Starting a business, or expanding an existing one, takes a lot of work. There is always something to do, and the list of things can seem endless.
Who Do You Want to Be?
Which is why the first step in marketing your soap is not what many might think. The first step doesn’t involve diving in and doing things. You need a plan, not just a business plan, but a marketing one. And before you have a plan, you need to have a vision, a big picture. Before you develop marketing materials and sales strategies, you need to answer these questions: Where do you see your brand appearing? Where do you see your soaps being sold? Who are your customers?
Answers Lead to Clarity
When you answer those questions, really answer them, you’ll know how your marketing should look and sound. You’ll know how your product should be presented. You’ll know the venues and sales channels that are best for you, and you’ll know how much you should charge.
If you’ve already done your research and homework, you’re ahead of the game. If you haven’t, there’s lots to do, but there’s plenty of help out there. Many people have been where you are – including us – and there are lessons to learn from their experiences.
If you’re just beginning, if you know what you want to do, but not how to do it, here are some places to start:
- Look online for how soap is sold. Search for organic soap, natural soap, and herbal soap. Look at the images associated with your search.
- Look at packaging and logos, look at images and typefaces.
- If you see online as a sales possibility, make sure you know what you’re in for. Selling a product online that people are accustomed to smelling and holding presents unique challenges. Many of those challenges have been met before, and there is advice on how to start. Rebecca Dillon’s “Soapmaker’s Guide to Marketing Soap Online” provides precisely that kind of advice.
- If you’re convinced to pursue online selling, look at Pinterest and Etsy. Follow the links to soap sellers with an online store. You’ll probably see much that you don’t want to do, but you’ll get some good ideas, too. And it’s all a part of who you become.
- Make sure to look in natural food stores and skincare stores to see packaging and brand examples in person.
Ultimately, how you want to appear to customers will determine the images and text, even the colors you use. Whatever the details of your vision, marketing organic soap is different than marketing commercial products. You can’t just say things – “all natural ingredients” or “skin friendly” – and expect your customers to believe you. They’ll be doing their research, so you better do yours.
One thing we’ve discovered about organic marketing, something that frustrates normal marketers like crazy – you have to tell the truth. Your mission isn’t to carpet-bomb the market with your soap. The purpose of your marketing is to find the people who should be buying from you, and who should keep buying from you. For organic marketing to be effective, several things need to be true. These three are the first among them.
- You need to be invested in your marketing.
- You need to love it in order for it work. Love shows through.
- You need to be you. Genuineness is hard to define, but customers know it when they see it. Being flashy when it’s not who you are isn’t genuine; neither is being earthy when that’s not you.
Selling organic soap gives you a great platform for marketing, but there isn’t just one way to do it. Some customers will find you at natural food stores and farmers markets. Others might find you at high-end skincare stores. They’ll find you in those places because that’s where they shop. The bigger the sales channel, the bigger the competition, but don’t underestimate the competition at any level. More to come as we look beyond the vision to the plan itself (read Part 2 here.)