February 01, 2008

The Business Side of Candle Making

The Business Side of Candle Making

With the New Year well on its way it seems many people get serious about business during the month of February. Not sure if it is a case of being locked inside because of the cold, the trade shows spark your interest in new products or that we just got used to writing 2008 on our checks.

In this issue we are going to focus on the business side of candle making and highlight a subject which is commonly called database marketing. By now you must be feeling that every time a new Enlightener comes you seem to get assigned a new title. 

The internet has certainly changed the way all businesses run their operation. One of the key areas this affects is the way we approach advertising. All you have to do is look at the growth of Google to put the matter into perspective. In the past, choices in advertising were somewhat limited to print publications, mailings, billboard and other similar methods. These traditional forms of advertising required developing copy, coordinating layouts and placing these ads. The start to end process could take weeks and sometimes months. It would take many months to determine the effectiveness of an advertising campaign.

Now the options and methods of advertising are endless. But you must ask the initial question, “Was my advertising strategy effective last year?” If you spend any amount of money on advertising you should develop a means to evaluate the results of the advertising expenditure. By doing this you have taken the first step into the highly sophisticated world of database marketing. In the business world there have been many books dedicated to this very subject. The large catalog companies like L.L. Bean, J. Crew and others have perfected this subject for their business and, with some testing, you will be able to find out what works for your business.

We will try to highlight some quick, effective ways to see if this is something you need to spend more time on and hopefully help you evaluate better ways to spend your advertising money. Many people make the mistake of just looking at their sales and if sales are up they credit this to the advertising. With so many advertising venues it is important to find which ones will bring in the most cost effective Return on Investment; this is commonly referred to as ROI. Money spent on advertising should be looked at the same as purchasing equipment, if you are going to spend extra money, it must yield sufficient results to warrant this extra expenditure.

The type of advertising that will do this varies depending if you are a retailer, wholesaler, or do craft shows or other direct selling. All business have to do some form of advertising and if done right will be the most effective tool in growing your business. In most instances you can always increase sales by just lowering your price but if you cannot yield a profit, advertising will do nothing to help the overall structure of your business.

Retail Advertising
Measuring metrics in the retail environment is a little bit different because many of your customers may be unwilling to provide the necessary data to continually monitor the purchasing patterns. One way, if you wish to do so, is to use what the grocery stores have implemented, which many call their “Advantage Card.” This customer service card will help monitor purchases made by the customer and with this data you can decide what type of coupons or mailings to send out. Often at the grocery store your receipt will have a coupon offering a discount on something you purchased that day or on a previous purchase. Stores are using the database they have on your past purchase to get you to purchase an additional item they know you have used. In order to have your customers use these types of cards, you will need to be able to offer them something in return: free products, discounts that normally are not available and other “value” items. In addition, your checkout system must be able to capture this information.

If you are a retailer you also want to be able to track all of your sales by item. From that you can determine the effectiveness of a particular sales campaign this way after several months you can find out which ones have been the most successful. For example, if you run a promotion of buy one jar get one jar for free it will definitely increase your sales but in your calculation be sure to determine your net profit as well. Another sale which might include giving away a candle topper with a jar candle might yield fewer sales but may net more of a profit because you don’t have to give away as much to get the sales. Each and every business has different needs so the strategy that will work for your company can only be determined by testing. The key is getting as much information on your sales and when possible, your customer. By discovering this information you can determine how much to advertise a particular sale and where to advertise.

Wholesale Advertising
Doing business at the wholesale level does provide the ability to keep accurate information on your customers. In addition, it allows you test different advertising strategies to determine what will work best. Most business software has a means to sort data based on this field, use this wherever possible. If you run a certain promotion you will want to mark the code/reference in this section. By doing this at the end of the promotion you can determine how effective the campaign was and which advertising venue will yield your better customers.

When you advertise try using two different venues and two different types of promotions. In one venue use an effective offer like buy one candle get one free and the venue offer 50 percent off. Be sure to have the customer use a different code for each of these promotions. The initial information will start to tell you which promotion your customers like more. It is also important to have different promotional codes tell you which venue was more effective.

To get even more information for the database, it helps to run the promotion a second time. Use the same advertising venues and switch the offers you marketed to previously. Once you have done this, it will not only help identify which promotion is more effective but then it starts to identify which venue was more effective as well. This will help you in the future as to determine which advertising venues are best for your product and how much you can afford to dedicate to advertising.

Direct Sales Advertising
If you do craft shows, fairs and other direct sales like home parties there are similar options like the above and you can just custom fit what may work for you. Although the customers may not always be the same, once you find a promotion that is successful in most instances, consumer patterns are consistent and you should have similar results when all other things remain the same.

As stated, there is so much that can be done to improve your business through database marketing that you should try, learn and utilize as much as possible. We have only outlined some of the preliminary steps involved. While it is not overly complicated, the key is always obtaining as much information as possible and having the ability to sort, track and maintain the information. As you progress you will be amazed how similar buying patterns will be with your customers. By knowing these trends you can harness this information to help grow your business.

As we have always stated between making candles and growing your business you can almost honestly say you are burning the candle at both ends. You may have seen before, this is a cliche we like to use.

 

Hi! I'm Chandler!
I can help you
learn how to make candles.

CHANDLER'S CORNER

I am having trouble keeping my wick centered in the container, even after I have straightened it. Sometimes the wick will fall to one side. What can be done to eliminate this?

It is critical that a wick stay straight in the container, not only for the appearance, but also the safety of the candle. I would offer several suggestions. First, take your wick assembly and apply a glue dot the bottom and firmly place in the center of the glass. Second, and equally important stage, use either the bow tie wick bar or the plastic centering device. This will ensure the wick will be centered at the top of the container. These bars have been designed so the wax can still be poured around them.

The second option, when using waxes that require topping off, is the wick stick. This will help keep the wick centered and straight throughout the candle. Keeping the wick straight will help the performance of the candle over the life of the candle.



February 2008

Ice Candle

As you know candle making has been around for thousands of years, but some of the most fun candles were developed between 1965 and 1973. From our research, today’s project seems to have been within this time frame, although one of our readers might have an earlier reference.

All of the best projects all seem to come back and the ICE Candle is no exception. This candle is very easy to make and every candle will look different and unique. This project is also well suited for most shapes of candles although we have found the aluminum molds yield the best results.

Step 1
Prepare your mold as if you were pouring a standard pillar mold. Where possible, use the wick pin because it will give the candle another avenue to release the water.

Step 2
Fill the mold with ice. The amount of ice will vary depending on the effect you want to achieve. The more ice you add, the more cavities will exist, but can make the candle brittle.

Step 3
Mix your color, fragrance and wax. For this project any color/scent combination will work. Pour your wax (for best results a 141 pillar wax) into the mold. For different effects, pour at various temperatures. In most instances pouring around 175 to 180 degrees will yield a very nice finish.

Step 4
If using the pillar pin, remove and hold the candle upside down and let the water run out. Try to get as much water out as possible.

Step 5
Take the candle out and insert your wick. Depending on how much ice you have added will determine how many cavities exist. One of the people assisting me commented, "if the candle was yellow it sure would look like Swiss cheese."

ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
After you take the candle out, place it back in the mold upside down and pour a different color of wax to fill the cavities. Putting the candle in upside down will work best since many of the cavities form at the top of the candle.

To create a similar look, place two to three rods about 1/4" thick into the candle at different angles. As the candle hardens remove the rods. Then pour wax into the holes of the candle. Be sure to remove the water first.


 

TERMS RELATED TO DATABASE MARKETING

LTV (Life Time Value of the customer) - If your customers are repeat, this is the amount of purchases they have made since they have been a customer. This is important when companies use loss leaders to attract new customers.

CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) - This is used to measure the short term impact of a promotion. If you advertise in a particular venue and it costs $1,000 and you yielded 500 customers you can use the value that it cost $2 to get this customer.

PPC (Pay Per Click) - In the internet advertising world, through Google and other search engines, you can advertise by paying them for everyone that clicks through to your site. Depending on the interest in the keyword, it can run as low as $0.05 per click and higher. This allows for easy measuring of advertising cost.

 

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