I've had an online hobby business for the past 10 years selling antique and collectible items (all transportation related). My inventory is hundreds of one-off items, each of which appeal to a different type of collector/enthusiast.
I am currently selling primarily on eBay, but also use Etsy, Instagram, Kijiji / Craigslist, a couple enthusiast forums and my own website (very low traffic currently).
What are the best strategies to use to market a business of this type on a very limited budget?
I think you're on the right track with the likes of eBay, Instagram, and Etsy. Those sites have established communities interested in what you have to offer.
That said, each of those platforms have different optimization techniques to reach the right audience. For example, using proper hashtags on Instagram will likely result in increased traffic. Spending some money on Etsy's pay-per-click ads will result in fresh, targeted traffic.
I've helped brands around the world increase their reach through optimization with varying budgets. I don't believe in "one-size-fits-all" approaches, as each market has a unique audience, product, and seller (you) - those are important considerations before launching any type of sales campaign. I'd be happy to schedule a call with you to discuss more in detail.
These are all great channels to be visible on. In some cases, depending on the product, I would recommend Google PPC or shopping ads since you have your own website.
Otherwise I would say Facebook or develop/build an Email list to eventually integrate email marketing in to your strategy.
Why Facebook? Their resources and how you can fine tune audiences really allows you to spend your budget in a smart way.
Why Email? Email marketing is the best way to remind people that you're alive and say "Hey, I have something that you might like!" And if they don't buy anything, at least you have them pixeled on your site and you can re-target them.
I'd be happy to discuss more on call. I'm new on Clarity but have over 10 years experience selling and marketing online. I'm offering free calls to help boost my account. https://clarity.fm/morrisshipper/freebie
1. These days, I have seen lot of conversion happening from Facebook groups. Try targeting that. I am sure there would be few highly engaging groups which have your target audience.
It was also worked in for me which is B2B.
2. Though I understand that you are selling through online but I am sure, there must be few fairs happening in your area where you may find plenty of target audience. Explore that as well.
Another strategy is to connect with newsletters and blog sites that your best customers subscribe to and read frequently. If you are not sure, select a random few past customers and ask them directly. Then send an email query to the publisher or editor of these media and offer to serve as a go-to expert for future Q&A content about collectibles, etc. Perhaps the editor would accept a short guest post that you could submit along with a link back to your business website. In many cases, the only cost to you is your time. This is worth exploring. I would be happy to discuss other strategies with you if you will contact me.
Most new antique businesses fail in the first two years. In my opinion, the major reason for nearly all failures is the lack of a business plan. New sellers have the belief that it is easy to make money in the antique trade. Nothing could be further from the reality of the antique trade. To succeed as an antique dealer, one needs a business plan before he or she spends one cent acquiring merchandise. There are close to 60 questions that must be answered, and many decisions that must be made before a person decides whether to start a small business. I suggest that a person considering starting a small business buy a book on business plans, available from any of the large booksellers, or download sample business plans available on the Internet. A business plan must consider the cost of buying and the cost of selling.
A dealer could start a business buying and selling early porcelain, decorated stoneware, early glassware, country furniture, painted country accessories, and many of today's most popular collectibles. However, $80,000 is not enough start up cash for a business in Period American furniture, signed or decorative art, rare art pottery, designer furniture, American Folk Art, and many other high-end antiques and collectibles.
I would discourage anyone from becoming a dealer in fountain pens. Product availability on fountain pens is close to zero, with one exception. Dealers who buy the absolute best, at inflated prices, can still make money on the top one percent of fountain pens. One truism in the antique trade is that no matter how much a dealer pays for the best examples, someone will pay more. A good business plan must include a product availability analysis. A prospective dealer must attend auctions, shows, and visit shops to gather first-hand knowledge on product availability.
Researching a product is expensive, but necessary when starting a new antique business. A product is of no use to a dealer if that item is in short supply or pricey. Enough of the product must be on the market to allow a dealer to replace sold items. In addition, the average cost of the product must be low enough to allow a dealer to make a profit after all expenses. A professional dealer who earns his or her entire living buying and selling antiques needs a cash flow ratio between four and six to one. In other words, every dollar a dealer spends on antiques must return between $4 and $6. Such dealers usually do not depend on antique trade income to pay home, car, and everyday living expenses. New dealers must consider cash flow ratio in their business plans.
If your business plan calls for selling at shows, you must speak with as many show dealers as possible. You must also budget money to try selling at many different shows. Generally, dealers will attend a show early on the first day. Keep track of all sales by hour, day, and type of buyer. Some shows are dealer shows while others are retail. You may be able to increase sales at a given show by tailoring the merchandise you bring to the type of client who normally attends. Selling at auction can cost between 5 percent and 25 percent of the hammer price. The more you sell at a given auction service, and the higher the selling price of each item, the lower your sales commissions. If you can feed an auction house with expensive antiques, chances are that your sales commissions will be low. I have covered just five of the dozens of topics that anyone starting an antiques business must consider.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call: https://clarity.fm/joy-brotonath