Friday, May 14, 2010

Courting Retail

After spending the last few months preparing collections and getting my website together, I decided it was time to seek out some potential partnerships with retail shops. I have done consignment, and still do, but it is quite a financial strain to have to create all product up front, then wait (sometimes for a loooong time) for it to sell.

Now that I have a more concrete focus and definition to my collections, I feel confident in offering a select few as wholesale options. But how to go about it? I have no real experience or training in selling or marketing, plus I'm not a natural born is a challenge for me to get out there and see people face to face, touting my product. I tend to market the way I like to be marketed pressure, show me what you have to offer, let me decide. SO, what I started off with is a "targeted" mailing, focusing on a select group of shops and boutiques where I think my product would be a good fit.

First, I did A LOT of research on local and regional boutiques, creating a list, then narrowing it down to those I considered the most relevant to my product offerings. Once I had my mailing list finalized, I needed to decide what to send. It would need to engage the store owners within the first, oh, three seconds of looking at it. I know how fast promotional mail gets tossed. It would also have to be limited in cost. Like many small business, my marketing budget is teeny.

Lucky for me, I am a graphic designer by trade, so I know how to create a marketing piece on the cheap that has impact. Instead of paying to have a postcard-type piece printed, I wanted a piece that looked custom, so this is what I did:

I took 4x6 prints from the photo shoot of my newest collection and adhered them to 5x7 pieces of high-quality ivory cardstock. Then I printed my logo and copy onto 5x7 sheets of ivory vellum, which I used to overlay the photos. I chose dark brown metallic envelopes and addressed them with gold ink, giving them a rich and a bit more high-end look, which is very important if you want the recipient to actually open your mailing, instead of throwing it out with the rest of the unsolicited promo material they recieve.
I kept copy to a bare minimum because my goal is to drive the shop owner to my website for more information, where they will look through my products, and at some point (hopefully) request line sheets. Speaking of linesheets, I will post another entry about them soon, so stay tuned.

The cost of this marketing piece? Well, the paper was on sale, making each 5x7 sheet approximately 15 cents (2 pieces cut from an 8.5 x 11 sheet), the photo print was 20 cents, the envelope was 50 cents, and the stamp of course was 44 cents. That brings the total cost per piece to $1.29, including postage. Not bad at all for a custom-designed piece!

In case some of the shop owners don't make it to my web site, I will send a follow-up email after the initial mailing. Even if I don't receive an immediate response, this piece still gets me in front of potential buyers. They might not buy now, or next week, or next month, but maybe, just maybe, they'll be thinking about me when they have coffee with their friends, or they'll happen to mention my company or my designs in random conversation. I have learned that every little bit of exposure helps, and that you never know where your next raving fan will come from...sometimes they show up seemingly out of nowhere...then you find out they are a friend of a friend's sister, whose mother's cousin owns a boutique and received your promotional just never know.

1 comment:

  1. You have a great attitude, great blog and beautiful unique work. There is a shop in Charlottesville, VA I think your jewelry would fit in very well there, and be a great addition to their current lineup.

    Good luck to you:-)