Starting a new business is risky. The majority of new companies fail. To increase your odds of succeeding, you should learn from the mistakes of others instead of making your own. This article will give you some guidance on the thought process and share some tried and tested tips for soap marketing.
Soap Marketing Strategy: Thinking Before Doing
Planning for Everything
Business plans are indispensable and a must. Marketing plans – entirely separate from business plans – are also a must. The ways in which marketing plans can be expressed and applied are numerous. The plan itself can be reduced to three things:
- Generating leads
- Following up with leads
- Being consistent with #1 and #2
Vision Takes Shape
If you’ve done your work in order, you began with a vision of who and what you want to be. You developed that vision to the point that you know where your products should appear and how they should look. Now it’s time to get those products into your customers’ hands.
Part of any business is nurturing sales. If you’re selling your soap at a crafts fair or farmers market, you’ll find that some people buy from you right away and some people take their time. Some will come back the next day. Some will wait even longer and look you up online (which is why it’s necessary to be online). Leads are people who express interest in your products and represent potential sales. Not all leads are immediate sales.
For those who aren’t, you need a way to follow up. You need contact information. For small businesses, lead generation without lead capture is the same as no lead generation at all. Without incentive, though, most people are cautious about giving out contact information. Incentives help. Offering potential customers the chance for an online coupon to be used on their next purchase is one example.
Understanding lead generation means you don’t have just one chance with a customer. Not making an immediate sale isn’t so bad if you have the ability to follow up.
Here’s some sobering news. No matter how much you love your product and your business, no matter how hard and long you work, it’s frighteningly easy for people to forget you. Even if you’ve made a good first impression, once people get back to their lives and businesses – both of which have never included you – without follow up you’ll become an ever more distant memory.
You’ve already determined how you want to appear in your marketing. This knowledge will guide how you follow up, whether it’s through email or a hand-written thank-you postcard. Don’t underestimate the power of the personal touch. Personally written emails can make a big difference. If your email list is long and you rely on an email service (MailChimp, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft), make sure your emails don’t sound automated. Make sure they sound like you. Capturing and following up on leads is at the core of your marketing. You need to do it, but you also need to do it well. Like any aspect of your marketing, individual follow ups are an opportunity to convince them you’re the one.
This is the key to the whole process. Keep at it. Don’t Stop. The often-cited Rule of Seven says that customers need to see your message seven times before they buy. Whether or not seven is the magic number, transforming prospects into customers takes time. And, in truth, it’s more doggedness than magic. Knowing this gives you an edge. Being aware that marketing takes time means you won’t question yourself unnecessarily when it does. You won’t pull the plug on your marketing, convinced it’s not working. You’ll be prepared, and won’t be distracted from the most important thing – keeping at it.
Soap Branding: Setting the Values and Personality
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.
Soap Marketing Ideas
Time to get practical. And creative! We're talking marketing, right?
From page experience to customer communication, to product management, here are the marketing trends and updates you need to know for your soap business in 2021.
Selling the bars individually is a great way to get customers to buy your soap and for you to maximize your margins. There is also another great way to move those bars off the shelves quickly; bundling. As an example, one bar is sold for $5 and four bars are sold for $20. Of course, this means you’ll make a bit less per bar, but if you think about it, your actual income per sale will be higher. Rather than focusing your time on purchases of single bars where you can make $5/sale (with about a $3 profit), now you’re pursuing sales where you can make $20 (with about a $10 profit).
If half the people that buy from you choose the bargain deal, then you’ll turn your bar soap inventory over faster and end up earning a lot more each week and month for the same amount of work! A sale is a sale. It takes the same amount of work to make a sale of one bar that it does to make a sale of several bars together, so why not try earning more per each individual purchase?
Don’t Be Subtle
Too often, business owners think their customers are getting the message. In actuality, many times they’re really not. Next time you drive through your downtown, look at the various signs that local business have in their windows or on their sandwich boards. Do you really notice them? Can you actually read all the details? Usually, the signs just blend into the scenery.
So be simple and bold. Try to limit your sign or your email offer to one item only, and let it fill all the space. You’ll notice a difference in your sales when your marketing is simpler and bolder.
Educate Your Customers
When it comes to organic ingredients in soap products and organic ingredients in general, people usually don’t realize how much better they are for your skin. Try building a marketing campaign around educating your customers on why a simple and organic ingredients list is the way to go. Those that say “well I can get Dove soap for half the price” provide the perfect opportunity for you to educate them about what all the synthetic ingredients in those bars are doing to their skin.
Whether in your store or in your emails, try creating an ingredient education campaign that explains the downside of long surfactant-filled, synthetic ingredient lists and the benefits of short and simple organic ingredient lists.
Video Is Not a Want, It’s a Need
If you’re not already investing in video marketing for your soap business, you’re allowing your competitors a leg up in the game. Users love consuming video content because it’s easy to digest and gets the point across quickly. According to Wyzowl, 84% of users have bought a product or service after watching a company’s video. Not only does video marketing help increase the number of sales, but it also gives brands further insight into the relationship between the product and its consumer. Thanks to Wyzowl, we know that:
- 94% of video marketers say video has helped increase user understanding of their product or service.
- 83% of video marketers say video has helped increase the average time their visitors spend on a page.
- 43% of video marketers say video has reduced the number of support calls they’ve received.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our Botanie Soap YouTube channel.
Page Experience Affects SEO
In June of 2021 Google announced they will begin using page experience as part of its ranking system. This means Google has created signals that measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with any given web page. In short, Google will prioritize pages that bring the best experience to its users. In order to optimize a website for this update, soap business owners should sign up for Google Search Console and run a page experience report. This report is completely free and assigns each site with a score based on core web vitals, mobile issues, and site security. Common mobile issues include content wider than the screen, text that is too small to read, and elements that are too close together on a mobile viewport.
Quality Links Matter
Backlinking is still important in 2021, but the quality of each link is what is most important. According to Google, the best links to acquire are from websites that have a high ranking with Google and are selective with their own outbound linking. For example, receiving a backlink from a site that has too many outbound links for it to be natural can be seen as a scam in the eyes of Google. It’s not so much the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but rather the quality of backlinks you receive.
Customer Service Keeps Clients Coming
Let’s face it: There are hundreds if not thousands of soap businesses operating in your region. Because of this, your customer care has to be straightforward, communicative, and effective. No matter the quality of your product, if a customer has a question or concern and they can not get in touch with the brand owner, they will get frustrated and spend their money elsewhere. A good way to ensure timely customer care is through conversation marketing like a live chatbot. Some soap business owners are active enough on social media to be able to handle their customer care through tweets and direct messaging. However, we suggest adding additional forms of contact, like an SMS text line, a phone number, or a contact submission form on your business’ website.
Shift Your Focus Away From Content Length
As previously mentioned, user experience is becoming increasingly popular with Google’s algorithm updates. Since the focus is now shifting to the overall experience of the user, it is becoming less important to have the user sift through paragraphs of content and more important to give the user exactly what they came for. For example, a person does not need to read an 800-word article to learn how to tie a tie, and Google is beginning to recognize that. Google is becoming more concerned with the quality of the content the user is given, making content length less of a priority. Generally, there are other SEO strategies that are worth focusing on instead.
Here are four questions you should ask yourself when creating content for your soap business:
- Does it provide value?
- Is this article grammatically correct? Does it contain spelling errors?
- Are there proper keywords?
- Does the article value the reader’s time? Do they need this much information to get what they asked for?
Once you have accounted for these considerations, then you should you consider your content’s length.
Marketing Tips From Botanie Soap
If you’re looking for more advice on marketing your soap business in 2021, check out all of our blog posts about marketing and our YouTube channel for our best tips and tricks.