3 ads she made. Which one would you purchase from? She explains why the ad is bad and how to fix it.
If your prim limits allow it try to use 1 item per panel box vendors and save scrolling vendors for color variations or clearance items. Scrolling through 20-30 items in a vendor can be tedious with letting things load. Impatient customers will just leave without purchasing. For color variations you may consider a vendor like Miriel Enfield uses instead. Hers shows the items on one panel and then the color variations on another panels. You pay the vendor and pick which color/colors you want.
Have product demos available
Several people I have spoke with really enjoy having demo to try out for prim items such as hair, shoes, jewelry, & even prim skirts! You may not need them in every color, but it does give people and idea how it will work on their shape.
Update Groups & Fashion Consolidated group
I love my update groups. I have a few business groups & friend groups, but I also have all my favorite designer’s update groups as well. I really hate to give one up for any reason. Give out freebies to your update group to encourage people to stay. Either pick a random name from group members to send a free new release to or create things especially for your group. Send out the ad photo texture of the new item you are releasing every time you release something.
Update: Have Update Group only sales! Or buy one get one free sales.
Join Fashion Consolidated. Update: Apply for vendor status in the comments at http://fashcon.com/apply You will be limited to posting new releases once a week. Do NOT send product announcements via IM chat to this group. Just wait. Believe me over 1000 people receiving your new product announcement is worth waiting and following all the rules. You don’t want 1000+ fashionistas mad at you for spamming the group IM. Maybe box up a freebie with a notecard and a landmark. Or drop ad images into a notecard as well as a landmark. Or if you do such as hair take Aleri Darkes’ (of Diversity Hair) idea and throw your demos of your new releases in a box. I always have to try on her new releases demos and I am purchasing her stuff much more often than before because I get to try on the demo in the peace and quiet of my own home. You could also do this for demo skins.
Get a blog & USE it! Request it be added to Fashion Planet
Why a blog over a normal website? It is easier to update than a website and usually has RSS or Atom protocols built in. I use Google Reader to keep up to date on blogs. Why? I do not want to visit 200 websites to see if you have posted any updates. Just like I don’t want to visit 200 stores in-world. It is time prohibitive. What I do is log into Google Reader and it checks all the blogs I have it set up to check and only delivers me the posts that are new since I last logged in. Even when I only have 5 minutes to go online I look at 2 things, my Gmail and my Google Reader. Want my attention? It’s there. You don’t have to be elaborate with describing the new product. Just post the photo you made for the product packaging and a “Just Released” note. You don’t have to journal there or be extremely verbose. Just something to let people know when a new release is in your store.
Update: Include a page/post where you link directly to where your items were reviewed by the Fashion Press. Even if you’ve fallen off the front page of these blogs your customers can go see the review that was posted. And it gives you some credibility.
Which blogging service would I recommend? It really depends on what you want to do with it and which options you want. You will find most platforms offer a free version. The popular one is Blogger, but I personally like WordPress overall. I’ve seen Livejournal used successfully as well as Typepad and privately hosted blogs using various blogging platforms. It really doesn’t matter which one you are using in the long run, just find one you like and make sure you the RSS or Atom is turned on.
Have your blog added to Fashion Planet, it pulls all the new entries just like an RSS reader would do, but it displays it as a website. You can also subscribe to it as an RSS feed. (To be honest I rarely look at the web page itself, I just read the feed with the rest of mine.)
Fashion shows are now a frequent occurrence around SL. I get frequent invitations, but both Aspire & Catwalk City’s monthly fashion shows are on the weekend nights I have to work the RL job. But continue to let me know about fashion shows and I’ll add it to the Fashion Notes Calendar of Events. Or better yet, use your Google Calendar to create an event and add your details and then invite me (NurseTanyaBook@gmail.com) as an attendee. There are many, many many modeling agencies out there who would be glad to host a show for you. Just contact one and get the ball rolling.
Myspace, SLProfiles or SLBuzz profiles
As much as you may hate the myspace craze it has been used effectively in marketing campaigns. SLProfiles & SLBuzz are similar, but specific to SL. Go check them out and consider it. Talk about your store in your profile. Let your customers friend you. It’s free so it doesn’t take anything but a few minutes time.
Update: Also if you post on forums such as SLExchange or Second Citizen provide a SLurl to your shop in your signature. Get me to go there NOW! Not remember to go there later. Cause my ADD will kick in and I’ll forget about you.
Advertise on blogs, websites or in world magazines
SecondStyle Magazine and blog, Linden Lifestyles, Aspire! Magazine, Fashion Notes, Closet Crisis, The Avastar, Metaverse Messenger…..your customers are reading them. So place an ad! This step will cost you some L$. Each venue has it’s own method and requirements it uses to advertise. Go check them out. Calculate the prices. Set a budget. You can spend lots advertising. Also check out ads prices for SLProfiles, SLUniverse & SLBuzz websites as well as others I’m leaving out. Your mileage may vary.
Yes, this is one of my projects. A quarterly released Shopping Directory. Free for a 1 page ad. 2 page ads run L$ 100. Policy is no one is turned away unless the image is offensive, vulgar or blood, guts & gore. Although permissions have to be correct for me to publish it (that was the most frequent problem on the first one). The Directories are free. More Details at the website.
Sit in your shop and chat with people
I really hate to walk out of a shop without purchasing something if the owner is standing right there. There you have my secret. I may hate the stuff, but have a hard time not purchasing something if the owner is in the store.
If your products are no transfer, offer a way for to gift items
And post a sign in the store saying you offer gift items. You may just offer hand delivering to the recipient, but offer it.
Update: Customer Service. It can be as important in SL as it is in RL. I had problems once with SL not delivering items from vendors. I had purchased something from Blaze and it hadn’t gotten delivered. So I relogged. STILL not there. So I IM’ed him. Nicely explained my situation and what I had tried to do to correct it and even the transaction # from my transaction history. He was very apologetic for the problems I was having and hand delivered the item to me from his inventory. Excellent customer service. And I told people about that.
If you grow to a large store, Have a MAP!
I asked CronoCloud what she would like to see one time and she said Store Catalogues, Store Maps, World Peace & a Pony. You walk in Dazzle, Canimal, or ETD which are huge sims & stores. They have maps! I can find exactly what section I am looking for.
Have events in your store
Have a 24 hour sale for some reason. Birthday, holiday, whatever. Hire a DJ run a stream. Have a dance ball. Run a prize raffle. Make it an event. You’ll be surprised at how much occasional sales or events drives up the traffic and helps people to remember you. Just be sure to publicize your events. Clearance and discontinue old items.
Work with other designers & collaborate on limited editions
Working with other designers can push you to improve your own skills. Limited Editions also put a time limit so customers know they have to purchase within a limited time.
Participate with in-world charities (i.e, RFL)
Charitable purchase can sometimes spur people to try your designs that normally are more cautious with their Lindens. So participate with charitable causes.
Participate in Expos such as Hair Fair & Jewelry Expo
Imagine 2 sims full with 3-5 new never before seen designs each from 75 hair designers. That was Hair Fair 2007. Some of the designers I am a big fan of. Some of the designers I had never even heard of. Join something like that. It can increase your exposure tremendously. There is a Jewelry Expo being planned for September 2007. Think 3-5 pieces of jewelry from SL jewelry designers. Ohhhh the prims that will be tortured and I’m discovering all sorts of new jewelry designers lately.
Make marketing ads showing your stuff in different styles
Show the same clothing with a casual look or a punk look or goth. Probably something you might want to play with on a blog or Flickr photostream rather than in your store, but your readers can see the variety in the clothing you offer if you turn it on it’s ear.
Make friends join Fashion Emergency group and shout out your store to people who have requests for items you carry.
I have found both my saddle shoes and my Kool Kicks from suggestions on Fashion Emergency. Usually people requesting help on Fashion Emergency have an idea of what they want, but just can’t find.
Hire a friend to be your marketer
Don’t have time to do all the promotion yourself? Want to avoid the daily deluge that is Fashion Consolidated? Hire a promoter/marketer. Pay them a few lindens. Shower them with free stuff. Make them do stuff you don’t have the time to do. Update: Yes, I’m talking about make them post to the blog, submit stuff to Fashion Consolidated, manage your update group, schedule/host the events, etc. That will give you more time to create if that’s your complaint.
- Update: Hand out stuff to newbies, frequent customers
Occasionally just hand out stuff to newbies or random people (just make sure you have a landmark in that box/folder). It helps out the newbie who is strapped for Linden and they will (more than likely) remember this and spread the word. You might also consider faithful customers who frequently drop their Lindens on your stuff. On the occasion drop your newest release one them and say “Hey I just finished these, what do you think?”
- Run an SL Shopper classified
At SLShopper.com you can run a classified ad for free.