An Introduction to Marketing and Promos
By Karina, of SoapThatMakesScents
As the holidays approach more and more of us will be selling at craft shows, contributing our sample items to other sellers to distribute, putting together packets to promote our shops locally, perhaps donating to larger sampling organizers.
So many sellers (and customers!) who have received my promos to hand out have commented on them, and I wanted to pass along my advice and my opinions on what you can do to get your samples in the hands of customers--KEEP them in the hands of customers, and ultimately draw them to your store to find out more about the items you offer.
*Figure out what it is that best represents your store. Forget the candies and coupons--those are yummy and great, but forgettable. No one's going to remember 5 minutes after popping the candy in their mouth who's business card was attached to it. Most likely, they won't even care...because the candy's already eaten..the item's already been used..and it's had no lasting effect.
*It's ALWAYS better to sample an item that's currently carried in your store, or develop a mini-version of it. Here are a few ideas:
-MINI SOAPS: Try to avoid soap "slivers"..they never look appealing in their packaging, and get lost in a multitude of larger samples if grouped together with other things. Try to keep your soap samples to 1oz. or larger--big enough for a couple of uses, and noticeable enough in it's packaging to draw attention.
-LOTION SAMPLES: You'll want to make sure these are properly packaged so that they don't leak. I learned early on that receiving a squirt of lotion in a plastic baggie is not only messy when opening, but can be punctured more easily that you realize. Invest in small plastic vials or mini lipbalm pots--it looks more professional and makes for a better impression.
-PERFUME SAMPLES: There are three ways to go about this--you can either get the small glass vials (which quite honestly can get a bit pricey) or the cheaper just-as-good plastic ones (which can still be expensive depending upon how many you need), or you can opt for the paper samples...the same kind you get handed to you when you walk by the perfume counter in a department store. I know, boring...but why not dress it up a bit to capture attention? Develop your business card into the shape of a perfume bottle and spray that. Or affix several sprayed sample sticks in a wonderful (and naturally handmade!) card that matches your shop theme.
The best sample in hand is one that gives the holder an overall idea of what they can find in your shop, and an impression of how they should view your business overall.
*Keep it professional, keep it clean. Whatever sample you hand out, or give to other sellers to distribute for you, you had better believe that you only get one shot at that first impression--so make it count. I've received samples that gave me the impression that the artist could care less what thoughts I'm left with about their store. The samples were in dirty packaging, the labels obviously reused and half peeling off, or the sample itself was faulty in a way (ie. a pair of earrings where one earring hook used was different than the other, etc.). All this will do is make a buyer think that all of the items in your store must be this way as well. And that your work itself is sloppy..or that if they order from you, they'll get their items in dirty packaging, etc. A sample is one of the best ways to reach potential customers who like to try before they commit to buying..why ruin your chances of snagging them into your shop by passing them a less-than-acceptable sample that will turn them off from your store?
*Packaging is just as important as the sample, too. Make sure your contact info is attached to your sample--Package everything individually--don't rely on the person receiving your stack of promos to do it for you. Again, use clean packaging, well-designed labels, and include a stack of business cards. Don't write your url in pencil on a piece of scrap paper attached to a horridly thrown together sample...yup, I've received those too. Again, it's all in wanting to give the best overall impression.
*Make sure you think about yourself, too. Obviously, you'll want to keep this cost effective. Especially if you plan on sending out a lot. I normally send out 10-12 packages a week filled with my samples to various places for distribution. If you can, and if there's no deadline you have to meet, try to send your items First Class, NOT Priority. It's much cheaper. Also, before you delve into making 50, 100, or 1,000 samples, ask yourself if it's smart for you to do so, or perhaps instead you can make something else that's easy (and not too time-consuming to duplicate)..before I settled on my current sample products, I wasted so much energy on starting promo packages that I obviously couldn't finish due to time, resources, and cost of materials.
*Last but not least..send them effectively. Think about the target audience you are trying to reach, especially when collaborating with other Etsy sellers for promo swaps. We've all seen the forum threads asking for promos to give out with orders...I've written a few of them myself, and answered even more of them. What I always do, is take a look at the shop of the seller who's requesting them. Not to judge the quality of their items, or the honesty in their request, but rather to see WHERE they are located (remember, international shipping will cost you more, especially if your samples are heavy), and what TYPE of items they sell to see if my items would fit in with the target audience they appear to sell to. Put it this way.....I once sent soap samples in the shape and coloring of black widow spiders to an event that dealt with Gothic clothing and accessories. If you can change up your offering to make it fit the event you are sending in items for, or create something especially for that, by all means go for it!
Promotional items and samples go much much further with a potential customer than just sending business cards or coupons. If a customer can see, feel, smell, and admire an example of your work up close, the more chance you have of their interest being taken one step further and them wanting to peruse your shop.
By Karina, of SoapThatMakesScents