Spreading Advertising Costs Around Pays Off

It’s a perennial problem among smaller e-businesses: with minimal cash flow it’s hard to finance that most critical of line items, advertising. Yet Jesse
Kelly-Landes found a unique solution.

Kelly-Landes, who sells original clothing designs from her Austin-based site
Amet and Sasha, pools her funds with other small Web sites to buy advertising.

She and nine other local online craft merchants formed a group called the Austin Craft Mafia. The ACM created its own central Web site, which links to each of its members. All the group’s ads drive users to this central site.

“We pool our money to buy advertising in nice print magazines that otherwise we would not be able to afford,” Kelly-Landes says. “It’s not only been great for advertising, it’s been great for press &#151 I’ve gotten a lot of customers that way.”

Non-Stop Networking
The pooled advertising enabled Kelly-Landes to benefit from the traffic of larger e-businesses. “Some of the sites are very successful, then the rest of us are really small, so we’re riding on their coat tails,” she says.

As an additional ad-dollar stretcher, she trades items with other craftspeople, exchanging her original clothing for a handmade product they’ve created. “There’s no better advertising then having another crafter wearing your things,” Kelly-Landes says.

And she never passes up a chance to network over the Internet. She constantly e-mails other craft sites and sets up cooperative selling arrangements. “There are a lot of opportunities to sell our things in places we all share with each other,” Kelly-Landes says. To expand these venues, she and about one hundred other Austin merchants have started their own craft fair.

A New Martha?
Having launched her site in 2002, it began as a nights and weekend avocation while she kept her day job. She started Amet and Sasha (named after two imagined boyfriends her and a childhood friend dreamed of) on a shoestring: a friend built it with the Dreamweaver Web design application.

Kelly-Landes presents photos of her original clothing designs on her site, then allows shoppers to order the garment in their own measurements. “I can do it to their specific measurements, instead of small-medium-large, so it fits them better.” Shoppers also chose their color or fabric from the design template.

The combination of satisfied customers and her networking efforts created a larger opportunity. The Austin Craft Mafia is about to begin shooting a crafts-based television show in Los Angeles, which will shine a spotlight on Amet and Sasha. “It’s going to be a how-to, like Martha Stewart,” she says, noting that with the fashion maven temporarily gone, someone needs to fill her shoes &#151 and Kelly-Landes is willing to take the job. “It’s probably going to be really helpful for my business.”

Amet and Sasha.com finds success thanks to its quirky personality and collaborative marketing efforts shared with other area merchants.

Adapted from ECommerce-Guide.com, part of internet.com’s Small Business Channel.

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