Wednesday, August 6, 2008

From the Auxiliary: Marketing Etsy Style

Now you and I know a good a bit about marketing just from being aware of the world around us. We know stores carry goods for the upcoming season, not for the season that is ending. We also understand why; people generally like to buy goods that they soon will need, not goods they will need eventually and have to store for awhile.

But Etsy is smarter than that. That is why they will be starting the "Back to School" feature after most students are actually back in school. I am sure that there will be millions of people out there who after their first few days in school will say, "I hate this Walmart junk, it's destroying my soul," come to Etsy, see the "Back to School" promotion, and start shopping. It is much more likely than people coming to Etsy before school starts and going shopping for school related items. Maybe. Not.

Will they start the Halloween promotions in late October? Will Winter Holiday features come in mid-December? Do they know shipping takes time too, so they need to plan that much more ahead? Do we have to send them a calendar with dates circled for when they should start these seasonal promotions? And most importantly, will my shop be mysteriously closed if I do send them a calendar with... umm, strongly worded directions?

The author of the above is right. Etsy is yet again dropping the marketing clue ball.

Several years ago Food Network (finally!) caught on that showing programs packed with delectable Christmas recipes would be more useful in November when you are beginning to think what you want to serve on the big day. Every year I would bitch at the screen "It's 11pm December 23rd! Why show me this now!? I needed this a week ago!" Now they are two weeks to a month ahead of major holiday binge fests. Now on Xmas day you watch shows for appetizers and tasty kibbles for your New Years parties.

The B&M guys have known this marketing fast forward for decades, that's why you have known since birth that the day after Thanksgiving is the official start of Xmas.

Can't Etsy do ONE thing in symmetry with any other retailing standard?


ShrugItOff said...

marymary says:
We do have current marketing plans for Back to School promotions that will be rolling out in the next couple weeks. You can expect to see a gift guide, Storque article(s), Etsy Finds, and a possible promotional opportunity.

You will start seeing these efforts appear on the site in the next week or two. I'm glad to see this is something you are interested in


My hunch is that they will not approach the 'back to school' features with products students would want or need (such as college students in a dorm or cool objects for the high-schooler). I see it as a fluff promo theme with little felt school buses, apples with worms coming out, dolls with glasses and backpacks and lunch-boxes turned into rhinestone encrusted jewelry boxes.

caethes said...

Nonononono! You don't understand! It's a cunning (and cleverly hidden) promo for international sellers, to keep them happy and distracted from all the other problems.

UK schools don't go back for another month, see?

not a rocket scientist said...

absolutely agree- dropping the ball is like crashing the hammock at the Venue's hdqtrs.

Ann said...

So, even more than seeming to be centered around the USA when purporting to be an international site, Etsy is actually centering itself on the North East where our schools (like the UK) go back in early September? And even so, rolling out a Back To School campaign just two weeks before the event is lame at best.

eclipse said...

ShrugItOff said...
"little felt school buses, apples with worms coming out, dolls with glasses and backpacks"
Oh my god. I bet you are right. It's going to be Blythe dolls dressed up in schoolgirl uniforms. :-(
Or else it will be a series of cringeworthy how-to videos. How to make a bookbag, how to make a bulletin board for your dorm, yadda yadda yadda.

I don't have kids so I really didn't know school starts so early these days (although I certainly notice all the back to school sales starting in July) but Etsy should know that if they have been planning the promos for some time. I thought it was getting a bit close and I hadn't heard a peep about it so I decided to suggest it, then we find out they had been planning it all along,(i.e. they didn't completely ignore it) but why such poor timing?

confused said...

Etsy completely confuses me. The time to start Back To School promos was mid July...not mid August. *Sign* Their lack of Marketing timing just boggles the brain. While I totally see your point caethes, I just don't think that the Marketing Genius at Etsy is that smart or cunning. Just another dropped ball to add to the floor of all of the other dropped balls. Do you think since they took out the skate board thing that they are replacing it with a room full of balls to jump around in?

yeah you right said...

dude,its not rad nor hip to market your merch like other venues do it

we know best because we live in brooklyn and everything we own is pieced together with a glue gun

*le felt sigh*

The Funny One said...

EB gets an A+ for this one, and the sellers who posted threads get A+++ for making the retail calendar an important issue in the first place.

Etsy has a "Marketing" section, but what do they do, really? Oh, a Bust co-op ad every 3 months.

Have you all noticed that the older Etsy gets, the more detached it is from reality? Reminding them there is a retail calendar is considered a personal insult!

Oh, you are so right, the "2008 holiday plan", which does not exist, is going to be slapped together in early November, and the pages of Etsy will be filled with Santa Paper Airplanes and cupcakes with red and green frosting, because that's Etsy!

They are trendy! They are way too cool to spend more than 10 minutes a week thinking about that retail calendar, and how dare sellers remind them about the fact they Etsy forgot about them------again!

In fact, this is their pattern - they get so pissed off at sellers for reminding them they dropped the ball again, they refuse to do anything about it.

Like preparing for holiday guests, someone needs to do some serious housecleaning---------and fast.

Cover That Mother said...

When someone started an "Etsy Dorm/Back to school" Thread, a bunch of us chimed in that that would be a good promotion. It could really fit in nicely with the handmade kids theme. An admin said that they were working on a feature.

I thought I would start seeing the "Back to School" promos on Etsy the next day (the thread was made in mid July, I think). But, I haven't seen any promos.

When I was in college/grade school, my family began stocking up on school supplies by the end of July from local discount stores. (we started school mid-August or beginning of Sept)

(If Etsy were around then)I would have loved to get some neat supplies off of Etsy. But, if you don't start telling me about the neat items until mid August...sorry Wal-mart already supplied me with that stuff in July.

impetuous said...

Today I am tired and I don't have the energy to point out the BLATANTLY obvious to Etsy. I am so sick of their clueless attitude.

Major retailers had their fliers in my mailbox last week. I think it's time to face the fact that Etsy has no intention of ever being a venue to help small businesses. If they did, this stuff would be a priority not an after thought.

bastet2329 said...

oh goodness.
why don't they realize that they shoot themselves in their own hipster feet when they break the tried and true rules?

we all know bathing suits get put on racks in the winter and jackets in late summer. its just the way life is.

and if a business wants to stay afloat they do it that way. otherwise they are like the bargain basement or something.

most back to school shopping is being done NOW. i scored pencils for $0.09 a pack on sunday and i am not even going to school. BUT i look at the sales because it is back to school SEASON. NOW.

another reason why i dislike and no longer suppport etsy. my scary dolls start selling for halloween in august.

and BTW etsy (since we all know you read this). remember those art dolls of mine you did not want to support- 5 sold in 24 hours. thats NOT a few bucks- you could have gotten a nice closing fee on those but once again, oh well!

i will sell halloween in august, thank you very much!

ebbandflo said...

PS: scottish schools go back in mid/end august

it's constantly amazed me that etsy times its campaigns so poorly. for an international site, factoring in shipping means that promotion should come at a minimum of three to four weeks from the event. and that's assuming that there is no lead in to the advertising and buyers will be poised to buy there and then rather than have been smoothly buttered up and prepared

PS: anyone seen the awesome site-side olympics special running on dawanda this month?

Simone said...

"It's a cunning (and cleverly hidden) promo for international sellers"

Ha! I'd love to think that was the case, but I'm yet to see any evidence that Etsy is more than marginally aware that there is a whole rest of the planet outside of the US (or outside of New York, for that matter).

I hate that my local customers see so much entirely irrelevant stuff on the Etsy front page (winter promos when it's summer, summer promos when it's winter, back to school when it's the middle of the school year, etc..). Dawanda's Olympics promo is at least relevant to everyone!

I know it's not possible to keep everyone happy when it comes to this stuff, but Etsy could at least make a vague effort to diversify (why not run a summer/winter promo instead of just summer, for instance, to cover both sides of the planet?).

zoebella said...

I know this is slightly OT
but is anyone else over the MONTH of featured sellers being kid's stuff?

Kinder-an-den-Kontrollen said...

I'm a little surprised that all of the commenters here believed the line about "We do have current marketing plans...rolling out in the next couple weeks."

If they already had marketing plans, those plans would have been rolled out already. After all, these kids aren't that far out of their school years - they know the schedule.

That comment strikes me as parallel to the Swimmy thread where marymary said they had plans for the swimmys and she would get an update, while Rokali said the swimmys were already on the wall (next to her?).

They seem to hear what they missed, and tell us they're working on it, and then run around and try to make something happen.

An honest "OMG! Your're Right! We'll have a showcase up by tonight!" would be more appropriate.

The Funny One said...

While missing the entire retail calendar for the 3rd year in a row is only part of the problem, Etsy also ignores the unique opportunities it has at its fingertips. A handmade community that is committed to
*green products
*products made with a variety of recycled materials
*cost effective and well-made, durable substitutes for everyday use products
*products that are handmade AND useful for all walks of life
*products that are excellent gifts for the hard-to-buy-for.

All these opportunities that are completely missed! A month-long campaign for kids is just another work assignment that was easy to put together, didn't require a lot of thought, and most importantly, requires very little work.

And, it allows Etsy to push their own agenda, and ignore a huge chunk of stores (and complete categories) on the site.

lessa said...

Well, the newest featured seller is a lamp maker so apparently that is over. :)

That said, I liked the featured sellers of kids items. Found many cool things that I've got on my list to go check out again when I start my Christmas shopping in a couple weeks. It was perfect timing for me as I started piling up the favorites this time last year for buying in the fall.

Though I doubt people like me is what they had in mind with this series.

Oh but the showcase can go. It really should not have been extended. If they hadn't extended it they could have started that 'Back To School' thing they cleverly planned after most people have finished all their shopping.

zoebella said...

the funny one said
"A month-long campaign for kids is just another work assignment that was easy to put together, didn't require a lot of thought, and most importantly, requires very little work. "

at least it wasn't plastered with more pics of Anda's baby

lessa said...


True, after seeing the thread it was probably more of an 'oh shit', 'back to school'. Alright we'll tell them its in the works for two weeks from now and we'll get someone to go search google images for stuff to make a showcase banner.

Mobius Awards said...

Once again I wonder what the heck is going on at Etsy.

Even I have been planning my Christmas items for my shop since June.

Am I that much smarter than the folks at Etsy??

and-away-goes-etsy-down-the-drain said...

Etsy needs to conform to the retail calendar? Why? Are college bound Etsy buyers too stoopid to search the site for cool stuff to wear, decorate their dorms, carry their electronic toys in etc etc without seeing some kind of reassuring promotional text on the home page? The silly girls (of all ages) don't know their spawn are going back to school unless a promotion tells them on Etsy?

Attention Etsy Shoppers! Flaming Coral Light Special now in aisle 3! Back to School necessities like bridge jewelry, scrabble tile pendants, embellished bobby pins, overpriced vintage knick-knacks, and new pieces from your fav Korean fashion lines shipped to your door directly from Shanghai!

Etsy = breeding hipster K-MART

upsetwithetsyadmin said...

Etsy Admin defines "marketing" and "promoting" differently than how all the dictionaries define those two words. So, is it any wonder that Admin has problems getting their special event/holiday marketing campaigns started in a timely manner?

They need a *huge* monthly wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling calendar with all their "to-do's" in big bold text. A computer calenar is way too easy to ignore.

Charlotte Marie said...

What's the point of bitching anymore? Etsy's leadership is completely out of touch - common sense is too old fashioned for them. It's turning into a ridiculous circus.

Now when I read those "etsy is such a lovely friendly community - way better than ebay", I just wanna gag. Are those sweet touches gonna pay your bills? I'm spending today posting on ebay cause they advertise and have a clue! In this case, You get what you pay for.

Mrs. Monkeyface said...

I like reading your blog, two thumbs up on entertainment value alone! Have to say, I'm pretty bored with the etsy forums lately ...or as the "smart" people call it, the fora ;) everything is whiny lately. This sucks, that sucks, why are people with great photos and great items getting all the attention, why can't everyone be featured everywhere even if your items aren't great... but we all try very hard, don't we deserve a medal?? Blah! I like coming here after all the goofiness :)

jodie nicholson said...

I bet their current marketing plans for 'Back to School' include:

- YouTube tutorial on how to toilet paper the house of a hater.

- School lunch ideas. Wanna trade for a cupcake sandwich?

- Swimmy stickers for text books

- Make a hammock in your school colours (be careful, you'll miss the first semester of school due to a serious back injury).

impetuous said...

drain said...
Etsy needs to conform to the retail calendar? Why? Are college bound Etsy buyers too stoopid to search the site for cool stuff to wear, decorate their dorms, carry their electronic toys in etc etc without seeing some kind of reassuring promotional text on the home page? The silly girls (of all ages) don't know their spawn are going back to school unless a promotion tells them on Etsy?

I've had my venti so I'll answer this for you as best I can. Be warned I am not feeling particularly nice today and this will probably end badly.

As a venue that has claimed it is dedicated to helping small businesses grow, Etsy has a responsibility to promote itself as a place to shop for said items. It is not about Etsy telling stupid people what to do, it's about informing people that such things are even FUCKING available there.

Furthermore, the only really stupid people in this equation are Etsy, for thinking it is not important to keep a consumer calendar and the idiot sellers, who think the Etsy way is going to lead them to quitting their day jobs.

Now, your response was all cool and shit, like "what idiot needs Etsy to tell them to buy stuff, der!" but if you are a seller, get your head out of your ass and realize that Etsy NOT qualified to help you expand your business and that attitude ain't helping either.

sugarstreetcafe said...

What the fuck is wrong with Etsy? I mean seriously? Is there anyone on the etsy staff bold enough to raise his or her hand and say, "um, wait a minute, this doesn't seem right." or do they all just oooh and aahh what a great idea?


dontremember said...

Let's face it. They just haven't got a clue. $27 mil and new management doesn't seem to have made a bit of difference.

There are no grownups working at Etsy.

Old Hippie Bitch said...

They really believe we'll swallow this shit about "plans"? Insulting, not funny at all.

Promotions "will be rolling out in the next couple of weeks," then a Back-to-School showcase magically appears? Yeah, right.

eclipse said...

marymary says:
Thanks for your feedback regarding the timing of this marketing strategy. We will move forward with our current plans for back to school, but I will make sure to let the marketing team know that many of you feel it could begin in mid July next Summer.
so it seems they are sticking to their mid-August timeline for this year.
But then they did put up the BTS gift guide today
maybe some of this is sinking in?

but yeah, there is a felted schoolbus. Shrugitoff wins the ESP prize.

and the BTS showcase goes on sale tomorrow. The showcase goes live August 12. For some reason, ONLY clothing will be allowed in the BTS showcase. I really don't understand tha logic- many schools (even public schools) have uniforms now, so it would make more sense to also allow books & paper goods, bags & purses, vintage, etc.

The Funny One said...

You are so right, eclipse, and their cover is blown. Etsy slapped together the Back To School "campaign" because it was so obvious that sellers were right.

Too little, too late. They not only forgot the sellers, their "plan" has blinders - clothes? That's all you can come up with? Tens of thousands of stores and that's it???

Well, that's the stores' 5 minutes of fame on Etsy. Whew, and they thought it was going to take some actual w-o-r-k.............

notafave said...

Maybe they should just feature two cute girls from (where else) Brooklyn selling ugly coffee mugs made into hanging lights with "Made in China" electric fittings. Oh wait. Nevermind.

The Disgruntled One said...

I love you, notafave.

I was mildly amused by those featured sellers, too. But, hey, they're cute and they're in Brooklyn and ... well, there's nothing else, really.

only an etsy buyer said...

My favorite part about that article is this quote:

"We're actually pretty new to etsy but we've found that communication with the customer and prompt shipping is most important. There's a better chance of a happy customer passing your name along to a friend than a dissatisfied one."

Really? Communication is important? Who knew?
And a dissatisfied customer will indeed pass your name along but not in a good way.

Grace said...

upsetwithetsyadmin said...

Etsy Admin defines "marketing" and "promoting" differently than how all the dictionaries define those two words.

I'm thinking of that line from "Princess Bride" - You keep using that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means!

Etsy hasn't got a clue what moms and students need. Only allowing clothing in the BTS showcase is stupid. I've already bought my daughter's uniforms for the year, and by early July they were almost sold out of most sizes! I just barely got the last ones. After paying the first half of her tuition, I'm too broke to go shopping now anyway. She still needs a backpack and a lunch box, preferably with ladybugs on them.

Grace said...

PS: I'm off to go list some Halloween stuff now.

Heather said...

Sometimes I wonder if etsy is trying to fail. I just don't know how to explain it all otherwise.

And the featured seller - has been there less than two months and has one feedback? Shouldn't featured sellers be successful at least?

who-wants-an-etsy-logo-diaper-pail said...

impetuous said...
As a venue that has claimed it is dedicated to helping small businesses grow, Etsy has a responsibility to promote itself as a place to shop for said items. It is not about Etsy telling stupid people what to do, it's about informing people that such things are even FUCKING available there.
I'm all for Etsy picking up the slack they've left where site promotion should be. I guess I'm in the tiny minority here, but I am so b-o-r-e-d with promotions for weddings, pets, travel, kids/babies/maternity...and now back-to-school? Whatever. Yawn. But that's just me, and if the Etsy community thinks the site should be promoted as mainly 'your place to buy handmade gifting stuff for holidays and life milestones' (a la Maria's Etsy purchases) there are many many other places for people like me to shop online.

Nope, I don't sell on Etsy. Never did. Sadly, with the way the site works, what is promoted, and what appears on the homepage from the treasuries, don't find much to buy.

The Kinky One said...

Since Eclipse started her thread about back to school a few days ago, all of a sudden the Storque is loaded with back to school bs.

I wonder if anything would have gone up without being poked?

eclipse said...

I get where you are coming from, the seasonal promos can be boring if you're not interested in that holiday or whatever. But that is when people spend money. Especially after a very slow summer during a recession, people are really not spending much on themselves or impulse purchases, but they do still spend for "special events" like BTS, Christmas, weddings, etc.

I personally think marriage and kids are both boring but I know I'm in the minority and it just makes sense to market to the majority who spend money on those things. I kind of separate my personal tastes from those type of business decisions because I know I'm not average.