Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Sales, what sales?

OK, this time the lament of the vendor who isn't vending (but is venting instead).

I am trying to convince myself that sales are down because it's hot, it's summer, the European football (that would be soccer to you lot across the pond) was on, the general economic decline, SL borking... any excuse, really.

Of course, the fact that I'm not doing any real advertising for anything but Venice-related stuff isn't helping (well, until this particular shameless plug, of course).

I also wish I had the budget to advertise in the SL-glossies or hire a live musician or generally the time to organize a sale or some sort of amazing event. (OK, I also wish there would be world peace and I could get a decent burrito in the more bucolic bit of southern France: both of which are possibly more likely than me becoming a SLebrity or, y'know, selling enough to pay the rent.)

Do I stamp my foot and say 'not fair'? Gosh, it's tempting. Wouldn't help a lot, would it? Even if it is frustrating that the business-in-a-box lot manage to sell ripoffs that are often clunky and.... OK. I'll stop there.
There is also the possibility, of course, that my stuff is crap. I tend to think it ain't but this could be pride talking.

Sure, there's always somebody that does things better. And there are plenty of utterly superb designers and builders around on SL. I accept that. Sometimes I want to quit, but then I gaze lovingly at my stores, my colour schemes, my textures and grit my teeth (yes, yes, I did say SL was bad for teeth), and hope that next month will be better. And then I put a few more Lindens into my account pending a millionnaire (even a Linden one) saving my from RL husband's continuing mumbles about 'aren't you supposed to be making money with this weird thing?'

Now, of course, awaiting a mass stampede at Vent du Sud.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Running a place or renting a place: some ideas

5 things that help make a good community (for those running one) - this from experience. I don't claim to know it all, and frequently get it wrong, but hey...
  • be around, available, flexible, smiling (and know how to grit your teeth and still smile when vendors /residents are having a bad day / week and need somebody to take it out on). Know when a free week or a price reduction or simply a virtual shoulder to lean on might help.
  • use the SL events calendar, blogs, and word of mouth to promote the place. Do events that involve everybody - vendors and residents if applicable (even if it's like herding cats) and get used to the fact that somebody won't be around / join in, and somebody will find fault with it. Some might even say 'thanks', which is... nice.
  • make it clear what the policies of the place are are: creators only, no particles, no hover text, strict prim limits... whatever floats your boat as owners. Then everybody knows where they stand. And treat everybody alike (except when needs must and a little exception to the rule is called for). Favouritism tends to lead to major strife.
  • Staying power. There will be times when the temptation to click on 'abandon land' and run for the hills / bring out an alt is so, so strong. But eventually it will all seem less dramatic. Really. Well... mostly. But think of that great new vendor who said 'thanks' last week, plan something, and grit teeth. Note: running communities is hard on teeth.
  • A sense of humour. It's absolutely essential for those moment when somebody shoots an essential item into the next sim and they haven't got auto-return on and the owner is AWOL, or installs 4 x 69-prim chairs into a 70-prim apartment, or accidently rezzes a 30-foot high particle flower in their neighbour's bedroom at a less than perfect moment. Few things in SL can't be repaired (except good relations with your vendors if they have reason to be angry).

And now, 5 little pieces of advice for those renting space in your utterly amazing community. To be taken with a sense of humour, please.

  • The owners may not, actually, be extremely rich and here to rip you off. Some of them may have been through months of deficit before breaking even, but they believed in the place and are trying to offer reasonable rents and good service. So look at the pretty public areas, the stuff put in to make it nice. Think about the events that aim to get vendors involved: do you make the effort or do you just think paying the rent means 'they should do their job'?
  • Putting the place in your picks, hanging out there now and then (even if it isn't your main store), all help.
  • How about organizing an event of your own? Most owners will help out: spread the world, advertise on blogs, etc. Sales, promotions, whatever. If you don't ask, then we can't guess you want something.
  • If you're not selling, then sure - the place might not be right for you. But is it all about the place? Are you actually not doing something: renewing your stock, highlighting new items, redoing your displays, advertising? If you have a few bad weeks, then is it a case of 'all is lost' or can you do something about it? Is it worth packing up and heading out? Maybe, yes, but maybe no. Talk to the owners - preferably without turning it into an attack. We have eject buttons, much as most of us hesitate to use them. But sometimes we can also help.
  • And last but not least: do you ever talk to other vendors there about synergies? About getting together on an event, a promotion? If you make clothes, how about doing a 'clothes and shoes' deal? If you make furniture, provide it to other vendors in return for advertising your stuff. Even if you have competitors in the same field, do a 'community fashion week' with a joint logo and make it a party!