Three Questions with Megan Auman ~ January 2014
Please welcome the fabulous Megan Auman – jeweller, business strategist, artist, designer, brilliant entrepreneur, and my lovely friend. Megan is going to be stopping by every other month to answer three of your burning questions – think of her a little like a whip-smart, no-nonsense business advice columnist.
Take it away, Megan…
1. Do you announce it to the world that you’re raising your prices, or not say anything? Do I have to justify it all to existing customers and shop stockists – or simply say it’s what’s happening? Do I give notice for people to buy up before we raise our prices or just do it? Do I announce it on all our social media, or just on our website page and blog?
First off, congrats on your success and on the decision to raise prices! It sounds like it’s a necessary step for your business.
When it comes to raising prices, you have several options. If you didn’t have any stockists, I’d say just go ahead and raise them. Typically, when you announce a price increase, it’s a good way to boost sales, but it sounds like you don’t need it. So on the retail side, go ahead and just raise them.
Now for your stockists. I’d give them the courtesy of picking a deadline. (I like January 1st and July 1st as price increase dates because they coincide with trade show season, but any date a few months out is fine.) Let your stores know that pricing will be going up, but you’re happy to honour your existing prices until the deadline.
You can also let your stores know that your retail prices have gone up now. Stores can then decide to continue selling their existing merchandise at it’s current price, or to go ahead and raise retail prices now, giving them a little extra profit!
One last thing. Don’t feel the need to justify the price increase to your customers. If your work is awesome (which it is) and people love it (which they do), no one will be surprised by a slight price increase. It’s obviously deserved.
2. I have an Etsy shop and blog but haven’t built up my email list yet. I have about 200 sales and that’s 200 people’s email addresses I have. Is it okay to contact those people with offers? Or because I only have their addresses because of sales are they off limits? Or can I somehow offer them a way to sign up to my email list?
This one is a tricky one. Technically, you can’t just add these names to your email list, because that’s spam. (And this isn’t just impolite, it’s the law.) But, you certainly want to encourage your existing customers to join your list.
The best thing to do is send each customer a personalized follow up email, checking to see how they liked your order, and encouraging them to sign up to your mailing list for updates. You can even include an incentive, like free shipping or a coupon code good for their next order, to get them to sign up for your list.
This solution isn’t the most time effective, but it is the least spammy. Your customers will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to reach out to them personally (don’t forget to ask how things were with their order!) and that will make them more likely to join your list (and purchase again) than spamming them with someone generic or just adding them to your list without their permission.
What do you do if your most valued customer does not live in your area? Such as if I live in the country but my customer is a high-end city girl?
This question is so near and dear to my heart because it’s the exact situation I’ve been in throughout my entire business! I like in the country (in central Pennsylvania) but my customers tend to be in cities and dense inner suburbs in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, and northern California. Definitely not where I live!
While it can be more challenging when you don’t live in the same area as your customer, it’s not impossible. Just by acknowledging that your customer doesn’t live where you live, you are saving yourself so much wasted energy.
I’ve found that the best way to reach customers who don’t live near you is through wholesale. Identify the stores in the areas where you know your customer lives and start reaching out to see if they might be interested in your product. Tell the stores a little about your customer and let them know that it’s likely a shared customer.
Wholesaling to stores where your customer lives is a great way to reach that customer, but it’s not the only way. You can also research craft shows that might be in that area, pitch your products to local and regional publications, or even advertise in an area if it makes sense to help drive traffic to your online store. The beauty of being online is that you no longer have to live where your customer lives to grow a successful business.
Got a question for Megan Auman?
Leave it in the comments below or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s direct to Megan Eckman, Assistant Editor).