Struggling to get first sale

JND

Free Member
Jun 8, 2021
2
0
I’m sure you get machine gunned on here with threads along similar lines, so I’ll apologise..

I design/make mid-to-high end furniture. I have a working workshop, a website and a fledgling Instagram presence. I have gifted a few pieces out to local interior design bloggers on Instagram and had a very good response from that in terms of compliments and encouragement. However, despite some traffic on the website, I haven’t had any order as yet.

I don’t want to come across as impatient, I just want to know what could be the reason for this and maybe how to make the next step.

Oh, I should add that I have been speaking to a local retailer about selling my furniture but that has yet to come to fruition, mainly because he’s been super busy since April 12th and I still have a day job so communication has been sporadic. I’m still hopeful that this can still happen.

Any advice would helpful

My website is johnnormandesign.com
 

JEREMY HAWKE

Business Member
Business Listing
Mar 4, 2008
6,288
2,352
EXETER DEVON
www.jeremyhawkecourier.co.uk
It is right to demanding and impatient. You have probably put everything into this !
Keep plugging it . Is your pricing realistic ?
The range is small and I would put the whole range on one page until you increase it .
It is important to make contact with as many interior designers and their contacts as possible if your aiming for the high end customers .
 
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WaveJumper

Free Member
  • Aug 26, 2013
    2,393
    602
    Essex
    I would agree with Jeremy here concentrate on interior designers / studios etc even some one man furniture stores out there if possible getting some items into their showrooms. Forget the bloggers and social media they will offer the earth but generally produce nothing. If you have not done already create your own content short videos of you working with the wood etc and get it on Instagram and youtube. best of luck and a warm welcome to the UKBF
     
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    WaveJumper

    Free Member
  • Aug 26, 2013
    2,393
    602
    Essex
    I’m sure you get machine gunned on here with threads along similar lines, so I’ll apologise..

    I design/make mid-to-high end furniture. I have a working workshop, a website and a fledgling Instagram presence. I have gifted a few pieces out to local interior design bloggers on Instagram and had a very good response from that in terms of compliments and encouragement. However, despite some traffic on the website, I haven’t had any order as yet.

    I don’t want to come across as impatient, I just want to know what could be the reason for this and maybe how to make the next step.

    Oh, I should add that I have been speaking to a local retailer about selling my furniture but that has yet to come to fruition, mainly because he’s been super busy since April 12th and I still have a day job so communication has been sporadic. I’m still hopeful that this can still happen.

    Any advice would helpful

    My website is johnnormandesign.com

    https://www.johnnormandesign.com
     
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    Trevor Andrews

    Free Member
    Feb 9, 2021
    405
    123
    I’m sure you get machine gunned on here with threads along similar lines, so I’ll apologise..

    I design/make mid-to-high end furniture. I have a working workshop, a website and a fledgling Instagram presence. I have gifted a few pieces out to local interior design bloggers on Instagram and had a very good response from that in terms of compliments and encouragement. However, despite some traffic on the website, I haven’t had any order as yet.

    I don’t want to come across as impatient, I just want to know what could be the reason for this and maybe how to make the next step.

    Oh, I should add that I have been speaking to a local retailer about selling my furniture but that has yet to come to fruition, mainly because he’s been super busy since April 12th and I still have a day job so communication has been sporadic. I’m still hopeful that this can still happen.

    Any advice would helpful

    My website is johnnormandesign.com
    Hi John,
    I took a look at your website and it is well written and nice and clean with some good pictures.
    We started our business just before the start of the pandemic last year and created a website.
    We have been disappointed at how many people use our site, in fact we have had orders from Sweden, Greece, Italy and France but none from local area.
    Having a website does not mean people will use it, you need to work hard in SEO and advertising it.
    Sales is a numbers game. Enquirers to Quotes to sales.
    Are you getting enquirers?
    How long have you been going?
    What other advertising do you do?
     
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    The Byre

    Legacy Full Member
    Aug 13, 2013
    11,828
    5,117
    A bedside cabinet for £600 - the images and website must justify that high price. So better pictures are a must! Also good copy! Why should I pay £600 for a bedside cabinet - that needs to be explained and in terms that relate to me and the benefit a £600 cabinet has for me.

    Also, some obvious gaps are apparent - dining chairs and a dining table for example.
     
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    WaveJumper

    Free Member
  • Aug 26, 2013
    2,393
    602
    Essex
    As the country opens up again (hopefully with one nervous eye on the 21st) have a look at maybe attending some design / furniture type events there must be some held up and down the UK and show off your work
     
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    JND

    Free Member
    Jun 8, 2021
    2
    0
    Hi everyone, thanks for the response.

    So to answer some of the questions asked:

    - The website has been up since last September

    - So far, all my “marketing/advertising” has been on Instagram, as there is a huge community of people there who are into interior design in one way or another. Other designer/makers have a large presence there and have had good success (I’m aware that doesn’t necessarily mean I will)

    - My pricing is based on few things, but in the main I’ve been looking established furniture brands and looking at their pricing. Also I have a friend who owns a couple of high end scandi furniture franchises and they have been advising me accordingly.

    - My target audience is definitely within the Instagram community I’ve been part of but not exclusively so, I am aware of this.

    - I’m also aware that there are some holes in my range of furniture, that’s an ongoing process.

    - I haven’t set a budget for marketing. The only avenue I’m aware of in those terms is adverts in interiors magazines and, I’m told, I should expect to pay anything from £1-2k for a postage stamp sized ad up to £10-20k for a half page. At least in the magazines I’m aiming at, anyway. So I’m not in a position for that kind of thing currently.

    tk
     
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    AllUpHere

    Free Member
    Jun 30, 2014
    4,082
    1,679
    You're in a tricky industry. The problem with pricing is it only makes sense to those who think about it. You need to make people think about it. To average Joe who has no concept of what goes into these things they think "blimey, 400 quid for a garden chair, I'm not paying that. My immediate reaction was the complete opposite; I thought "how on earth does he make money selling things for that?". At 400 quid, if you spend more than a few hours making those chairs it's not going to be worth doing. There is no point being a busy fool.

    At the moment the website isn't going to persuade anyone to buy anything. The pictures are average, and the copy is poor.

    In your industry you need to sell a story as much as the furniture.

    Adverting in magazines would be a waste of time at this stage (and most likely at any stage).

    Realistically, you need help if you want to sell stuff. For help, you need a budget.
     
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    ctrlbrk

    Free Member
    May 13, 2021
    249
    62
    Hi everyone, thanks for the response.

    So to answer some of the questions asked:

    - The website has been up since last September

    - So far, all my “marketing/advertising” has been on Instagram, as there is a huge community of people there who are into interior design in one way or another. Other designer/makers have a large presence there and have had good success (I’m aware that doesn’t necessarily mean I will)

    - My target audience is definitely within the Instagram community I’ve been part of but not exclusively so, I am aware of this.

    - I haven’t set a budget for marketing. The only avenue I’m aware of in those terms is adverts in interiors magazines and, I’m told, I should expect to pay anything from £1-2k for a postage stamp sized ad up to £10-20k for a half page. At least in the magazines I’m aiming at, anyway. So I’m not in a position for that kind of thing currently.

    Just a few points
    • Products You have some gorgeous furniture there - the Arietty Small Drawers looks excellent
    • Marketing The point of marketing is, you can have the best products in the world, but if nobody knows about them, what's the point...
    • Website Above comments about your website are fair. You may want to look into making it more sexy. You want clients to be wowed by looking at your products
    • Budget Of course you don't want to invest £££ before you're sure of ROI - why not start with a Udemy or Lynda.com marketing course - they usually cost peanuts but give you a sense of how you could revamp your site
    Once you have a better appreciation for marketing channels and wording, I'm sure users on here that have marketing firms can help point you in the right direction.

    My 2 cents!
     
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    MBE2017

    Free Member
    Feb 16, 2017
    2,627
    1,047
    Hard to comment since I see no pictures on your website, but even your landing page, the text is about you, your preferences. You need to turn it around, and make it about your clients.

    You need to sell the sizzle, not the price. Your target clients should expect and probably want to pay good money. I would certainly be talking about hand made to order, British quality etc etc, throw in some pictures of you working on a piece, convey the love and attention to detail etc.

    If the pictures need improving and you are on a budget, contact a local photography college and offer the chance of a visit to do an assignment, offer to buy a few of the best photos etc.
     
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    You make some beautiful stuff and I'm really rooting for you. There are a load of great suggestions on here from forum members (and I've learned a lot from some great people on here) but I'll focus on the marketing content bits because my business is video production. Things I'd look at:

    1. I dislike the copy on your front page. I'd probably just leave it with a short phrase. e.g. Exquisite, British craftsmanship or something similar.
    2. What's your story? My best mate bought a glass table for £7,000 and bored me stupid with the whole story of some long-haired Italian dude who meditates to the sound of whalesong at sunset or something similar who made the [email protected] thing. It's a piece of glass on four, metal legs. He could've bought the same for £700 but he's your target market so that's the kind of stuff needed to get sales.
    3. Marketing: If no-one knows you exist, how are they going to buy from you? You can run campaigns on Linkedin for free. You can make your own marketing content, completely free with your phone. That's a place to start.
    4. Get quality videos on there ASAP and there's a link below so you can do it for free, with just your phone. There are 2 types of videos to focus on. One is showing who you are and your values. Show the exquisite craftsmanship and that ever since you were 8 years old you dreamed of making the perfect table while an Old-World-Warbler (type of bird) looks on, singing its melodious song blah-de-blah. The other type is 'lead generation.' Lead gen videos bring your target audience to your website. E.g. A series like 'how do you achieve perfection?' or 'how do you get inspiration?' on Linkedin and then show how you do it, linking back to your website.

    This is a tutorial on how you get something professional looking with your phone absolutely free (and if admin takes this down, PM and I'll send you this tutorial): https://www.linkedin.com/posts/paul...oproduction-activity-6798951391994896384-Cz_C
     
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    Lucan Unlordly

    Free Member
    Feb 24, 2009
    2,547
    502
    Whilst the suggestion is that you make bespoke furniture, the initial reaction when visiting your site is that you have a very limited range of products. There's nothing that jumps out and says that all things are possible. Are they? The more pieces you can display online, if not real, then use computer generated diagrammatic images (would have to be good) to broaden the appeal.

    First reaction again is that the prices are too low for bespoke but then I'm down south and your upt north. That said, occupying the unit next door to me is a lone craftsman working to produce some magnificent pieces of furniture. He can make anything but attention to detail, as you know, takes time and he frequently undercharges on hours taken. Subsequently he has good customers, paying fair prices, and dismisses late night and weekends as part of the gig. Consistent flow of work is rare.

    Interior designers. Invariably adding a mark up so prices are squeezed. Selling the idea of a product to their customer, that requires a great deal of thought, planning and time, all of which is difficult to work back into the final price. Little respect for time scales. Don't expect to pay until they've been paid themselves.
     
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    - So far, all my “marketing/advertising” has been on Instagram, as there is a huge community of people there who are into interior design in one way or another. Other designer/makers have a large presence there and have had good success (I’m aware that doesn’t necessarily mean I will)

    What I know about marketing could be written on the back of a matchbox - in broad sharpie - but it strikes me that everyone I know who uses IG a lot is the age of my kids... whereas you're selling stuff to people with budgets of people my age....?
     
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    intheTRADE

    Free Member
    Apr 14, 2019
    542
    194
    100% agree with the comment above. Your target audience (purely because of your prices) is not Instagram. You may think it is, you may have followers, you may see other brands similar to yours there but the audience for you excellent pieces is not Instagram. Most of the interior pages and DIY stuff on there is people looking for bargains and pieces to up-cycle

    A lot of advice has already been giving re marketing and budgets so I won't reiterate that.

    Another potential avenue for you to get into is collaboration with house builders, developers and agents about renting your pieces in their show homes and their home staging practices with a view to them selling the pieces on the completion of house sales for a commission to them from you
     
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    Ozzy

    Founder of UKBF
    UKBF Staff
  • Business Listing
    I was scrolling through this thread, I love the products (and the garden chair by the way) but my wife would kill me if I bought the garden chair after having just spent several hundred on some more tattoos!
    As I was scrolling I was thinking I need to reply and tell him the average Instagram user loves what your products look like, and will happily like and comment how gorgeous they are, but doesn't have the budget for them. It's mainly teenagers and 20 somethings who use Instagram. If you are looking within that platform then Facebook may be a better audience as the average user on Facebook is nearer to 40+ years old and more likely to have disposable income - but even their I'm not 100% sure that's the best place.
    Pintrest maybe... o_O

    What about researching the affluent villages and areas of the country, and putting some adverts in their small local magazines? Usually run by volunteers for the local Parish the costs for advertising in these is usually around £50 mark for a full or half page.
     
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