Last week I wrote about reaching out to cold leads on Facebook and how that turned out. It turns out that sending out emails and snail mail to try to convert cold leads is hard too.
I am starting to learn that (super ironically) the stationery and gift industry has some of the highest “No Response” rates to pitch email outreach from Makers. You can literally send emails with no response for months and even years before an order is placed.
As a Maker it can be really discouraging–to downright depressing–to be sending out email after email, postcard after postcard, and promotional samples too and get crickets.
The fact of the matter is– the owner (who is also quite frequently also the buyer) of small mom and pop stationery and gift stores are BUSY.
Finding products to fill their shelves, curating and creating cohesive collections, ordering and setting delivery schedules, stocking and merchandising the shelves, AND THEN having to sell the products is a full time job (or maybe 7). Not to mention–marketing their store and processing online orders. It really helps to put into perspective all the requests they have on their time.
As the maker, you are also really busy (especially if you are a one person company). Not only designing, prototyping, testing, and producing your products–you also have marketing, new account acquisition, wholesale account management, and order fulfillment. It’s hard to keep a handle on ALL THE THINGS.
So what should you do when you get crickets? What should you do when the store does get back to you but says they are not bringing in new brands right now? Should you give up? Should you wait around and see if they decide to contact you when they are ready for your product?
Sending pitch and sales emails is HARD. For me it is extremely uncomfortable. I cringe every time I hit send, worrying that I worded something wrong or that the buyer is going to be offended that I had the audacity to send them an email. The line between persistence and annoyance can sometimes be a fine one to walk.
I believe that the companies that are the most successful are the ones who have learned to balance their outreach over time. They don’t bombard a store with tons of contact, overwhelming the buyer and quickly becoming someone the store would rather not work with. But they also don’t sit on the sidelines waiting to get tagged into the ring and only then to sit idle waiting for that reorder that probably is never going to come.
The biggest block that makers (myself included) have is: they don’t want to cross that invisible line between persistence and annoyance. I totally get that. But, here is the thing:
You need to make their job easier. Remember all those things they are juggling? If you can make ordering from you a breeze then they will be more likely to order from you.
As the maker it is your job to get your products in the store. That is not their job. Their job is to find the best products to put together the best collections for their customers. If you are not telling them about your products, they will not know about them, and those products will never make it into their lineup.
Don’t give up, you got this, I believe in you!