Is the Web the best place to market and sell craft items?
Sales and Customer Service mentor Lillian Vernon responds to the following question from an inc.com user: I design floral wreaths and other craft items in my home office. I'm wondering if online sales and marketing are right for these types of products; for about one and one-half years I have been affiliated with a Web site that sells products, including craft items -- to no avail. I have also been involved with numerous boutiques and stores, to which I had to pay a significantly large "booth fee", and on top of that, I had to pay a percentage. At this point I don't know how and where to market my products. Is an online presence going to make that much of an impact on my business?
Lillian Vernon's response: Being an expert and an advocate of catalog shopping, why not try selling your floral wreaths to home and dé cor catalogs, including Lillian Vernon. Wreaths, particularly seasonal ones, are very popular items that tend to sell well in mail order catalogs. There are many established catalogs that you can contact. Try researching them through the Direct Marketing Association by either calling the organization for a directory of catalogs or browsing the DMA website. The web is a terrific way to research all the catalogs that compete for a share of the home dé cor market. Once you have located several you feel are compatible, call and get the name of whoever is in charge of New Product Development. Send them a letter introducing yourself, your products and services, samples of your best wreaths and information about your company.
You must be persistent in terms of follow-up. You may get some rejections, but you are bound to have one or two catalogs who are willing to see you in person.
I believe that marketing your products in a mail order catalog will bring you more orders than your current online ventures and will cost you less than what you are currently paying to advertise in boutiques and stores.