Friday , 17 September 2021
This is what I call “shoe leather marketing.” All we need is the willingness to think outside the box, talk to people, and make some calls. We’re doing it, not someone we paid, because they don’t know our product and what we can potentially do with it.

Marketing 101: Niche Markets – What’s Your Wackiest Marketing Idea?

niche marketing

Marketing 101: Niche Markets – 2

What’s Your Wackiest Marketing Idea?

Marketing 101: Niche Markets – Part 1

Now that you have listed additional uses for your product, you need to expand your potential customer bases. And…this is where you can get really creative. Dreaming doesn’t cost any money at all, and you could amaze yourself at what happens.

This is what I call “shoe leather marketing.” All we need is the willingness to think outside the box, talk to people, and make some calls. We’re doing it, not someone we paid, because they don’t know our product and what we can potentially do with it.

When we started marketing our business, Marble-T Design, in 1997, print was still a viable form of advertising. We could not, however, afford print advertising. Most of us still can’t. We now use online opportunities, and we must be able to maximize what we can do. After all, just because you’re online doesn’t mean people will automatically flock to your site. How else to get the word out to prospective markets and buyers, beyond obvious online opportunities?

Try this checklist.

1. Make a list of every possible person or company who could use your product.

Quilters, fabric companies, wearable artists, framers, galleries, gift stores, fabric designers, interior designers, quilt and art shows, pattern companies and designers, contest giveaways, famous people in quilting. These also become part of your key words (SEO) to help folks find you when they are searching for something.

2. List the marketing skills you already have that won’t cost you anything but time and possibly some postage.

Writing letters, calling for potential appointments, dropping off information, customizing fabric, researching potential clients, writing about your product, always having examples of your product with you, asking others what they do for marketing that doesn’t cost money, pulling together a portfolio of your work, joining some online groups where you can learn from others (but not necessarily to promote your product), writing a newsletter, presenting demonstrations where you could sell your product, and creating the best possible product you can.

3.  Plan some time each week to work on at least one idea. This is tougher if you are still working full time. Our productivity and marketing is huge this year, since I retired from full-time teaching.

During the school week of teaching, I focused on reading the daily lists of groups I belonged to. I started with QuiltBiz and QuiltArt, and occasionally I would  make a comment. I responded to people individually for a while, and then finally got a little bolder and responded to the list as a whole. On weekends I would either marble fabric with hubby or work on a pattern or a new design. If you have a partner, he/she can do some of the visiting of local contacts. If your time is not restricted, set a weekly group of tasks to accomplish. Sunday ebay goes up for the week; Tophatter auctions are scheduled; Monday is tweets, some blog posts for the week, restocking the Etsy shop; Tuesday is actual marbling, and so on.

4. Be patient. Things take time, especially if you are working on this part-time and with very little capital. (Here’s where understanding exponential growth can help – you start very slowly and build very slowly, and then all your efforts begin to mushroom.)

5. Do something crazy. Take a chance and put your product out there.

From the lists I belonged to, I learned who needed fabric for samples for books (Carol Doak), who needed fabric for garments (Larkin Van Horn and the Bernina Fashion Show), who needed help to man their book at the Houston International Quilt Market (QuiltWoman),volunteered to write an article for a craft book (Pricing Guidelines for Arts and Crafts by Sylvia Landman) and what magazines were looking for unique ideas (National Quilting Journal, Sew News).

(NQJ article)

(Pricing Guidelines)

( Sew News article)

( Bernina Fashion Show)


Number 5 is really critical to your success. You never know when an idea is going to resonate with someone. Don’t listen to people who say “that’ll never work.” Be bold and take the chance!

Your comments are welcome, and they will help others. What does your “shoe leather marketing” consist of? What’s the wackiest thing you’ve done to market your product?

Now for feedback from last week. Thanks for all the comments! New suggestions folks came up with: wall paper, tablet covers, care codes as tags and ideas for uses, printing fabric in Europe, getting products into hospital gift shops. Biggest comment area – encouraging you to expand your thinking of product uses.

Dean and Linda Moran are the owners of Marble-T Design and have been marbling for 20 yearsYou can see their work at “The Art of Fabric,” follow their adventures on their blog, see examples of their marbling in their Etsy shop, and watch their updates on Facebook.


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  1. My whole bizness strat is outside the box. I have one yard sale a month, with big wood signs all down the road. Well, the really crazy part is that I have a Bean Guessing game set up for ppl to try to win a $10 Gift Certificate for my SHELZunlimited inventory. I got a good response from the neighbors and friends and kids, but YS customers wouldn’t go near it. They looked at me like I suggested they wear their drawers on their heads. Great Site!

    • People love yard sales – great idea! What exactly are you selling that draws people in? Love the guessing game – do you use that to collect addresses for a newsletter?

  2. I had an ethnic arts gallery in Chicago for many years and we used to have cultural events every other month. They were a lot of fun, brought people in, and we made sales.

    One time, we had a belly dancer perform in our display window. The cars stopped outside on the street and it caused a huge commotion! It was unintentional, but it definitely brought us a lot of attention!

    Now, I sell online and it is more challenging to come up with things that create a buzz like that. Back when I had the gallery, we didn’t have all of the social media tools that we do now and we really did depend on print media. It cost a fortune! We finally closed the gallery because of the overhead. Just rent was $4,000 a month! So, no whining about Etsy fees!

  3. You’re right – it’s a lot harder without a brick-and-mortar store. there’s so much in social media, and yet I’m wondering where we are missing some crazy, cheap opportunities. Yeah, it’s hard to beat cheap and free. I’m looking for “different.” Since I wrote this, I’ve been mulling over trying to come up with something unique and different….hmmm……

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