Friday, 30 January 2015

Now Where do I Find the Customers?

I've been a bit quiet with this blog the last week. Some maybe betting I've given up already but I haven't. I've just been busy launching a new product.

The Antiques Day Trips is open for business. It is the next phase in the life of my company Wilson Picks and brings together a couple of my passions in one go - travel & 'vintage'. It was staring me in the face but it took me awhile to figure it out. I have now and the big uphill journey starts. Just how do we find the customers? Where are those antiques lovers?

Wilson Picks is now almost 2 years old. I really do love our eclectic collection of pre-loved china, glass, furniture and fabric items. The reality though is they just doesn't make enough money. It is back-breaking work setting up stalls, carrying boxes of china (inevitably you will break some each time) and then packing away for the next event or fair. Vintage items sell slowly online. They are mostly one-offs and are a subjective buy often triggered by already owning a pattern or just wanting that specific shape or colour. And they are a tactile sale. Customers want to touch, look over and stare for a few minutes before making the purchase. You obviously can't do that online.

We don't want to give it all up though - we just needed a different angle. So along comes our mate Tom Keane of Chiswick Auctions and television auction expert whose been playing a bit of a guardian angel over us and voila, an idea is hatched. Tom bought the fantastic The Swan in Tetsworth last year - 40-rooms known as Britain's best Antique Centre (with a claim to fame of having had Queen Victoria stay overnight within its 500-year old walls). It all made sense all of a sudden. We love antiques, we love travel, we love good food (the restaurant is fab), we love all those tv experts from the various Antiques Shows - so why not combine them all together and give people a day trip to remember. 

It never fails each fair we do, someone asks where we find our china and other items so we know people are keenly interested in learning more. Although many won't acknowledge it, Bargain Hunt is one of the most popular daytime tv shows. Then there is Cash in the Attic, Flog It and Antiques Road Show and Antiques Road Trip and the list goes on.  So many are hooked and so many are desperate to find that one special treasure which turns out to be worth a fortune. This trip is for all those people.

So where do you start marketing and promoting? We admittedly have a limited budget. Facebook, Twitter and blogging is where I've started (after the website of course). I need to work those channels hard. As it is meant to be one of my expertise, I've got to grow those quality followers and quickly. The blogging has also started in earnest and like this blog, it needs persistence. We also need to find other bloggers to do some shouting too. A simple brochure is being designed which we'll get out to hotels and other relevant spots where our potential customers may be. Instagram and Pinterest are on the list to do soon.

A lot of what needs doing is just good, old fashioned hard graft. We need to pick up the phone, send emails, send letters and direct mail and generally spread the word.  The world moves quickly now but I still believe some of the old ways are still the best ways. I'm determined to get these trips booked up. Wish me luck. Will be updating on progress as we go. How exciting!

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