Next Level Month: Outreach Mini-Makeover
This "Next level Month" will cover: how to assess your results, simple WAYS to INCREASE STORE ORDERS, and Tips for continuing to improve over time.
what you'll do + What to expect:
1. Read the guide.
Start by reading through this guide to refining how you do outreach. We've made it as simple, concise, and practical as possible.
2. Fill out the short worksheet.
At the end of the guide, fill out the short worksheet to get the Wholesale In a Box team caught up on the best ways to support you.
3. Get support.
Once you fill that worksheet out, we'll be right back in touch with targeted help -- feedback, a coaching call, and check-ins to keep you on track with the bite-sized changes to really impact the number of store orders you get.
Let's Get started!
There are times when what we’re doing is working just the way we want it. Those are times when all we need to do is KEEP ON.
There are other times when what we’re doing is roughly in the right direction, but we’re not thrilled with the results. If that’s how you feel about your wholesale growth right now, then this guide is for you. We’re going to share…
3 simple things you can do in a few hours to boost your wholesale growth:
- Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.
- Be a Zoe, not a Diane.
- Select from the Mini-Makeover Menu.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.
If you've ever seen the TV show Friday Night Lights, you know that the football team's motto is: Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.
While corny and inspiring in kind of an amorphous way, this motto is incredibly appropriate for growing wholesale. You’ve got the full heart and the passion for what you’re doing and the vision for where you are headed -- but many of us need to make sure we’re seeing clearly what we’re doing. The first thing I recommend that every maker start with is: clear eyes.
Sometimes I talk to makers and they’re actually getting awesome results, but they’re so stressed out by presenting their work -- and so focused on what’s happening TODAY and THIS WEEK that they don’t see that their business is transforming. If you just gain stores slowly, and you cultivate each store account like it was your best friend’s store -- you will see your business transform over the next 12-18 months. It’s not flashy, but it can be powerful. You have to clear away your impatience and your stress and have clear eyes to see that you are growing. You can tweak and refine but you really need to continue.
Other times, I talk to makers and they are plugging away, with mediocre results, but continuing to do exactly the same thing today as they did 6 months ago. These makers need to clear away their inertia and their paralysis-by-analysis and they need to see that they could get better results -- but they need to make some changes to get there.
Or maybe your version of clear eyes is seeing that you could be a lot more efficient with outreach. Or you need clear eyes to see that you could be more consistent.
Clear eyes are patient, kind, discerning, and strategic.
Be a Zoe, not a Diane.
Most of us don’t have the time or resources to rework everything -- line sheet, email template, pricing, etc -- from the ground up. And, even if we did -- that’s not always the right approach.
In fact, we notice that our most successful makers are those that make a lot of small changes -- rather than getting everything perfect ONCE and giving up if their grand plan doesn’t pan out.
Diane (not her real name) makes outrageously beautiful jewelry. Each piece is handmade from start to finish, and she’s honed her thoughtful line over years. In March of this year, she started selling wholesale with a couple of accounts -- and she wanted to grow her wholesale. So she signed up for Wholesale In a Box -- but she let us know that she’d likely need a lot of support at the beginning to get everything together. It took her about 2 months to refine her line sheet, tweak her wholesale site, and get the photos back of some final pieces in her line. Then, she started outreach. She was incredibly excited to hear what stores would have to say. After about 30 days of reaching out, though, she didn’t have any new orders. She persisted with her approach for one more month. And then, frustrated, she ended her subscription with Wholesale In a Box and decided to return to focusing on craft shows.
Now, meet Zoe.
Zoe took a different approach. We did a 4-day sprint with her to get all of her materials refined and her line gussied up and she was ready to go the Monday after she started with us. She jumped in right away with introducing her work to stores. 3 weeks later, she scheduled a coaching call with us. We talked about which stores were responding, which weren’t. Based on that feedback, when I selected Zoe's next month of stores, I focused in on those that were responding best so far. She tried two subject lines and was noticing that one got a much better response than the other and decided to use that, moving forward. 5 weeks into her subscription, she had gotten two new store accounts, but she still had a hunch she could engage more effectively. So, the next month, she picked 6 stores that she thought were especially fantastic fits and instead of only contacting them via email, she mixed email with snail mail penguin tactics. Within 3 months of starting Wholesale In a Box, she had 5 new stores accounts, a list of things she was planning to experiment with, and another list of things she tried that didn’t work so well.
Zoe’s got it going on.
- Instead of trying to figure out the “perfect” subject line, Zoe tries 2 different subjects and sees which gets the best response.
- Instead of focusing on stores that don’t respond, Zoe looks at the ones that do respond, and does more of the things that worked with them.
- Instead of doing everything on her own, Zoe uses her resources -- tapping into the unlimited coaching Wholesale In a Box offers, getting a friend to snap some new photos, and giving the Wholesale In a Box team feedback on the stores we select.
- Instead of getting everything set once and then working “head down,” Zoe gets things to a place of “good enough” and then improves them based on what’s working and what’s not.
Select from the Mini-Makeover Menu
Don’t you love the part of the makeup store where they have samples of the best and most popular products? Aren’t you always a little overwhelmed by navigating every single aisle and trying to pick out which 2 products will work best for you from the 200?
Well, from everything that we’ve seen makers try and succeed with and fail with… and from everything that we’ve tried and succeeded and failed with in our business, we’ve put together the 3 things that are sort of like those “All-in-one lip/cheek/etc stains that moisturize, dewrinkle, and are good for the planet.” So we suggest picking 1 of the below to do in your business this month. Experiment with it, see what results you get, and decide whether to continue with that approach. Next month you can pick another experiment, and so on. That's how we see makers make transformative progress in the span of just a few months.
Hang on, instead of having me experiment with stuff, why don’t you just tell me what works?
If we knew exactly what would work in your business, we would certainly just tell you. And many people and consultants profess to do just that. The truth as we see it? This space is shifting so fast, and everyone’s business is so different- that something that worked for her may not work for you. And something that worked for you last year may not work for you this year. Part of your job as the owner of a creative business is to experiment, find what works for you, and then keep experimenting and finding as circumstances shift.
The Wholesale Outreach Mini-Makeover Menu (pick one to try):
- Do an A/B Test of your subject line or email template.
One way you could look at it as that now you have "Version A" of your email template... and you could create a super-different "Version B" to try with the next batch or two of stores. Then, you could get a sense of what works better. For instance, maybe Version B would be dramatically shorter.... or dramatically more personal to the store... or include different photos embedded at the bottom. The idea would just be to try something different, and see which version creates better results for you.
- Change what’s weak in your line sheet.
If you think your line sheet could use work, don't be overwhelmed by the endless list of tweaks you could make. Just ask yourself, "If I could only change one thing, what would I change?" Perhaps it's adding a description of your background and how you make your pieces. Perhaps it's swapping in those 3 product photos that never really worked. Maybe it's take the content and paying a graphic designer for an hour of their time to refine the look. The point is to just pick one thing, change it, and then use that version of the line sheet moving forward.
- Mix samples, postcards, and emails.
We think the best tips on wholesale outreach come from the store owners themselves. So when Mary Claire of the Memphis shop Falling Into Place shared this tip with us, we knew it was a keeper. The tip is to mix emails with some "snail mail" or "care package" elements. For instance, our default at Wholesale In a Box is to set up makers with an intro email to a store, a followup email, and a final followup. Perhaps next month, you choose 10 of your stores and instead of that email series, you send an intro email to the store, then as a followup you send a handwritten note or small sample (depending on your product), and a quick final followup email to finalize the series. You don't need to do this with every store, but it can be a great thing to experiment with.
So your job is to pick one of the above and try it this month. This doesn’t have to take a long time -- even an hour or two with one of these items could have a really big impact in boosting the results that you get with stores. Or, is there something else popping into your head that you think would be higher impact, and you'd like to try? Great. Make your own experiment and let us know how it goes!
Your next step: fill out this short worksheet
As soon as you fill out the worksheet above, we will be back in touch to:
- Schedule a short coaching call to help you with your "menu item."
- Send you a coaching roundup with a summary of what we talk about and action items for you.
- Check in with you as you go, to answer questions and help you stay on track.
Great. Email Emily with any questions at all and she'll get right back to you: firstname.lastname@example.org