Fueled by online communities and nostalgia for handwritten letters, the fountain pen has seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few years. But Kevin Thiemann admits that fountain pens are still a niche market that’s mostly confined to long-time collectors, which can make growing his audience a challenge.
“We try to target people who have an interest in pens, calligraphy, or handwriting with our marketing,” he says.
Kevin’s own interest in fountain pens was sparked by a desire to improve his handwriting. He discovered India’s low-cost fountain pen market while he was working abroad and started acquiring different models to practice his script. There’s an art to writing with a fountain pen—slight pressure on the nib, and the pen should make a 40-degree angle with the paper—that lends itself to neat, beautiful cursive, he notes.
After networking with different manufacturers in India, Kevin decided to start selling affordable, quality fountain pens online. “The combination of being a bargain shopper and wanting to own fountain pens played into the business getting started.”
As a small, family-owned business based out of Texas, Fountain Pen Revolution relies on social media to spread the word about their products. “It’s not like you’re necessarily going to find us through a Google search,” Kevin says. But creating ads to reach their 15,000 Facebook followers helps them drive conversions.
Target people already engaged with your brand
What Kevin likes about creating Facebook ads in Mailchimp is that he’s able to target his email list with just one click. “To target people who are already subscribed to our newsletter list seems better than targeting our general Facebook followers,” he says. “People on Facebook might just click Like without thinking, but people on our list have expressed an interest in hearing from us.”
His first $25 ad that targeted his full Mailchimp contact list generated $211.80 in sales—a 747% ROI—and even snagged 6 new customers from ad shares. By targeting people who are engaged with their email campaigns and products, he was able to reach a new audience because his existing customers shared the ad with their own friends and followers.
Know how to engage your audience
“Our customers and Facebook audience are evenly split between people who have been using fountain pens for a long time and people who have just started using them,” Kevin says. To learn more about his customers, he regularly runs giveaways on Facebook, where he asks followers a question and randomly selects entries to receive a free pen.
The questions typically pertain to why people use fountain pens, like “How long have you been using them?” For that one, Kevin says he received around 900 entries and got a better sense of who his customers are. “We try to keep new and existing users in mind with our marketing.”
He targets new users with content that explains some of the fundamentals of using a fountain pen, like how to clean a nib or refill the ink, but for existing users he emphasizes how affordable his pens are. “An existing user understands that to get a quality fountain pen for $25 is a great deal,” Kevin says.
Choose the type of ad that best suits your product
Instead of creating a carousel ad with several images of different models, Kevin prefers to use a single image that displays a variety of fountain pens to draw attention to the promotion or sale he wants to advertise.