It can be hard to take Pinterest seriously as a marketing tool for your business, considering its DIYer, mommy-blogging, cookie-tastic reputation. Anything that has inspired your mother to rediscover the subtle art of gelatin molds might not be a first choice when it comes to your marketing strategy.
But if you’ve ever dug in past all the brownies and throw pillows, you’d be surprised to discover all the potential that such a simple little social media platform has for small businesses.
No matter what line of business you’re in, chances are your Pinterest account is an untapped gold mine. But finding the best strategy for your specific brand and line of work can be a bit tricky because – well – nobody really knows their best strategy until they experiment.
If you can keep your eye on current trends and best practices, and at the same time if you can get creative, there is almost an unlimited number of ways to utilize it.
But how to get inspired? Here are some examples I’ve found of small businesses that use Pinterest for business and are poised to knock it out of the park in 2015.
Pure and simple, Japanese baby-carrier company Obi Mama relies on the draw of their product to interest Pinners around the world. Their pins are nothing but straightforward yet attractive photos of their baby carriers. Based on the diversity of their product, they naturally have a widespread arrangement of colors, styles, and cuts to make up their “pin collection.” This is ideal when appealing to a larger audience of mothers, all with their individual style preferences and interests.
Plus, they also have the advantage of selling a few geeky niche styles to appeal to all the nerds out there (your Star Wars fans are much more likely to re-pin an Ewok baby carrier out of sheer excitement).
Take a look at your product. If you are selling something with visual appeal, you may have a very simple Pinterest strategy in your future. This strategy works well for jewelry boutiques, bakeries, comic book artists, and any other small business confident in its visual appeal.
The more widespread your product styles are, the broader your Pinterest following will become (and, in turn, your customer base). Plus, if you can manage to capitalize on some niche or pop-culture references, that’s a bonus for Pinterest users (there are more Dr. Who fans out there than you might think).
Jessica Bloor is a graphic designer. Though she obviously works within a visual art form, graphic design is a bit more abstract and can be tricky to sell in a visual format. While she could simply show examples of previous work, if a potential client can’t relate with the style of her portfolio pieces then they’re likely to go with a competitor instead.
Instead of past design work, Jessica Bloor uses her Pinterest page to paste random photos of patterns, colors, architecture, objects, and designs found in real life. These are nuggets of visual styles that inspire her in her everyday life, and by pinning them she’s aiding the creative mind of her potential clients and getting them more excited about their future logos and websites.
Rather than attempt to sell her product cut-and-dry via Pinterest, this graphic designer has instead attempted to appeal more organically to her audience and their needs. It can be hard for her bride-to-be customer to articulate exactly what she’s looking for in a wedding invitation, but she is perfectly capable of feeling inspired by a Victorian wall trim, or a spunky neon triangle pattern.
This use of Pinterest for small business is effective in not only aiding the communication process, but in inspiring others who may not have realized they needed Bloor’s services. If you can achieve this same kind of subtle content marketing through your Pinterest page, you’re likely to see some great results.
Tamara Suttle works as a marketing coach for therapists. While her position may seem a bit too specialized to gleam much Pinterest advice from, she’s taken an approach that’s fascinatingly experimental and surprisingly effective.
If you take a look at Suttle’s page, you’ll notice that she has over 400 boards. That’s 400 separate categories of pins, organizing a staggering 28,000+ pinned items.
It may seem like a random collection of images, but there is actually a method to her madness. Based on her work in social media marketing, she uses her own Pinterest account as an example of the kind of materials a therapist can use to create and sustain interest (she herself is a therapist, as well).
She has collections of inspirational quotes, scientific articles with catchy photos, recipes, and more, and can more easily gauge which pins are most effective. While more time-consuming, you can always go her route by experimenting with several types of Pinterest content that you think might appeal to your specific audience. Based on her following, casting your fishing line a bit farther than normal can prove to be worthwhile.
Mr. Rooter decided to take a pretty creative approach to their Pinterest strategy. While that can be risky, so far the plumbing company has seen plenty of recognition for their Pinterest profile. They snap photos of a plastic “Mr. Rooter” figurine in his travels around the world – at the White House, at the beach, even at the Eiffel Tower in Paris!
The plumbing company has capitalized on the “dreamer” audience of Pinterest users, who are generally interested in travel enough to pin future vacation spots. This attracts a more engaged audience, as well as repins by those who may have hopes for traveling to Paris themselves one day.
This Pinterest strategy also helps the user learn more about the business and it’s people, as they can be seen in a few of the photos (Mr Rooter can also be seen at home with the family for Christmas). Plus, a little bit of humor can give your brand a strong voice and leave a lasting impression on your audience. If you can think of any way to represent your unique brand and voice with images, it’s worth a try.
While they may not be considered a “small” business anymore, this real estate company certainly began on humble ground when they first started their Pinterest account. Trulia has found its success by tapping into Pinterest’s creative side and posting envy-worthy photos of home interiors.
While the photos don’t directly reflect the product they sell, they certainly engage the user and stimulate that itch to redecorate or finally buy that home they’ve always dreamed of. They also advertise their online contests via Pinterest with catchy photos.
This type of strategy is particularly effective for leading traffic back to your main website. If you are able to first get your audience in the mood for buying your product, then provide the link to do so, you will see an incredible increase in conversion.
It’s Trulia’s ability to provide engaging Pinterest materials, organic redirections to the home site, and consistent brand messaging throughout both platforms where they see such Pin-tastic success.
Consistency is going to be your best friend (as it is with nearly every social media platform), but it can really work to your advantage if you get creative with your Pinterest strategy. The beauty of Pinterest is that it’s such a young platform that there are very few universally-understood “bad ways” to use it.
While my software can help keep you consistent and on track with your posting, it’s ultimately up to you to figure out the best way to express your brand and business. Have fun with it. (And don’t always avoid the cookie recipes, there are some great ones out there.)
Adam White is the founder of Website Rocket, an online software service that helps small businesses do their own social media and SEO promotion. He has worked in the internet marketing world since 2000 and in his spare time wrote and directed a feature film. He lives in Arizona with his wife and 6 children.