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February 19, 2018

Growing Your Business

February 2018
Even though February is such a short month, it seems not to be short on the number of events taking place. Think about it. In the month of February, we have Groundhog Day, the Big Game, Valentine's Day, Presidents Day, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, National Freedom Month, Chocolate Lovers Month and American Heart Month. With all these events taking place in just 28 days, it's hard to imagine any work getting done.

But in all seriousness, February does seem to go by very quickly, and, before we know it, the first quarter of the year will be over. The goal of most, if not all, business owners is to continue to grow their businesses and make their companies more successful. In most cases, this is a year-round process and should never be taken lightly. In this issue, we'll try to provide some ideas about how to achieve this goal, recognizing that every company has a different model for its business.
Database Marketing
If you've never been part of a craft show, festival or flea market, maybe this is the year to try this face-to-face mode of selling. This is a great opportunity not only to sell your product but also to really get a sense of what your potential customers want. It's also a good way to start building or expanding your database and to ask your customers how they prefer to receive your offers (email or mail.) Make sure you include this information in your data base. If they are willing to share other information, such as the types of fragrances they like – for example, flowery, wintery, home-baked or other scents – the more effective your future campaigns can be. By knowing this information, if you launch a new fragrance, you can market directly to that part of your customer base.
Email Marketing
If a customer does not wish to provide a mailing address, see if it's possible to get an email address. These days, email is the most cost-effective means to reach a large segment of the population. Consumers get inundated with email, so you'll need to have a different approach and one that can bring value to the potential customer. Have a monthly/quarterly or seasonal communication that provides tips on using candles to decorate the home or contains a reminder of upcoming activities. As part of that campaign, be sure to include candles/fragrances that are very timely.

At your booth, have a prize to offer such as a basket of candles, a gift card or something else that visitors can possibly win by filling out an information card. Maybe offer a discounted price on your candles for their providing the information.
Marketing at all Events of the Year
Wedding season is rapidly approaching, along with showers, and there is not a better gift for those attending these events than a candle to commemorate the occasion. Develop a custom package that simplifies the selection process for the bride or individual organizing the activity. Maybe it's an organza bag containing a votive/small jar with a nice personalized tag identifying the event and including names and dates.

While it it's not coming fast enough for my kids, the end of the school year soon will occur, and candles can represent a nice thank-you gift for teachers, bus drivers and school aides. The key would be to have a package that can easily be customized. The Avery Company has made it very easy to make custom labels using their templates. You can import your own pictures, graphics and text. Let your customer choose what goes on the label, including possibly a picture, quote or graphic. The way the templates are set up, you can personalize each label fairly easily, and, if you have a color printer, you can print them at home using your own computer.

Real estate agents and other professionals are always looking for nice gift items to give away to their customers. Candles that can be customized for them present a great marketing tool.

On a larger scale, the entire retail climate has undergone a transition where only the strongest retailers are surviving, and others are shutting their doors. This can create tremendous opportunities, because consumers still want choices. With so few retailers to choose from, a selection of niche items – like candles – is harder to find. The key is to try to reach these consumers.

With the current high-employment rate, people are going to be looking for new opportunities. Some of the most successful candle companies have achieved their success through "party plans." Pitch the idea of a candle party to your friends, neighbors and acquaintances as a way for them to make money. Even if the attendees may not purchase anything, be sure to get them to sign up for your mailings.
Online Marketing
In addition, using every online resource is going to be essential for your company's survival. With new technology and other conditions, the cost of building a website is much more reasonable. As you may have read, just having a website will not be enough. You'll need to drive traffic to the site, but, in the end, online marketing can be more cost effective than opening a retail store. If you already have a retail store, use your website to drive traffic to your store by offering printable coupons that customers can use in store. Or, if your customer prefers to shop from home, make that experience easy as well.

As you begin to build a customer base, the key is also to keep on top of trends in the industry. Fragrances are very important to people, and having them be timely for the season is critical to maximizing your sales for that season.

Without doubt, the entire supply chain is undergoing a huge transition, and techniques and efforts that may have been successful even several years ago will not be as effective today. If you're a small manufacturer, your biggest asset is the ability to act quickly and customize your product to your customers' needs and wants. Use this to your advantage.
One of the most common topics associated with candle making is the wick. Since we're on the topic of wicks, I thought I would include two of the more popular questions I receive that are associated with wicks. 
How do I conduct my burning test?
The most effective way to conduct a burn test is in accordance with the written instructions you include with your candle. In general, the instructions should be to burn the candle for four hours and then extinguish it, wait one hour, trim the wick, and relight. This process should be followed until the entire candle is consumed. By conducting the burn test in accordance with your instructions, you can help when problems arise with smoke and soot. It is always best to start your testing with the smallest intended wick for the application and move up in size until you select the proper wick. 
What do you mean when you say burn rate? 
The burn rate is the amount of wax that is consumed per hour. However, without something to measure this against, the burn rate is not an effective measurement. Where the burn rate can be effective is if you want to change something (such as the type of wick) in the makeup of your candle. For example, the 60-44-18 zinc wick has a burn rate of 6.6 grams per hour. If you wanted to switch from zinc to cotton wicks, you would know to start your test burning with something like a 44-32-18 cotton wick, which has a burn rate of 6.4 grams per hour.
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