When marketing your furniture online, the single best tool available today, hands down, is video. Paired with the new age, word-of-mouth, social media advertising, the two make for a very effective, free marketing strategy.

We have all taken our furniture to shows and to shops where we have seen peoples' expressions as they run their hand over the smooth finish we spent hours polishing. We know their next move will be to open a drawer and look for our dovetail work. As they step back from the piece, you can see that they are picturing exactly where this piece will fit perfectly in their home. They are wondering how much it costs and you can almost see the math taking place in their heads.

We’ve all seen it and to me it’s the hardest part of the whole process, but also the most rewarding. Part of me doesn’t want to let it go. After spending so much time with it, from picturing it from its earliest form in a uniquely figured board to the final drawer adjustment, it has been an important part of my life. Every last piece I make is my best, and I love that recognition that comes with a sale.

The Online Experience
It is impossible for this intimate interaction to take place in an online sale, yet millions of people buy furniture online. Incorporating video in your marketing will place your works above those marketed with the standard picture and description. Embedding a video on your website, or next to a photo of your product, will greatly increase the chances of a sale. You are not just selling furniture, you are selling art and you are selling yourself.

Purchasing high-end furniture is a very personal experience, and is seldom taken lightly. Anything you can do to personalize your work will help a sale. People aren’t buying a chair to sit on or a cabinet to put stuff in; they are buying art. Your art. Something about your work has struck a chord in them and that chord needs to be strummed. You are the only one who can do it.

I think we tend to forget that most people have no idea what goes into making your furniture. You spend two weeks building a beautiful piece, upload a photo of it to your website and it won’t even look as good as a piece for sale on John Doe’s Discount Furniture website. All people see is that yours costs three times more than Doe's does.

Have Fun Experimenting
I am still experimenting with different video formulas to best portray quality, skills, art and personality, and I like them all so far. I have recorded myself just talking using the video capture feature on my laptop. I have taken my little hand-held, two-hundred-dollar video camera to shops to film woodworkers talking and working. I even made a woodworking video using a song written by a friend of mine. (Click here to view.)

If I had video on my phone, I would use that for sure. I have put a slideshow together with music, too. The means to capture video is readily at hand and very inexpensive. Do you really need that new set of chisels? Sharpen the ones you have, buy a camera, and start talking.

Develop your own script by starting with the basics:

-Your name

-Where you learned to make a joint

-Your first piece

-What you are working on now

-Your materials

-Your tools (film yourself sharpening those chisels)

-Your inspirations

-The difference between your furniture and something poorly made.

Relate your craft to art. Walk around the shop and talk about what each machine does and why it’s important. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what a jointer is used for.

Review your video and post it on YouTube. I will talk about YouTube postings in a future blog because there are some great features to help tie your video to other sites and correctly be found in searches.

After your video is up, go to your FaceBook profile and ask people to look at it. I’m not saying that you can now sit back and wait for the phone to ring, by any means. This process has to be done on a regular basis and the more information you put out there about yourself and what you do, the greater the chances are of you getting a response.

Video is just as important a tool as your jointer in your work. Except for the price of the camera, it’s free. YouTube, FaceBook and Twitter are all free. Once you get the hang of this process, it won’t take up much more time than the time it takes you to open up or shut down your shop.

There is a wealth of information available on how to use social media to promote your business, which I will talk about in future posts, but please feel free to ask me any questions. At Maine Furniture, our focus is on quality content, and quality links. The furniture you build is your quality content, the places you sell it are the links to your business, and social media is your word-of-mouth advertising. The quality content is you, your works, and your shop shown through video, and will set you apart from the status quo.

Editor's note: Mark McKelvey is founder and CEO of Maine Furniture, a non-profit organiztion dedicated to the promotion of the quality craftsmanship Maine has to offer, and the preservation of Maine's rich woodworking history. 

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