How many of you have seen those Ebay commercials? You know, the ones that are super colorful and whimisical and focus on the "fun" of bidding for an item..it's their "shop victoriously" campaign. And I think it's brilliant. Take a moment to watch the commercial below.
Now imagine that same commerical except for Etsy. A room, no a house, no a city full of us, the Etsy sellers, holding our knitted scarves or handmade necklaces or vintage dresses, all vying for the attention of one wonderfully overwhelmed and shop happy buyer. It would really drive the point home that Etsy has thousands of sellers with millions of options-at incredible prices, wouldn't it? Well, I think so. That's why big companies budget for advertising campaigns...because they work.
My frustration is that Etsy has quite publicly stated that they do not believe in ad campaigns and have zero intent of ever launching one. Hmm. Let me grab a quote that I found on SuperNaturale:
"Don't look for them at halftime: Still, some sellers have criticized Etsy's marketing efforts as insufficient. But Stinchcomb [vice president of communications at Etsy] says that the staff is happy with the results they've been getting and the way they've been getting them. Strategic partnerships– like holding a sewing contest in conjunction with Instructables– are one piece of the site's marketing plan. Etsy also sponsors events, such as New York's Renegade Craft Fair, and hosts regional street teams, members who get together to promote their wares and Etsy."We find these grassroots things are better than a $4 million advertising campaign," Stinchcomb says. "One, we don't have that kind of money, and two, I think it would be bad for our brand."It's almost easier for him to say what the Etsy marketing strategy is not: a Super Bowl ad. "I can't see anything more antithecal to what we're about than that," he said.Word-of-mouth is the crux of Etsy's notoriety. Stinchcomb estimates that about 80 percent of Etsy members learned of the site through word-of-mouth, and the site attracts 1,500-2,000 more members daily."A big ad doesn't yield as many results or as fruitful results as being out there and talking to people," Stinchcomb said."
Not to be one to believe everything I read on the internet, I emailed Etsy support directly and inquired as to their progress on a marketing campaign, similar to Ebay's. The response I got from a staffer who I will kindly leave unnamed was "did a big advertising campaign ever make you buy a toaster?" I find that response laughable quite frankly, as anyone with any marketing background knows that advertising does work particularly when there is a large target demographic who is unaware that the product / service exists.
What I mean by that is, did you ever stop to think that for the most part sellers are buying from eachother? I can't tell you how many people I've told about Etsy (women with shopping habits and expendable income) who have NEVER heard of Etsy. I also find it interesting that Etsy is so vocal in their encouragement of sellers spreading word of mouth (advertising for them for free) but is so unwilling to advertise on our behalf even though their pockets are much deeper than ours are.
According to Tech Crunch, Etsy is valued at $90 Million as of 2009. And they just recieved $27 Million from investors to expand. However, founder (no longer CEO) Rob Kalin states that Etsy is "almost break-even" in terms of profits. Although I am not qualified to make this statement, and I understand that "valued" takes into consideration more than operating costs, I find it hard to believe that it costs that kind of money to run Etsy. But, for the sake of argument, lets say it really does cost 117 million dollars to run Etsy. Would you as a seller be open to the idea of an increase in your fees (maybe 5-10 cents) to fund a national or global ad campaign? It is estimated that there are currently 650,000 members. I know that they aren't all sellers so lets say 50% of them are sellers. 350,000 times 10 cents is 35,000 dollars and that is assuming a one time charge of 10 cents, not an ongoing increase. If they added 5 cents to each item sold, we're talking some serious money.
I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this important subject. The more time that goes by, the more I start to feel that the Etsy sellers are getting the short end of the stick. Speak up, I'd really like to start a healthy debate on this subject!