Given that we live in such a digital world, you can really get to know a shop, their lifestyle and their customers from their online presence these days. Most have their own Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts. Make a strong effort in getting to know these shops and their community through their social media touch-points. I say this because I believe it makes a significant difference when you finally approach them. It’s been important to me that I develop a relationship with every shop that carries my stationery line, so I make sure to personalize each and every email. There is a clear difference between being truly genuine, trying too hard or sounding too general as though you’ve sent a mass email. Keep things short and to the point, but make sure to charm them with what makes you and your product special.
Main points you should cover in that initial email is a brief introduction, link to your online shop (if you have one), mention real life stats on what has sold well for you, or if you’ve been featured on a prominent blog with the feature’s link. Some shop owners are specific about wanting to see photos of your product and in that case you should certainly attach one or a few. You’re ultimately selling your personal image and product in any of these communications, so it’s important that you’re as polished and professional as possible.
You should also include a line sheet and product catalogue in that initial email. The line sheet is typically your order sheet and the catalogue’s main purpose is to showcase all available products, as well as provide the shop with your wholesale price points. I’ll talk about how to best set those up in my ‘Create your own Line Sheets + Product Catalogue’ blog post in the next couple weeks.
I’ve been advised shops don’t really like being approached in person and I’ve noticed this to be true in some cases, but I’ve found when I’m traveling that it does help establish some sort of relationship that you can then follow up on later. Another option, if you can afford to do it, is to choose a few shops from outside your area every few months and mail them samples of your product. Same advice as above – write them a short note explaining who you are, and your product and why you chose to reach out to them.
Eep. What to do with the dreaded follow-up email… Why haven’t you heard from them? How much time should you wait before emailing again? What should you say?
There are always several reasons why you may not have heard back from the shops you’ve reached out to. Shop owners are typically very busy people and can’t always respond in a timely manner. It’s important that you not take their silence personally though, as you’re likely NOT to be the only person emailing about your product, or they may have other shop-related priorities to handle first.
There’s no harm in a follow-up email if you haven’t heard from them after a couple of weeks. Please be cautioned to NEVER harass a prospective shop though, as you will likely alienate and create a strained relationship. Ultimately, shop owners know what’s best for their own stores, and it’s quite possible you’re just not the right fit for them. If you still haven’t heard from them after your follow-up email, maybe choose to move on for the time being. Try them again when you’ve got a new product to introduce.
next week’s topic :: How to Brand and Package Yourself