1. Are you ready for retail? Plan carefully to ensure that you have sufficient inventory of your handcrafted items for your holiday retail shows and orders. Track your sell-through, know what you need, and stock up on bestsellers so you don’t miss out on those last-minute sales.
2. Are you psyched with the right attitude for making sales in your booth? Yes, you may be getting a little crispy from craft show burnout. But booth fees aren’t cheap, and you are paying for every hour the show is open. Make sure you aren’t exhibiting any of these bad behaviors that lose sales.
3. Are you hosting an open studio? Serve refreshments, gather email addresses, and identify warm prospects to follow up with. This is a good time to perfect your presentation, focusing on chatting with visitors and noting what connects, and what isn’t working. This isn’t hard to do in the comfortable and familiar environment of your studio.
4. Have you partnered with other artists in cross-promoting your work? If not, make yourself aware of the potential of working with a strategic partner, and make a short list of contacts who could be partners going forward. Referrals are like gold – so keep them coming in!
5. Have you sent out a holiday newsletter to your list? Do you even have a newsletter? Make sure you are collecting those email addresses at your shows, and collecting them on your website email opt-in form. Send your newsletter about every 8 weeks or so – not too often to bug your list, but often enough so that they do not forget you.
6. Have you contacted your wholesale accounts for last-minute reorders? Make a few phone calls to see if you can ship any fill-in orders to your retail stores before it’s too late. (After December 15th, there is not much point in shipping your work.) Retailers may see inventory sold down and take a few more pieces before the end of the year.
7. Thinking of hiring a rep? Now is the time to do it. If sales rep(s) are in your future, note that they are approaching the slowest time of their year. Many reps take several weeks off during December, because they can’t take orders, and their store accounts are on full-out selling mode. Reps will use this time to evaluate the lines that are working for them and those that aren’t. They may be open to repping new lines – yours, perhaps? Check them out, state your case and get materials and samples to them by mid-January when they will be out on the road again.
8. Are you following up? Focusing on cross-selling other work and asking for referrals. Hit your warm prospects up with an email, invitation to a holiday open studio or even a phone call. Now may be the perfect time to close a big sale for the holidays. Don’t run out of gas. End with a big push.
9. Have you made a Marketing Calendar? This is your set-in-stone plan for reaching out to potential new customers on a regular basis. It takes 5-12 “touches” to close the average sale, so you must be persistent. Are you giving up too soon? Your marketing calendar will help give you discipline to reach out by mail, social media, and in person. Make sure this is in place for the new year.
10. Plan for 2013. Evaluate how this year turned out for you. What worked out, what didn’t? Use SMART goals planning to set realistic goals and track as you achieve them.