As product-based business owners, we have quite a unique business model, and the challenges we face in running and growing our businesses are quite different from service-based businesses.
Whether you run an eCommerce store or have designed and manufactured or distributing your own brand, there are some specific challenges and requirements we all face.
No matter where you are along your business journey, there are some amazing apps, resources and tools that can save you time and automate much of your marketing.
The trick is knowing the right things to use in a product-based business, so you don’t end up with a stack of expensive, unused software!
My commitment to you is that I will always go first. I continually explore what’s needed to build a product-based business. I experiment with what works and what doesn’t, and then report back to you with what you need to build a lucrative brand and successful business.
Here are some tools of the trade that I use and love. Apps and resources that are designed to help make running your biz that bit easier and more efficient!
Outsourcing your manufacturing can be an equally thrilling and daunting exercise! The hardest part is, knowing HOW to find the right factory! One that makes a product like yours, and does a really good job of it.
Which is why I was thrilled to find these two stellar businesses:
Garment & Product Solutions, experts in offshore sourcing and quality manufacture.
Easy Imex, making importing from China easy.
Running an eCommerce retail website, or a brand selling direct to consumers, you need to have a website that does these three things at a bare minimum:
- Converts visitors into buyers,
- Works equally well on mobile and desktop,
- Integrates with other marketing applications (such as your email marketing app)
For this, I’m a massive fan of Shopify.
Not only does it do the above, but it also provides exceptional support.
You just need to select a theme that is really well designed for eCommerce conversions, plus one that’s fast loading as well. The Retina theme is a current favourite of mine.
I’m also a massive fan of WordPress. Once your business has grown up a bit, you’re probably ready to move on from Shopify to a platform that allows you a bit more control over your website.
The deal with WordPress is, you need to organise your own everything!
For hosting, you don’t want the cheapest option available. You want one that is fast and secure, does automatic daily back-ups, and who provides you with really good customer service.
For this, I use and recommend WP Hosting.
You’ll also need to select a theme – no mean feat given the plethora available!
My favourite WordPress themes include: Adelle Pro (from the same theme developer as my own website), Flatsome, and Shopkeeper.
Not a techy yourself? Neither am I! So you’ll probably need a web developer at some point.
I think it’s important to have a good web developer in your back pocket. Someone who is skilled across multiple platforms, responsive and quick, is worth their weight in gold.
I’m really fortunate to have come across the technical genius Matt Ratcliffe, of TMMJ Consulting. He’s saved many of my client’s bacon this year! (If you call on his services, make sure you tell him I sent you!)
When marketing any product based business, whether it’s an eCommerce website or a wholesale business, you NEED to be using email marketing.
I talk about this A LOT in my blog.
I don’t care whether you hate receiving hundreds of emails, or whether you think email marketing is the fax machine of the 21st century.
The fact remains, not only does email marketing work, but it ALSO provides the HIGHEST ROI of any form of marketing!!
But, problematically, there are abut twenty-bazillion choices of email marketing software out there on the market.
And the vast majority of them aren’t actually all that well suited to eCommerce.
So if you’re getting started, stick to Mailchimp.
If you’re a bit more advanced, but still a small biz, move onto ActiveCampaign.
And if you’re further ahead than that with a bigger list, go for Infusionsoft.
You can thank me later 🙂
In addition to an email marketing program, you’ll want to get yourself an op-in form builder app.
It’s pretty hard for someone to subscribe to your email list without a form to enter their email into!
And as mentioned above, you WILL be doing email marketing, right? RIGHT?
My favourite form builder apps include JustUno and Privy. There’s loads more out there – just make sure you choose one that integrates with your website platform AND your email marketing program.
And preferably, choose one that gives you some options around things like what pages the forms show on, what they look like, and how they operate (are they auto-timed, exit-intent, or scroll-based?)
Another favourite way of mine to grow my email list is to use competitions and giveaways. There are a few legalities we all need to adhere to when running comps, so to make that easier I use an app like Gleam.
Gleam helps drive the comp and increase viral shares, plus it automatically adds all new emails directly into your email program. Easy peasy!
Last but not least in my marketing toolkit, this is one of my most favourite finds of the year.
It’s commonly known that using real customer testimonials and plenty of social proof in your marketing, helps to increase your sales conversions.
But in the past, simply asking people to review your stuff was a bit hit and miss. The biggest problem was, customers had to actually click back over onto your website and log back in before they could leave a review.
That’s just waaaay too hard for most people!
Enter: Stamped.io – the coolest app for collecting reviews and testimonials! It simply emails your customers, who just tap out a reply IN THEIR EMAIL and then hit send! So friggen easy.
Even better than that, Stamped will add the reviews to your website for you, without you even having to lift a finger!
When it comes to the behind-the-scenes stuff in your business, there are a few tools and apps that I love.
For collaborating with my team and my clients, I use Google Drive. With Google Drive, we’re all working on the most recent version in real time, and there’s never any issues with losing your work because you forgot to hit save!
In my business, my team and I all work remotely from each other. So we use Zoom for all our team meetings, and pretty soon I’m gonna start using it for client training sessions as well.
To make sure we keep all our projects on track, we use Asana. Asana is a really simple yet powerful project management tool, which allows us to allocate tasks internally as well as to external contractors.
The slightly boring task of bookkeeping is made less-of-a-headache by cloud accounting app, QuickBooks Online. Now, small businesses can spend less time keeping track of their accounts, and more time making the money!
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