Archive for the 'Business' Category

Selling at Craft Shows & Fairs: Building a Better Booth

Craft shows and fairs are a fun and affordable way to introduce your products to a new audience. If you’ve never participated in one of these types of events before, the prospect can be a bit daunting at first. The good news is that once you develop a system for constructing and accessorizing your booth, you’ll find that your anxiety will be replaced with enthusiasm.

The Must-Have Items

Once you’ve assembled your kit of “must-have” items, I recommend that you keep them packed away together with your other show items. This will enable you to streamline your packing time, and always have immediate access to those items that you need.

  • Scissors
  • Wire Cutters
  • Thin Gauge wire
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Rubber bands
  • Scotch and Duct tape
  • Paper clips
  • Twine
  • Adhesive backed Velcro strips and/or Magnets
  • Black ink pen
  • Permanent Marker
  • Business Cards
  • Shopping Bags

Your Display

Most craft shows and fairs will include your table and chairs in the cost of the rental. If this is not the case, you will need to bring these items along. A great source for purchasing affordable tables and chairs is your local wholesale club or mass merchandiser. During certain times of the year (particularly at back to school time), you can find these items on sale at very reasonable prices.

With respect to table coverings, it is a good practice to select a specific color theme, and base all elements of your display around it. For example, you can often purchase used table cloths and skirts from party rental stores. This one-time purchase gives you a display staple that you can compliment seasonally with assorted greenery and florals, fabric accents, and props. Package seasonal display pieces together, and label them for easy identification. By doing this, you can quickly grab those items that you need, and leave any unnecessary items at home.

Creating Visual Interest

Creating a visually appealing booth will encourage more passersby to stop and check out your items for sale. Using simple items like small blocks of wood, or even a brick, covered by a colorful fabric square will create multiple levels within your booth. Other key display elements can include items such as inexpensive shelving units, a simple wooden stepstool, or one of your storage tubs turned upside down and covered by a fabric drape. Use your imagination to create unique display surfaces that are easy on the wallet, but pack a strong visual punch.

This is by no means a comprehensive list – as you gain experience, you’ll no doubt find many more items to add to this list. It will, however, provide you with a strong foundation to build upon so that your craft show experience will be more enjoyable and profitable.

Interested in learning more business-building and marketing ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Increasing Your Business with Wholesale Sales

WholesaleAs an artisan product producer, you’re probably already offering your products on a retail basis – either on a website, at craft shows, markets, or through word-of-mouth. There are potentially many additional venues that you could be targeting by offering your products on a wholesale basis. But how exactly do you do this?

Conduct Some Cheap Market Research

Once you decide to begin looking for wholesale accounts, try starting with a few of your favorite places to shop. Do they carry products similar to those that you create? If so, you may have a shot at getting your products into the store. Ask the store owner how they source new product additions, and ask if you may bring him a few samples and a price sheet. The worst thing that can happen is you will get turned down – but, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!

Other Ways to Find Wholesale Accounts:

  • Search for gift shops and retailers in your local area via the phone book or web
  • Check out your local Chamber of Commerce member directory
  • Look in the local newspaper to see what local shops are carrying
  • Add a Wholesale Application and Order Form to your website or blog
  • Place an ad in your local paper that you are accepting new wholesale accounts
  • Check out GreatRep.com and set up a profile for your business
  • Place a representatives or wholesale accounts wanted ad at GreatRep.com
  • Attend a gift show or expo and look for potential accounts or sales representation
  • Hire a sales representative to market your product line

Wholesale Pricing

It is important to evaluate your production costs before you decide to offer your products on a wholesale basis. It is customary for retailers to imply a 100% markup, also known as a keystone, to items that they purchase wholesale. If they are unable to do that, they may not be interested in purchasing from you. Likewise, if you cannot clear a profit from your wholesale price, it will not be cost-effective for you to offer your products on a wholesale basis.

What if Your Production Costs Fluctuate?

This is a common dilemma for small business owners. You may not always be able to purchase certain raw materials in bulk – so your production costs may vary slightly from batch to batch. In order to make sure that you are always making a profit with your wholesale sales, it is best to calculate your per item costs for raw materials based on the most you would ever pay for any of your raw materials, including the associated shipping costs. If you base your standard wholesale pricing based on the most you’ll ever pay for your particular raw ingredients and packaging elements, you’ll be able to maintain a solid profit margin on your products.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Creating an email list for your spa product

Customer ListIf you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times…the money is in the list. But how, exactly do you get one? The answer is easier than you may think.

Compiling and maintaining your own customer mailing list is a vital tool for your business, and one that can easily secure its ongoing success. It is an asset that you should cultivate and foster over time – do this, and your list will net you sales today, tomorrow and for years to come.

Despite the ease with which a customer mailing list can be set up, it is truly surprising how many business owners completely miss the boat. Forget slapping up a text link with the lack-luster “sign up for our list” message. Trust me, it won’t work.

If you want to build a successful list, you have to remember these five little words…”what’s in it for me?”

Your prospects need to find a REASON to sign up for your list. If you can provide them something of value, they will sign up…in droves.

So, what can you offer?

  • A free report
  • A discount
  • A free product with purchase
  • A special promotion
  • Invitation to “VIP” event, etc.

Give them a reason to share their valuable contact information, and they will. Be ready to answer the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Truer words were never spoken.

Keep those five little words in mind, and you’ll build a ravenous list of enthusiastic product evangelists that will be fumbling for their wallets every time they open their inbox.

List Building Techniques

You’ve started your list, but how do you make it grow? Here are a few list-building tips:

  • Incorporate a Tell-a-Friend component to your website or blog
  • Sign up for a Twitter Account, and use it to cross promote your site and list
  • Add a note to your business card that encourages folks to join your list
  • Include business card magnets in outbound shipments and in shopping bags
  • Hand out flyers at your shows and craft fairs that prominently promote your list
  • Promote your website and list through your email signature line
  • Promote your list in discussion groups and forums
  • Create a promotional video for distribution on YouTube.

Once prospects are on your list, be sure that you stay in contact with them on a regular basis, and provide valuable information in your correspondence with them. Nobody likes to be greeted with blatant sales messages, so be sure that you balance your content accordingly. Maintain a pulse on your market by subscribing to trade magazines, or by signing up to receive Google news alerts – this will provide you with relevant content on an ongoing basis. Tie newsworthy items in to your product line in new and creative ways, and you will be able to strike the delicate balance between sales and substance.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Aroma Sprays Make Perfect Scents

Aroma SpraysCreating your own line of aromatic body spritzes and room sprays is an excellent way of boosting your sales.

Mainstream retailers have long offered these fragranced products at prices ranging from $6 to $20 each — often for bottles as small as two to four ounces in size. With a few simple ingredients and a bit of creativity, you can quickly and easily create your own signature blends for both fun and profit.

Aroma sprays and body spritzes utilize the same basic ingredients. The primary, and most important difference is that anything you plan to offer for sale as a body spritz must be made with body-safe fragrance oils.

Here are the items you’ll need in order to create your own scented sprays:

  • Distilled Water
  • Witch Hazel Extract (alcohol distilled)
  • Glass measuring cup
  • Funnel
  • Plastic pipettes
  • Your favorite essential oils, or body-safe fragrance oils
  • Your desired packaging (colored glass, plastic or aluminum spray bottles)

A few combination ideas to get you started:

  • Lavender and Orange essential oil
  • Black Raspberry fragrance oil
  • Lemongrass and Peppermint essential oils
  • Vanilla and Peach fragrance oils.

Method:

In the glass measuring cup, combine 8 ounces of distilled water, along with 1 ounce of Witch Hazel extract, and 1 to 2 ml of your favorite essential or body-safe fragrance oil. Stir to combine, then decant into your desired packaging.

There may be a bit of oil and water separation in your blends, so be sure to include the instruction to “shake well before using” on your product label. It is also a wise idea to include notations to avoid using directly on fine fabrics, as well as wood finishes.

For professional looking labels that won’t break the bank, check out MyOwnLabels.com. They offer hundreds of color and style combinations, and you can order your custom labels by the sheet. They even offer coordinated hang tags, so you can coordinate your entire line of products with ease.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Private Label Spa Products: What’s In a Name?

Private LabelThink about the last time you purchased a “store brand” product. Do you really think your favorite big box retailer makes all of those products?

How do they do it?

It’s simple, really — they have these products private labeled with their name on them.

By taking this chapter from the mainstream retailer’s playbook, you can develop new revenue streams for your own bath and body product business. Offering your products to your customers under their own brand can be a very lucrative endeavor!

The Benefits to Your Customers:

  • Speed to Market – they can quickly establish a product line without the headaches associated with product formulation and creation;
  • Controls Inventory Costs – they can start off with a lower quantity of products than if they had to create a large production batch on their own;
  • New Revenue Stream – offers them a great new way to generate sales, either as a compliment to their existing products, or as something completely new.

Benefits to You:

  • Economy of Scale – purchase larger quantities of ingredients and save money;
  • New Revenue Streams – tap new markets to sell into;
  • Boost Sales Revenues – establish order minimums for private label sales;
  • Cheap Market Research – your clients’ feedback helps you plan future product releases.

Selling Your Clients on Private Label Products

From a production standpoint, private labeling eliminates the costly expenses associated with research and development of new products. Your clients can react and capitalize on market trends by calling upon you to create branded products based on your existing line.

The Introductory Order Package

One of the most effective methods to getting your products into a new retail location is to offer an introductory order package. For private label clients, this package could include a small assortment of trial size products for them to place at their sales counter or within an in-store display, along with full-sized items available for purchase. Based upon the success of the introductory package, a reorder (at established order minimums) would follow.

Limiting the Options

When you first implement your own private label program, you may wish to consider limiting the number of options available to your clients. Offering one or two sizes of packaging, along with a standard label will enable you to control your costs. For clients with more stringent requirements, you’ll need to establish development costs associated with offering additional packaging and labeling options. Make sure that you get a signed contract from your client before you incur any costs for these custom options.

Private labeling has made significant improvements since its black-and-white packaging debut in the 1970s. Today, private label brands have gained mainstream popularity, and are sharing shelves with the national brands. This offers great news for those who aspire to get into the game. No matter what the motivation is, private label is a viable option to consider. It’s a great way to get your product into the market, even if it isn’t under your own name.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Selling Spa Products on the Web

These days, businesses everywhere have established a presence on the web. Take a good hard look at the commercials on any given day, and you’ll likely discover that web addresses are nearly as prevalent in the contact information as a telephone number.

Those naysayers of the 90s that downplayed the importance of having a website are no doubt choking on their words right about now. But what if you are a small artisan product producer making handmade bath and beauty products…is having a website really all that important?

The answer is a resounding YES. And the good news is that it has never been easier.

Would-be website owners have a vast array of products, services, and software to choose from in creating their own virtual corner of the web. From website editing software that installs onto your own computer to hosted blogging platforms, there is literally something for everyone, and every skill level.

Rather than leave your head spinning with the dizzying details, we’re going to focus our discussion on a simple, free method that you should give some serious consideration – a hosted WordPress blog.

A Free Blog at WordPress.com

For those who may be operating with a limited budget, you can get started with a free blog immediately by signing up at WordPress.com. You can select from thousands of design themes, both free and paid versions, which will allow you to customize the look and feel of your new web destination. Additional tools, called plugins, allow you to enhance the performance of your blog by allowing you to add navigational upgrades, search engine enhancements, shopping cart functionality, and other various capabilities. You could literally spend days just exploring all of the upgrades at your disposal.

Do-it-yourselfers will be pleased to discover the comprehensive tutorials offered by WordPress, and the hundreds of developers of its associated plugins and upgrades. Of course, for those who would prefer to have the technical details handled for you, there is no shortage of freelancers and professional firms that will be more than happy to design your new WordPress site to your specifications.

One of the many benefits of a blog is that they are fairly easy to get indexed by the search engines. The addition of search engine-friendly plugins will enable you to customize the titles, keywords and descriptions of your web pages, just as you would with a traditional website.

Staying in Contact

We all know how crucial it is to stay in contact with our customers. Blogging makes this task very simple to do! By setting up a free account with Feedburner.com, you can give prospects and customers two methods to keep in contact with you – by subscribing via RSS feed, or by email. With the addition of just a few lines of code, you can be up and running with this service in a matter of minutes.

Communication can be further enhanced by enabling your blog with one of several Twitter plugins. Twitter Tools, for example, will automatically post to your Twitter account each time you make a new blog post, making it a cross-promotional dream tool. Leveraging the power of a Twitter account can also help boost your subscriber list.

Whether you are offering products for sale on a limited or international scale, there is no disputing that a well-designed web presence can be an invaluable sales tool. You don’t have to be computer whiz in order to craft a visually-appealing, effective website. A bit of imagination, the desire to learn, and a few hours of your time is all the investment that you need.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and marketing ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Sales Techniques: Defining Your USP

SalesWhat is a USP?

Your USP is your unique selling position. Your USP is what makes your business unique. Without a USP, your business will lack direction.

You may be selling the same line of products as your main competitors, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t carve out a successful piece of the niche. What will help you do this?

Defining your USP.

Questions to Help You Define Your USP:

  • What makes my business unique?
  • What does my business possess that my competitors’ business doesn’t?
  • What can I do better than anyone else?
  • Why makes a purchasing experience from my company different?

Evaluating your business based upon these questions (and any others that may come to mind) will help you define your USP to a laser-targeted focus.

Some Examples of Effective USP’s:

  • All customer service inquiries answered in 24 hours or less
  • Free product samples included in every order
  • Share Your Feedback, receive a discount coupon
  • Free shipping on all orders
  • Customer Loyalty Program
  • Guaranteed Same-Day Shipping

How Do I Communicate My USP?

  • Build your USP into your business tagline
  • Print it on your business cards, postcards, flyers and other mailers
  • Print your USP in every newsletter
  • Place your USP on your product labeling
  • Create helpful audios or videos for your website that reflect your USP

The key to leveraging your USP is to make it a cornerstone in your brand identity. Make sure that all of your customers know your USP, and how they benefit from it. As we’ve stated before, it all comes down to “what’s in it for me?” Your USP can answer that question for your customer.

Using your USP to answer this question for your customer will earn you business, and customer loyalty.

Want more fabulous formulations and savvy sales tips? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

The Importance of Color for Spa Products

color-chart-smallWhen you are selecting colors for your logo, website or packaging, you may wish to consider how the colors will resonate with your customers. Colors register with the subconscious mind, and can make a dramatic impact on consumers’ buying preferences.

Colors can represent memories, reflect our moods, and evoke emotional responses. Researchers have long studied how various colors and color combinations affect buying preferences; these studies are often the basis from which manufacturers select the colors for a products’ packaging and promotional materials.

Savvy marketers will leverage their knowledge of color theory in order to evoke the desired response from their prospects. Below are a few examples of well known color representations:

  • White: Symbol of purity, innocence and honesty. It is evokative of all that is clean and good.
  • Black: Symbol of darkness, despair and death. Black often represents villany and evil.
  • Blue: Blue is most often associated with trust, creativity and imagination. It also represents order and security.
  • Green: Green represents nature, vibrancy and life. With the growing popularity of “green” living, it is also clearly associated with natural products, freshness and organics.
  • Yellow: Yellow is associated with thinking and philosophy, as well as maturity and hope. Yellow is a color that traditionally evokes happiness and cheerfulness.
  • Red: Symbolizing excitement, action, or even danger. Red also represents energy and passion.
  • Purple: Often associated with royalty, purple is elegant and extravagant. It evokes feelings of wealth and influence.

It is important to consider specific regions of the world you may be selling into when making color selections. What may evoke a specific response in one area of the world may play dramatically different elsewhere. The climate of the market and the mood of society will also play a large part in how products are accepted.

The study of psychological response with respect to color is likely to be scrutinized for generations to come.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

Spa-at-Home Parties

spatreatmentSpa-at-Home parties offer an excellent alternative venue to offer your pampering bath and body products for sale. Opportunities to offer the spa experience within the comfort of the home abound – from traditional home-party style evenings, to bachelorette bashes, tween birthday parties and sleepovers – the potential to leverage your products is limited only by your imagination, and motivation!

Setting the Stage

Theme your presentation around the type of event the hostess is having. For example, if your hostess is having a bachelorette party, you’d want to theme the products and demonstrations around items that the bride and her attendants could use in preparing for the big day – items like facial masks, body scrubs, or relaxing bath salts and soaks. For a tween birthday party, you might instead opt for things like fragranced body splashes and lotions, shower gels and bubble bath.

It isn’t necessary to change your product packaging for these types of events, but you can inject fun into the process by creating themed gift sets, baskets or gift bags in non-traditional types of containers. Some great examples include take-out boxes, cosmetic bags, inexpensive totes or purses, teacups, or martini glasses.

Keeping it Simple

The key to success in putting on these types of events is to keep it simple. Limit your product offering to your best sellers, or those that best fit the group. If you plan to offer demonstrations of items such as scrubs or masks, be sure to instruct your hostess to have extra hand towels, tissues, and other necessities ready for her guests.

Handy Spa-at-Home Party Checklist:

  • Pre-printed order forms
  • Business Cards
  • Brochures or flyers
  • Calendar (to book additional parties!)
  • Party games
  • Inexpensive prizes (pumice stones, nail files, cuticle kits, etc.)
  • Plenty of Sample Products
  • Full-size items for sale
  • Party favors (items such as samples, business card magnets, notepads, etc.)
  • Bags to package purchases
  • Cash bag to make change

Offering spa-at-home parties is a creative way to supplement your income, and introduce your products to new prospects. Focus on sharing your passion for the products, and the benefits that they impart, and sales will surely follow.

Interested in learning more business-building tips and product formulation ideas? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.

How to Make Spa Product Gift Baskets

Gift BasketsIf you aren’t using gift baskets or gift sets as a selling tool, you are missing out on an opportunity to garner more sales. Offering gift sets and baskets is a valuable selling tool that can accomplish multiple objectives:

  • New way to promote slow-moving products (pair slow movers with popular items)
  • Introduce customers to new products (offering special price for sets)
  • Capitalize on the “instant gift” nature of gift baskets and gift sets (quick and easy!)
  • Perfect for “last minute” gifts (think Christmas, Mother’s Day, Easter, Graduation, etc.)

Leveraging the Power of Gift Sets

A bit of creative thinking can go a long way to scoring additional sales throughout the year. Have you considered offering:

  • A gift reminder service (perfect for forgetful husbands and boyfriends)
  • Gift registry service (for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, Christmas, brides, etc.)
  • Custom gift set service (hostess gifts, new mother sets, spa-at-home parties, etc.)

What Should You Put in a Gift Set?

The key to creating a well-received gift set is to keep the products relevant, without being trivial. You don’t want the gift recipient to feel as if they received a “generic” gift, but rather one that was selected especially for them.

As an artisan bath and body product producers, you have a wealth of collateral products that can be added to your gift sets. Use your imagination to find unique pampering gift items that will compliment those that you produce.

Spa KitLook for items such as:

  • Loofah
  • Bath Mitts or sponges
  • Bath pillow
  • Nail files or cuticle kit
  • Pumice Stone
  • Spa Slippers
  • Headband
  • Relaxing music
  • Herbal tea
  • Floating candles, or incense

A Word About Containers

You don’t have to use traditional packaging for your gift sets. In fact, you’ll invariably sell more sets when you employ your creativity! You might want to make up small sets packaged in oversized teacups, sheer organza drawstring bags, colorful totes or mini purses, novelty take-out boxes, or even in ceramic floral containers. When you package your gift sets in a non-traditional container that can be used again, the recipient is also gaining an “extra” gift!

Want more fabulous formulations and savvy sales tips? Subscribe to my FREE Make Your Own Spa Products E-Course.