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Wholesale Marketing to Retailers

Lesson 10 of 11

The Art of the Follow Be Strategic in Your Retailer Relationship

Katie Hunt

Wholesale Marketing to Retailers

Katie Hunt

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Lesson Info

10. The Art of the Follow Be Strategic in Your Retailer Relationship

Lesson Info

The Art of the Follow Be Strategic in Your Retailer Relationship

Space out your follow up and keep them on your list until they say no until they close that door, you don't want to bombard them with too much information at once, so space them out a couple weeks. Excuse me a couple of months, maybe send quarterly emails, we hear new releases like teo for my schedule, I like to send quarterly e blasts unless I have some other very special news in between, but I plan to be the ira I tried do that some of my clients do monthly emails, which had been really great, and they've had a reason to do that. They've had great product photography, or they've had promotions to share they've had reasons to reach out, so my main point here is the frequency is going to depend on the value that you're adding in these outreach don't just send something to send something have a purpose behind him. So you've talked a lot about adding value. Yes, and I know what it is and such, but I would love to hear people's brainstorm of just like concrete, adding value, because, agai...

n, I have such a retail focus that I'm like, ok, I know exactly what my customer wants, and so I'm going to sell them on, you know, because they like to do this, and they like to do this, but does does a wholesaler a person owns a retail business? Want me to tell them what their customer wants or, no, they want me to tell them what they want, right? So I would love to your brain storms about added value, that's a great eight am too, and one thing before we head to the audience, you made a really good point that I should have articulated at the beginning of this course, teo and we talked about previously, so things are starting to feel it much, but your whole so client is a completely different they have different motivations than your retail client. Your recent client, as we talked about, is motivated by how they're going to use the products and the feelings and emotions that that products going to evoke with them. You're wholesale client, your cut summer, you know, they're running a business and they're looking at profitability, and they're looking at sale ability, and they're looking at for things that their customer there and customer is going to want to buy. So thank you for pointing that out. You have a comment? Yeah, I was just going toe mention an example from my business, we have a lot of success in terms of adding value by promoting specials, so whether it's free shipping offers free product and particularly because it's a limited thing there's a period of time in which it exists and that makes a big difference so one of my strategies is to let people know the specials are coming up and say get your order's ready this is the period of time and then later to follow up with a little bit advance notice to say kind of last call you know you only have a few more days to act on getting these specials and time based offers to make a difference so I just wanted to add that to the brain storm that's a really great point that like having specials or things that are limited time only I mean I know that feels a little sales and pushes back into that oh my gosh I'm being you know but it's not you know you're just you're offering something for a limited time and you want to let people know that so it's a great awful about what you choose to promote obviously if you're going to do a free shipping offer making sure it's worth your while or in some of the other courses kitty and I worked on together you could talk about you know with the purchase of a certain dollar amount offering free products so maybe new category you know we're offering you this specific item at no cost as a way for you to try a lit if you invest this much in an order another value pieced add to the brainstorm is lowering your minimum order amount for certain span of time that kind of goes back to what chris was talking about you know, having specials for a limited time but it incentivizes them to buy for shipping the free product with purchase kristie we have used any promotions or things like that that have been well received thing that I offer with my wholesale accounts is free shipping on the first order, which I think helps a lot just because I just started a wholesale like six months ago and I think it just gives an incentive to try a new product for the stores on then a lot of them have reordered get for shipping on the second round I think for a product like your since you're in the greeting card world worshipping is you know not as high as somebody that selling heavier items or more expensive items that can be a good option I tend to shy away from offering free shipping just because it's a little more it's a variable cost for me I don't know what that's going to cost me and it does come out of my hard costs of um you know the prophet of the order whereas what kareen I mentioned earlier I'm a big fan of offering free product with purchase or something like that because my cost of providing that in my industry is less my out of pocket expenses are less and I know off the top but okay if they spend two hundred dollars I'll give him six greeting cards well, I know those six greeting cards we ran the numbers it cost me six bucks right? That's less than what I would do for shipping but I like that for first time order since especially since you're ramping up and starting you know, to really build this side I bet people are really enticed by that yeah, any other brainstorm ideas that was helpful that inquest because you know it's absolutely totally different from what you would say to a retailer customer sorry it is that you know but I find that you say something like sometimes you see a lot of free shipping to customers and sometimes that grabs and sometimes it turns off all that um so it's it's really interesting to hear well anything the incentives that a retail clients is most interested and it's different and sometimes I mean I'm totally swayed by free should be but I don't want to offer it to my shame on me but you know it is a different beast too so you had sometimes I um what are some ways to add value aside from the promotions like I remember hearing from somewhere that if any time you get pressed like you should share that but how like is that just going to be next for a noise, like extra clutter like he may not even open it oppress feature is more about you than it is about helping them. Okay, I mean, it's definitely shining a good light on you, but you want to think of it from how how would they be able to utilize his press mention to drive more customers to their shop? And I would have a hard time articulating that instead, something you could do that might add value but still be in that same realm is what if you provided them with some product shots that were styled images that were already sized for instagram that you could send? And maybe you could tie it to a financial promotion to where it's like, if you instagram is that you can get ten percent off your next order, so that and if you tag us or whatever but there's a couple of benefits, I see to that one they're always looking for content to share. They like sharing products for the most part, from the lines that they're carrying, you're making it easy for them because you're handing them images that they can just plug in play, and then if you provide the extra financial incentive or whatever, you know, that can be an added piece to it, but if I saw somebody that sent me a bunch of photos that I could plug in play and, you know, into my social media feed, I think I'd be interested in that, I think they would be, too just an idea. Yeah, christi, you got about when retailers stop ordering from you, okay, what do they usually I don't? I don't know how this works at all, just because I've only been nosing for six months, way also somewhere, and I'm just wondering if, you know, I have gotten three orders, but I'm wondering when the typical, how long they will reorder from before the convertible, so I'm sure it depends from store to store, but is there a industry standard? We're like, oh, we've we've had a card for two years going try another business kind of thing, just to keep things fresh for our customers. It is very different from store to store and it's, also very different from industry, the industry, some of the retailers I've talked to in your industry, the stationary world, you know, they may only order from a smaller manufacturer once or twice a year, just because aa lot of times the manufacturers aren't releasing new product all the time, so eso gang going back, tio releasing more regularly, is going to help boost sales but there aren't industry standards around how long you know how hard it will be, you know, just again continue to cultivate that relationship continued to provide different things that make their lives easier. That helped them because julie mentioned she's like, you know, I'm busy, I'm trying to run the shop I'm trying to sell, you know, tar customers, she's meeting with custom clients and bridal clients so again, trying to think of ways that you can, I can help them going back to carrie's question or example about pitching the press kind of equating to pitching retailers. You know, the media has submission guidelines like a lot of bloggers have submission guidelines for how you want to submit that stuff. I kind of like to have my own submission guidelines that I've created for when I submit to retailers and some of the things we've talked about, I think if you create these systems and kind of create these guidelines for yourself about what? What materials to include, what kind of incentives to offer it will be streamlined things too. They're different pitching and marketing strategy for smaller stores and versus the larger bix big box stores. Yeah, big box stores work on a totally different schedule they many of the companies will have, like. Buying meetings where several people get together and kind of decide what they're going to buy for the store where is smaller independent retail shop like julie's? You know she and her sister get together whenever they get together and they place their order and she already mentioned that they're buying year round some of the big box stores will buy in seasons so it is a different cycle and it is a different strategy usually with the bigger box stores it's a matter of like just tryingto like the hard part there is trying to find out the context for the buyers and also then trying to get information about what they're buying cycles are and when they're review in products so that you can get your submissions in in time. Yeah, but the strategies and things we've talked about here today are really aimed at the more boutique independent shops because that's what all of you are pretty much interested in and the online viewership too is that you know, breaking into that also market and working with independent shops questions amanda s has a couple questions when is she has more than one product line and they different they differ quite a lot so she's wondering that it should we have a different mailing list for different product lines? I think that's where the categorization I think having one mailing lists but maybe your category organizations of those contacts are slightly different because again you want to be sending different messages to those different buyers if the products are in sync, like if it's the same type of shop that would purchase the same products that I don't think you need to differentiate that did she say what type of products they were? Cells and grave stones for outdoor use smaller and gravestones for home decor painted coasters at glassware and magnets, stone music, home decor ok, very cool, I would think that that would be it sounds to me like that would be the same type of customer, but I don't know her market that well to be able to distinguish, but if she does have kind of two paths of different, you know, people she's reaching out to then I would categorize that a little bit differently and taylor my approach differently, but in my opinion to keep it simple, I would kind of keep that in one overarching mailing list and just kind of create another category for them and allison williams. Her question is, what is the correct way to follow up with the shop that is placed a wholesale order a few months ago to see if they want to reorder? Or do I just assume they will contact us if they want more inventory? Um, I never like to follow up and just say house how's it going are you have you sold through stuff? Because, again, they're too busy for that? They're not really going to wantto take the time to answer that question. So I think just making your next communication a few months later about any new products or one of these incentives that we just brainstormed that's the best way to reach out to them, it will jog their memory that oh, yeah, we have this in the store, we had this in the store and we need to reorder it will really help you kind of want to take it from a different angle, not just following up to check in, but really oh, you ordered you could you could do personalize email it says, hey, when you ordered before you ordered these things, and now we've got these other things that complement that well, would you be interested? I think there's some different strategies that you could take their, but I wouldn't recommend just a hey checking in tech the thing or just adam chair mailing list because once they start working with you, they'll want to hear about those paul moses incentives is new releases and that's just its good of any time to reach out yeah, great, thank you sure any other questions with the honeys now? Okay I want to hear from some of you about some success stories that you had with reaching out to retailers I know we've got a few people in the audience that have already had some success with that so christie do you want to share a story with us about you know what you did and what the results were s o my first insurance a host cell was actually with running a craft fair they held a wholesale market last july in san francisco and I attended that market and was really unprepared but I did learn a lot there she did get I think tours renew accounts from that that just fair after that I had pretty catalogs and I decided to send them out with the dialogue to samples and a hand written note about it was really brief was very short and I just wrote what I liked about their store how I would love to visit if I ever visited their city or whatever and I sent those out and I did the follow up I think is a month later I sent away a lot of catalyzed s and the I think the percentage rate is pretty low but I just found actually that the following up was really hopeful because I sent those out I think eight or nine months ago and have had stores order like within this past month that I sent those mailers out to on dh I just feel like it's a really ah personable they just get something in the mail and I have hand written their address and I found their name things like that and I definitely did that excel sheet that you also recommended looking it up and stuff so that's really helpful get a couple of points that I just wanted to reiterate that you said the hand written the personalized note was really do go a long way that's not just an email that they can really it's not an e blast that gets stuck in their spam folder that's something that lands on their desk and you know it looks nice I'm sure and you know it it lets them know you went above and beyond just like shooting off a quick email so that was great another point you made about your still receiving orders from that nine months later this is a long game this marketing strategy that we're talking about we're talking about a lot of different things but you need to be patient and you need to this is an ongoing project you're going to take that mailing list and you're going to utilize these different types of outreach and they may not order from u right away but you you just stay on him and so that's great it's great to see examples two of you sent this out nine months ago and you're still getting orders now for me I made it my summer project I spent three months doing in the way I pace myself was that I research stores I wrote to the stores individually and then send them out just week by week instead of doing all the research I wants right hand writing all the letters that once and it just kind of changed the pace for me a little bit and still made it fun instead of tedious totally if you try to sit down and send out sixty catalogs or something like that it's going to be more overwhelming that is going to be fruitful I think tio why did you have a story? You sure this is from a while back but I was working on a product and it several years ago I got some press for something I designed and then and for this is kind of a re order story to prompt a retailer to reorder. So when an article hits usually they give you enough notice on dh then they'll send you a complimentary copy so I was able to connect with my retailers and give him an opportunity to place a re order and then tell them this article is going to come out you know and in this case I had one of the stores was mentioned as a retailer where they could buy the product so you can let them know like you know this is happening place your re order that I'm going to send you the article, you know? And and then you khun tell all of your accounts what's happening right? And then send them copies of that article and then your prompting reorders because they want to know that right going to help their cells just a great way to leverage the press yeah, and you're sharing, you know yeah that's a great positive awesome. Well, thank you, ladies for both sharing those stories I think it's always great to hear real life stories and examples of what's working and what's not working, you know, again stay on it and just did try different approaches and see what works document what's going on so let's, wrap it up. Now, what do we learn during this marketing for retailers? Course. You know, we heard a lot from julie. We talked about this mailing list that really the critical point of building this overarching strategy. So you know, your goal needs to be focusing on the right stores rather than a lot of stores. So a small tailored list is going to yield a lot better results than this huge massive list of you know, thousand contacts or something so looking to find the right contacts to target is going to be worth it to you building your list will take time and it will be a con I don't work in progress don't be afraid of the hard work, put your time into it if you can outsource first and people to do the digging online or, you know, do the initial research, but ultimately your it's your business and you want to be the one betting this this mailing list, contact retailers in different ways so that they were, you know, and see which way they respond and then keep notes about those methods. Because again, everyone is very different. All of us in this room are very different and how we like to be contacted or pitch right? Some of us prefer email, some prefer phone call um, just really kind of tear it and see what response you get and just you gotta stick stuff to the wall and see or throw stuff to the wall and see if it sticks, focus on building relationships, everything drives back to relationships people want to buy from companies that they know they like and they trust we're assuming you've got an awesome product line already, like tiered in there as well, but really, if you are keeping things simple for them and making it easy for them to buy, you're really taking huge steps in advancing building that relationship, ok, you also want to map out your plan. With a plan, you're going to feel more confident and you're going to feel empowered to reach out to these stores because you know what you're going to say, you know, when you're going to say it and you know how you're going to see say it, so, you know, kind of build out this plan, take a calendar on dh, just mark it out. I really love to work in a in a real printed catalog, or I'm sorry. Cat look, I've been talking about college so much with the calendar and really kind of map out for the year, okay, I'll do a new product release, you know, and correlate this marketing plan to your product releases and activities you're doing, but the map it out literally to get a calendar map it out follow up is critical, it's absolutely critical make time to do it. You will set yourself apart from the competition by doing this follow up aa lot of people just don't do it. This is particularly true for trade shows. Everyone gets back from a show, they're exhausted and you know they just there with their busy filling orders, so they failed to follow up afterwards. You will really set yourself apart from the competition if you're following up in a thoughtful way that provides value to the retailer and makes their life easier. Remember that retailers get a lot of pitches every single day s oh, don't be afraid if they don't respond. Sure it away, don't be discouraged remember, like christie had like that one to nine months, I had one retailer that took four years, you know, don't be discouraged just continue to produce great pulp, great quality product on dh send out your marketing pieces that you can stay in front of them and it will help jog their memory and also just remember, there is no shame in telling people about your product for your business to succeed, you need to be selling more product for you to sell more product you need to let people know that you have that product, you need to tell them about the function of it and how they will benefit from selling it in their stores. So, you know, selling your this is not a selling yourself type of thing marketing can be really organic, and it can feel really natural, but you have to be confident in that. So I hope that today's program really is leaving you inspired and ready to go on kind of create this plan that reaches out to the retailers and that you'll feel more comfortable when you do connect with them and answering their questions or asking them questions, too.

Class Description

Marketing directly to retailers is a decidedly different process from marketing directly to customers. This course will equip you with everything you need to know to build the skills you need to approach retailers with consistent, on-brand, and engaging messaging.

In Wholesale Marketing to Retailers, you’ll learn essential tools for expanding your business to market to retailers. You get tips on building relationships with retailers and how to approach them without sounding “sales-y.” You’ll learn about:

  • Building a wholesale mailing list 
  • Creating a simple, tiered marketing system 
  • Choosing the best times to reach out to retailers 
  • The do’s and don’t’s of email marketing, direct mail campaigns, and social media outreach 
  • Key messaging strategies and the importance of product photos 
You’ll leave this class ready to build your mailing list, create a new strategic marketing plan, and expand into regular retail sales.


Tracy Clarke

Before watching this class, I had been trying to compose emails to reach out to some retailers. I'm glad I held off and watched this first. It was so great to hear the inside scoop on how retailers want to be approached, seeing a sample letter and learning the etiquette on following up after the initial reach out. Now I feel confident about taking my business into this next stage.

Katy Casey

This class was amazing and Katie shares so many great insights and actionable, specific tips. It was great to also get to hear directly from a retailer as well!

Samantha Venator

This was such an awesome course, I watched the whole thing in one sitting. Katie answered all the questions I had and even answered some I didn't know I had when I started the course. It's super affordable and definitely worth the money. Plus the little workbook you get sums everything up nicely.