08 Nov Cutting Through the White Noise of Holiday Sales
November is upon us and the ramp-up to the calendar period known collectively as “the holidays” has begun. As the owner of a crafty business, what can you do to make your products stand out in the frenzied atmosphere of year-end retail? And can you do it in a way that’s profitable for your business? We’ll look at ways to promote crafting as part of the holiday experience and give you some ideas to share with your retailers, as well as offer you some suggestions about how to reward them without sabotaging your own profits.
Crafts as Part of the Holidays
Make your craft products stand out in the midst of the buying season by shifting the narrative to the making season. Many people have a positive association between crafts and the holidays, whether it was making construction-paper turkeys out of outlined hands for Thanksgiving or spray-painting Reader’s Digest Christmas trees silver and gold for the mantel. Your products, however, are a little more sophisticated, a bit more specialized. You can use your social media platforms to offer interactive content to help your retailers imagine them as an essential part of creating the holiday spirit in their homes and for their loved ones.
All kinds of crafts can be part of holiday traditions.
- Making and decorating specialty edibles, particularly from an ethnic heritage, is a big part of holiday celebration. Appeal to that sense of tradition by showing how your products help a new generation get the results that Grandma did so that the special recipes and ways of presenting them can carry forward in the family. Why not use your newsletter or blog and post your story and treasured family recipe? Make sure you include a picture of Grandma with you!
- Creating seasonal decorations for the home that are displayed with pride as family heirlooms is another way to appeal to that sense of tradition. A harvest wreath on the front door welcomes friends and family, and gives its maker a sense of accomplishment as she hangs it every year. Making a personalized Christmas stocking, whether it’s knitted, pieced, or needlepointed, celebrates the expansion of a family circle and embraces its newest members. The feast table isn’t complete without the ceramic bowl that always holds the cranberry sauce. Again, craft a social media post around the memories that bowl holds in addition to the cranberry sauce. Don’t just show the bowl, show how your products helped create it so your customers feel they can create those memories, too.
Crafting can be part of a family legacy of the holidays.
- Cooking and baking treasured recipes is an activity that brings family members together. The cousins who gather to learn from their elders need the proper equipment and ingredients, and if the elders are still actively engaged in creative production, the cousins may be waiting awhile for those pans and cutters to be handed down. Help them carry on the tradition in their own homes by packaging the essentials together. Invite them to share their recipes or traditions on your Facebook page or tag you in their Instagram posts.
- Passing on skills isn’t limited to the kitchen. Who will replace Grandpa’s bluebird houses, the treasured gift for each new homeowner in the family? Creating a sense of legacy around a particular craft, whether it’s Grandpa’s woodworking or Grandma’s afghans, appeals to the sentimentality of the next generations. Encourage your potential customers via your social media platforms to see the holidays as a time to gather and to share this information and these skills so that they remain part of the family legacy, and invite them to let you know how it went.
- Having a creative project to make together while the turkey is in the oven creates a gathering moment and memories for the participants. It can be a simple craft designed to entertain the youngsters or a more elaborate make-and-take for those with no interest in the televised sporting event. Maybe everyone can learn a new craft together and start a new tradition! Post step-by-step instructions on whatever platform your audience follows you and craft along with them.
Crafting is traditionally a way to make gifts.
- Some crafters choose to make one pattern in many colors and sizes and bring them all to the party, where everyone can choose their own favorite. It’s a great way, for example, to promote all the colorways of a particular yarn.
- Limiting family or workplace gift-exchanges to handmade items only keeps it personal rather than commercial. The giver can decide just how ambitious their crafting efforts will be, from a Mason-jar recipe mix to a handmade bag and everything in-between. Use your Pinterest boards to collect possible gift-exchange ideas at every level of crafting skill.
- Search the hashtags #slowfashion, #slowfood, and #handmade to get an idea of how creating clothing, food, and other useful objects is a movement. Crafting is an alternative lifestyle, a way of moving through our modern world that hopes to tread a little more lightly and consume less thoughtlessly. Your products help people to participate in that movement. Often their first steps are the decision to make, rather than to buy gifts. Help your retailers demonstrate how your products will make this possible for them by offering examples on your social media sites.
- Crafting can also be a gift in itself. Learning a new skill or picking up a new hobby is a great way to give someone an experience instead of a thing. Put together entry-level beginner’s supply bundles for your retailer and promote an idea like “Each one teach one.” It ties back to the idea of craft as legacy and creates new crafters who will associate your products with the pleasure that joining a crafting community has brought them.
Offer Incentives, Not Discounts
Now that we’ve looked at some ways you as a manufacturer or wholesaler can help your retailers market your products as an essential part of holiday traditions and gifts, what can you do to sweeten the pot for them to place their orders now?
Our major piece of advice (which we have offered before) is that offering discounted prices at certain times during the year trains your customers to wait for the discount before ordering. When the majority of your orders wait for a sale and come in at a discounted price, you have effectively lowered your base price. It is also difficult to make up in volume what you have given away in lower prices. It is better to think in terms of adding value to your products as an incentive, rather than lowering your prices.
What kinds of incentives can you offer? Take our last example of crafting as a gift: Pre-packaging those beginner bundles and selling the bundle for slightly less than the cost of the individual items offers your retailers both convenience and a ready gift item that they don’t have to pull together themselves. If your intended customer is more advanced, rather than a beginner bundle, you can also offer “Buy X and we’ll give you Y, too” incentives that work for your products. They can be tangible supplies like exclusive patterns with your knitting needles or crochet hooks, or additional decorator tips with your cake-frosting tools, which your retailers can either in turn offer as incentives to their customers or choose to sell to increase their own profits.
If your company’s products don’t lend themselves to the bundling idea, perhaps adding a freebie or two as a volume incentive would work for you. For every X units of your products ordered, you can add an additional one of the same product at no cost. If you want to encourage your retailers to carry your full product line, make the freebie their choice of your other products. Now you’ve placed it in their shop, where they and their customers can see it, touch it, and try it, and then they can decide to include it in their next order.
Or consider an intangible incentive, like online classes or projects. Offer your customers a log-in code that gives access to a library of instructional videos on how to use your products. It’s okay if your retailers pass that code on to their customers–that’s how you create loyalty to your tools and products. How-tos teach your audience what your products can do and help them achieve success, which keeps them engaged. Creating the content is a long-term investment in your brand that you will be able to use into the future; adding new modules behind new codes quarterly, semi-annually or annually lets you continue to offer this as an incentive on a regular basis.
You can also add value to your products by offering free or discounted services for a limited time. Lowering your minimum order for free shipping or extending your terms for another 30 days gives just a little something back to your retailers that may make them place that additional order now, but it doesn’t slash the price on your main product lines. Or, if it’s more beneficial to you, giving a small percentage discount for pre-paid accounts lets your retailers manage their own cash flow as well.
Finally, if it’s possible, offer your retailers and their customers convenience during the busy holiday season. In addition to your regular products packaged for retail, perhaps you could ship some already gift-wrapped. Your stockists can create gift-idea retail displays around your pre-wrapped products, and their customers can check two things off their to-do lists when they purchase your item as a gift. You’re shifting a little bit of the burden of creating the perfect holiday back to you from both your retailers and your end customers. You can evaluate whether they value that service.
The suggestions we’ve offered here make good business sense year-round, not just during “the holidays.” The incentives we’ve outlined can be part of an ongoing loyalty program for your customers, not merely year-end rewards. The more you can promote crafting as a lifestyle, as part of daily practice and pleasure, the less you have to gear up for those special holiday sales. Until we’ve created our handmade utopia, however, you’re still running a business, and these tips should help your brand stand out in the white noise of the year-end retail season.
If you’d like more information about anything contained in this article, feel free to contact the owner of Stitchcraft Marketing, Leanne Pressly at 719-539-3110 or email Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com.