New Tricks for Old Tools

 Do you have the right tools in place?

You do it, I do it, we all do it. We arrive at a spot online and start to dig into details and poof! We lose our enthusiasm or interest. Something just doesn’t feel or look or work quite right. Click, click, gone.

When you are marketing your business or organization, you are instinctively judged by what you present. It happens in a nano-second. If you are not using up-to-date tools, you risk a bad first impression. We won’t take time to get cozy. We won’t go out of our way to get to know you. We need to have a sense that you are someone we can trust – especially if you have something for sale!

When we are thinking of spending money, we want to deal with professionals.

That first impression is everything.


Here are five areas you must not ignore for a successful “first impression”:

  1. Put up the best possible quality photos of your products – this is a deal breaker to make online sales.
  2. Have a website with your own domain name – this is a tie for first place as a deal breaker to make any sales.
  3. Use your domain name as your email address.
  4. Have a shopping cart or some kind of click-to-purchase/donate system in place
  5. Use a professional email service provider to deliver your business messages, news, and offers.

1. Photography is Key!

If you have a smart phone, you probably have a decent camera and it may work in many situations. But if you are trying to sell jewelry, oil paintings, hats, mailboxes, couches, or anything at all online, you need to have those items as THE focus and IN focus. I see shopping carts with items that are not close-ups, are out of focus or pixilated, or set into busy backgrounds. Some are all of the above!

typical snap shot approach to a photoThis is a quick snapshot of a cup, but at least it is in focus. But it is not THE focus and it’s got a distracting background. Whatever you are selling, have it against a plain background and as close up as possible.





This is still just a quick snapshot, but a big improvement over the top photo. It’s not a professional level photograph for many reasons including that the lighting is horrible. But I think you get the idea of a “close-up” and a simple background.

For some it will take more than a smartphone. Lighting is critical. Staging, too. If you are selling something for many hundreds of dollars or that will be sold many dozens of times for $20 it must be a good great photo. Invest the time to learn photography yourself. Excellent cameras can be found for $100. But remember: time is money. It might be “cheaper” to hire a pro.

2. A “your domain” website is proof that you are professional and invested in your business.

In some industries, like mine for example, I don’t have an “Etsy” alternative. I need a location to bring all the details together. I don’t dare risk not having this site available. This website is me in all my glory (or not) and this is where you learn about me and my services and hopefully see value in signing up for my emails or hiring me to help you with your business.

Every business needs a website. Period. Start with one page with just your contact info or listing your location and business hours. Build it up over time, but you need online presence to seem “real” in today’s market. Your potential buyers want to feel connected to a person and that is very hard to do on a third-party site. Furthermore, you need a place away from the “crowds” on Facebook or Etsy where you can be “you” without competition!

3. Your business email address must use your domain name.

To look professional, you need to use your for email. Use it for all correspondence within your business: your business cards, email marketing templates, and regular emails. Using “” is not the impact you want as a professional. By using your domain, you have an added bonus: you automatically have your web address built in.

Get clever. Use different names with your domain address. I use but I could also use mckenna@ or sales@ or advertising@. The usefulness is easily multiplied. And it’s yours forever.

4. Shopping Carts are professional and people want to use them.

Even my “service” oriented business uses a shopping cart. There are rare exceptions, but most businesses profit (literally and figuratively) by having a shopping cart. They can be totally free. (Click to learn more) If you are using a site, like Etsy to sell from, then you just need to point to that third party site.

When someone is ready to buy, don’t take the oxygen out of the sale. Don’t expect them to email you or call you to get a price. Don’t leave your buyer without the ability to buy instantly if the buying mood strikes them!

I repeat: there are rare exceptions when a shopping cart is not needed. But look at your competitors and see what they are doing. Apply the standards that exist for your industry, organization, or products.

5. Use an Email Marketing Program: This is critically important. If you are skimming through this article, please read this part: You must use a professional email marketing service.

Yes, as many of you know, I have an agenda! I am deeply in love with Constant Contact. But I am more in love with what any professional programs can do for small businesses.  If you want to know more, visit my page devoted to this subject. If you are trying to market direct to buyers using a gmail account then you must go to this page. It’s required reading.


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