Sunday, February 27, 2011

Selling In Person: Home Party Edition Part 1

If you are just starting out with your online shop, one of the things that you need to do is get your products in front of people - in real life. If you have a brick and mortar shop (B & M) then that’s a good place for you to show off your stuff. But what if you’re like me, I work from home, I make my things at home, and I don’t have a store front in the non virtual sense.

Well, one solution which has presented itself are doing home product parties.

What is a home product party?
So I am sure you have heard of "tupperware parties". Basically, there is a home product sales rep and then there is the hostess of the party. The hostess of the party invites all her friends and neighbors over to her home for an afternoon. The sales rep talks about the new things that the company has to offer. Then, the invited guests shop and buy storage things and kitchen gadgets. One party I attended, the sales rep held a “contest” in the beginning of her presentation. Immediately, the party participants became rivals and competitors. Guess what that did to the sales? Yup, it went through the roof! Women love to “friendly compete” and “friendly win”. If they lost out on the pretend competition, then they made up for it and “won” by buying more goods than the other women.

Lesson 1: Tupperware has a lot more to offer than just storage people.

Similarly, you can create this service for your online shop or company. You can contact your biggest fans and clients, ask them if they would be willing to host a product party for your company, and provide them with an incentive for saying yes.

Why would you want to have a home product party?
Basically, why would you want to bother someone and ask them to host a home product party for you? There are quite a few reasons, but I will focus on five here. 

1. Organic marketing. This is a great way to get your name out there by being endorsed by someone else. It pulls more weight whenever someone else says, “hey look at her gorgeous handmade jewelry”. This is compared to you saying “hey, look at my gorgeous handmade jewelry which I made.” Yeah, not the same effectiveness.

2. Low cost marketing. The associated costs for having a home party is small compared to going to a festival and schlepping your wares. For shows and festivals: there’s paying for a space, buying a tent and the things that make it not blow away, getting the over-sized vehicle you have to get to store your stuff in, and spending the inordinate amount of time to set up and take down. Trust me, the cost is incomparable.

3. Meeting your market. This is the invaluable bonus of a home party. You get to meet your target market. The person throwing the party calls her friends. If she already loves your stuff, chances are, her friends will too. Now, I do come from the school of thought that in general, people tend to hang out with people like themselves. So, this is a casual way for you to meet your target market at a safe environment. After all, you guys are just hanging out at a house party, see?

4. Free market study. This is a great way for you to learn who buys your stuff and why they buy your stuff. Millions of dollars are spent on this by big box stores. Large corporations pay large sums of money to marketing companies who perform involved surveys, case studies, and market research to find out various buying patterns. At a home party, you can just casually engage the clients and get it straight from them. No involved research, no second guessing, and no big involved marketing company to hire and owe money to.

5. Time savings. When someone sees your items in person and in three dimensions, it is far more informative than any amazing product photo or description you can ever show them. There is just no substitute for an up close and personal experience with your product. This will save you time in trying to explain yourself in the virtual world.

A Personal Example:
Specifically, home product parties work well for my jewelry shop. My jewelry philosophy is custom made is better. When a potential client meets me at a jewelry party, I can easily explain this concept to them. Basically that I can custom make anything in my shop - the perfect size, fit, color, gemstone and so on. Once a client gets this concept and then they go to my online jewelry shop, they now know that the products shown can be a jump off point for them to dream, design, or request something more to their specific style and liking. This makes the client feel like they have taken full advantage of what my online store has to offer and I believe they feel more fulfilled as a savvy shopper. Me? I feel a lot of relief not having to explain myself for them to become a savvy shopper at my online store. This is a huge time saver for me.

Lesson 2: Home parties are all about marketing your wares in person. You get free endorsements. You save money on marketing and marketing research. You get to meet your target market or at least figure out who they are and what motivates them. And, it saves you time. The start up costs are low, and the marketing benefits for your company are high.

In Conclusion: 
A home party gets people in front of your products and in front of you. Use this power for good and not evil. Learn from your clients and understand what motivates them. Then, you will also know why they buy from your online shop when they do. This is an invaluable lesson which you will only learn easily by being in front of your audience in person.

Next Lesson: Strategic Home Product Party Planning

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1 comment:

  1. Great article, some of my favorite times have been selling at home parties.