Etsy: A Case Study in Encouraging “Character” in Small Business Offices

Posted in Marketing, Strategy, Tips

Part of securing funding for a business is doing the extensive legwork that it takes to identify the best potential sources of capital, but on the other hand, there is also the imperative of “standing out” to those who might be willing to give your fledgling enterprise some much-needed money during its original phases of development. To this end, we’ve been looking at some ways that small businesses can identify themselves within a highly competitive market context.

Many small business consultants will point out that successful sales and profits often mean operating on a lean budget, and using creativity rather than plodding along a rather conventional route to small business growth. One excellent example of this that we’ve often collaborated on is “pop-up retail” where small businesses take advantage of creative storefront locations to move more of their products within a local market. Another similar point on this relates to the company’s home office or primary locations.

“Expressing Yourself” with Business Locations

A good example of “location branding” for a growing business is the subject of a recent Bloomberg Businessweek piece on arts and crafts brand Etsy, now a prominent name in many parts of the U.S. and other countries. Looking at this business model shows how “crowd-sourcing” products and linking up buyers and sellers on the Internet remains a mainstay for many modern businesses, but another main point about how this company has promoted itself is clear from both the text and image of Bloomberg’s coverage.

At the beginning of the article, entitled “Etsy’s Funky Brooklyn Headquarters,” readers are treated to a colorful photo of a conventional hardwood-floored office gaudily decorated with weavings, paper cutouts and other colorful creations. It’s telling that the author uses the word “funky” to describe the company; this word, which can have mixed connotations, is the author’s way of describing something that Etsy has used to reinforce its image in the public mindset and reach out to certain target audiences.

Giving Your Small Business “Uniqueness”

Lots of small business owners despair at less than stellar conditions in storefronts, rustic locations, or anything else that doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter corporate installation. Many small-business leaders would do better to embrace the conditions of their leased or owned real estate and work within their economic parameters to create an attractive identity and brand, rather than spending a lot of available capital to create a button-down environment. While some buyers, and some investors, are undeniably attracted to a more corporate ethos, many others will pay attention to a business image that looks different from its surroundings. Playing up your business brand as hyper-local, grassroots, or yes, even “funky,” can have its advantages, and free up capital for investing in products and services, not a whitewashed, corporate-deco office or retail space.

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