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Wholesale Marketing Materials

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Stephen    139

For a marketing piece I am sending out to a few hundred gift shops I had originally planned a 9 x 12 envelope with a full sheet flyer, letter of intro and an order sheet.

 

I am now re-thinking it to be a color tri-fold brochure with a couple of product examples prompting a visit to my website or call for a product presentation.

 

I was hoping someone here my provide some feedback on any mailings they've done and what the piece consisted of and response rates.

 

I am also trying to decide if I am going to just mail all at once or stagger them by a week sending maybe a 100 each week. Mae Rae suggested in another post that any marketing needs to happen by early February before first half of year budgets are committed so I can't drag it out too long. 

 

 

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GEP    863

Your printed material should depict all the details of your entire line: color photos, dimensions, prices. This allows buyers to plan out their order by making notes directly on your price sheet. Even if you were at a trade show, with your pots in front of buyers, you still need to produce such a detailed price sheet for the buyers to take with them and study on their own time. Remember that buyers are going to look at hundreds of artists during February. Make it easy for them to remember your work and the pertinent details. Prompting them to visit your website is too much to ask.

 

In fact, the other way around makes more sense. Add a page to your website that announces that your work is available for wholesale. Include a few sample photos (no prices), and tell potential buyers how to contact you for a price sheet. You won't meet many buyers this way, but it's a clear signal to the ones who happen upon your website, that you are serious and ready for business.

 

No reason to stagger the mailing. Unless you have a reason I don't see?

 

Here's the last price sheet I produced. It is an 8.5 x 14 sheet.

 

post-1612-0-86661900-1484097959_thumb.jpg

post-1612-0-86661900-1484097959_thumb.jpg

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Chris Campbell    1,086

You don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

 

Yes, sounds like something a grandma would say, but there it is.

 

I know you have business experience, so please forgive me if this sounds way too basic but ...

 

Do you have a cohesive line of work that covers multiple price points?

Do you have good, sales focused images of these pieces?

Do you have your pricing, your minimums, your guarantees, your refund or replacement policies?

Do you have product info tags?

Do you have any idea how many you can make in a given time frame?

What is your turn around time for orders?

Have you researched to narrow down your Gallery focus to those who sell your type of pottery?

Has your work been tested so you can say it is food safe?

Have you decided what the best route is for you to do your marketing and find sales? In person? Online? Group sites? Solo site?

Will you be competing against your Galleries online or at Craft Fairs in their area?

 

I am not writing this to discourage you but to give you a plan of attack.

Make sure you are ready before you start.

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Mark C.    1,798

These are spot on posts above.

I have never done this with pots

But did at one time  I did do all of the above in ceramics.

Long ago had all this info on one sheet and another full color sheet of ceramic pins and magnets-all animals/fish that we sold to Zoos and Aquariums  . It all fit in on standard size papers-the order form and the photo form. This was 1980-81. It was an old business that I was partners in with my squeeze at that time. It was called Coruba pins named from a bottle of Rum Label.

I'm not making this up as crazy as it sounds. This business pumped out press molded pins and magnets of 20 different animals/fish. Sold them all over North America-From Canada to Boston and SanDiego to Hawaii.I was the mold maker -supply side guy who figured out the glaze and underglaze stuff-she did the molding glazing and glueing .I fired the kiln-it was a cone 06 business and the whole thing other than the kiln could fit into a fruit box almost. We dreamed it up on a trip to Hawaii in 79-a business you could fit in a brief case we thought.We both just got tired of making the items-they sold well but we burned out.Color printing was pricy at that time but we had a top notch brochure. Of course my brother at that time was a lithographer (professor of Art at UCSB Santa Barbara) and helped us with that super high quality ciba chrome printing process

I have had a rich ceramic background.At times I forget whole areas of experience like my time in cone 06.

I still have some of those critters on the refer.

 

Like she said you only have once to make a great impression.

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Stephen    139

You guys are the best!

 

Mea moving back to single page flyer but now its a nice product sheet and will add wholesale page to website. Also doing one complete mailing at EOM.

 

Chris, all great points. Had missed a few of those things and now they are on my list. Will I need to wait for product testing to come back before selling on this new expanded scale? Don't worry about points seeming basic. Yes I have some business background and it does help but I am totally new to this space and eager to absorb all the advice I can get from old pros like you guys.

 

Mark, great story! Reminds me to stay flexible as there are lots of ways for this to play out and I just need to find what works for me.

 

Thanks everyone!

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Chris Campbell    1,086

Research your Galleries well to make sure they sell your kind of work so you maximize your $$$. On their websites they will usually explain how and when they want to receive work submissions.

 

As I was leaving wholesale there was a huge shift to sending information by e-mail but now I am not sure anyone wants to open attachments from unknown sources. Does anyone have current info on this?

 

If I were selling functional wares I would definitely test my glazes at home as recommended in Cone 6 glaze books.

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oldlady    1,323

stephen, pugaboo, on this forum, recently posted her experience and costs to test some of her work.  maybe you can find it.

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Stephen    139

Thanks oldlady,  Ya know I just tried to find it and couldn't, will look some more later.

 

I do plan to send something out eventually. In my new studio I am keeping it to 10 glazes (we had 38 before) and a few I mix (Val's turquoise is one) and the rest are commercial. I have been using these glazes and the same porcelain for years now and have zero crazing and have done in-studio test from John Hesselberth  & Ron Roy's book years ago with no negative results. Thousands of pots now have produced zero complaints...

 

I also use my own pots and have for years on a daily basis. I just don't know when I will get a lab test done unless its for a specific shop that wants one and the order seems worth it. I have been buried in expenses of setting up my new studio and now every dollar is subject to intense scrutiny before being spent. I know safety is important and all of my practices, recipes and materials are being used widely by studios all over the country.     

 

How many others here have done lab test? 

 

Digital Fire has a list of labs:

https://digitalfire.com/services/database.php?list=labs

 

I don't know when this was compiled but from the ones that do list price it seems like it would run a few hundred bucks and take a few weeks.

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RonSa    188

I sorry to be a downer but the mail marketing pundits say that a 3% return is excellent and 1-2% return is normal. Instead of doing a mass mailing I would suggest something different. You will mail less pieces but chances are you will get a better return

 

Locate places, gallery or craft shops, where you would like to see your work sold. Then call them, introduce yourself and your product and ask if you could mail them your brochure featuring your work. Once you get a yes ask who should the mail be addressed to, make sure that person does the buying. Thank them for their time and say good bye.

 

Remember, no sales pitch, no pressure.

 

Total Time: less than one minute.

 

Give it enough time for the mail to be delivered and a day or two for them to review your brochure then give them a follow up call and ask them if they had a chance to look over the items you mailed them.

 

If they didn't, understand its possible your marketing piece hit the circular file before they even looked at it. Don't be discouraged, it happens 98% of the time. Ask if you can mail the piece to them again and if you can follow up with a call in a week or so. If they say yes that's good because you got two yeses from them and they didn't need to make any real commitment... yet. At this point you are getting them comfortable to say yes to you

 

On your next call hopefully they looked your brochure and ask them if they see anything they like and if they have any questions about your work. Hopefully there will be some dialogue between the two of you. As I'm sure you know now is the time to get them excited about your product line.

 

Finally ask them if they would like to place an order to started. Hopefully they third yes will be a commitment.

 

For most buyers it can take up to 7 calls before they are willing to make a commitment.

 

First Mailing:

Brochure, 3 or 4 business cards and a personalized letter thanking them for the time they took to talk to you over the phone.

 

Second Mailing.

Same as above but now add the order form

 

 

 

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Stephen    139

thanks Ron I really appreciate your input. Not a downer at all. I think marketing success for any company starts small and builds steam as you go. If the routine above works for you then I think its the right one for you to use.

 

In non pottery related marketing spanning a decade plus but over a dozen years years ago now, I had better and worse response rates than those you mentioned, I think it is very important to understand that the effectiveness of a campaign can vary dramatically based on how targeted the market is and the overall approach and mailings are but a part of the overall campaign.

 

My personal experience is more like 3-6% direct response from a well thought out mailing, meaning resulting in an appointment. I/we closed most appointments.

 

I do strongly disagree about holding back a means to order. It was and is my moto always, always, always ask for the order in every conversation direct or indirect when marketing B2B. Your not building brand but soliciting accounts. Brand and trust go hand and hand with that process but always be ready to take the order as that is what you are doing, trying to get orders. 

 

Good followup then adds a few more points. It took us a few cycles to start hitting those numbers and our market was a few thousand as opposed to a 400-500 I have currently identified to start. This is not really a mass mailing but more of a targeted one and over time I expect I will weed that down to a couple hundred and then expand my reach if I need to increase my numbers.

 

I do agree that mailing materials is just one aspect of a campaign but a very important one as it gets exposure in your target geo in a wide fashion and that gets things started. That 3-6% response is huge and opens doors and frankly if I hit a couple of points on my initial mailings I would be very happy. Then good followup both in person and more mailings will further the effort. In my case I have a finite, targeted audience that will change by a few dozen shops year in and year out and my mailing is a first step to continuous marketing efforts. As I get to know my prospects and carefully weed out prospects that are not a good fit my efforts should be more successful as I go along. I am just a one man studio so I am not aiming for scores of shops to sign on initially and a handful would be just fine out of this beginning effort.

 

The objective is to become a known entity as that often translates into trust until you do something that undermines trust. As time goes on, with continuous (in my case twice a year- thanks Mea) contact a sufficient number of accounts I think/hope will sign up and/or recommend me to someone else who does. 

 

I also wear hearing aids so telephone marketing is not part of my routine anymore so it will be cold calling and mailings to get where I need to be. 

 

Route sales (and I at this point see a lot of similarities to craft/gift shops and its the experience I have to draw on) is about spear of influence and legitimacy.

 

It's a long haul situation and obviously buyers at the end of the day, once I get in front of them, have to like my pots but it takes effort to get in front of B2B reps because there is a lot of noise they have to filter and its always been my attitude that they remember the continuous, more low key reps (and that's what we are) over time that just stay in front of them and always pitch quality over price. Price is buying business and no rep ever really trust a relationship simply built on low price.

 

Once I get this started I will keep you guys posted on my numbers as it might help if someone is going to try something similar.

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Stephen    139

 

No reason to stagger the mailing. Unless you have a reason I don't see?

 

 

 

Hi Mea,

 

I have a raw list of 650 gift shops and galleries in my metro which is going to be used to start my on-going marketing effort. I have all my materials almost ready to go out, waiting for a glaze load later in the week for some final product shots of some new work.

 

Starting in a day or two I will be taking this list and working it to weed out as many bad listings as possible and add others I can find. I assume my first complete pass may reduce the list by as much as a third or even half and the surviving listings will hopefully all be in business and be reasonable candidates for my work. It will cost me about 80 cents for each of my mailings but the effort is not to save the few hundred bucks (although that a nice by product) as much as it is to get my core market list cleaned up as much as possible from the beginning and only spend time and money on good prospects a few hours each day. I'm a one man shop and don't want to shut things down essentially while I get this effort in gear. 

 

Soooo I figured I would put aside a few hours each day to clean up and mail 30-50 pieces. This also will level out the responses to come over a few week period instead of a few days. If I am lucky enough to get a 2-3% response rate then 6 or 7 shops might have immediate interest. If it is remarkably successful and 5-6% show some interest then it could be a dozen shops to work with at once.

 

I have no idea whether to expect the response to mostly be request for me to come out or simply orders I need to fill and ship but having it somewhat spread out would be a good thing.

 

Do you think this Is this sound reasoning? 

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GEP    863

Sounds like six of one, or half a dozen of the other. Getting 50 out per day, while still getting studio hours in every day, or getting the entire mailing done in one or two working days, seems like the same result. Whether your orders come in all at once, or spaced out, doesn't really affect how you schedule your responses or deliveries. So I'd say whatever fits your own needs is the right choice.

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Chris Campbell    1,086

It would be worthwhile to pay someone ... in cash or pottery ... to Google the list to narrow it down to Galleries who sell handmade pottery.

 

This effort would give you quality over quantity as most gift shops and Galleries buy at shows like the huge Atlanta wholesale gift show that is heavy on factory imports and great for profit margins. You only have to see the site to spot the same exact work in every shop.

 

Another venue you might want to look into is wholesalecrafts.com where buyers are actively looking for work year round. I was on this site for ten years when I did wholesale and they tried to keep the goods hand made ... but, I have no idea what it is like now so cannot vouch for it 100%. Others might have more current info.

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oldlady    1,323

you might be able to whittle down the list by hiring some folks to call the many shops you have on the list asking for handmade pottery.   weed out the ones no longer in business and those not handling your kind of work.

 

now, before you think i am crazy, i am not suggesting a payroll, just the possibility of finding someone who lives alone, is older, can speak well and use a telephone and a pen and paper.  maybe there is a senior citizen home near you with someone interested in this idea.  SCORE might help.  

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Stephen    139

Exactly, that's how I am going to get my list right. I want to do it myself. I can work through prob 30-40 a day then send out literature to the ones that I deem a good fit. I want to do it myself because this not just a bulk mailing but the start of an ongoing marketing effort and I can see firsthand any online information and I will also go visit many of the shops over time which is one reason I would like to stay local, at least for now.

 

I just moved to this market so I will be getting to know who my potential shops are and making that first pitch. When I am done I should have database with some notes by each shop and first contact made for the shops I want to try. Until Mea mentioned in another thread that the buyers are in full tilt Feb I didn't realize there was a time constraint and just planned to get my pack together and get a few out daily but now I know I need to work through this more quickly than that and get the whole thing out by the end of month. Most should be out by then.

 

Once I've got the first contact out l will add and subtract to this group and constantly try to come up with creative ways to gain both their attention, trust and sooner or later orders. I know all of this seems basic and I am embarrassed that I am just getting it done. Fact is if I don't get this operating like a business I won't have one so any start in marketing is a huge step forward for my little studio.

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RonSa    188

Have you considered a bulk mail permit or working with someone that has one? Might save on mailing expenses.

 

Also mailing lists can be purchased with the demographics you need, sales per year, number of employees, location (zip code) or what you consider important.

 

The amount of time you spend cleaning the list might be better used for another part of your new business. I won't be surprised if it costs less than doing it all yourself.

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Stephen    139

ya know this is really not a bulk mailing and wouldn't save much to presort a few hundred names. 

 

I do agree that one should try and avoid time sinks but I do think that this is a very important part of building my customer base and over time the personal attention to marketing will pay off with some good ongoing shops to work with to find a larger audience for my work. If nothing else it will start the process of getting my name out in my new community.

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Mark C.    1,798

I had a bulk permit long ago--my studio twice a year sale was a mailing list of over 1000 names. It made sense. The downside was no returned mail from moves or death-I went 1st class after 15 years and cleaned up the list with a postcard mailing for SS . Then I packed in the whole studio sale thing (1992) and focused on just shows after 19 years of studio sales. I would just 1st class the mail as this is not going to be reoccurring as much.

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As far as time sinks go, what do people think of doing the sort of thing Stephen is through email? The initial contact to a potential client might have to be done manually, but you could set up a list segment using an email service such as Mailchimp to send catalogues and order forms however often you want to send them out. It doesn't have to be an online order form, you could just send them as PDFs. You're notified right away if an email bounces or someone unsubscribes, and you'd save a ton on postage.

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RonSa    188

The downside was no returned mail from moves or death

 

All you need to do is add "Return Service Requested" added below the return address

http://pe.usps.com/text/qsg300/Q507.htm

 

 

ya know this is really not a bulk mailing and wouldn't save much to presort a few hundred names.

 

How often do you plan on mailing to each shop per year?

Break even is twice a year

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Mark C.    1,798

Ron that got me thinking -yes thats what I had printed on them but now I remember those details . It takes a long time for them to filter back for time sensitive studio sale dates and 1st class meant I could correct the address and send them out and still get the customer maybe-vs them driving is week avatar the sale. Keep in mind this was 3 decades ago.I just switched to postcard format and saves a ton and got 1st class service.

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Stephen    139

 

The downside was no returned mail from moves or death

 

All you need to do is add "Return Service Requested" added below the return address

http://pe.usps.com/text/qsg300/Q507.htm

 

 

ya know this is really not a bulk mailing and wouldn't save much to presort a few hundred names.

 

How often do you plan on mailing to each shop per year?

Break even is twice a year

 

Ya know Ron I don't think these mailings be worth presorting and may not even hit the minimums. If they do it will likely be just barely. With the permit fees and annual renewal fees it usually doesn't make sense for tiny mailings like this is going to be. But you are right I should keep it in mind if the mailings get larger so I will go get the latest prices and minimums so I can grab one if and when it makes sense. I had just kind of dismissed it out of hand, thanks for reminding me about ways to cut cost, always appreciated :)

 

How often? Twice a year push for sure but prob more. Mea said that Feb and June are the two important months for pitches so I will definitely always put a piece out to my entire prospect list those two months. Developing retail B2B is heavy on branding as well and I am looking at this as a long term process of constant marketing to my identified prospects. I want to own the data and clean and update it myself. I also plan to wear a little shoe leather out and visit a lot of shops over time. I got into this business because I enjoy making and selling my work so that part of the process is something i look forward to. My hearing means no phone calls but I do fine in person.

 

I think you have to do presort first class to get returns, bulk is just carrier route and there are no returns as far as I know.  

 

Deisel good idea, was thinking no as I don't want to get sideways with a prospect on spam but ur right some shops might be fine with it. I am going to try and work through websites so I will look for any shops that have an email posted for pitches and will use it if they do.

 

Mark, thanks for mentioning postcards, might be a good thing to do in between Feb and Jun as a prompt here and there or as an announcement if I add a line to wholesale? 

 

You guys are great, keep the suggestions coming! 

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oldlady    1,323

stephen, can you let us know what city you are considering or is that a secret?  want to be able to picture you walking all over   BIG CITY  wearing out your shoes.

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RonSa    188

 

 

ya know this is really not a bulk mailing and wouldn't save much to presort a few hundred names.

 

How often do you plan on mailing to each shop per year?

Break even is twice a year

 

 

 

I think you have to do presort first class to get returns, bulk is just carrier route and there are no returns as far as I know.  

 

You do get returns from bulk mail (now called Marketing Mail - last year it was called Standard mail) you just need to make sure you place the correct Ancillary Service Endorsement on the mail piece

 

Minimum mailing is 200

 

Permit: $215

 

Software: $80

 

Per Piece: $0.24 (there are lower rates depending on a handful of variables)

 

The place where you had your printing done may have mailing services too, check with them. If so you will not need the permit or the software.

 

 

Ron that got me thinking -yes thats what I had printed on them but now I remember those details . It takes a long time for them to filter back for time sensitive studio sale dates and 1st class meant I could correct the address and send them out and still get the customer maybe-vs them driving is week avatar the sale. Keep in mind this was 3 decades ago.I just switched to postcard format and saves a ton and got 1st class service.

 

I used to get most of address corrections back within a week. Every so often a straggler or two may show up later. This was just the early part of last year.

 

Post Card rate: $0.34

 

==============

 

Stephan, Mark does have a good idea on postcards.

 

I used to mail out 8.5" x 11" post cards, full color both sides, nice heavy weight glossy stock, what an attention grabber. Its almost impossible to miss seeing something at that size. Even if the person receiving the mail tosses it there is a better chance of them seeing something they like and may take a longer look. And that's what its all about.

 

Max size for flats: 12" x 15"

 

Market Mailing flats: $0.35

 

I don't think twice a year is enough to get people to remember you.  I would be very interested in hearing your results.

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