That is Katie Hunt’s advice for makers who want to reach retailers and have their handmade goods sold in boutiques and shops.
Wholesale accounts allow you to move more product while spending less time and money on packaging and shipping. Plus stockists put your goods in buyer’s hands without requiring you to spend the whole day staffing a craft show booth.
But landing those coveted retail accounts isn’t always easy. It takes a little hustle and a whole lot of persistence. Hence Katie’s advice.
To help you get your foot in the door, Katie detailed her tiered outreach approach in the class, Wholesale Marketing to Retailers.
1. Snail mail is still legit.
Direct mail “is a really great option for your initial outreach.” Photos go a really long way when you are doing mailings. And you don’t need to mail anything big. Standard envelope sized mailers give you enough real estate to feature your products and include that all-important contact information. As a bonus, include a catalog or a handwritten note.
2. Personal email is not professional.
“Never reach out to just ‘check-in’ or ‘see how they are doing.’ Nobody has time for that!” Add value. This is a business relationship and your job is to make the buyer’s life easier. Send an email when you are: making an initial introduction, releasing new products, running promotions, attending special events or a tradeshow, launching collaborations, or offering behind the scenes info.
3. Up your game with an email blast.
Building an impressive mailing list? It might be time time to start an email newsletter. There are lots of good email service providers: MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, ConvertKit. All of these tools make it easy to track open rates and really gauge the return on your investment.
4. Use social media smarts.
“You never want to use it as a platform for pitching.” Social media is a great forum for nurturing informal relationships, but it isn’t the place to do business with retailers. Be sure to read their cues and conduct formal business through their preferred business communications channels. Think: business email, online forms, or the post box.
5. In-person appointments? Maybe…
This works great for some folks, but Katie doesn’t generally recommend it. Why? It eats up lots of your time and the buyer’s time. Buyers and owners of retail shops have plenty on their plate, but if they do seem game for an in-person appointment, make sure it is scheduled! You never want to inadvertently wreck an opportunity by dropping in at the wrong time.
Wholesaling to retailers is many maker’s dream. If you are ready to make your dream a reality and sustainably grow your handmade business, check out, A Beginner’s Guide to Wholesaling and Wholesale Marketing to Retailers.