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After the Jump: How to Make the Most of the Holidays for your Business

by Grace Bonney

The holidays are here and more often than not, they get the best of us. It’s not only stressful for shoppers and travelers, but for business owners, too. Independent artists, designers, photographers and makers of all sorts have an endless sea of craft fairs, holiday markets, sale and giveaway options that can lead to huge sales and a boost in brand exposure but can also lead to confusion and opportunities that don’t always fulfill their return on investment. So for this week’s radio show, I invited one of my favorite artists, potter Nic Newcomb, on-air to talk about the business side of the holiday. Together we ran through a wide range of topics (below) and will help you figure out how to navigate the sometimes tricky world of holiday sales from both the maker and press perspective. Thanks so much to Nic for joining me (you can check out his site and shop here. I swear by his camp mugs.) and I hope you’ll find this show helpful!

Here’s what we’ll be covering:
-Pricing and giveaways
-Simple things you can to do make the most of the holiday season, business-wise
-How to avoid pitfalls that can happen this time of year
-How to navigate, choose and be successful at holiday fairs and markets
-How to make the most of holiday sales and leads
-Our Top 10 Tips for Holiday Sales

*I’ve summarized a few of these after the jump if you need a quick kickstart!


Simple things you can to do make the most of the holiday season, business-wise

-Use your website and social media to tell your story. Show process shots, videos of your work in progress and introduce YOURSELF to your audience. Seeing what goes into what you make helps people understand and appreciate the price point that comes with handmade work more easily.

-Partner with blogs and likeminded companies to promote your work together.

-Bundle sales to sell more! People like to buy a package of things that feels like a readymade gift, so try bundling pieces together (or partnering with another brand that works with your product line, like coffee and mugs) to increase your amount spent per customer.

-Consider offering free shipping or gift wrap, but only if you can afford it. This often leads to a big increase in sales, but works out to roughly a 10% discount per customer, so only offer this if it’s something your business can afford.

How to avoid pitfalls that can happen this time of year

-Make sure you make enough of your work before doing a heavy promotion or giveaway.

-Make sure you contact wholesale outlets early enough (6 months out) to make it into their holiday lineup. (The same goes for print press!)

-Don’t price your work so low that the rest of the year people will think it’s been raised too highly. A small discount is great, but slashing prices dramatically will make it hard to wholesale or sell at your “regular” prices during the rest of the year.

How to navigate, choose and be successful at holiday fairs and markets

-Ask organizers what the ratio is between handmade work and machine-made work, as well as food and activity vendors. If you contextualize your work next to other high-quality handmade work, people will understand and respect the price more readily. But if you sell your work next to low-price, low-quality, machine-made work, customers often perceive it as overpriced.

-Always have a newsletter sign-up and business cards handy. Sales still happen after the show and so does press.

How to make the most of holiday sales and leads

-Look for a way to gather the following things: customer emails, social likes/follows, market research and sales data. Only do giveaways if you have an option to collect one of those from the audience.

-Include spring marketing in your holiday sales so people know what’s coming up after the holiday collections.

-Offer discounts for buyers who come back to buy more after the holiday (within a certain time period).

Our Top 10 Tips for Holiday Sales

-Keep pricing in mind (Don’t lower so much that you price yourself out the rest of the year).

-Do giveaways only in exchange for information that is helpful for you in the long run.

-In-person events are valuable ways to tell your story.

-Tell your story online and through social media.

-Team up with people who sell gifts that work together with yours to cross-promote without competition.

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  • Hi Grace – this episode is still not up on iTunes. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks!

    • Dana

      Ugh, I’m so sorry. Just emailed the station to nudge them. I’ll let you know asap when it’s up. In the meantime you can download the file and listen to it from the Heritage Site (link above), too.