Kevin Costner has a lot to answer for. I know that “If you build it, they will come.” sounds lovely and all, but if you build it, they won’t come unless you tell them what you built and where to find it.
Who you are, what you built and where to find it – the essentials of marketing in Second Life. That’s not hard, but sadly many creators spend so much time and energy on their creations, they forget to market them. I am writing this from the shoppers’ perspective and know that you may have other ideas. I am telling you how I look for and find stores and what I think is critical to making it easy for me.
The Store Name: Give your store a unique and easy to spell and easy to remember name that is short enough to include in item names. Alternate spellings may be clever, but they make it hard for people to find you in search. Use search and make sure there are no stores with similar names. Having a similar name to another store will only confuse and frustrate customers who may go to the other store in place of yours. If your hope is that they come to your store in place of the other store, well, they will only feel frustrated and negative about your store. People who feel duped don’t buy.
Your Parcel. Name your parcel with your store name immediately. Put your logo or a picture of your newest release in the About Land and then save it as the very first pick in your profile. You can order your picks by putting numbers at the front. Write a description of your store in your land profile as well. Use good key words about your product and don’t list your competitors store names in your key words. Again, good marketing is honest and creates good feelings about your store. People who think you are trying to trick them will not buy from you. Make sure you check that your land will show up in search. The fee is minimal and one sale will pay for it.
Sometimes you rent where you cannot name your parcel. That makes it harder for you, so be sure to verify that your store name is in the land info for the rental area. Insist on its inclusion in your rental agreement and bug the landlord to make it happen. If there’s a forced landing point, it’s essential that your picks landmark be at your store’s front door so people can follow the red arrow to find you. Don’t ever make the pick the landing point, people won’t find you and will get distracted by the stores between the landing point and you.
Key Words: Did you know SL search is smart enough that you don’t have to use every variation of a word to get search to find it. Skirt is enough, not skirt and skirts. Of course, skirt is not really enough. You want to use phrases in your search. I am never going to search for a skirt, I am going to search for a pencil skirt or a circle skirt or pleated skirt. Help me find you with phrases and descriptions that describe what you sell. If it’s Goth or Vintage or Rockabilly, tell me. I want to be able to find that. There’s a guide to creating search listings in the Knowledge Base. Use that to help you as well.
Your Profile: Make sure your profile is ready for prime time. Did you write that you don’t care what people think and don’t call me, I’ll call you? Well, delete all that. You need not make yourself into someone you are not, but your About and Picks should be professional, at least at first. If you must have a pick declaring Snidely Whiplash a lying, cheating mofo, make it your last pick so only people interested in you, not just your store, make the effort to read it. Remember, you can click on the thumbnail and change the texture – so if your store is on a mall, you can have your own logo, not a picture of the store.
- On the about page, list your store first, followed by the URL for your store blog and your marketplace store. You can add frosting, but those essentials should be there.
- On your Picks page, your first pick should be your store description and should provide a teleport to your front door. Check this when you remodel. Use your picks to TP to your store every once in a while so you see what your customers see. Make sure you are facing your store, not your competitor across the street. Sell your store here with short, clear info about what you sell.
- The second pick should be customer service info such as your preferred method of being contacted, the name of your customer service rep (if you have one) and your store policies for customers and bloggers. If there’s too little room, you could write, “Find my store policies on the board to the immediate left of the entrance.”
- The third pick should be a great picture of your newest release, sale item or other featured item.
- The fourth pick you can start to get personal and declare your true loves and enemies. If you have your store at a satellite that you wish to promote, add a LM there, but don’t put in all your satellites. The satellites exist to direct people to your main store, not the other way around.
Your Classified Ad: Purchase at least the minimum fee Classified. If you are on a parcel you rent and cannot have named after your store this is even more important. People need to be able to find your store in search. Look for your name in search and make sure you can be found. Think of things people can find in your store and make them keywords. Be specific and use phrases such as riding boots and thigh-high boots instead of just boots, for example. Update this when you move or remodel. While landing in the display window at Lelutka was fun and amusing, landing under the store or in the floor or wall is just plain annoying. Check the tp from your Classified periodically and again, make sure it faces your store, not your neighbor’s.
Your Vendor Photos: Your vendor ads should be clear and easy to understand. You should include the M/C/T info on the ad in an unobtrusive spot. If you want really artistic and heavily processed photos to show off the true beauty of your creations, make them posters and decorations on the walls. The vendor ads should be shot in clear, non-shadowed lighting and look as good as you can get them without any significant post-processing. You should not post the price on the vendor because that will force you to rework it when you change your prices. We can figure out the prices on our own. Turn the vendors on full bright so we can see them easily.
Your Vendors: Pack your vendors and boxes to market your store in the future.
- Most of us don’t really like unpacking, so if you can, just toss the stuff in the vendor. If you must box, my personal preference is a wearable object that I can touch to deliver the folder. If I have to rez a box, I want it to be low prim. I don’t want to leave my place and go to a sandbox in order to unpack your 86 prim box.
- The name of your vendor box will be the name of the folder in inventory, so put your store name there. If your store name is so long you cannot put it on the box, you didn’t read rule number one. So okay, your store is named Fleur de Printemps – choose Fleur or Printemps and use that – and use whichever you choose all the time. If you must abbreviate, abbreviate the same way every time. Do not use [ab] today, a.b. tomorrow and A/B the next day.
- Rename your items so they all have the store name (or its closest approximation) and the item name and piece name and color. For example ABsurd Woohoo Skirt Red.
- Check your items to make sure you show as the creator when inspected. If you use full-perm sculpts or rez-loop, make sure that you select the last prim correctly to ensure you are the creator of record, so they go back to your store when they check Properties.
- I wish I didn’t have to say this, but put the outfit on one last time before packing and make sure that all the items are the same color and that yellow dress doesn’t have the red dress’s skirt and that you don’t have one prim in a ruffled skirt set to full bright, etc.
- Add a thank you/CSR card that is really a marketing card. Put in only one card and make it count. In the card, say thanks for purchasing, put your landmark in the notecard, and tell them to please check out your blog, marketplace store and join your group. Continue with how to contact you, policies and any essentials they need to know. For example, if you use system skirts a lot, put a notecard about how to make a skirt shape in the one and only one notecard you put in your folder. If you toss in a separate card for everything, they will all end up getting deleted.
- Add one LM – and only if you insist on it. I would rather you put the LM in your notecard and even then, my preference is to just find your store in search. I delete my lm’s and won’t clutter my inventory with them. Above all, do not include lm’s to all your satellites and every outlet you have, remember, they exist to help people find your main store, not the other way around.
Free Business Listings: Why not? They’re free and get your name out there.
Okay, so now you are ready to really get out there and market and that will be covered in Market 201 for Creators. I am already working on it.