In the Maker’s world, markets, or vending events, are a great way to grow your base of customers and inject some quick cash into your business without the hassle of shipping! Learn about the types of markets and my tricks on finding the best ones!
The other day I was posting questions in a business related soap forum asking how others promoted their soap making classes. One of the responses truly surprised me. Having working in associations and using this tactic for nearly 10 years when I wasn't footing the bill, it made perfect sense. Plus, the programs I were selling were worth the acquisition cost. What did the person suggest? Direct Mail.
Here is the breakdown on why this isn't recommended as a marketing tool for the average handmade business without a prospect list.
1 - You have to buy addresses for your list.
To mail via USPS's direct mail feature you can select just the folks in your zip code within certain perimeters. Just for my one zip code, the cost of just postage, is $898.16. Needless to say, by being in the DC area, I'll have a few more zip codes that I will need to add and this cost will go up exponentially.
2 - The cost of the piece to produce
Between the graphic designer, printing, and getting the piece to the post office - it all adds up. I work with a few designers and I would be looking at about $500 to just design the piece. To print the postcards (I would go with a 6"x11" so it stands out more) would add another $547.75 before shipping costs.
Running total so far: $1945.91
3 -The response rate
Mailing cold to a list you've never used before will get low 1% response rate according to the Direct Mail Association. We've mailed to 4,908 houses (see pt 1) so that means 49 people will go to the URL on the direct mail. We can then assume that about 5% of the 49 may purchase something from you or 2.45 people. Using the example of my soap classes, that means 2.45 people may have purchased the $75 class earning me a revenue of $150.
But what did it cost to make that revenue?
Let's go back to our numbers. Between the cost of the addresses and the production costs we are at $1945.91. (We'll be nice and say our .45 of a person is actually a 3rd person so we really made a revenue of $225). We divide 1945.91/3 and that means it cost us $648.64 PER PERSON to make $225.
That's right. It cost $648.64 per person. Now, if I was selling recurring memberships to a gym or birthday services or rides to the moon, this cost-per-acquisition isn't unreasonable. For a small business selling handmade items, this money would be better spent elsewhere.
Stay tuned for situations for when direct mail IS a smart use of your businesses revenue.
I've been attending and working at trade shows for years. Between my parents dragging me along to expos to shop for their businesses to my nearly 10 years in the association industry, I'm constantly working on or attending something. All of this experience helped, and at times, hindered my trade show prep. This was my first time representing my own brand and products. That makes this first Suds trade show unique for me. It was also my first time working on a micro budget. I've designed booths that were triple the size of the my Suds booth that had 1,000 times the budget. Working with a few hundred dollars versus tens of thousands was challenging - to say the least.
Here are my top 3 tips for having the best trade show experience for your creative business.
Invest in good flooring.
When we put in our soap kitchen, our contractor saved the carpet and padding he pulled up. It was a lifesaver for the budget because I didn't have to pay for flooring (it's mandatory to put down some sort of flooring). Standing for days on concrete floors kills your back, knees, feet and well, your entire body. I thought the padding and carpet would help alleviate some of that pain and it did to a certain extent. When I looked at everyone else's flooring choices I saw this foam tile flooring. I didn't know this existed until I saw it in the expo hall. All of the trade show booths I've built have always used carpet because it is more professional in that setting. But for the craft/handmade businesses this foam tile is the best invention ever. I'm upgrading our flooring for our next show. I'll be getting a ton of tiles to use. Plus, I can use them during our craft shows to make standing for hours, days, and weeks easier on my body.
Take this Creative Live Class
I love Megan Auman. Her classes on Creative Live are thoughtful and super helpful. I can't recommend her wholesale class enough. She covers every aspect of the wholesale trade show. I felt super prepared for our event because I had watched her class and was able to implement several of her strategies. I was able to present a level of confidence at the trade show because I knew what the buyers were expecting. I even saved several of the sessions to my MacBook so I could watch them in the evenings after the show had closed. This way I was constantly in the selling mindset and learning how to improve.
Get a Lead Scanner
I was dumbfounded at the sheer lack of people scanning badges. I found out from the show organizers that I was one of TWO people to use the scanner. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it isn't cheap. Yes it gave me nearly 100 stores to EASILY add to my marketing campaigns. I didn't have to try to look up people, remember details or anything of that nature. When I had 10 buyers in my booth all I had to do saw scan their badge, add a few notes in the app if I wanted to, and move to the next buyer. The lead scanner is ALWAYS worth the money. Always. I have a spreadsheet of names, email addresses, physical locations and store names all because I spent a few more dollars and go the scanner. If you are of the mindset that buyers will have business cards and you can just collect them, think again. Buyers never bring enough cards. What are you going to do then? What you do is scan their badge and you have everything you need.