Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A whole new world ***

I've always made my first contact with potential customers for my patterns in person. That way I can schmooze and show samples of my projects and generally look pitiful, er, professional enough that the shops buy my patterns. It's worked pretty well so far, especially since I was able to cram a few shop visits into our recent vacations (Hello, San Diego! Hello, Ocean City! Hello, Fruitland!). But there's a limit to how many stores I can visit, especially with an increasingly impatient toddler in tow, so I've decided it's time to try a new approach.

Yesterday I mailed pattern catalogs to a select group of quilt supply stores that I think are a good match for my products. I put some research into this, trying hard to find shops that seem to have a decent customer base and a selection of fabrics that mesh well with my style of crafting. After all, there's not much point sending my catalog to a shop that specializes in country colors and Civil War reproduction fabrics, is there?

If my success rate with the catalogs is anywhere near my success rate in person, the mailing will have totally been worth the effort. Ideally, of course, I'd love to sell to all of the shops I've contacted ... but I know that's a long shot, especially since a lot of craft-related businesses seem to be tightening their belts. Stupid recession ... But at least now that the catalog is written and my research is sort of down pat, I can expand my mailing list pretty easily if I want to send out subsequent mailings. Wouldn't it be nice if I had to worry about making sure I wasn't selling to competing stores in the same geographical area? Squee!

Anyway, I don't get nervous about approaching store owners in person, even without an appointment, but sending a catalog out cold gives me pause. I'm not sure if it's worth the effort - who knows how many of the catalogs will end up in the trash can, unread, no matter how well-reasoned and insightful they are? And I'm not sure if this approach comes off as amateurish, too forward, or just normal business. And, of course, agonizing over it on my blog is soooooo professional, right?

Right. I'll just shut up now. If you're visiting from one of the shops I mailed, Hi! I'm really not as neurotic as I seem!

*** Can you tell that I've been forced to watch waaaaaay too many repeats of the stupid Little Mermaid song on YouTube, all in the name of brushing a Certain Someone's hair without listening to indignant screams?

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