21.3.08

Business Etiquette (Save the drama for your mamma)

Okay, I'm back on the business band wagon and I have another topic of discussion that I think is very important - but it's a topic that a lot of other sites haven't mentioned so listen up!

Now days, a combination of a younger generation of crafters plus an abundance of online resources has resulted in technology becoming a very big part of running a craft business (see my previous entry on 5 Web Tools Your DIY Biz Should Not Be Without). We've got social networking sites, craft-related forums, Etsy, Flickr, just to name a few. There's a lot of marketing potential there. But while you are posting and blogging away, just take into account that what you say online DOES affect how people view you as a business owner - and it affects people's view of your business. It's called branding (there's a terrific article on branding here).

Also keep in mind that what you post on the internet is not private. Assume that if you post something online, anyone and everyone you know can and will see it. That includes both past and future customers. Kind of changes things, doesn't it?

I'm not saying don't be yourself. And I'm not saying that everything you post has to be positive, but if you care about the reputation of your business, you probably shouldn't go airing out your dirty laundry for all the world to see.

Yikes.

It's tough doing business and being social online. Some times people do things that REALLY make you angry. Things happen that are unfair. You get ripped off. It all sucks, but before you fly off the handle and write a public rant, you should first think about how that rant could affect people's view of your business. I'm not saying don't stick up for yourself, I'm just saying it's best to try to resolve these conflicts privately if you can. Try emailing the offending person privately. Be respectful, and don't name call. If the offending person cares at all about his or her own business reputation - and if he or she knows she's done wrong - then she should appologize and offer to retract the mistake or somehow make it up to you. Oh sure, most times you probably won't get that reaction. But atleast give the person a chance to right their wrong in private.

If that doesn't happen and there's a reason you need to bring the issue to the public's attention (like trying to keep others from getting ripped off) then be professional and respectful when you do it. I know things get heated in the moment but name-calling and unresearched statements could end up having opposite affects. It makes you look silly and petty and people might even assume you made the whole thing up.

Ouch.

Speaking from personal experience, I think crafters tend to be nice and friendly - especially online. Most people want to be seen in a positive light because it shows that they will have good customer service. They want you to like them so you will buy from them (I do!). But I've also seen blog posts, myspace bulletins, posts on forums and Yahoo groups that have been negative. One person attempts to tell their side of the story and how they've been wronged. Then sometimes the other person responds. And as convincing as people can be that their side is "right," the truth is that as a bystander you don't REALLY know the whole story and it's impossible to take sides. And you wouldn't want to.

Honestly...I don't want drama. I just want to sell stuff!

But the whole point of this post is that those negative rants really can (and do) reflect badly on your business. When I see a post like that, I think "I wouldn't buy from that guy because he obviously has issues getting along with people." That may or may not be true, but it's something that sticks in my mind. I doubt I'm the only one. Your friends know you and they'll understand so go talk to them about it if you need to get something off my chest. If I don't know you personally and you post something negative online, all I know is that you've found yourself in the middle of a mess of drama that may (or may not) have been your own fault.

One example: I remember a crafter posting a bulletin on MySpace asking people to get off her back about not shipping her orders out in time because she had a fever of 110 all week and had to be hospitalized. Hmmm...okay...fine...but I'd seen her post bulletins on MySpace that week so she couldn't have been too sick write her customers an email explaining her health situation. She could have written them a polite email explaining that she couldn't make it to the post office that week and would they like to wait - or she could issue a refund. But instead, she responded PUBLICLLY with an attitude. And if her sitation was real then I think her customers would have been very understanding. Even if she was unable to respond until a week later, if she explained that she had been hospitalized without warning then you'd be a jerk to hold that against her. Right? Makes me think something more was going on...I won't ever be doing business with that girl! An indie business owner has got to watch her back, you know?

It's totally understandable to stick up for yourself if you need to but please do it in a respectful way. And if you are disrespectful and you hoot and holler and name-call then just know that you are branding yourself and your business while you are doing it. You might as well just slap a big 'ol sticker across your forhead that says Drama Queen and watch your potential customers as they go buy from the nice polite crafter next to you that isn't making a fuss.

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On that note, I found a terrific online resource for crafty business owners today! It's called Craft Boom:
http://emomsathome.com/craft-boom/.

As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more crafty business advice!

3 comments:

speckledhen said...

Good advice, as always, Amy! :)

Sacred Snatch said...

Well said Amy! You are a true professional.

Miss Krissi's Fiber Arts said...

Very good points (and well said), Amy. Many people seem to forget that what they say and how they say it reflects on themselves (sometimes more than it does on their "target").

I love your business tips and links!

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