Michelle Lia’s resume is like any business owner’s “To Do List”: long, diverse and a little all over the place. Never wanting to be pigeonholed in one career, Michelle began work in Australia’s film industry, has run her own film production consulting business, works as a finance officer and is now branching into e-commerce retail with Pzella Accessories. Having just started in October 2015, Michelle opens up about her biggest business hurdle and how she is overcoming it.
“You can’t just build something and expect people to come!” Michelle Lia – Pzella Accessories
Anyone who has started their own e-commerce business, knows the excitement of clicking “Publish” and opening up their website to the world. You have put your blood, sweat and tears into this business; you have spent hours considering font types, Skyping overseas manufacturers in foreign languages and dutifully tested your product on yourself, the human guinea pig. However, you did not mind spending all those hours researching how to update code in a Shopify store, because you knew that once your website was live the orders would flow through and it would all be worth it. Except it didn’t quite pan out that way. You launch your website…and crickets.
Most people starting in the e-commerce world get to experience this demoralising initiation and Michelle was no exception, announcing, “You can’t just build something and expect people to come!” Having spent hours on product procurement, photography and website building, Michelle assumed that her target audience (women looking for Audrey Hepburn style jewellery without the Swarovski price tag) would automatically know where to find her.
“People Google things, why is no one coming?” Michelle Lia – Pzella Accessories
Whilst most find an experience like that completely draining, Michelle has optimistically thrown herself into the next hurdle of marketing and promotion. She is exploring Facebook Ads, fine-tuning her Instagram (@pzellaccessories) and figuring out how to improve her presence on Google. “I’m trying to learn a lot about SEO, [I’ve realised] it’s not just about having awesome code, it’s also about your keywords and your content; all of that fun stuff. It’s not as simple as I thought,” Michelle admits.
However it is the offline promotion that has been the most effective for Pzella Accessories. “I’ve done a lot through word-of-mouth surprisingly, [especially] through the market stores.” Michelle has realised that talking to her customers face to face has really been the biggest driver of traffic and sales on her website. This was evident when Michelle had to scrawl her contact details on the back of Pzella product tags as she had already given away more than 150 of her business cards in a single day at the Aussie Night Markets in Penrith.
It is hard enough to start a conversation with a stranger, let alone convince 150 strangers to take your contact details so you can continue that conversation. Pzella’s grassroots promotion shows the importance of building a personal relationship with your customers and really challenges the importance and hype around online advertising. Do you think online advertising or grassroots marketing is more important for building a business in 2017? Let us know what you think in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or start a conversation in the LMBDW Facebook group!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rebecca Ridhalgh currently works in Banking and Finance and runs her e-c-commerce business JetSetGel. Obsessive about business and the entrepreneur space and always a feminist at heart — Rebecca loves her opportunity to meet impressive female business owners and learn from their experiences. Contact Rebecca via [email protected]