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CT Podcast Ep 7 – Customer Service Do’s and Don’ts at Markets and Shows

It’s so important to be your best self when you’re selling your wares at a market or show. Often people make some big mistakes in how they present themselves and engage with their potential customer.

Kath and I talk about this very issue in this month’s Conversation podcast.

Kath has around 15 years of retail experience – including selling at many markets. Her training from larger chain stores has meant that she knows the tried and tested techniques we discuss to ensure a great customer experience.

We discuss her two pet peeves:

  1. Sitting down all day at your stall
  2. Not acknowledging your customer

And many more do’s and don’ts.

The most important part about the customer experience is that they leave your stall feeling like they were valued and that you were interested in what they had to say.

With these simple tips, you’ll be selling like a pro in no time!

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • Dress to impress but suit your brand aesthetic.
  • Smile or at least look like you’re enjoying being at the event.
  • If at all possible, don’t sit down. If you absolutely have to, only sit when customers aren’t around and stand when you see someone close to your stall.
  • Don’t read, play on your phone, or work on a project which is ‘all consuming’.
  • No need to be someone you’re not!
  • Choose something you genuinely like about their appearance and say out loud what you’re already thinking.
  • Don’t ever lie, or bend the truth.
  • “You can lose a sale, but you’ll keep the customer by being honest.” {Kath}
  • People flock to where there are other people and often will come over to see what everyone else is looking at.
  • Tidy your stall from the customer side of the table.
  • Chat to your neighbour but stop immediately if a customer comes over (and flag this with your neighbours beforehand).
  • Instead of reading or knitting, try discreetly writing info down about the customers who approach your stall to use this as ‘ideal customer’ info.
  • Have business cards, your brand name on your bags and anything else which will help the customer remember you when they get home.
  • “Verbally tell your customers which social media platforms you’re on if appropriate.” {Kath}
  • Ask customers to sign up for your mailing list.

Download/Listen to this Episode

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’)


 

Do you struggle with selling at markets and shows? Are you ever left wondering why your neighbours are making a profit but you’re barely covering stall fees?

Our self-study e-course will teach you what you need to know to not only become an effective salesperson – but to actually even relax into and enjoy the process!

 

Why I Turned Off My Notifications

 

 

 

I have been running a business in some form for around 5 years now. Over that time, social media has become increasingly more important to the success of online and bricks & mortar stores to get their brand ‘out there’ and to entice customers to purchase from your store.

I started with a Facebook page, which was a great tool back then.

I had lots of followers who were interested and engaged and I enjoyed chatting directly to them to understand my customers better and foster relationships.

I started a Twitter account and while I wasn’t as great at using this platform, it was still a fabulous way to connect with people and chat in real time.

Instagram was my next new love and I became a little obsessed with it over the last few years posting multiple times a day and about all aspects of my business. Of course there are photos of my dogs and my life on there too.

For all this time, I had push notifications turned on for all three platforms (plus more) to alert me of every like, every new liker and comments which were made on my latest post or photo.

Initially, it was exhilarating – people wanted to talk to me – they liked me!

Soon I was spending almost every waking moment stopping to look at my phone as it lit up with notifications, and I would flick open my phone and see who was connecting with me.

Sometimes I would be opening my phone more than 100 times a day to look at my social media accounts, reply to people, like photos in return for the likes I received.

And I was dying a little inside.

My husband spent most of his time asking “what are you doing?,” and my reply was always, “I’m working!”

One day I asked him to help me make my phone run faster. It was going so slowly and it was pretty frustrating.

He looked at my notifications and asked if I realised that I had 150 apps which were all ‘pinging’ me with notifications.

For some reason, this made a huge change in me.

I was kind of embarrassed that I had all these things which were taking up my life and my time… unnecessary things.

So I turned them all off; every single one of them.

And do you know what… I’m so much happier! I have so much more time too.

Now, instead of being governed by my phone, I have set aside time to look at my social media accounts.

I decide when I want to be active online, rather than being at the mercy of my notifications.

I can now sit with my husband and chat without being distracted by the incessant ‘pinging’ of my phone, and I feel happier.

I honestly had no idea what sort of effect it was having on me and if I could impress one thing upon you today it’s this:

Your Facebook page, IG account and any other social media will be sitting waiting for you when you’re ready to interact with it. Turn off your notifications!

Now I feel so much lighter – I’m freed from my notification gaoler!

So, is it time for you to turn off your notifications, too?

Why I No Longer Sell Wholesale (but Why you Might Want to…)

 

 

 

 

You’ve probably hear me say that I don’t sell my jewellery via wholesale.

What you might NOT know is that I have (I even had an agent for a while)!

I first sold Epheriell jewellery via wholesale back in (I think) 2010. I was lucky enough to have a shop reach out to me and ask if I sold my jewellery wholesale (because until that point, I hadn’t even considered it!).

Of course, after the initial ‘yay!’, panic quickly set it – I had NO idea how to go about selling my work via wholesale!

What followed was a mad scramble to educate myself about the process – to put together terms and conditions; to work out what my minimum order would be; to decide what pieces I would wholesale, and which I wouldn’t… and the list goes on.

I struggled to find clear, simple, actionable info on how to make this wholesale gig a success, and I muddled my way through that first wholesale order. To be honest, I muddled my way through the next few, too.

Eventually, I sorta got the hang of it, and I enjoyed selling to boutiques – it was nice to think of my jewellery being ‘out there’ in the world where new people could find it!

So – why don’t I sell wholesale any more?

One simple reason: I’m far too busy with my direct retail sales!

I LOVE the internet (in case you couldn’t tell) and my goal was always to build up my online business, selling direct to my customers.

So for me, wholesale was a stepping stone towards that ultimate goal, rather than the goal in and of itself.

Why am I telling you this story? Because I want you to know that everyone is different, and that even if wholesaling your work isn’t your ultimate goal, it can be an awesome part of the process. And if it IS your ultimate goal, then you owe it to yourself to work out exactly how to make it happen!

 

There are so many benefits to selling via wholesale.

They include:

  • Earning bigger chunks of money in one go – and the potential to earn WAY more money WAY faster than you would building up only a direct-to-customer business.

 

  • Gaining a certain ‘legitimacy’ and reputation for your business – there’s something special about having your work chosen and stocked in stores. Someone (the store buyer) has already assessed your work and decided you stand out above the crowd. And how cool would it be to walk into your favourite boutique (or somewhere like Anthropologie) and see your work on the shelves?

 

  • You’ve heard the saying ‘it’s easier to retain customers than it is to gain customers’, right? Well, think if it terms of wholesale. Say you want to sell 100 pieces. Selling direct, that’s probably going to mean gaining almost 100 new customers… but if you sell wholesale, it might mean selling 25 pieces to just 4 shops… who, if you treat them right, will order from you over and over again!

 

  • You don’t have to spend anywhere as much time on self-promotion via social media… because your stores promote and sell FOR you. That frees you up to spend more time – you guessed it – actually designing and making!

 

  • You don’t have to drag yourself away from your family (or your bed) of a weekend to do markets. And, if you aren’t comfortable selling direct to people in a market setting, all the better. This is YOUR business – do it your way. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.

 

  • You don’t have to rely on online sales – which can be an absolute relief when you are building your business, and those sales are still few and far between.

 

These are just some of the reasons why I decided to create Wholesale Know-How.

I heard from so many of you that you were struggling to build an online direct-to-customer business, and I knew that wholesale could be exactly what you need to light that fire under your business and really get it growing!

But, since I don’t class myself as an expert in selling via wholesale (even though I have done it many times) I invited my friend Mel to teach this course with me.

She IS an expert – someone with around 10 years experience selling wholesale (she’s sold handmade cards, fabric, jewellery…) who currently runs a thriving wholesale-based handmade jewellery biz.

 

Registration for the course closes today. Register right here.

The course starts on 25th May and runs for 30 days (with an optional extra module which will teach you all about how be successful at a Trade Fair).

As with all Create & Thrive courses, you get lifetime access to both the content and the private course forum!

If after reading this, you know that selling wholesale is something you want to aim for, don’t miss it!

Jess x

P.S. If you have any questions after reading the course page, ask below!

P.P.S. Yes, you can do this course even if you don’t live in Australia! It’s written to be applicable to anyone who wants to sell their handmade goods, no matter where you are in the world.

How to Sell More at a Trade Show

 

 

 

 

 

For any first-time exhibitors at a trade show it can be an exciting but daunting experience. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of exhibiting at the Life Instyle Sydney exhibition. It’s one of a handful of retail trade exhibitions that occur twice a year, connecting business owners of products and brands directly with retailers.

If you are unfamiliar with trade shows, these differ to weekend markets in that all products are sold on a wholesale basis, with the buyer (shop owners) ordering at the trade show. Exhibitors later fulfil the order by providing the stock after the trade show period has ended.

As thousands of potential buyers can pass your stand, it literally pays to be prepared. Here are a few tips that I learnt through exhibiting at my own first trade show.

1. Set and know your terms and conditions inside and out

Your wholesale terms and conditions are the backbone of any wholesale transaction with a buyer.

Terms and conditions define certain obligations and outline key points of the selling agreement between the buyer and the seller (you!).

I recommend that terms and conditions include details of minimum order amounts, payment options, turn-around time, shipping details, and refund and cancellation policies.

Cancellations do occur from time to time and the last thing you want to be is out of pocket due to a buyer who has changed their mind.

2. Be prepared for buyers to ask you about ‘exclusivity’.

Exclusivity (also known as postcode block out) is a popular word at trade shows.

Buyers may ask you for exclusivity before placing an order.

Essentially this means that once an exclusivity agreement has been made between yourself and the retailer (and an order placed), you have committed to not selling your product to new buyers that operate stores within the neighbouring area, often within the same postcode.

This is one method that a buyer will use to ensure that their store does not stock the same products as competing neighbouring stores.

Having a well thought-out response to this question before exhibiting at the trade show is integral.  Determining whether you will offer exclusivity is a business decision and there is no right or wrong answer.

3. You need Line-sheets and business cards

At the end of the trade show you may feel like a nightclub promotional girl (or guy!), but handing out brochures, business cards and line sheets (or catalogues) to buyers is essential.

A good line sheet has a list of all your products currently available for wholesale purchase, each with a photo, an SKU or product code, wholesale price and a short description if necessary.

When asked for your line sheet don’t be afraid to ask for the buyer’s business card in return. This provides you with their contact details so you can follow up with them post trade show, should they fail to place an order.

My advice to you is to ensure you have enough line sheets printed and prepared well and truly before the tradeshow. I had the unfortunate experience of having to re-print hundreds of line sheets the day before flying out to the trade show after a printing error on my behalf.

It was a stressful experience that could have been avoided had I been organised with my line sheet 2-4 weeks prior to the trade show.

4. The days are LONG

Be mentally prepared for some seriously long hours. If you’re anything like me and spend most of your days sitting at your desk beavering away in quiet isolation, well… trade shows are the complete opposite.

Trade shows generally run between 8-11 hours a day over a 3-4 day period.

During this time you will be standing (not sitting!) and speaking to various interested buyers. While it is a challenge to appear permanently happy standing for ten hours a day it is important to greet each customer as if they are your first customer for the day.

Smile, be polite and answer the questions regardless of whether you’re at the end of a ten hour day. Impressions last with buyers and you want to make the purchasing experience pleasant and as easy as possible.

5. Provide a time sensitive sale for the trade show

To secure a few extra sales, it may be beneficial to have a time limited promotion that is valid only for orders placed at the trade show.

This could include offering a percentage off your wholesale amount, free shipping or a free product.

This may be all that’s needed to bump a waning buyer into a committed buyer.

6. Send your invoices immediately after the trade show

Yes, immediately.

Not next week, not even when you return to your home city, but after the trade show when you get back to your hotel.

It keeps your order fresh in the buyer’s mind and it allows them to prepare financially for your order. Buyers often attend multiple trade shows and buy from tens (or hundreds, depending on the size of the retailer!) of different exhibitors.

By doing so, it shows the buyer your commitment to fulfilling their order and keeps your business fresh in their mind.

Better yet, your invoice may be a given higher preference for quick payment than other invoices received at a later date.

7. You don’t have to do business with everyone

While it is tempting to accept orders from a diverse range of stores, I recommend that prior to accepting an order with a buyer you first learn about the type and style of store the buyer owns or is managing.

The best stores are the ones that attract customers who align with your ideal customer.

While uncommon, some exhibitors reject orders from certain industry retailers when there is a belief that the store is not suitable for their product. I heard of one exhibitor rejecting a $6000 order because they believed that the buyer’s franchise would potentially cheapen their brand!

 

Finally, for anyone who is contemplating attending a trade show, I would recommend first walking the trade show prior to applying to exhibit, so you can get the feel of how a trade show operates.

Exhibiting at a trade show can be hard work before, during and after the show.

However, it’s a rewarding experience with great opportunities not only to connect your business with buyers face-to-face, but also to meet and network with like-minded creatives to build lasting friendships.

If you want to expand your wholesale biz by attending trade shows, make sure to join us for Gold or Platinum Membership to the new C&T e-course: Wholesale Know-How.

Not only will you take part in a 30-day course that will teach you all you need to know to successfully wholesale your handmade goods to stores, Gold + Platinum Members will also receive an extra module of lessons that teach you everything you need to know to have a successful trade show – with all the nitty-gritty details.

Click here to register now!

Class starts May 25.

CT Podcast Ep 6 – Q&A

This is the very first of my series of Q&A Podcasts where you get to ask me your tricksy business questions and I’ll give you my best answers.

We had four questions from three Thrivers for this episode:

  1. How do you choose a specific product to sell; or, if you have too much variety in your shop?

  2. How do you prioritise the tasks that need to be done?

  3. How do you get confident in marketing your business?

  4. What actions on social media actually convert to sales and where is your time best spent?

There are so many things to chat about around these subjects and I go into some detail for each of them!

If you would like to ask me a question, I would love to hear from you!

Simply comment on this post below or email me with your business conundrum.

 

Quotes and Highlights from this Episode:

  • You need to pick one thing OR one style of thing you want to sell online and stick with that.
  • You can have lots of different things but you need to make sure that everything fits together.
  • OR pick one thing and do it really really well.
  • “If you want to make a business and make a profit from it, step back from it as a hobby and put your business brain on and make it a business”.
  • There is always more that you should/could be doing and you need to make peace with that.
  • 20% of your effort gives you 80% of results – what’s your 20%?
  • Think about this goal and then think about what steps you need to take to achieve that goal.
  • BOOK: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey.
  • If you’re getting distracted by phone notifications then put them out of reach or turn them off to keep you focused.
  • Usually we procrastinate instead of having a proper rest – get out and read, sit outside, go for a walk with your kids or something which isn’t work related. Don’t just check all your social media!
  • We struggle because we think marketing and selling is icky or sleazy and we don’t feel comfortable.
  • “Human beings thrive on stories. They are everywhere. They are an essential part of the human experience. All you need to do is work out what your story is and how it relates to your customer, how they will relate to it and the best way to tell it.”
  • You have to make that shift from talking ABOUT yourself to telling your story TO your customer.
  • Get strong on your brand and your story will help you to grow your confidence around marketing your business.
  • The most important thing you can do is spend time getting your photographs looking amazing.
  • Then definitely spend time on your SEO on your website and shop.
  • “Back in 2008, blogging really worked for me and it was really worthwhile. I built up a reputation and it built my SEO and traffic to my website.”
  • All the other social media is spokes on the wheel of your website which is where your shop and your blog should live.

 

Download/Listen to this Episode

 

(You can also subscribe to the podcast and listen to this episode on iTunes + Stitcher – just search ‘Create and Thrive’)

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