“How do I find customers that will actually shop my products?” I hear this all the time! Getting your very first customers (who aren't family or friends, although we love them dearly) requires a little bit of creativity and just a bit of hustle, but it's certainly not impossible. Here are three things that I did when I was first starting out:
I signed up for as many pop-up events and local markets as I possibly could in my first two years. These included farmer's markets, small music festivals, children's events, you name it I was there! (I once sold my children's clothing in a bar if that gives you any idea of how desperate I was.) I knew that getting in front of people would be the best way to show them my products and what I had to offer. I didn't really know who my ideal customer was at that time, so I tested out lots of different markets and slowly learned who was willing to buy my products. This gave me a really great sense of who I should be marketing to online! By allowing people to connect with me personally at these events, I not only made sales, but created relationships with my customers that formed the basis of my loyal AshleyRose tribe. I could also direct them to my social media pages which helped grow my online following as well.
By selling my products in stores, I was able to create brand awareness and gain new customers. I would often hear how they saw my products in store and wanted to find me online because they liked my designs. When selling wholesale, profits of course will be much lower than selling direct to consumer, but you do get the convenience of not having to spend time and money on marketing. Pitching your products to store owners can be intimidating, but try to find small local stores or boutiques that would want to carry your items. Often times, they're looking for locally made products since they have a great selling point and people will pay more for them. Don't over complicate it, you really don't need anything fancy or formal in the beginning; just a price sheet for what you'd like to make on each item (typically 40-50% of your retail price). You can expect to be paid Net 15 (15 days after delivery of the order) or Net 30 (30 days after). If needed, you can also ask for COD payment (Collect on delivery) although it's courtesy to let the business pay you when they take care of all of their billing at once. I learned this the hard way and almost lost my first sale! I'm glad the store owner was forgiving of my lack of knowledge!
Facebook Buy, Sell, Trade groups
Here's where you can get creative! I made my very first few sales by taking advantage of the free marketing available in Buy, Sell, Trade groups on Facebook. I simply let people know that I was just starting out and that I wanted to sell my products more to gain experience rather than make a profit. I charged very little for my clothing, but gained lots of insights into how to make my designs just right. It also helped with local references as word of mouth travels quickly!
I hope these give you some ideas of where to start. It's often frustrating to open your online store and see little to no sales come in. It certainly takes some leg work to get going, but with consistent effort and staying open to new marketing strategies like these, you'll be rolling in no time.
If you feel like you've tried all the things, but still aren't seeing sales check out my article '3 Reasons Why Your Products Aren't Selling.'