Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The beginning of a new year is always a slow time in the retail world, and this is true of handmade businesses as well. Often, we spend January and February making new stock, trying out new designs, and planning our show schedules for the busy seasons. It may take some of us a few months before we really see the impact the recession is having on our business. Yet, we need to be aware now so that we can act on recession proofing our business.
1) Marketing is more important now than ever. People are spending their money carefully. you must stay in the public eye even during your 'downtime'. In fact, this a great time to try out new marketing opportunities since you probably have more time on your hands.
2) Offer value added services. Do you offer gift wrapping? Throw in a simple handmade card for free with gift orders. If you sell aprons, maybe you could include a short recipe book you print on your computer with every order. Study your product and see what you can do to add value and make it stand out from the competition.
3)Review your sales pitch. You must focus on making your item a need rather than a want. Leave out words and phrases such as 'splurge' or 'treat yourself'. Most people are not focusing on themselves right now. Bath and body products are a prime example of items usually marketed as a splurge, when they actually do address a need. By focusing on the value and advantages that a handmade bar of soap offers while also addressing the need to be clean, people will not feel guilty purchasing your product.
5)Customer service is paramount. The big guys are already improving their customer service, are you? Make sure your customers know you are available to answer their questions and handle any problems they may have. Send a thank you note with every online purchase and include a card with contact information with every in person transaction. While customers love to meet artisans, they are also impressed by your professionalism. Maintain that professionalism in every aspect of your business.
6)Diversify your income. As a self employed artist, you don't have to worry about being laid off during a recession, but you do need to make sure you can pay your bills. You have many skills, and owning your own business makes you an expert in many peoples eyes. Find other ways to profit from your knowledge and product. You can teach classes on your craft in person, or sell tutorials and ebooks online. Content sites such as Associated Content and Ehow are a great place to share your knowledge while building up residual income. You can also focus articles or classes on small business topics. Find out of the box ways to both market your products and build alternate streams of income and you will have the ultimate recipe for success.
Recessions can be a nerve wracking time. Yet it is known that businesses that survive a recession will usually come out stronger and more profitable in the end.