10. March 2010 00:30
Many camps are finalizing there programs for the summer and coordinators are always looking for new and exciting activities for the kids to try. Offer to teach a class on candle making and use this time to send home information about your company. Even if the candles are not something you may sell it provides an opportunity to get your products in potential customer’s hands. The beeswax sheets and granulated wax are great projects for the children to do. The free publicity you get from this can pay dividends later and normally the time commitment is not overwhelming.
BASKETS, SOAP AND HOLDERS
Use the slower months to explore new extensions to your lines. Check out opportunities with other local businesses to see if gift baskets that include their products and your candles. This gives you partners that will help market your product as well as their own.
Use this time to see if possibly making soaps will fit into your product mix. Many of the fragrances you use for candles can be used in soap and the steps of melting, pouring and molding are similar. Cross marketing your candles with holders gives the consumers ideas on how to use and display there candle.
While the weather may be great outside and your phones might not be ringing, the summer can be a great opportunity to find new business. It will take extra work but in the current economic climate it will be necessary to survive during these times.
10. March 2010 00:26
Each year there are approximately 2-2.4 million weddings and the top month for weddings is August with about 11% taking place. The month of June is a close second with 9.9% of the weddings occurring. In addition to these weddings there are always engagement parties, showers and the wedding itself. All of these events can and do incorporate candles in some manner. Party favors for the shower or wedding is always a great choice for this market place. The more you can personalize these candles the more opportunities that will exist for you.
Use the summer months to explore all the online opportunities to offer your products for the fall season. There are all of the big names like Ebay, Amazon and Craig’s List. These sites are fairly easy to list and sell items but the competition is fierce so focus on something that makes your candles unique. While you may sell some of your candles at a loss at times during the summer you may find some new solid customers from these sales. If they are purchasing candles during the summer months think how many they may buy in the fall.
One of most well suited portals to sell candles would have to be Etsy. Their marketplace is selling only handmade items. They have lower fees, longer listing periods then Ebay and has an audience which is looking for all homemade products.
If you already have a website use this opportunity to “refresh” the look and add new products. As we have written before research the opportunities available to promote your site such as pay-per-click advertising, e-zine advertising and improving your organic listings.
10. March 2010 00:24
NEW SELLING VENUES
Despite the current economic situation people are still taking vacations or as the new term “Stayvacations”. They just may not be venturing as far as they did in the past. This is a great opportunity if you have a resort area close to you. Approach these retail stores and offer to sell your candles on a consignment basis. The retailer will like the idea in that it is another product they can sell and what helps them is they don’t have to pay for it right away or take a chance it will sell. Again make candles that are suited for the location or time of year and also possibly use special containers that the customer may not find in the traditional retail locations. The 100% recycled glassware is a great option in that none of the large manufacturers are using this type of glassware. Choose fragrances that truly fit the area you wish to sell if in a beach town fragrances like Cottage Breeze , Citrus Breeze or Coconut Lime. If the location is the mountains or lake; Cotton Blossom, Cool water or even Moonlight Path are excellent choices.
Another nontraditional approach would be to contact campground stores and offer either outdoor candles (check out March’s issue for the perfect candle) or was we have written in past issues fire starters are a natural extension of candle companies.
Most wineries have gift stores and are probably looking for complimentary products to offer. The traffic at these stores increase immensely during the summer months. Several years back the state stores in PA (for those not from PA...all wine and spirits are sold at State Stores) introduced a very nice line of candles to complement the store.
10. March 2010 00:21
CRAFT SHOWS, FESTIVAL AND CARNIVALS
While in the past your market may not have been these venues, in today’s environment, it may be necessary to start doing these types of shows. With the exception of the enormous shows, these venues normally have a very low exhibitors cost and can get decent attendance. Many publications are saying that local show attendances are up because people still like to go out and can’t travel as far as they used to. In addition it provide a market for products the larger retailers just do not offer.
These shows also offer the added benefit of getting close to retail cost for your candle. Normally cash or credit cards are provided and you can gain valuable information from the face to face contact with your customers.
Check with the coordinators of these events and find out if they need door prizes. Use this as an opportunity to send candles from orders that were cancelled or overrun. The show organizers will love the door prizes and you can get some publicity from donating the candles.
The more you can cater your candles to these events the more success you are likely to have. For example if it is a Strawberry Festival, be sure to have your predominate candles scented with all of your strawberry fragrances. If the event is historic in nature, try offering beeswax candles or tapers and other colonial type candles.
While at the show be sure not to bury yourself behind the counter, be out in front and be ready to answer any questions your customers may have on the product. As tough as it can be for many of us to take time to strike up a pleasant conversation with people passing by, you never know what you may learn. Offer a drawing with a nice prize at the end of the show and have people sign up for the prize. Depending on how you market your candles, capture either the entrant's email address or mailing address (be sure to check out our February 09 issue on Database Marketing for more on this subject).
Many towns have “Market Days” where they set up an outside area on a regular basis during the summer months and merchants bring home grown products, hand made products and other summer needs. Be sure to bring some unique candles that may not be found in the traditional retail store.
10. March 2010 00:11
In this entry, we are going to highlight the remaining four tips highlighting area's that could become a margin drain without careful examination so that you are sure to maximize your income.
Set the Right Sales Price
Setting the proper price for your candle might be one of the most difficult tasks in candle making. There are many issues which must be considered. Naturally we would all like to sell at the highest price but your target audience might not be willing to pay that price. On the other side there are consumers who feel if you sell the candle too inexpensively there is something wrong with the product. For initial guidance on developing your prices be sure to check out our June 2007 Englightner. Some important considerations must be what is your competitor selling the product for? What is the target audience that your candles are being sold in? Can you offer some products at a lower margin in hopes that they buy the higher priced items to go along with their candle purchase. Depending on the market you are selling at you can also run “specials” in that people like to feel like that are getting value in the product.
Save on Shipping Products
It is always best to try and minimize the number of shipments you make especially when it comes to ordering wax. Shipping one case each week is much more expensive then 4 cases at one time. Combining additional fragrances you may need later can result in substantial savings. Also when you can ship by common carrier be sure to “load” as much as possible on the skid. Many carriers charge flat rates for a skid so the rate is the same if you shipped 500 pounds or 2,000. Be sure you have all of your products shipped together if you using a common carrier.
It seems no matter how you do things you will end up with something extra in wax, fragrance and even color. Use your extra wax to make tea lights, fire starters or even tarts. If you have just a little bit of fragrance maybe have a bottle that you start collecting the fragrance. Have one for all of your florals that you can then call bouquet of flowers. For home baked goods maybe call it Granny’s Kitchen. Do not discard any of your extra raw materials. They all have some value when put into a finished good. Even if you possibly cannot sell giving them out will get you the attention of someone.
Vendors can be a Resource
Quality companies offer services to their customers that can have value. Make sure you use them. If you have a new candle requiring a different wick check to see if you can get a sample (Sorry for the self promotion but could not resist). Candlewic has always provided free wick samples. Rather than just purchasing books, check out the other resources a vendor has to see if there is sufficient information without having to invest in that book. Be sure to take advantage of promotions of the products you use.
Since the summer months are a bit slower the summer months are always a great time to review all of your cost and make sure you have kept up with current prices of products and that you review everything to make sure you are doing everything in the most cost effective manner possible.