From my mail:
I am a new designer and I don’t have $ or man power to man a trade show at this point, but heard that designers sometimes will send out mailers with a line sheet/ photos. Do buyers really buy products from just these line sheets and photos? Should I call each and every store before I send one out? Just wondering. I need sales! I;ve been selling to friends and friends of friends but getting a boutique is so scary to me.
Buyers don’t usually buy from just line sheets and photos unless they have some familiarity with the brand. Maybe they saw it in a showroom, at a trade show, in another retailer’s store, a magazine article, someplace. It’s hard to judge certain qualities from photos and line sheets, so usually that’s not enough to get your line picked up.
But it is enough to get you noticed.
The biggest mistake that I have seen DEs make is a failure to understand the retailer’s decision making process. DEs expect the same type of standard response to mailers that consumer marketers have published as being normal, yet retailers are motivated by different criteria than consumers. I have seen DEs saddened by a lack of response to a mailing, as though they expect retailers to magically have open to buy dollars just because they came calling.
And then designers call. And call. And call. And call. Because standard sales 101 teaches you to follow up if you want the sale. But that doesn’t always work. Why? Because retailers don’t always have open to buy dollars and even when they do, they usually have already compiled a list of brands they want to consider when they have the ability to pick up a new line.
I’m not sure how what type of direction to provide. Person to person contact is good, but retailers get a lot of calls and sometimes they do nothing more than interrupt whatever you’re working on. They can be distracting. I’m sure every designer wants to make contact, but to think about it from the other side of the fence, you’re not the only one who is calling.
I don’t think there are many retailers opposed to mailings because it’s normal. They come from lines, trade show participants (or those who buy the mailing lists), sales reps, etc.. Normally, if something sparks the interest of the buyer, they keep it. For that reason, I think postcard mailers are more effective if the buyer has no familiarity with your brand because it’s a quick read, it’s noticeable and it doesn’t require the opening of an envelope. You could waste more money sending out unsolicited line sheets, not to mention they usually are quickly dated. I wrote a post called Budget Marketing Materials: Large Format Postcards which I recommend you read.
As I said before, if it were me, I would create a very compelling, eye catching, graphically appealing postcard. I would make it larger than a 4 x 6, because in my opinion, those small postcards are difficult to notice when filed (they get lost in the shuffle). On one side, I would have my photos, on the reverse, I would have brief information and the contact for the sales reps, showrooms, trade shows, or you, if you’re representing your own line. Encourage a visit to a website, an email or a phone call to request a line sheet or make an appointment to view the line. You may even want to assign a numerical code to each retailer’s address, print it on the address label (see below), this way the retailer can just give you the numerical code instead of repeating or spelling out their address.
Store Name — 12345 (numerical code)
Store City State Zip