You have started your soap business, crafted your marketing strategy, created a brand, and built a product portfolio. Have you? If not, we suggest starting with our soap marketing guide.
It’s time to start selling! This guide will give you practical advice on how to sell soap online and offline.
Selling Soap to Retail
Selling to retail stores might be the most challenging, because you have two sets of customers, the store itself and the store’s customers.
Store buyers are busy. Make that the first assumption of your marketing. They’re busy managing the products they already have and usually don’t have time to explore new products. There’s a strong tendency to stick with what works, what’s already selling. It’s up to you, your consistency and your insistence, to overcome store buyers’ reluctance if you want your soap on their shelves. Though the nature of markets differ, the three basic rules of marketing don’t change: 1) Generate leads; 2) Follow up with leads; and 3) Be consistent with both #1 and #2.
Selling to Local Stores
Nothing beats face-to-face marketing. Most stores have a preference for local products and are very receptive to trying yours out, especially if you take the time to do it in person.
- Remember you have two customers, the store and the store’s customers. Your lead generation needs to take place more than once. Your first goal is to get the store as your customer. Your second is to work with the store to get more people to buy your soap.
- An effective approach to getting a new store account is to offer them a discount on their first purchase with the request that they pass this on to the customers in the form of a discount on the shelf. When you have a face-to-face relationship with the buyer, you can work with them to help generate customer leads.
- Continue to use promotions to gain new customers. Putting the soap on sale every 3-4 months is plenty. If you do it too often, people start waiting for the next discount.
- Don’t be discouraged. Local stores may require consistency and follow-up to land the initial account. Keep supplying them with soap samples until they give your product a try. If your soap is superior to the ones they carry, the buyer and the staff they share it with will notice.
Selling to Non-Local Stores
Say you’ve identified a non-local market segment, such as natural food co-ops. What can you expect? The process is much the same as the process for marketing to local stores. Lack of face-to-face opportunities, though, makes initial contacts and follow-ups more challenging than for local stores.
- Your first point of contact is the HABA (Health and Beauty Aids) department. Once there, you may have to ask for the department buyer. Offer to send them samples.
- Write a script for your phone call. Keep it brief. Most of us can get wordy when we’re under pressure. A script will keep you on track.
- When you send samples, include product information and a price list that shows your opening order discount.
- Make sure to send sample-size soap. Whether it’s bar or liquid, buyers tend to keep full-size products for reference rather than using them. Since your goal is to get them to use your soap, samples are the best way to do that.
At Botanie, we offer 1-oz bars. Although 1-oz bars are most often associated with hotels, motels, and B&Bs, we sell as many to customers to use as samples as we do to be used as amenities. Those buying them for samples know what they’re doing.
Selling Soap at Farmers Markets
If you’re selling your soap at farmer’s markets and craft fairs, here are some concrete tips to turn your positive spirit into effective marketing and lead generation.
- Make sure to ask if you can put up signs in places other than your own booth. Most places will say no, but some won’t. If you don’t ask, no one can say yes.
- A good rule of thumb for the size of signs at your booth (or anywhere you put them up) is always make them larger than you think they should be. The purpose of signs is attracting attention, generating interest.
- Big and bold works best for signs.
- Simple also works best – a big header and a few bullet points is perfect.
- Avoid fancy fonts.
- Bigger signs cost more money, but good signs work and are worth the cost.
- Always stand up at your booth. Remaining standing is a form of positive engagement and people recognize this.
- Greet every person that passes, even if they’re really just passing by. You’ll be surprised how much soap you’ll sell to people who weren’t at the market to buy soap, simply by getting their attention. Remember, while you’re there, if you’re not selling, your job is to generate interest.
- Use scent to your advantage. Most booths are based solely on the visual, but passersby will be able to smell your booth, usually from 2-3 booths away.
- Once someone is at your booth – looking/reading/smelling – continue to generate interest. Talk about the essential oils in each bar and see if they can identify them.
- Ask if they ever have dry skin (guaranteed slam dunk: everyone that doesn’t use truly natural or organic soap does) and talk about why natural ingredients don’t cause it.
- Make sure you have specials, discounts, and free offers, and remind people of them.
- People love bargains, so be sure to give them the chance for one.
Selling Soap at Craft Fairs
Selling soap at craft fairs shares many of the same benefits as selling face-to-face at farmers' markets, including giving your customers the ability to sample products, ask questions, and give you feedback in real-time.
However, when you sell soap at craft fairs, you also have to consider how far you're willing to travel and how you're going to safely transport all of your inventory and display.
If you choose to go this route to sell your soap, you must be very diligent about researching. Most craft fairs are not highly advertised, so you should do regular rounds of research online to locate upcoming craft fairs. Unlike farmers' markets, craft fairs occur year-round. You just have to find them.
Try not to limit yourself to just one type of craft fair. Go to as many craft fairs and shows as possible, including niche events like Oktoberfest and Yule Day fairs.
10 Tips for Selling Soap Online and Offline
Here are ten ways to sell an extra bar of soap to both new and returning customers this new year.
1- Offer “Mystery” Soap Boxes
Intrigue your customers with a special surprise! Mystery boxes are a great way to sell extra inventory, including that extra bar of soap you have. Whether you have an online shop or a brick-and-mortar store, you can wrap these bars up and label them as mystery scents.
2- Provide an Incentive or Special
Another great way to sell an extra bar of soap is to offer a gift (monetary or physical) with the customer’s purchase. For example, for every $25 worth of soap purchased, your customer receives $5 off their next purchase. Plus, you can make the special specific to the soap products that you’re looking to sell.
3- Drop the Product Price
Of course, one of the easiest ways to sell your extra soap is to offer it at a discounted price. Whether it’s 50% off, buy one get one free, or another offer, your customers are sure to buy up that extra inventory. Dropping the price doesn’t necessarily mean lost money, either, given how much the average bar sells for. Make sure to advertise the price drop in-store and/or online!
4- Sell Some ‘Scrappy’ Soap
Take it from the team at Botanie, sometimes you just need to market your extra soap as scraps. For example, we offer one pound of mixed blends and sizes of soap on our website to sell extra products. In this case, the more you buy, the more you save! You can do the same; repurpose and repackage your extra soap to sell the scraps.
5- Give Out Free Samples
Sometimes the best way to sell a product is to give it away for free! You can cut up a bar of soap into sample sizes to entice customers into purchasing the full-sized product. Plus, it’s a great way for folks to try the product before they commit to buying. At Botanie, we offer sample sets, complete with free shipping.
6- Set Up a Shopify Store
If you don’t already have an online store, now’s the perfect time to set up a Shopify store to sell your extra soap products. You can easily upload the items you have for sale, write descriptions and share links on social media to spread the word and start generating sales. It’s never been easier to sell that extra bar of soap!
7- Bundle Complementary Products
Bundling products together is another great way to sell a package deal, including that extra bar of soap! Whether it’s a scent that wasn’t quite as popular or it’s a bar size that’s a bit too big or too small to sell on its own, simply bundle it with another product or two. With a bundle, you have the option of discounting the second product or you can actually drive the price up to account for the extras.
8- Remarket Your Soap
Another way to sell an extra bar of soap is to simply remarket it. You can do this without overhauling your packaging; it can be as easy as rewriting your website copy or including other benefits of using this particular soap. Remember, Botanie Soap is colored with organic herbs and plant-derived products. And our products contain no parabens. Share this information with your customers!
9- Partner with Local Businesses
Partnering with local businesses is an excellent way to spread the word and connect with others who may be looking for a product like yours. You can offer incentives to shop at each other’s stores, or you can bundle items if you sell similar products. People especially love to support businesses that support each other!
10- Create a Contest
If you want to get creative about selling that last bar of soap, create a fun contest for your customers to participate in. Much like #2 on this list, you can offer up the chance to win a prize if a customer purchases a specific product (in this case, the soap bars you’re looking to sell!). You can even have people earn extra entries if they post about the contest on social media – this way, you’ll get some free advertising out of it too!
3 Tips for Selling Soap During a Holiday Season
As an online store owner, holiday season is an exciting time for you. You want to get in front of as many potential customers as possible and convince them to purchase your products as a gift. Here are three tips for selling more to both new and returning customers this holiday season.
1. Offer Incentives and Specials
Holiday shopping is both stressful and exciting for many people. It’s fun to choose gifts for those you care about, but it can be draining to keep in mind your budget and the time you have available to go shopping. Special holiday products, sales and opportunities are all great ways to make the holiday shopping experience easier for your customers. This is also the perfect time to upsell or encourage additional purchases through buy one get one or loyalty program incentives.
Example: For every $50 gift card purchased, your customer receives a $10 gift card free.
2. Take Customer Service and Shipping Seriously
Let’s be honest. We have all shopped for a gift last minute! It’s so easy to fall behind while shopping for the holidays, and it’s so frustrating, when shopping online, to not know when an item will arrive. Your customers are experiencing this urgency and frustration during the holiday season, but lucky for you, providing high-quality customer service and straight forward shipping information can make the shopping experience so much more enjoyable. Take a hard look at your website and make sure it is obvious to a new user where they can go to get help or find out more information about their order. Ship using a company that provides real-time tracking and allow your customers to purchase expedited shipping.
Example: Invest in a customer service app that allows for instant chat on your website.
3. Focus on Your Customers’ Needs
Similar to the tip above, your customers are experiencing a wave of emotions and challenges during the holiday season. Understanding these challenges and what unique needs your customers have during this time allows you to provide high-quality, high-value products and services. Wondering how you can find out what your customers need? Simply ask! Send out a quick survey via email or have your cashier ask them a simple question when they make a purchase in your store.
Example: If you sell Botanie’s white-labeled soap to busy moms, offer free gift wrapping.
Level Up Your Sales This Holiday Season
The key to making more sales this holiday season is solving problems for your customers. From offering holiday discounts that encourage more purchases to offering top-notch customer service and additional perks, your company has the ability to make the holiday season simpler and more enjoyable. Once your customers realize that you meet and exceed their needs, they are more likely to continue to purchase from you year round, becoming high-quality return customers!