Monday, November 19, 2007

Childrens Furniture Advertising

Case Study: Punkin Patch, brick and mortar and online, upscale children's furniture and baby boutique.

Idea Wanted: New ways to advertise a new website with little to no budget.

Challenge: Get a new website noticed with virtually no money.

Background: Toks Aruoture purchased Punkin Patch, a children's furniture and baby decor boutique, in Atlanta 18 months ago. During that time they have hired 2 web designers to create an ecommerce website with the aim of selling baby furniture nationwide. After some disappointments their new website finally went live in the past week. However, during that time they made a significant investment in a year-long magazine advertising contract to promote a new website that was not ready. Add that total to the money they spent on web design and their budget is depleted.


Punkin Patch caters to the affluent. This actually works to our advantage in trying to minimize expenditure while maximizing return on dollars spent. For Punkin Patch, we advise that they combine geographic and demographic targeting. While Punkin Patch may sell and ship to anywhere in the continental U.S. affluent consumers with more than $100,000 annual income don't just live anywhere in the continental U.S. They tend to live close to each other in particular neighborhoods.

We also advise that Punkin-Patch develop an advertising strategy that mixes both online and traditional forms of media. So let's get started.


  1. Free press releases. Yes, we've made this recommendation before, because works. First use this press release generation tool to help you structure the press release. To give the press release more bite, other than "we sell baby furniture" we suggest that Punkin Patch offer a premium with the first order. We like the idea of a personalized burp big, but it can be just about anything baby related.

    After you've written your press release check this list of free press release distribution sites and begin the submission process. But hold on, don't submit to every one of them. Three is enough for right now. Then in another month choose another three...and so forth. We also suggest that Punkin Patch consider some higher level paid press release services to get a little broader coverage.
  2. Use Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing to get ads placed in searches. Here's how it works. You choose keywords for your ads. When those keywords show up in searches, your ad appears in the sponsored links section. The best part of keyword search marketing is that you get to choose your budget. You pay on a per-click basis and when all your budget is used up, then you stop getting clicks. It allows you to test the waters before going whole hog.

    First, you choose your keywords using this keyword tool from Google. The key is to cross-reference keywords that have as minimal competition (keywords are priced on supply and demand) with as high a search volume as possible. We have already done this analysis for Punkin-Patch and recommended five search terms.
  3. Send post cards offering free burp cloth with purchase. How in the world can we recommend direct mail with a national website? Two ways. First, as I mentioned earlier, affluent Americans don't live just any old place. You can target zip codes, even neighborhoods where the people make a lot of money. Second, whenever Punkin Patch gets an order, they now have all of that customer's data. If that customer is typical of the ideal buyer profile, mail postcards to their neighborhood declaring that their friend down the street has discovered, why don't you? We'll even give you a personalized burp bib with your first purchase.

    We are fond of postcards, especially for websites, because they are relatively inexpensive to print and mail. There's no opening of envelopes and if the postcard is properly designed, the consumer can't help but see your message. Even if the consumer intends to throw it in the trash.
  4. Team up with Amazon. Toks has already been approached by Amazon to add Punkin Patch to their website. Because she has had some difficulties getting her own website running the way she wants, we advise her to proceed once she has read the agreement thoroughly. She also should call a couple of references who already have an Amazon storefront. There is no direct advertising expenditure here, however Toks will have to pay a percentage of the sale to Amazon. In return, Amazon provides the exposure to its expansive customer base and it absorbs all the credit card fees.
  5. Email marketing. This method is often maligned because of the spam implications. However, we have talked to businesses who have used email with some success. The key is to deal with a list broker that has an opt-in or permission list. People have actually given permission (whether they knew it or not) to be on this email list. Be aware, however, that these lists can still have a high degree of inaccuracy. Take the total numbers with a degree of scepticism. To buy a list, you will pay $X per thousand addresses. You also have to put together your own ad using some html. We recommend that you create the message, but have a professional put the ad together.
  6. Women's issues blogs. here you are going to have to use some good old-fashioned internet shoe leather. Surf all the women's blogs you can find. Search Technorati and Ice Rocket to find them. Look for ones that fit the affluent female profile. Participate in the conversation by commenting on the blogs. Contact the blog author and ask for a review of your website. There may be some that you might actually want to sponsor with a banner ad. Check the blog's popularity with Technorati, and ask for the blog author's feed stats (actual subscribers). A blogger who's on top of her game will be able to tell you how many subscribers she has and is probably using a service like Feedburner.

The Lesson:
The first lesson that Toks learned, the hard way, is don't start advertising until you are absolutely ready for business. Especially when you are depending on a website for your sales. I have not yet ever seen a website go up on schedule...ever. Did I mention that I've never seen a website go up on schedule? Ever?

If you do find yourself with little to no money to advertise and you know you need to advertise, all hope is not lost. Fortunately for you, the internet still has some anarchy and you can conquer little parts of it. Work hard to find the spots where you can leverage you message for free or practically free.

Finally, before advertising, go to our other blog, The Marketing Spot and read some of our lessons on branding and advertising. You can maximize the return on any advertising investment you make by maximizing the message you communicate.

If you have any additional ideas for Toks Aruoture and Punkin Patch, please add your thoughts by clicking the comments link below.

For more information on our company, see our website:

1 comment:

A. Peck said...

Childrens Furniture Advertising is an excellent article. Ironically I found it while trying to market our new website selling children's bunk beds. The situation Punkin-Patch endured is all too familiar. Thankfully we haven't advertised our new web-store yet, so I'm glad I found this article; just in time. There are some helpful tips I'm going to use. Thank you.