18 Jul Changing directions: Diversifying products without alienating your existing clientele
As your business grows, change is inevitable. Maybe you need to change suppliers, maybe the fabric you use or the yarn base you dye isn’t available anymore, or maybe you just want to experiment with something new to fulfill the next phase of your creative vision. But when you already have an existing customer base, how do you branch out without alienating your current customers? If you sell directly to your customers or deal exclusively with stores and wholesale, we have some tips on how to make changes and keep your customers happy.
Don’t Sacrifice Current Customers for Potential Future Customers.
It’s tempting to think that if you revamp your product offerings, you will have boatloads of new clients and you won’t need to worry about the customers that have been with you since the beginning. But the reality of transitioning a product line means that you will need your biggest supporters to stay with you as you begin to promote new products and offerings, and your existing clientele can save you a lot of time and effort, especially if they love your new products and help promote them.
Give Plenty of Warning.
If you DO decide to phase out product remember that no doubt you have some customers who absolutely love it. Make sure that you tell them as far in advance as possible that their favorite products are changing, or being phased out. You may want to make sure you have other items coming that meet the same criteria so that you can gently point them towards all the great new things you will have that will be even better than the products they love and show them how the new items are going to be even better than before. If there isn’t going to be something very similar, then be sure to give your customers a chance to buy your remaining stock while you still have a good supply.
Consider A Survey.
If your existing clients are willing, you could get feedback directly from them on what sort of products they love best on your current line, and what sort of products they would like to see. This helps not only engage your customers in the journey of your small business, it gives you a very clear idea about what is working and what your clients would like in the future.
Try to Ensure Same-But-Better Products Will Be Part of the New Lineup.
Translation- if you are a yarn dyer who specializes in self-striping yarn, don’t suddenly discontinue all the self-striping yarn to hop on the speckles train. If you do beautiful variegated skeins, don’t cut them all out to turn to your new gradient yarn passion. It is tempting to cut out a section of your product line to make way for a new line, but consider either introducing new products at least 6 months before anything gets discontinued, or combine elements of the new design with your existing product. For example, what about a self-striping yarn and one of the stripe repeats is a speckle? Or if you want to move from variegated to gradient yarn, what about variegated gradients?
Embrace The Limited Edition.
Many independent craft companies have great success with limited edition flash sales. For products that you know your clients love but you aren’t going to be able to keep, consider making or restocking them once or twice a year and having a limited edition sale. For yarn dyers, the rise of the OOAK (One of A Kind) yarn sales have really been a huge push on sales, and fantastic incentive for customers to make a purchase quickly, instead of thinking that maybe they should wait.
Check Your Sales Data and Social Media Analytics.
Which products have the most sales? Which images or posts have the highest click-through rates? Can you pinpoint what makes those items so successful for you? Knowing the data that drives your sales is key to ensuring that you don’t accidentally cut a product that is providing the most exposure and revenue for your business.
Remember, taking beloved products away from customers will make them mad, and there is no industry in which you will have the only version of your product. Including your existing clients and customers in the process of your business evolution will contribute to their investment in you and your brand, and they will be a lot more accepting of the changes and growth as your business continues to bloom. If you are looking for a concrete strategy plan on how to transition your product line or how to engage your customers, click here to contact Leanne and we can get started!