Dear Design Doctor
Christmas is coming and I really need it to be a good one! I am a jeweller and this year has been very unpredictable, so I want to get the most out of this years’ Christmas. What should I do?
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, answered this question as The Design Doctor in the 250th issue (!) of Crafts Magazine September/October 2014 (page 30) where it was titled ‘How to have a happy Christmas’.
A good Christmas period is often key to a successful and sustainable crafts business.
Many makers earn the vast majority of their turnover in the last 12 weeks of the year.
To be honest it’s getting a little late into the buying season to approach retailers and galleries now. Most will have ordered their stock by mid September, although it might be worthwhile to get in touch with some specific or previous stockists.
Make sure that you do your research and know who else they are stocking, and if it’s the right place for your work. Approach them directly with an email or put an exquisite buyer’s pack together with a great visual wholesale price list.
(If you want to learn more about selling to shops and galleries check out this great online course and ebook by Clare Yuille. If you want to sell to bigger retailers, get this very practical book by Clare Rayner.)
Your main focus now should be about selling directly to consumers.
Firstly check if there are any good craft or jewellery shows, Open Studios or popup events still available for you to exhibit and sell. Ask your peers and make sure that your kind of clients attend the event you want to show at. (Check out our selected opportunities for any potential last minute opportunities)
If you want to sell at the main Christmas craft shows such as Made London, Handmade in Britain or Dazzle next year, then make sure that you apply in time. Most of the best shows have deadlines in the Spring.
Secondly make sure that your website or online shop is in perfect order.
Show each piece to its best with great images, showing the detail of your craftsmanship. Spend a little time to write a product description and tag each image with the best key words so that your products will be much easier to find. Describe your product, materials, colours, and who it is for in great detail.
This is especially crucial on very popular market places such as Etsy or NotOnTheHighStreet.
One of the best ways to promote yourself and your products is by sending a regular newsletter. Early September is a good time to work on your database, encourage your web visitors to sign up, and to learn about e-newsletter software and best practice.
In the run up to Christmas I suggest that you go from a monthly email to a fortnightly or even weekly email, ideally sent at the same day and time each week.
Don’t send a boring newsletter, but show off your brand values, craftsmanship and colour!
Create a well-designed template and focus on images.
Invite your readers to your Christmas selling events.
Provide gift solutions to your readers, and little anecdotes about your work. Make their lives easier with gift wrapping options, present your (gift) packaging, and include testimonials from previous clients to build trust.
Use social media in a creative way, while being useful for your audience. Share your stunning images with short stories, and use clickable links to the specific product page. Use a twitter planning tool such as Buffer to help you plan in advance and to have a consistent (not overwhelming) social media presence.
These last minute marketing tips can really help your sales this Christmas.
But, Christmas is too important to just do a quick fix.
If you want your sales to soar, you’ll need to work on Christmas all year round …
Plan where you want to be in 12 months’ time, where you want to sell (both brick & mortar, online and selling events).
Research the best places for your work and start developing a relationship with buyers and press. Approach them with great images of your work and a relevant, friendly and personal intro letter or email.
Research who buys your jewellery:
WHAT gender and age are they?
WHY and WHEN do they buy jewellery (is it a statement piece or for day-to-day wear, is it for a special anniversary or person)?
WHEN do they wear your jewellery?
HOW much do they want to spend?
What other jewellery and fashion brands do they wear?
What style do they like?
How do they want to feel when they give your jewellery, or wear it?
Jewellery in particular is a very personal and emotive gift purchase, and you really need to start digging a little deeper into the motivations and preferences of your clients and people who wear your jewellery. Identify 3 different client groups and create a collage or buyers’ persona or biography for each.
Then, when you create your new collections in Spring next year take these observations into account to create more relevant and unique jewellery, specifically created for your dream clients.
Create an (online) brand and web shop with beautiful images and styling that attracts your clients and launch your site and or collection in early September.
Stay in touch throughout the year, and your Christmas sales will be twinkling!