With the holiday season fast approaching, many people I know expressed interest in buying handmade and local as their holiday gifts. The holiday shopper is an excellent way to build your business, especially with the increase of local craft and Christmas markets.
So how can you, a small business owner, stand out from the sea of handmade goods during the holiday season, which potentially can be highly profitable?
Here are some suggestions to gain new customers and retain old ones:
1) Offer A Deal/ Promotion.
Have a holiday sale or offer an incentive for repeat customers. I suggest something more memorable to get you noticed like offering a discount solely for redheads or something more like what I saw recently: “I broke my leg, you get 25% off!”
Don’t buy a table at all the local shows and then offer every variation of your product for sale, just to widen your customer base. Doing so may hurt your business and takeaway the uniqueness of your product, instead concentrate on a niche market, and focus your products on that target market. Sell and advertise at venues where your target market is.
3) Distracting Displays Will Affect Sales.
Displays should enhance and showcase your products not detract from them. Design your display for your target audience: consider their age or what colour will attract them. Can your product be easily seen and handled by shoppers? This is one of the times when less is more.
4) The Package Will Get You Noticed.
I always remember whether certain shops have interesting packaging or not. Think of alternative ways to add personal touches to the bags/boxes you use. You could even jazz up a plain package with a custom stamp or sticker. When a seller is taking great care in the packaging, you know they must be putting even more effort into their overall product. As a bonus, that customer now is carrying your attractive package throughout their trip, which is some free advertisement for you! Also, consider offering free gift-wrapping if your customer is purchasing a gift.
5) Giveaway The Right Freebies.
Parents who attend shows with their young children may avoid your table if they see that you are offering free sweet treats. Try to think of an inexpensive alternative that will both lure/occupy the kids and please the parents. Identify your target market and create a freebie with them in mind. (…but remember your budget!)
6) The Power Of Business Cards.
Aside from having a unique business card, use your card as an opportunity to offer an incentive for customers. Include a discount code to persuade the shopper to visit your online shop or print a coupon on one side of it. This way even if the shopper doesn’t buy anything at your table, you can still give them something that they can walk away with and remember you by.
7) Free Advertisement.
Wear your own goods! Offer samples to your friends or people you know that will wear it well and to busy places like holiday parties. Women always notice what other women are wearing, and will ask where they can find something as unique as that.
8) Build Your Own Army.
Put something in the hands of your happy customers that they can give to somebody else. Perhaps free samples or a “refer a friend” coupon. Show your appreciation to your customers, they will give the love right back in the form of loyalty. Send them an email, or handwrite a personalized thank you note and include it in their order. Interact with them any way you see fit. Just let them know they are important. Happy customers will help you spread the word about the business.
9) Cross Promote.Talk to local business owners and explore cross promotion you may be able to do with them. Other independent artists are probably in the same boat as you, and would be willing to work out a marketing campaign that will benefit the both of you. Work with owners who do not offer similar products as you, this way your target market now has doubled.
10) Keep In Touch.
Be active on blogs, forums or any other social media that can connect you to your customers and industry. It will keep you in the loop about trends, competition, etc. Also, answer your phone, respond to emails and other inquiries, asap and professionally. Being hard to reach might cost you sales because the customer may see you as unreliable.
Feel free to add your own tips in comments below!