Handmade at Amazon, Etsy, West Elm Local, Art Basel, The Collection MoDA- yeah, we roll with the big boys-; All these brands have one thing in common: a commitment to helping makers [the movers and shakers of the world!] grow their businesses by creating essential commercial opportunities for them. A maker movement is evident. Persons are now, more than ever, actively seeking unique, handmade and locally-made products and increasingly supporting small artisan brands over those that mass produce. Not only do makers help local economies and preserve cultures, but they also provide customers with the confidence that purchased items are one-of-a-kind and are less-likely to be seen everywhere, and owned by everyone. So you’re pretty awesome, sure. But if you want to join the revolution, at least be ready…
“Opportunity Dances With Those Already On The Dance Floor”
Always be pitch ready
An entrepreneur needs to know everything about their business and be able to explain it at a moments notice because business opportunities can happen anywhere at any time. The same is expected of you as a maker, whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not. If you’re looking to close a sale with any customer, whether buyer or end user, you need to be confident and represent your brand well.
Practice explaining what your business does in one clear sentence. This way, you won’t waste anyone’s time and you’ll know immediately if they’re interested or not if they decide to continue the conversation and ask more questions.
A good frame to follow for your one-liner is to tell persons why you’re special or your reason for making the product, who you serve and what you do; any order is fine.
Example: I make sandals for females with shoe sizes 10 & up because I wear a size 11 shoe and would always struggle to find a stylish pair in stores.
Clear, to the point and I’d definitely wanna see those sandals!
This also applies to your prices, order quantities and anything else a buyer will ask you about your products. No buyer will take you seriously if your response is something along the lines of “I’m not sure...it depends on the product” or “for this one maybe I could give you a 20% discount”. Uncertainty about your business is the fastest way to lose a sale. You may have gotten away with it before but as you try to progress in business you won’t get very far with buyers who maintain industry standards. If you want to continue to create your art as a hobby then that’s totally fine, but! If you want to sell it then you have to operate as a professional.
Here are some of the things you will probably be asked:
1. What is your wholesale price? What is your retail price?
You have to keep track of and be aware of your costs, so that you can know how to price your products to make a profit, while satisfying everyone else involved in the buying process.
2. What is your minimum order quantity? What’s your maximum?
To answer this, you’ll need to be aware of your production capacity i.e. based on your current available resources how many products can you possibly make in a specific amount of time?
3. How have your products tested in the market so far?
Who are your competitors? Are your current prices competitive? What have your customers told you for feedback? Analyze your current situation.
4. How is your product packaged?
It’s good to always have samples on hand whenever possible.
5. How do I use it? What are the care instructions for your product?
Try to avoid persons having to ask these questions. Ensure that along with your product packaging you include any necessary cards or tags with instructions on product use and care.
6. Who do you currently distribute your product with?
It’s also great to have the following materials on hand when trying to make a sale:
If you don’t want the hassle of carrying around physical copies, have a soft copy file ready to email to anyone upon request. The point is to be ready.
As a MoDA Maker, you’ll have access to preliminary business consultations and workshops that will help you be buyer ready!
Quality Control is your best friend
Yes, you are a small brand in its early stages and you’re still figuring out your product’s development. But is that a worthy excuse for poor product finishes and packaging? Nah. Get CREATIVE! Do some research, call or ask around to find the best cost and time-effective solutions.
Maybe your products are good right now, and through engaging your customers you’re figuring out how to make them GREAT. However, you still need to deliver the best version of ‘good’ you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to invest quality materials either, your customers will pay higher prices if they believe your products are worth it. It’s better than the alternative of losing a potential loyal customer because your product didn’t last very long after purchase or wasn’t very good at carrying out its function. The key is to ensure that the price you’re charging for your products matches the quality delivered.
There are a lot of businesses and retailers that love supporting makers, especially local ones, because of the potential you have to transform industries. However, a majority of them often leave interactions with makers disappointed and turned off by the lack of preparation and knowledge shown. So, it’s up to you to prepare yourself for the opportunities you want to create! These are just two small, but vital, steps you can take towards becoming buyer ready; You’ll learn the rest along your MoDA journey!
Written by: Noelle Black