Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Featured Small Business – Bats! meow

Baby Goth Bats! meow onesie infant toddler

My son rockin' a Bats! meow baby onesie (and Daddy reading Financial Times)

To kick off my new ‘Featured Small Business’ series, I’m starting with a family owned small business run out of quaint Midwestern town, Anderson, Indiana.  Aside from one little detail, Eric and Sheila Schroeder are your average, run-of-the-mill, hard working Hoosiers, designing and developing a high-quality product that caters to a very specific target market – the Goth community.
It’s not just their business, though.  For the Schroeders it’s a way of life.  That’s why they have such a keen perspective of their customer.  Through their own experiences they discovered a need that wasn’t being filled, and so they set forth with Bat’s Meow – Alternative Fashions for Alternative Kids.
I can commiserate with this experience, having been there myself:  You’ve just had a beautiful baby, and you want to find baby clothes that fit your own personal tastes as well as suit the needs of an infant, but walking through Children’s Place is like drowning in a sea of pink and blue.  It’s Easter 24/7 when you’re a baby, and pastels are your only palate.
I simply couldn’t do that to my kids.  And neither could Sheila.  That’s how she came up with the idea for Bats! meow.  Already an accomplished costume designer and tailor, Sheila began designing and  selling children’s alternative clothing at Goth conventions and fairs.  Since then she’s launched Batsmeow.com and sells online as well.
So how does a business like this grow?
Well for starters, Bats! meow has a website, a very interactive Facebook fan page, a MySpace page – you can even find them on StumbleUpon.  Here are a few other things Bats! meow could do to grow online:
  • Redesign the website.  Small businesses with websites that have been around for five years or more should really consider scrapping their old design and starting fresh.  You can do this pretty cheap yourself using WordPress.  If you can’t find a free theme that works, there are plenty for $30-$50 that work well and look lovely.  You can have a professional do it for $4,000 or more and it’ll look really nice…but I really don’t recommend spending that kind of money to start.
  • Link to all your outposts on your website: Facebook, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.  This is super-easy to do if you’re using WordPress.
  • Rewrite the website.  Search engines crawl your page looking for keywords.  Batsmeow.com could benefit from some serious SEO copywriting, and it’s not hard to do yourself!
  • Use Google’s vast resources.  Set up a Google Account, list your business in Google Places, and start using Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to track traffic to your website.
  • Join the conversation.  If you search “baby Goth,” “Goth mom,” “Goth clothing,” and “Goth online communities,” you’ll find a zillion places you can start interacting directly with people in your niche market.  Since you’re one of them, you can comment intelligently and become a part of the community.  This is a non-invasive way to promote your business.  Most important, make sure you have a Disqus and OpenID account and post all your business info in your profiles.  This way when people want to learn more about you, they’ll find your small business, too.
  • Blog.  Provide content that others in the Goth community would appreciate and share your life with them.  Sheila does this at Bats! meow’s blog.  This is a perfect place to link to others in the community and draw them into a conversation.  Hopefully they will link to you as well.
  • Use LinkedIn.  Bet you didn’t think I’d recommend that for this small business!  Think again!  Sheila and Eric are experts in their fields, and having a fully fleshed out LinkedIn profile for themselves and their business will help reflect that.  There are a few Goth groups they can join, and they can answer questions and get involved in the forums as well.  All that activity will also help the search engine results for Batsmeow.com.
  • Post pics on Flickr – of your products, of your convention booths, event activities, and just fun stuff from your life as well.  Since Bats! meow products are so visual, this is a perfect outpost.  And another opportunity to direct people to your small business’s website.
  • Start a YouTube channel.  Including video in your website is the quickest way to move it up in Google’s search results.  You can do product demos, how-to videos, and anything else that may be of interest to your target audience.
  • Bats! meow already has a great Facebook following.  Why not give your fans the option to buy your products without even leaving Facebook?  ShopTab can help with this.
These are just a handful of suggestions.  What do you have to add?  Leave a comment and let us know!
Oh yeah, and if you think the Schroeders sound like a fun and interesting clan, you can catch them on ABC’s Wife Swap tonight at 8/7c.  Check out the online link right now – there’s a great deleted scene of poor Sheila in Hockey Mom mode!
Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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    to run a business like garments of children in different variations of styles and colors of the fabric and also look attractive when children wear these kind of fabrics also like sky blue and baby pink colors attract a child personalty so cute to others. 

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