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  • #987294
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
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    • Total posts: 47
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    Hello fellow entrepreneurs,

    I started an e-commerce based charity selling Fair Trade products, following an eye opening trip to Southeast Asia. Having witnessed so much poverty and so much talent, I couldn’t get leave and forget. I decided to take matters into my own hands and see if I could help these people to find a market in Australia for their beautifully handcrafted products.

    At the time, I had no business or web building knowledge. But I did it anyway. It has been a steep learning curve for me, and the current website (http://www.ozfairtrade.org) is 100 times better than the first version. While I’m proud of what I have achieved, there’s a long road ahead of me. I’m still struggling with marketing and getting site traffic. Time is limited as I also work full time. Money is limited as I rely on personal savings and mortgage. But my passion and dedication is unlimited.

    I have spent a lot of time on getting the right products and improving the website. Now my focus is shifting to PR and consignment opportunities. I believe that’s the key to getting the word out without spending large amounts on advertising. I have found Facebook increasingly expensive, and instead switched my focus to Twitter.

    I would love marketing/PR/consignment tips from you and constructive feedback on my website (http://www.ozfairtrade.org).

    Kind regards,

    #1161960
    jabar
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    • Total posts: 31
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    Hi, I really like your website, is simple and colourful, all of us have to follow the same path when starting an online store, how to promote it and make it grow, maybe buy some business cards, is always cheap and easy, facebook is also my source of traffic as well as adwords campaigns, but all of them are expensive, wish I could help you more. Hope you the best with your site.

    #1161961
    MilaniJuiceBar
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    • Total posts: 23
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    I think having a blog would be really useful, as I most people who buy fair trade are passionate about social issues.

    Perhaps you could feature some of the people who are actually making the products? Write about how your business is helping to change their lives etc

    #1161962
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
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    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi

    I have a blog but often struggle with things to write about or find time to write. But you are absolutely right that I should focus more on the blog and write things relevant to fair trade and Oz Fair Trade.

    Thanks a lot!

    Qinnie

    MilaniJuiceBar, post: 188056 wrote:
    I think having a blog would be really useful, as I most people who buy fair trade are passionate about social issues.

    Perhaps you could feature some of the people who are actually making the products? Write about how your business is helping to change their lives etc

    #1161963
    Prashant Murphy
    Member
    • Total posts: 16
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    Hi Qinnie

    Sounds like you have a fantastic organisation doing a great thing.

    I think you have a very marketable story. I would have a look at how other social organisations are marketing themselves. Have a look at Thankyou Water. They have had some very successful viral campaigns by using social media. Maybe if you researched how they have done theirs, you could try to replicate it :)

    Re constructive feedback for your website:
    It can still use a lot of work. The general structure of the website can be massively improved to reduce clutter. Also I think I counted about 10 different fonts on the homepage. Ideally your website should be simple, consistent and to the point. My business does websites, just send me a PM or email [email protected] and I’ll let you know how I can help.

    Regards

    #1161964
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
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    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Prashant

    Thank you for your constructive feedback! I’m totally learning from successful social businesses like Thankyou Co, Republica Coffee, Sevenly etc. they have amazing!

    I totally agree that the website still needs a lot of work. My ideal website would look at eternalcreation.com.au and I’m working towards that. I’ll shoot you an email shortly.

    Cheers,

    Qinnie

    Prashant Murphy, post: 188169 wrote:
    Hi Qinnie

    Sounds like you have a fantastic organisation doing a great thing.

    I think you have a very marketable story. I would have a look at how other social organisations are marketing themselves. Have a look at Thankyou Water. They have had some very successful viral campaigns by using social media. Maybe if you researched how they have done theirs, you could try to replicate it :)

    Re constructive feedback for your website:
    It can still use a lot of work. The general structure of the website can be massively improved to reduce clutter. Also I think I counted about 10 different fonts on the homepage. Ideally your website should be simple, consistent and to the point. My business does websites, just send me a PM or email [email protected] and I’ll let you know how I can help.

    Regards

    #1161965
    Sonja Meyer
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    • Total posts: 50
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    Hi Qinnie,

    I absolutely love what you’re doing. I had a very similar experience after visiting Southeast Asia in 2011. I really respect you for taking personal responsibility and actively doing something to help.

    In terms of marketing, it’s very tough getting noticed in the online world even if your business is predominantly online. You can spend some money on SEO to try and rank well for at least one keyword. But it gets very expensive if you want to get anywhere significant with it. In my experience: 1. you have to get noticed in the real world to get noticed in the online world. 2. Word of mouth (online and offline) is and always will be the strongest marketing tool.

    A quick story: A few years ago I saw the need for NGOs in my local area to have someone redesign their marketing material because it wasn’t getting them noticed. It wasn’t professionally done because obviously many of these organisations don’t have the funds for a designer. So I offered some pro-bono design work to help them look more professional and get noticed a bit more. Long story short, I did a press release for local newspapers to try and find some more organisations that wanted to be part of the initiative, and then I had a number of people wanting to interview me and feature my initiative in their publication. I got some exposure without meaning to and even though my own website wasn’t my best work at the time, I got a lot of business interest afterwards. So there must be a similar ‘outside the box’ solution for you, whereby you aren’t plugging your fairtrade products directly but instead you are telling a story that people want to hear. And your story is such a good one! So perhaps it’s worth keeping this in mind when you write your press release.

    By the way I think your site looks really good, nice and clean and easy to use. I like your logo too. One step at a time – you have started developing a brand, yes it could use some strengthening, but for now it seems your money is best spent trying to get yourself noticed and then you can probably spend some more money on design (online and community magazine ads, brochures to put in shops/cafes etc) once you start making some sales.

    Good luck!

    Sonja

    #1161966
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
    Member
    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Sonja

    Thank you so much for your kind words and advice! You are absolutely right that my focus now should be on marketing and it includes offline marketing. I have also come to realise that offline marketing is still very important even though social media is huge now. I have set the main focus this year to be PR and consignment opportunities. I would also seek opportunities to work with complementary businesses. There are many ways I believe that are more cost effective than advertising, and it’s a matter of finding them and utilizing them. Sure they will be most time consuming, but definitely worthwhile.

    At the moment I’m saving money by designing my own website, business card and other marketing materials. They might not be as great as they could be, but the size of the business does not justify large expenditure on these items. I think such expenditure should be in line with the growth of the business. I am learning a lot about web design, graphic design etc. and I enjoy it. But I also know that once the business grows I should focus on what I’m best at and offload things to other professionals.

    Hopefully you’ll see me in the media one day :)

    Qinnie

    Sonja Meyer, post: 188387 wrote:
    Hi Qinnie,

    I absolutely love what you’re doing. I had a very similar experience after visiting Southeast Asia in 2011. I really respect you for taking personal responsibility and actively doing something to help.

    In terms of marketing, it’s very tough getting noticed in the online world even if your business is predominantly online. You can spend some money on SEO to try and rank well for at least one keyword. But it gets very expensive if you want to get anywhere significant with it. In my experience: 1. you have to get noticed in the real world to get noticed in the online world. 2. Word of mouth (online and offline) is and always will be the strongest marketing tool.

    A quick story: A few years ago I saw the need for NGOs in my local area to have someone redesign their marketing material because it wasn’t getting them noticed. It wasn’t professionally done because obviously many of these organisations don’t have the funds for a designer. So I offered some pro-bono design work to help them look more professional and get noticed a bit more. Long story short, I did a press release for local newspapers to try and find some more organisations that wanted to be part of the initiative, and then I had a number of people wanting to interview me and feature my initiative in their publication. I got some exposure without meaning to and even though my own website wasn’t my best work at the time, I got a lot of business interest afterwards. So there must be a similar ‘outside the box’ solution for you, whereby you aren’t plugging your fairtrade products directly but instead you are telling a story that people want to hear. And your story is such a good one! So perhaps it’s worth keeping this in mind when you write your press release.

    By the way I think your site looks really good, nice and clean and easy to use. I like your logo too. One step at a time – you have started developing a brand, yes it could use some strengthening, but for now it seems your money is best spent trying to get yourself noticed and then you can probably spend some more money on design (online and community magazine ads, brochures to put in shops/cafes etc) once you start making some sales.

    Good luck!

    Sonja

    #1161967
    StevenMelbourne
    Member
    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Qinnie,

    First of all, love your website and what you are trying to do.

    I would recommend getting more customer testimonials on to your site, it is a very powerful emotive product your are selling so your customers can be your best advocates.

    I would also look into getting more of your suppliers involved, happy photos or videos of the people who made your products can be very compelling.

    Cheers,
    Steven

    #1161968
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
    Member
    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Steven

    You are absolutely right about the importance of testimonials and supplier photos/videos. I’m working on these and they are a crucial part of my marketing strategy.

    Cheers,

    Qinnie

    StevenMelbourne, post: 188499 wrote:
    Hi Qinnie,

    First of all, love your website and what you are trying to do.

    I would recommend getting more customer testimonials on to your site, it is a very powerful emotive product your are selling so your customers can be your best advocates.

    I would also look into getting more of your suppliers involved, happy photos or videos of the people who made your products can be very compelling.

    Cheers,
    Steven

    #1161969
    Sonja Meyer
    Member
    • Total posts: 50
    Up
    0
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    Qinnie(OzFairTrade), post: 188454 wrote:
    Hi Sonja

    Thank you so much for your kind words and advice! You are absolutely right that my focus now should be on marketing and it includes offline marketing. I have also come to realise that offline marketing is still very important even though social media is huge now. I have set the main focus this year to be PR and consignment opportunities. I would also seek opportunities to work with complementary businesses. There are many ways I believe that are more cost effective than advertising, and it’s a matter of finding them and utilizing them. Sure they will be most time consuming, but definitely worthwhile.

    At the moment I’m saving money by designing my own website, business card and other marketing materials. They might not be as great as they could be, but the size of the business does not justify large expenditure on these items. I think such expenditure should be in line with the growth of the business. I am learning a lot about web design, graphic design etc. and I enjoy it. But I also know that once the business grows I should focus on what I’m best at and offload things to other professionals.

    Hopefully you’ll see me in the media one day :)

    Qinnie

    Hi Qinnie,

    I agree totally with your view that expenditure should be in-line with growth (unless of course you have large amounts of start-up capital to invest in this sort of thing).

    I was wondering if you’d like me to do a blog post about you on my website? My blog has a focus on sustainability and design-related themes and what you do fits in with this theme. I always need new relevant content and interesting stuff to blog about. If you’re interested my email is [email protected]. It would probably work well as an interview-based piece. Let me know. :)

    Sonja

    #1161970
    Qinnie(OzFairTrade)
    Member
    • Total posts: 47
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    Hi Sonja

    Thanks for your offer! I love your blog and love what you do. I’m always looking for ways to connect with like-minded bloggers. I’ll shoot you an email.

    Cheers!

    Qinnie

    Sonja Meyer, post: 188526 wrote:
    Hi Qinnie,

    I agree totally with your view that expenditure should be in-line with growth (unless of course you have large amounts of start-up capital to invest in this sort of thing).

    I was wondering if you’d like me to do a blog post about you on my website? My blog has a focus on sustainability and design-related themes and what you do fits in with this theme. I always need new relevant content and interesting stuff to blog about. If you’re interested my email is [email protected]. It would probably work well as an interview-based piece. Let me know. :)

    Sonja

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