The new year is a fresh start.
As an illustrator I look forward to trying out brand new ideas, improving on what is already working, and maybe even cleaning up my product offering to create a leaner, stronger line.
Every January I really enjoy digging into my previous year’s sales and analysing what went well (and what fell flat) with my products.
I like to think of it as a mini product overhaul. Looking back at a full 12 month period can inform me of what my customer would probably like to see more of, which will hopefully lead to stronger sales.
Here are the 3 things I recommend you consider during thisprocess:
1. Analyse last year’s sales trends and identify your best sellers. Then decide how you can build upon their success.
When I analysed my 2013 sales I found that my Safari Animal illustrations were my best sellers. With that in mind I decided to expand the series with two new animal:, a monkey and a tiger. In 3-6 months I will review how the new illustrations have been received. Hopefully by reviewing 2013’s sales trends I can get a jump start on a successful 2014.
Did you have a design that did particularly well? What can you do to build upon its success?
2. Have a slow moving item? Is the idea good? Is it a solid illustration? Is it great design? Maybe it’s time to change the medium.
Example: Last year I released an 8×10 art print called “January Bear”. Although the design was solid, the print was not selling very well even after several months. Discouraged, I was about to pull the design altogether when I decided to try out the illustration on a different product: a single colour screen printed tea towel.
The illustration was so much stronger in this new medium! Almost instantly this bear towel was selling. This soon led to us offering themed tea towel sets, where we sold the bear towel with accompanying fox and owl tea towels as a bundle. And the forest animal towel bundle is my best selling bundle to date.
Do you have a product that might just need some tweaking? Try this exercise and see what you can come up with!
3. Do you have a product line that has done well in the past but sales have been steadily declining? Maybe it is time to retire some existing products to make room for new offerings.
I have a large product line, and because I have an online shop I can literally offer as many products as I want. However, I have learned over the years that a leaner, stronger line can actually be of benefit (especially if you are wanting to transition to wholesale at some point).
When I noticed that some of my previously better selling illustrations (an alphabet series that stylistically seemed different from my existing illustrations) had steadily been declining, I make the decision to remove them from my catalogue altogether. Trends change over time. And it is okay to retire products to make room to introduce new work that not only keeps of with current styles, but is well received with your customer base.
Can you tighten up your product offerings?