Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Market Week Part 4: Market Preparation

Craft Market Post 4 Pic So... you’re a super motivated crafter and micro business owner, and you’re looking to really connect with your audience, broaden your exposure and gain more sales. Going to market sound attractive, but don’t know where to start? The CHA are here to help!

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connect with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

Market Preparation

Preparation is key! A great place to start is to ensure you carefully read all the information provided by your market organiser. If at the end of this you have un-answered questions, make sure you contact them before the event to have your questions answered. Never make an assumption about what you are or are not allowed to do at your stall; or what support and facilities will be available to you at the event.

Before rolling up to market, consider your approach to these areas of your business and your set up for market.

Stock Preparation:
How much do you need? How much is too much? People with market experience will likely tell you to specialise in a handful of great products and have lots of variety and choice within those products; rather than trying to spread yourself too thin with many different products, but not much variety of each.

A good rule of thumb to remember is to provide the power of choice to the customer. If they like your item, but you have made them all in green and they want blue, that won’t help you get the sale! So think about creating lots of variety within your product line to suit different tastes and needs.

Ultimately though, getting the balance right is something for which you will find a happy balance as you do more and more markets; and will depend somewhat on the size of your items, the size of your stall set up and the time it takes to manufacture each individual item. But know that a clean and clear, well organised and uncluttered table is more appealing than one stuffed with product. In the end, if people can’t see the product for all the mess, they will keep walking. (Stay tuned for more to come about merchandising your stand).

Custom Orders:
In the event that you just don’t have the right combination of design/colour/size that your customer would like, this is where being the creator and developer of the product really comes into its own; because you can just take an order! Make sure you clearly add signage to your stand that custom orders are welcome, and have a notebook at the ready to take down the order details. You will need to determine if you want to take a deposit at the time of taking the order, or if you are happy to collect the full price upon completion.  Don’t forget that postage could still be a consideration!

Pricing and Signage:
If people have to ask you what the price is, then you’re running the risk of losing sales. You need to make it really easy to see what your items costs. The best way to do this is to clearly label each individual item. This should also be used in conjunction with a larger display with the product name, brief description and price. You don’t need to have a proper pricing gun, just some plain small stickers with the price handwritten neatly is sufficient. However your larger displays with product names, description and pricing should be computer designed, printed (home printer is fine but professional design and printing is better) and should very clearly echo your business image with use of your logo and colour scheme, and possibly your business name as well.

Professional banner signage behind your stall is a good idea if and when you can afford it. Not only does it communicate your key business information to passersby, it also reinforces your commitment to your business and your professionalism.

Don’t forget to also have plenty of printed advertising material for your business available for people to take away with them; business cards and fliers with your contact details and examples of your work will make it easy for people to find you after the event. Tell people as they are about to leave your table that you have an online store and/or Facebook page where they can purchase your items, and hand them a flier!

Money:
Securing your money and making it easy to access, without flashing it around can be difficult. People don’t want or need to see how much cash you have. Always be thoughtful and discreet when handling and moving the money around.

You can use a money belt (yes that’s right, a bum bag!) to make change and some notes easily available. But if you have lots of sales during the day, you might also want to consider having a separate lockable cash box to store and hide away your larger notes. This should either be hidden under or behind your displays (always under your watchful gaze and out of range from the general public) or better still given to a trusted third party (such as your partner) to remove safely all together.

The size and set up of your float depends on the pricing of your products; and you should consider this when setting the prices. If your prices aren’t in whole dollars (that is, they include cents in the price such as $10.95 or $15.50) then this will have a big influence on your float setup. To make it easy at market, it is wise to set all your prices in whole dollars, meaning that the smallest denomination you will require are $1 coins.

A good example of a market stall float for products with prices in whole dollars is:

$200 float

  • 4 X $20 notes
  • 6 X $10 notes
  • 6 X $5 notes
  • 10 X $2 coins
  • 10 X $1 coins

Enticement:
Other than having a beautifully designed and laid out table, what else can you do to entice people to your table?

Food is always a great draw card! You can sell it (muffins and slices are a great eye catcher and compliments handmade perfectly) or give it away (a tray of lollies will get the little and big kids’ attention), but make sure you investigate the following before putting food on your table:

  • What council laws are you required to adhere to with food on your table? Do you need a special food handler’s licence? Contact your council for further information. Remember that rules and regulations may also change from council to council and you may need to contact more than 1 if you do markets outside of your local area. Be prepared to show your food handlers licence to the event organiser.
  • Wether selling food or giving it away, does the food contain anything that people are likely to be allergic to? If so, consider changing to another product or at the very least provide clear signage and an ingredients listing.
  • Speak with your small business/market stand insurer to ensure you adhere to their requirements and aren’t invalidating your insurance cover.

If you have a tray of sweets, make sure you don’t have hard lollies which small children are attracted to but are a choking hazard. Always have clean tongs available and bags if required for take away purposes.

Competitions are another great draw card; but there are strict requirements around running competitions which require you to contact the gaming commission in your state before running. I am going in investigate this further before providing any more detail, so stay tuned!

Music is a another fantastic way to draw people to your table. Keep it at a volume which isn’t intrusive, but people will hear as they walk by. Think about your target market and what sort of music they are likely to listen to. Be sure to check with your market organiser if playing music is ok first.

Relief:
The last thing you want is to be caught out desperate for the toilet, or starving for something to eat and drink, and knowing that there is no relief on the way! Some markets offer stall holder minding services, but others don’t. Check with your market organiser; it might be wise to arrange for a friend or family member who is somewhat familiar with your products to relieve you during the market so that you can take a quick break.

So the last of the big tasks left now (other than making all your stock) is working out how to visually merchandise your stand to create a standout, attractive and eye-catching display!  Stay tuned for the next blog post!

Cheers, Chicken

Next post: Merchandising your stand

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Market Week Part 3: Applying For Market

Craft Market Post 3 Pic 

So... you’re a super motivated crafter and micro business owner, and you’re looking to really connect with your audience, broaden your exposure and gain more sales. Going to market sound attractive, but don’t know where to start? The CHA are here to help!

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connect with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

 

 

Applying For Market

Now you’ve found the perfect market! It meets your needs, has your target market, it’s within a reasonable travel distance, it features other great quality products, and you can’t wait to be a part of it! But you need to apply and get approval as a stall holder first, before you can do your happy dance. Have you thought about how your application looks to the event organiser? Is it clear, professional and well presented? Does it entice them to want you at their market event?

So what makes an appealing stall holder application?

  • Supply quality photos of your products (they don't want to know what your living room looks like); dark photos of your products detract from your business image.
  • If you are relying on your blog to provide the relevant information and photos to the event organiser, make sure they are quality photos & big enough to enlarge. Otherwise you may need to send in your photos separately via email or in the mail on disk.
  • Make sure it is easy to locate your blog; send a link and spell it correctly. With all links, make sure it is a direct link so it doesn’t have to be searched for! This is time consuming and when there are hundreds of applications to go through - yours may get overlooked.
  • If you are sending in your photos, name all your photos and other documents clearly with your business name. Markets get 1000's of photos for each event, and unless the photos have your business name, it can be hard to remember which photos belong to each business.
  • Sometimes with stock, less is more – stick to your genre and do it well, instead of trying to cover all bases or categories. This is very important at a competitive market.
  • Be clear, specific and realistic about the stock you intend to come with. Don’t apply to bring handbags and turn up with one bag, and the rest of your stock is jewellery; nothing will get you uninvited quicker!
  • Be polite, be polite, be polite. Always be polite!
  • Make sure you read terms and conditions and the application carefully; you might find this answers a lot of your questions and saves you contacting the market organiser unnecessarily.
  • There is a difference between persistence and stalking.
  • Be prepared for rejection.

If you were unsuccessful:

  • Be polite in your response. Shooting yourself in the foot is unprofessional and unwise - burning bridges never helps future applications.
  • Try not to take it personally; remember that different markets target certain demographics, and there may be limits to how many stalls the market can accept, or how many stalls in the one category get accepted.
  • The market may just not be looking for the type of product you offer.
  • Sometimes your blog and website (and how professional or up to date it is) can be the difference between you or the next person being accepted.

If you were successful, then help promote the event! Advertising the event is a two way street. The organisers must advertise the event and with any luck they will know their target market. If you do not see the advertising, it doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been advertised appropriately. Stallholders should also assist in promoting the event as much as possible too. Remember; it makes you an attractive stall holder to the organisers if you are a great ambassador for the event!

Thanks to Julie of Handmade Canberra for supplying the outline for these guidelines.

Next post: Pre Market Preparations

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Top Tips with seller Sweet William

Sweet William 2

 

Its Market Week at the CHA!

So... you’re a super motivated crafter and micro business owner, and you’re looking to really connect with your audience, broaden your exposure and gain more sales. Going to market sound attractive, but don’t know where to start? The CHA are here to help!

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connect with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

 

 

Top Tips with seller Sweet William

Sweet William, who are award winners for their amazing market stall design and visual merchandising, share with us their top tips for a successful stand.

Tell a Story
Sweet William has always aimed to tell the story with our stall.  We feel it needs to be personal, reflect who we are, and our creations.  We love vintage, tea cups and pretty things, and we want this to come through in our stand. We brainstorm ideas about what we can have on the stall that fits a particular theme - for example our most recent stall was a girly bedroom - and we used an old dresser, a set of drawers and a few bed side tables to convey this.

Be Unexpected
We always try and add the quirky and unexpected - not over the top - but just a little detail or two that would not be expected on the stall. For example, a geranium potted in an old silver trophy or a kitschy dolls head to add a bit of fun.

Practice!
We always do a mock stall before the fair; sometimes it is set up well ahead of time so we can think and plan and play around with heights, positions and tweak and fluffing here and there. 

Love it
It’s something we love - to be honest it’s a real highlight of the fair to do the setup. Its the packing-up that’s not fun at all!

Sweet William 3Sweet William 1Sweet William 4

See the full collection of their stall photos on their Flickr page HERE.
See their shop on madeit.com.au HERE.
Follow their blog HERE.

Thank you Sweet William for sharing your thoughts with us!

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Market Week Part 2: Choose a Suitable Market

Craft Market Post 2 Pic

 

Its Market Week at the CHA!

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connect with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

Choose a Suitable Market

There are many markets to choose from in each state, but which one is right for you? Use a directory (such as the CHA Handmade Directory) to check out the different markets on offer, and start by visiting their websites to get a feel for who they are: the type of clientele they attract, what products are sold at the market, and who the event managers are. Send them an email if you don’t see the information you are after.

Questions to consider:

  • What type of market is it and is it in line with your marketing strategy? Will it help or hurt your reputation to be seen there?
  • How many people regularly attend?
  • What type of people frequent the market; and they your target market?
  • How well established is it?
  • What sort of reputation does the market have with people in the industry?
  • How well is the market advertised? What sort of media coverage and marketing activity can you hope to benefit from?
  • How much does it cost to be a stall holder and how does the cost compare with other markets? What do you get for your money?
  • How frequently is the market run and do you have to commit for a minimum period of time?
  • Is there a waiting list to gain space as a stall holder?
  • How far do you have to travel to get there?
  • Can you access your site with your car easily? Is there lots of free parking?
  • Is it inside or outside, and do you have a marquee?
  • Does it offer power, tables, marquees and other equipment if required?
  • What insurance coverage do they provide; and can they help you purchase insurance just for the event?
  • Will you be offering the same stock as everyone else, or will you offer something unique yet complimentary?
  • What activities will be there as a draw card to the event: i.e. live music, food stands, kids activities?
  • What is public transport like to the event?
  • How much will it cost you to be there when considering stall holder fees, insurance, petrol etc?

If you have found a market which you think meets your needs, then it is time to go shopping.... that is, visit the market first as a customer. Pay attention to what is going on:

  • Is it busy or quiet?
  • What times of the day seem to attract the most visitors?
  • Are people buying?
  • What are they buying?
  • Who is selling?
  • What are they selling?
  • What sorts of prices are items marked at?
  • Can you compete and still make a decent profit?
  • What is the vibe?
  • What role is the weather playing?
  • Is the area exposed or sheltered?
  • What are facilities like?
  • Does it meet your expectations?
  • How many tables of stock do people typically have?
  • Do they have marquees?
  • How are they merchandising their stalls?
  • What works?
  • What doesn’t?
  • Is parking and public transport sufficient?

Take the opportunity to talk to the current stall holders and get a feel for their impressions. Don’t be shy! Tell them that you are considering becoming a stall holder there and ask their opinion! Most people will be very happy to share their experiences and knowledge with you.

Then, there comes a point where you have done all the research you can, and you need to take a (small) leap a faith. So when you’re ready, take the plunge and make the booking! Just make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to make preparations and get your stock ready. So find out when the next few markets are, and choose a date in the future that gives you enough time to prepare, but also has a sense of pressure to ensure you work efficiently towards that market date!

Remember; the first market is always the hardest because it is unknown. But you have done your homework, and you know what your goals and expectations are. So its time to get preparing!

Cheers, Chicken

Next post: Top Tips with Seller Sweet William

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Market Week Part 1: Goals and Expectations

Craft Market Post 1 Pic So... you’re a super motivated crafter and micro business owner, and you’re looking to really connect with your audience, broaden your exposure and gain more sales. Going to market sound attractive, but don’t know where to start? The CHA are here to help!

Going to market is a great avenue through which you can promote your business and gain sales; and can successfully compliment your online, wholesale and consignment efforts. It’s your very own store front - a little bit space which you run and control. That is exciting! But you may not have retail sales or customer service experience; or merchandising training. That’s ok - everyone starts somewhere.

Before you stay up sewing into the wee hours of the morning (surviving on coffee, determination and the good will of your partner) you should make sure you have done your homework and are truly prepared.

 

This week is ‘Market Week’ where we share the combined knowledge, experience and expertise of many people connected with the CHA; from members contributing their thoughts on the Discussion Thread, to sellers who are known for their outstanding visual merchandising; and other friends of the CHA who have more than 2 cents worth to add.

Look out for regular posts all this week which should help you get started!


Goals and Expectations

First things first! You need to set yourself up to succeed. Have a plan. Have realistic goals and expectations. Do your homework.

It is a good idea to have a business plan (another blog post entirely) and you should build selling at markets into that plan.  Know where it sits in the grand scheme of things.

Start by working out why YOU are going to market:

  • Is it to shift old stock?
  • Try out new stock?
  • Sell your whole range, or just a portion?
  • Make some quick cash?
  • Gain exposure?
  • Make a connection with your audience and get real time feedback?
  • Build and develop your business image and reputation?
  • Get people to sign up to your mailing list and encourage them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter?
  • Get them to take your business details so they can buy online?
  • A combination of some or all of these... and more?

Not all of these goals will yield you a heavy money tin at the end of the day, but all will be helping you with the bigger picture and achieve your mid and long term goals.

It is unlikely that you will make a fortune at your first, or even third market. That’s ok, as long as you understand it and have planned for it. To start you might run at a loss. It may take you 6 months to make a profit. But remember the reasons why you are there; and know that when you’re first starting out, there is so much more than just money to be gained from the experience.

Set some goals. Initially, aim to cover your cost to be there (stall fees, equipment hire, insurance, travel etc). Then, set yourself mini targets such as making a profit of $100, $200 and onwards.

You will most likely be making some initial investments to get set up; with tables, a marquee, merchandising equipment (‘set dressing’ if you like) a chair, signage and more. Give yourself time to recoup these costs, and remember that when all is said and done, many of these items will be able to be integrated into your everyday life (an extra table at the family reunion is always handy!) You don’t have to buy it all NOW. You can progressively expand your set up as you gain sales and can afford it.   Work out what is vital, and what is just nice to have.  What can be borrowed from friends and family? What can you purchase second hand or from an op-shop? Don’t push yourself into debt - remember that the aim is to make money!

Know that often, people like to see you at market regularly before they buy from you. You might have a product that they like, but maybe they don’t have a reason to buy it right away. Or perhaps they want to get a feel for you before they commit to buy. Or they just think ‘next time’. Regularly turning up at the same market will help to build your presence and reputation.

Every time you go to market, you will be more comfortable and confident with the process. Make sure that you and your family/supporters know exactly what you are aiming to achieve and take a step closer every time you go to market.  And remember that goals can change…. adapt with them to remain current!

Cheers, Chicken

Next post: Choose a suitable market

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We have a winner!

Softies Club Congratulations to
Steph of Moobear Designs! 

You are the winner of the Softie Pack, provided by our friends at
Patterns Only. We have sent you an email on how to make arrangements to claim your prize pack!

Thanks to everyone for your entries…. look out for the next CHA competition, coming soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Facebook Faux Pas for Aussie Craft Businesses

Facebook Logo 

How you represent yourself and your business on Facebook is just as important as other facets of your marketing strategy.

Always put your best foot forward; and avoid these mistakes to build and maintain a professional image in the eyes of your customers, peers and within the Aussie and international craft industry. 





#1 Faux Pas: Writing on the wall of another business for the express purpose of advertising your own business.
There is a fine but very distinct line between wishing to make a genuine connection with someone in the industry and letting them know you are a fan; and simply posting details of your own business on their page, with the express purpose of promoting yourself.

“Hey I just became your fan, feel free to pop by and become a fan of mine too” is common; but comes across as too needy and turns people off. It is more likely to hurt your reputation and give the impression that your business is small, struggling and desperate for fans. People will fan you because they are interested in what you have to offer; not because of this ploy.

Conversely, if you find people doing this to your fan page and it makes you feel uncomfortable, you can feel comfortable to delete the post without any guilt.

#2 Faux Pas: In-appropriate profile pictures. As you cannot make comments as your business identity, your personal profile picture will become associated with your business name. This may be because you mention your business name in your comment, or because you are building a reputation in the industry and people are getting to know who you are and which business you represent. For this reason, it is imperative that your profile picture is either an appropriate head and shoulders shot of you looking, neat, clean and professional; or you can use your business logo as your profile picture. People don’t want or need to see images of your kids (no matter how cute they are), or you looking slopping from the weekend. People want to know who YOU are and you will be judged by your photo... so put your best foot forward.

#3 Faux Pas: Publishing all your posts for the day only minutes apart. It can be hard to apply some structure to your posting timeframes, especially when we have lives to lead away from the computer and Facebook. But nothing will halt people from reading your News Feed faster than seeing 15 posts in a row, crammed into a 5 minute period. It’s just all too hard and overwhelming; no matter how useful the content you are providing. Try to allow at least 5 - 10 minutes between posts, and do no more than 3 at a time - at the absolutely most. If you have the luxury, a good rule of thumb is 1 post in the morning, 1 in the afternoon and a few at night, when people are most active. But space them out as best you can!

#4 Faux Pas: Airing your business or personal frustrations, negative situations and arguments publically on your business page. Having a disagreement with a customer? A competitor stealing your designs? Frustrated that your fabric delivery is late? Your fans don’t want to know about it. Avoid discussing negative issues or airing frustrations on your page. No matter how justified you may be in your argument, discussing it publically may make you feel better, but also makes you look highly unprofessional. Avoid using any negative language at all in your posts. Remember, if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.... or you will just hurt your own business’s reputation.

#5 Faux Pas: Forgetting the importance of using the English language correctly. Because you are representing yourself and your business through written communication, you must endeavour to use this form of communication correctly. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and using txt spk just makes you look lazy and uncaring. If you need to, type your status update and copy and paste it into Microsoft Word to check for spelling and grammatical errors before publishing; and make changes as needed. This small, extra step will speak volumes about your professionalism. We all suffer from typos every now and again, but aim to get it right 99% of the time. You wouldn’t send your advertising off to the printers without carefully checking it first, would you?

#6 Faux Pas: Allowing your photo albums to become out of date. If you are selling via your fan page photo albums, it is imperative that your albums only show items which can be purchased or custom made; and that there is relevant information attached to each photo. Failing to list vital details such as product descriptions, prices, availability and ways that customer can place an order will surely lose you sales. Because you don’t receive notifications when people comment on your photo, it is most important to provide instructions for interested buyers on how they can contact you to place an order; and list your email address under every photo. If you have a album of supplies such a fabric which people can select from to place a custom order, make sure you number and/or name your fabrics, so that you can be sure everyone is talking about the same thing.

#7 Faux Pas: Not having the last word on your page. In the case of your Facebook page, it is best that you have the last word. That is, if someone comments on your wall, on your post, or on your photo, always acknowledge what they have said. This acknowledgement will help build the all important genuine dialogue with your customers, which ultimately builds loyalty.

#8 Faux Pas: Sending a Friend Request without a message. If you have decided to mix your personal profile page with your business presence on Facebook, you make choose to ‘Friend’ people in the industry with whom you wish to make a connection. But sending unsolicited Friend Requests without a personal message attached will not yield you a good result! Be sure to take a few minutes to send a message along with your request, explaining who you are (including your business name) and why you want to make a connection. And don’t take it personally if your request is not accepted; many people choose not to accept Friend Requests from anyone who is not a genuine friend. Oh and if you do have business contacts as friends, then you need to monitor your personal status updates and photos for appropriateness too; it still all represents who you are and impacts your business reputation.

#9 Faux Pas: Becoming a stalker. If you comment on everything posted on a page, you will start to creep people out. While comments are always sought after and welcomed on business pages, it will become weird if you always comment or ‘like’ everything that page publishes.

#10 Faux Pas: Presenting content as your own; when it’s not. It’s great to pass along interesting information which you think your followers will find useful, but it’s not ok to represent it as your own work. Always attribute photos, blog content and other unique thoughts which are not yours to the owner. A good way to do this is to thank the creator and @tag their Facebook page when publishing the information in News Feed. Of course, if you are linking to their blog, website or other location, it is clear who the content owner is; but it’s extra nice to acknowledge them in the News Feed post too. Plus it lets them know that you are sharing their content and may attract them as a fan to your page, or even start a new business relationship.

What Facebook Faux Pas do you see? What drives you nuts?

Cheers, Chicken

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

{Round Up} The 1st CHA Craft Swap

How I have loved reading your emails, learning your stories and seeing all your lovely craft swap items; and getting to know your businesses too.Picnik collage 3 Here is just a selection of the photos I received for you all to feast your eyes on (there were just so many I couldn’t fit them all in!) Wow, such a lovely, diverse range! Some are people’s first brave attempts to make a new item; and other are tried, true and tested products.

Picnik collage 2
Try as I did, it was certainly too difficult to choose a favourite swap pair. So many of you have relished the opportunities to make a connection in the handmade community; and have taken care to make and send products that would perfect suit the recipient.

Picnik collage 1 Most importantly, it seems all involved had lots of fun. For those that missed out this time around, there will be another craft swap in the near future, so stay tuned.

Picnik collage 4 Thank you all so much for participating, taking such care to create your items, and for sharing your pictures and stories.

A very special thank you to Beckie of Little Wise Owl for processing all your details and assigning your partners. A massive task. Thank you lovely girl!

Cheers, Chicken

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Package Your Success

packaging4 One of the biggest issues with online selling is that it’s considered to be so impersonal. There is no greeting as you browse through the store, or time to talk about how it was made and developed; and there certainly isn’t a chance to thank them face-to-face for purchasing (or reminding them to return in the future). In most cases the package you send is the only actual physical contact you make with your customer; and therefore can be one of the most important tasks you complete during a sale.

Protection First
Obviously the primary purpose of product packaging is to get your sold item from A to B safely. The Post Office is not your only option for postal products.  You can try Officeworks for great bulk packs or there are many websites that sell products in bulk such as Signet. It’s also fine to reuse jiffy bags; or for the Eco option, Ecocern is your place. If your items don’t need a lot of padding, why not simply wrap them in brown kraft or butcher paper? Price wise, trying to make a few extra dollars on postage is a no-go, and be sure to have the registered post as an extra option if your item calls for it. Remember that most of your customers will be regular online purchasers and therefore are likely to understand general postage costs.

To Pretty or Not to Prettypackaging3
There are different schools of though when it comes to gift-wrapping your product. Personally, I think there is nothing more enjoyable than receiving a delightful package in the mail. When I purchase an item, I always look forward to seeing how things come packaged. A beautifully presented handmade item demonstrates pride and thoughtfulness in what has been created and follows the ethos of the handmade revolution. It can be simple and cost effective, and can make your item stand out from the rest. Use things from around the house – fabric, doilies, ribbon scraps, an old atlas; or re-purpose some golden books, perhaps an old textbook or sewing pattern. Bakers thread or twine with threaded buttons also looks effective. There are many Etsy sellers that specialise in pretty packaging if you want brand your items. A few of my favourites are Packagery and CaliforniaCraft, and you can also have your logo printed on to stamps or stickers to use in prettying things up.

A Freebie
You can always thank returning customers with a little something. It can be as simple as mini gift card (sew a square of fabric onto a folded piece of card or tag) or a few pretty buttons or appliqu├ęs from your collection. Pretty Moo Cards with a ribbon at one end make lovely bookmarks. What about a sample of a new line your starting? Ask them for their opinion or a review on one of your information forums. There are a number of Etsy sellers that have bulk mini gift packs with slogan or vintage print badges, stickers or even mints. I like to offer an incentive to return; perhaps free postage or a percentage off their next visit.

Must Not Forget
Without a doubt, your best advertising is your product. Give your customer the tools to share in the excitement of finding such wonderful products. At least two business cards are a must inclusion. Word of mouth is documented as the most effective form of building your business – so encourage it.

How about your networking options? Got friends in the craft selling business? Then why not organise with them to swap each others business cards. These can be addedpackaging1 into your package when you make sale and visa versa. I love to pop business cards of my favourite shops into my customer’s packages when I think it will compliment what they have bought from me.

Most of all don’t forget your handwritten thank you note. This personalises the online buying process and reminds your customer that it’s just you - creating, marketing, selling, packaging and shipping your items, especially for them.

If your still looking for a little inspiration don’t forget to check out the Etsy Packaging Pool on Flickr.

Good luck and happy selling,

Linda
Lulu froufrou

You can follow Linda and see all her lovely pretties on her Facebook Page, in her Madeit store, on her blog and on Twitter.

Was this article useful? Have more to add? Please leave a comment.... we really want to hear from you! Yes you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

{Give Away Time} by Patterns Only

 
Softies Club As an exclusive to The Contemporary Handmade Alliance, Patterns Only is giving one lucky reader a chance to win a fabulous Softies Kit; complete with fabric, pattern and toy stuffing to create an adorable soft toy.

To enter:
Go to the Patterns Only website and check out
their range of softie patterns.  Sign up to their Newsletter via the homepage), and then come back and tell us below in 25 words or less, which softies kit you would love to win and why.

You can also gain additional entries by completing a ‘Shout Out’ on your Facebook Page (tag @The Oz Material Girls in your post); and/or Tweet about it (tag @patternsonly).  Just leave an additional comment below advising how you have spread the word! You will receive 1 entry for each shout out.

Competition Closes Thursday 15 July at 9pm. Winner will be selected by random.org random number generator, and announced on the CHA Blog.  Open to Australian residents only.

Happy 1st Birthday Patterns Only!Patterns Only 1st birthday
The sister shop of The Oz Material Girls, Patterns Only is celebrating their 1st Birthday.  They are having some great giveaways plus FREE Australia Wide Postage during the month of July.  You can find out more details on their blog. 1 lucky customer will also win patterns for a year!

They have a terrific Softies Club to join and receive a new kit each month, for 12 months. If you sign up in July you will get 1 month FREE.  The kits are also available individually.