If your handmade business is suffering because of Coronavirus, I want to help.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 5 ways to get your business back in shape and making sales again.
Hi! I’m Mei, and I help makers, artists and designers create a consistent income selling their handmade products online.
If you’re still freaking out because of the Coronavirus, I get it. It’s affecting everyone.
On top of all the personal stuff you need to take care of like buying toilet paper, staying inside with the kids for what feels like forever, so much hand-washing, and all the new health safety habits you need to adopt, you also have to think about your business.
I’m not going to beat around the bush: the Coronavirus outbreak is devastating for many small businesses.
It’s a scary time. So many things are uncertain. There’s no playbook for what to do and that’s why I want to help because these tips I’m about to share with you have proven to work by my and other people’s businesses during this tough time.
I’ve been in the online business world long enough to notice some trends. In a time of crisis, most customers cut back on luxury items and a lot of discretionary spending.
But, they don’t stop spending completely.
In fact, I’ve seen first hand that people will continue to spend money in ways that make their lives more comfortable. So today, I’m going to talk about strategies for micro-pivoting.
There are many ways you can pivot your business without completely reinventing it, but I’d like to focus on your product specifically. That is, how can you highlight your products that will appeal to customers in the current circumstances.
This is the micro-pivot. The process of looking at your products with fresh eyes and change your marketing strategy accordingly.
But of course, we’re not going to be sleazy. We’re not going to start hoarding and selling hand sanitizer insanely high prices.
The goal is to keep our businesses going.
Here are a few strategies that are working for businesses right now, including my own. Tiny Hands, my jewelry business, has maintained in sales compared to this same time last year and for me and my husband’s new print on demand art shop online, we’re making really big months. I’m talking like, $40,000 in sales months. It’s crazy.
1. Appeal to Comfort
That’s in large part why people are still spending despite the economy going down and people losing jobs.
People are stressed out.
Yes, there are a lot of free ways to de-stress like gardening, exercising, meditating, or talking to friends, but let’s not forget, one major way of relieving stress is shopping.
Treating yourself to presents and things that make you feel good is something lots of people do. People will never stop spending money.
It gives people a dose of dopamine, which makes them feel happy.
Let me give you an example. Think of things like chocolate chip cookies and warm apple pie. It makes you feel comforted, right? So if you sell soaps or candles, for example, you might want to place increased emphasis on promoting these comforting scents.
Also, spend some time thinking about what people like to do at home. A lot of my friends are painting their living rooms! Do you sell home decor, or can you turn your products into home decor? Something that makes your home cozier?
This applies to clothing as well! People buy cozy things to wear at home. Sales of hoodies are up, dresses are down. Brainstorm ways you can help people be happy at home.
2. Give Your Customers Something to Do
People are obviously spending time at home, so think about if you have any products that offer people something to do, like an activity.
If you don’t have a product like that, could you easily make a spin-off product without totally making a completely new shop?
Do you or can you sell kits?
One of my friends, Larissa Loden makes jewelry and she usually sells finished jewelry that's ready to wear. But in light of Covid-19, she started selling Quarantine Craft Kits to make your own bracelets. It’s such a brilliant idea and it makes for a great gift.
Other ideas for you, if you’re an artist or illustrator, can you make coloring pages of your illustrations or fun games and activities?
Another friend of mine, Kimberly Taylor-Pestell from Lacelit.com makes a Printable Download called the Indoor Doing Kids Activities Pack. It’s filled with super cute and whimsical illustrations she hand draws herself, and it includes twenty different activities kids can do, like games, puzzles, coloring pages, and crafts. It’s super cute.
Anything that can entertain kids or even grownups is flying out the door.
If you’re an illustrator, can you convert your art to black-and-white and make it a coloring page? Can you make your printables downloadables?
3. Make Shopping with You Easy
If customers can’t get outside much to do shopping and it’s in your supply chain, consider offering your single items as part of a whole kit.
For example, if you sell yarn, consider making an entire knitting bundle. Or if you make soaps, put together a bath package with a loofah and a playlist of relaxing songs.
Yeah, it definitely involves a bit more work, but if you can go above and beyond, you can make this work and you’re giving people reasons to buy from you while you’re supporting them through this weird time. And sales are a good thing.
Like Larissa Loden.Larissa sells jewelry, but she’s recently started selling greeting cards as well because knowing her customers, she knows many of them are buying her jewelry as gifts. So while I’m sure it was a bit of work for Larissa to source greeting cards, maybe even design them herself and get them printed, now she’s become a one-stop gift shop and she’s making people’s shopping experience easier and more enjoyable.
It’s a no brainer for them to buy from her.
I’ve also seen bigger businesses do something similar to this. I was browsing through DoorDash last week, and a sandwich restaurant here in LA was offering grocery items on their menu in addition to their regular ready-made food. So you could buy things like bread, milk, avocados, vegetables, eggs and so on.
Of course, they’re charging a premium than if you bought them at a regular supermarket, but you’re getting convenience and lots of people are willing to pay a premium for that!
4. Be Budget Conscious
Do you have items available for people with smaller budgets? We’re going through tighter financial times right now, and introducing a range of lower-priced, more accessible products will appeal to a wider range of customers.
Maybe you can offer a smaller version of your products or a twist of your product that takes you less time to produce.
Customers you acquire now will likely stay with you when the pandemic is over as they’re probably more supportive of small businesses. That means they’ll come back for your full-scale products later on.
Even if the Coronavirus wasn’t happening right now, I always believed and taught my students that you should always have a diverse range of product prices.
You should aim to have three tiers. One upscale, high end and premium tier, a middle tier and a lower, more affordable tier.
A lot of customers start out and buy initially at the lowest tier, and over months and years, eventually level up to buying your more premium products later on. It’s a marketing strategy, where businesses will spend the time and resources creating a higher end product with no intention to sell it at all, but the sole purpose is to help price anchor and set the tone for the perceived value of the other products in their shop.
And you know what happens? It makes their middle tier products become that much more attractive, and people flock to buy those only because it had the help of a higher priced product to set the expectation.
Consider running a sale. It’s not a secret that for people who’ve been laid off, that money is tight and you may be sitting on extra inventory because sales are down.
I’ve always harped that you don’t want your money or cash to be stuck in too much inventory. All those printed t-shirts sitting in a box in your garage? That’s money, but it’s not worth anything to anyone if it’s just sitting there collecting dust.
If it works for you, this could be the time to offer a discount to keep your income stream rolling.
More people are shopping online than ever before, so consider running a sale or a fun event to grab some of those shoppers! Don’t worry that running sales trains your customers to wait to buy from you only when you’re doing a sale.
- If people want to buy something, they’re going to buy it now. Most people don’t have the patience to wait months until you run a sale. It’s like an itch that needs to be scratched.
- You’re definitely not at risk of this unless you’re doing a sale like every month. If you’re doing it just a few times a year, no one’s going to remember your last sale because most people aren’t going to be that close attention to your shop. They've got too much going on, and their attention is pulled by so many other brands and shops and content out there.
If you found this video helpful, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe for more helpful tips like this for your handmade business.As always, if you have tips of your own you’d like to share with me and our Creative Hive community, let us know in the comments!. Stay on to watch this next video on the screen for more business tips and advice. Thanks for watching!