One of the tenants of my religion is that handmade business owners should not lead with discounts. I find opt-in coupons particularly offensive because they devalue your work from the start. When you are trying to build a base of ideal customers, people paying full price is pretty important! I’m sure we can all agree that having customers pay full price and not need a discount in order to buy our work is an ideal situation.
Sales and promotions that include discounts have their place and can be easy to implement, practical for you, and fun for your customers.
Here are three times it just makes sense to run a sale in your handmade shop.
product bundles & discounting bulk
A bulk or bundle code could look like ‘Buy 3 and use code XYZ to save ABC%” I am okay with this one. I would be wary of offering it 24/7 unless your product is digital delivery. This sort of discount is a great short-term promotional idea for physical products, though. This coupon works because it encourages people to buy more, therefore, placing orders of a higher value than they would have if they only purchased a quantity of one or two. They are spending less than they would if they bought three items full price, but spending MORE than they probably originally intended to. This is a win-win! They feel like they got a good deal for buying before they needed to, and you make more money!
For your consideration is the fact that with coupons of any kind, at any time people have to actually enter them in. If that doesn’t seem ideal to you, you might want to look into the options for automatically applying a discount like this (options would depend on how your site is set up or where it is hosted.)
sales around major holidays
Aside from the fact that consumers are conditioned to expect you to run a sale in your handmade shop around major holidays, it’s also just easy.
For example, Black Friday is a GREAT time to run a promotion because people are basically already expecting it. Many are totally in the buying zone during this time.
When you run a Black Friday sale, you generally do not need to work as hard to promote it because promotion is already rampant all around. You are hitching your buggy to a horse that’s already running. This is a time of year when people will come and check if you’re having a sale because sales during this time of year are so ubiquitous! There is an energy around buying and deals at this time, and it’s a great time of year to capitalize on mass human behavior. For me, this is the one time of year I would be willing to go a bit bigger on a sale unless there was another extenuating circumstance or if I wanted to move inventory more rapidly, which we are about to discuss.
promotions can help you
If you are moving in another direction creatively, need to clear inventory for whatever reason, or need a fast cash injection, running a sale might be useful! The key is that you offer this discount so that it HELPS you. If you are changing your work and will no longer be offering a specific item, discounting the remaining pieces might help you! It can move the inventory faster, make new funds available, and clear mental, emotional and physical space. Since it is an item you won’t be offering moving forward, there is less chance of this discount undermining the work.
When it comes to moving product you plan on stocking long-term, occasional sales for long-time followers are a nice touch. I would suggest maintaining an email list and being in contact with them regularly (sounds intimidating, I know, but we can teach you how to do that easily in The Council) and keeping them warm and interested year-round so that when you do promote a sale the people on the other end actually take action.
Think about this before you run a sale in your handmade shop: people do not need incentives to purchase things, but certainly no one has ever complained. Further, consider in all situations of promotion that people certainly don’t need TWO incentives. If you’re releasing a limited edition of something, for example, you wouldn’t also need to offer a coupon to incentivize that order. The fact that it’s limited edition is enough!
Promotions that include sales and coupons are tools in your business; use them thoughtfully with your business’s longevity in mind! Quick wins are fun, but they don’t always translate well in the long run.
There is value in a local customer who only buys when things are on sale or with an incentive, but you shouldn’t be cultivating an audience full of people like that. Cultivate an audience of people who will willingly pay full price – you’ll find other customers along the way, and that’s great, too.