Today we wanted to talk about a topic that’s always kind of squishy and discomforting for makers: when should I go to the expense and effort of sending samples?
Now, this is a topic with a lot of different approaches and opinions. Every maker is different, every store has different requirements, and there are no hard and fast rules. But today we’re sharing two simple perspectives that might help take the pressure off -- while also helping your products to rest happily on new stores’ shelves.
Be generous and also practical
It would be very generous of you to send $100 worth of stuff to every store you reach out to, but it wouldn’t be that practical. On the other hand, dashing off emails without much thought to differentiating them for different retailers is practical -- but not as generous as it could be. Often, the right question is - how could I be wildly generous in what I share with this store that would also be pretty practical on my end?
Many times, this will just mean being radically thoughtful and sincere in what you write in your emails to stores. If you choose a store that is a great fit for you and send them a thoughtful email and clear linesheet that will often stand out simply because it is generous in its clarity and respect for the recipient’s time.
Use the “4 out of 20” rule
We think it’s not “all or nothing” when it comes to samples. You’ll of course send a sample to any store who requests it, if the relationship looks promising. You can also consider the following “4 of 20” rule:
Instead of sending something to everyone you’re reaching out to, choose 4 of the 20 stores you are reaching out to, that you are extra excited about, (i.e., you would do a dance if they placed an order) and send them something small (but wonderful) alongside your email.
Oh, and don’t forget that “wonderful” doesn’t have to mean expensive. Think of something that will give them a real taste of who you are along the $5 or $10 line. Marci of Alabama Brown (she also owns Lula Mae) sends out these lovely little twine-twined paper catalogs to stores who request them. (Notice how she’s not afraid to show exactly what her brand is about in the wording on the front!)
And Trisha at Shindig Paperie was thrilled to get a simple note -- that had gorgeous hand lettering on the front.
Bottom line? You don’t need to send samples to every (or even most) stores. Be generous (but practical): it will pay dividends.
Speaking of which, we are here if you need us! No question is too small to send an email or give us a ring. It is sincerely our pleasure to help you grow in the way you want. You can reach Emily at email@example.com or Etan at firstname.lastname@example.org.