Marketing Information and Tips

Pricing Your Products
We can all charge whatever we want for our soaps, pricing guidelines are just helpful hints to point you in the right direction. But don't sell yourself short! Do take into consideration that while you might not value your time right now, you *must* put a decent dollar value on what you are doing if you plan to ever be able to produce in large quantities and make some money. If you aren't buying supplies wholesale, you simply can't afford to sell to stores wholesale...yet. While it is tempting to sell alot of product to stores, consider what will happen when they re-order and you realize you can barely afford to pay for replacement materials, much less anything else. You can run yourself out of business before you even really get started. If you make a good product, be proud of it and of your efforts. Maybe your costs are high now, but don't let that discourage you. Do some craft shows or other retail-type sales arrangements until such time as you can do things wholesale. Don't feel so desperate to make a sale that you devalue all your hard work and pains, you will end up shooting yourself in the foot. Try to take a long-range view of what you are doing and where you plan to go with your soapmaking, and set your prices to help you get there.
Rebecca Keifer

A Pricing Formula
First, we'll define a couple of things:
Raw materials are things like your essential oils, fixed oils, herbs, etc. Packaging materials are things like bottles, wrappers, bags, boxes, etc.

This may sound confusing, but it works in most cases.

Figure out your raw material cost for each and every item in a particular sellable item. For example, if one batch of soap is in question, figure out the cost of each ounce of oil, water, lye, essential oil etc. Then, you can divide this total by the number of sellable bars you usually get from this batch. This is your Raw Material Starting Cost (for example).

Next figure out how much it costs to wrap or package each bar (or each batch) of soap. This is your Packaging Material Starting Cost (for example).

Now this following formula was given to us by an aquaintance several years ago. In most cases it works really well to give you your RETAIL price.

Raw Material Starting Cost x 144% = ?
Packaing material Starting Cost x 150% =?

Total these two, then multiply by 200, 220, or 240%. This will give you enough room for labor costs (personally, I don't work for $5.00, how about you? I work for $10-15 per hour, depending on what I am making ... I charge more of an hourly rate for dream pillows, because I sew each pillow individually, but I might only charge $10 per hour for making bath crystals).

For example:
Let's say your raw material cost for one batch of soap is $23.40. Multiplied by 144%, would give you a cost of $33.70. If you get 30 bars out of a batch, that makes a bar now $1.12 each (this is NOT cost of goods.....your cost of goods sold is the raw material cost, plus raw packaging cost per item....).

Let's say, now that it costs me 0.20 to wrap one bar of soap. 0.20 x 150% =0.30.

Now, adding the two together, I come up with $1.42 per bar. (Remember, this is just an example). $1.42 x 200% = $2.84 retail; $1.42 x 220% = $3.13 retail; $1.42 x 240% = $3.41 retail.

From here, you now decide what your wholesale discount will be. By offering a wholesale discount of, say, 50%, you are now charging your customers $1.42 per bar if you used the 200% labor markup.

The actual cost of a bar of soap using this example is: 0.98; you make almost 100% profit using this example.

I hope this helps. It really helps us, and it really does work for most all items. You just really need to take some time and figure out the exact COST of EVERYTHING that goes into your product. The 144%, 150% and 200/220/240% markups help not only with labor costs, but overhead costs, too.
Pat Stang

Give Aways
At craft shows I have a free draw for a basket of soap(again small or irregular bars wrapped nicely) when people stop to fill out the ballot they usually ask questions and then your free to make your pitch. I am not a salesperson either. I'm not comfortable approaching people but this way they are approaching you. For me the orders I've gotten this way outweigh any cost involved.

Tips on Combating Heat and Storing Money
I've done a couple of outside craft shows (Virginia) this Spring/Summer and would highly recommend an umbrella or covering of some type. YOU will get burned (especially in Texas) and your soaps will suffer. My vanilla soaps glistened with bits of oil coming out due to the heat (other soaps didn't). Also, take $50 in one dollar bills and get lots of change if your prices warrant it. I use a fannypack for taking and giving out change - it's convenient and safe (the insurance company recommended it!). It's nice to do shows because people make alot of nice comments. Have fun; it might not be so profitable but it's good marketing and great to interact with customers.
Patty B. Harrison

Promoting Bath Salts
Use a cookie jar that has the lid at an angle. Fill that up with bath salts and have a scoop in it, it is really pretty and have it set on the table so people will not have 'comfortable' access to just lift it up, but when they asked what it is, you can unscrew the lid and there is instant scent!

Tip for a successful craftshow
The crucial mistake that many crafters at the show were making....NOT TALKING TO CUSTOMERS! I cannot begin to tell you how many crafters sit around, looking bored, arms crossed, not getting up when someone comes to their booth. It's hard to imagine, but I think most of these people go home, wondering why they don't sell very much, and cursing the show promoter for producing a "bad show"....when they were instruments in their own destruction!!! But by far, the crafters who do well are the ones demonstrating their crafts, talking with customers, saying hello, handing out samples, etc.

INTERACTION is the KEY!!! Get out there and sell your stuff! Don't assume your stuff will sell itself!!!
Ingrid Armstrong

Another tip for craftshows
Something that everyone should do when at a fair, talking to new clients or even friends. You should always have some sort of order form with a list of your products and some info about you and your company. I have found this very valuable. I can't tell you how many times that someone has asked me for some information and how embaressed I was when I didn't have it. Now I can just pull out my mail order catalog with a sample of soap and pass it along to the individual. I also have a small suitcase filled with soap in my car because you never know when you might encounter a time to sell.
Kelly Smith 1/15/99

News Paper Interviews
I would like to thank everyone who sent me congratulations & tips concerning my recent newspaper interview. I thought I would post a summary of all the marketing tips I received from this wonderful group. There were some great ideas presented, & I hope they are of use to everyone.
  1. From Roberta - Place a classified ad (she puts it in the Personals column) at the same time the article runs.
  2. From Patricia - Call the editor after the article runs & thank him/her. This could just lead to other things.
  3. From Marv - Buy at least 100 copies of the article for future self-promotion.
  4. From Sandy - Send gift baskets to appropriate editors at all nearby papers. Some of them may call you for an interview. My thought here was that when the article ran, I would take a gift basket in person to the editor and thank him (Patricia's suggestion).
  5. From Jane - Get copies of the photos & article. Jane said if I ask nicely they may give me a set of photos or use of the negatives to make my own copies. Then make bunches of copies. Same for the article - they should give me several & I could make copies.
  6. From Melanie - Laminate a couple of copies of the article. Keep one in a safe place & proudly display the other one at your business or booth. Make another copy & cut & paste it onto a sheet of white photocopy paper, make lots of copies, & send them to your mailing list with a *Have you seen this?* note. Also make sure your contact info is on there somewhere & send it out with every price list or every piece of soap you sell. You can even photocopy it onto the back side of your price list if you wish.
This is certainly a great bunch of ideas that could really help. One last tip - the reporter told me that newspapers wish people would call them about unique businesses or hobbies because they just can't be aware of everything. So, HAVE YOU CALLED YOUR NEWSPAPER TODAY??? It's certainly worth a try...
Joyce Carlsbad, NM

Keeping Customers and Getting New Ones
It is very important to get to know your existing customers. The more you know about them the easier it is to sell more to them and to get more customers. It is very costly and labor intensive to just helter-skelter after customers.

A print shop owner I do some marketing consulting for is always muttering how poor business is. He insists his sales people go out and make cold calls - "I need to get more business!!!" No calling on existing customers because "They already are a customer." I've discovered former customers in his records who have done thousands and thousands of dollars of business with him. Why did they stop?? "I don't know, they just stopped coming in for some reason."

He has lost more business from current customers by looking for new customers than he's gotten from new. His sales energy is sucked up in frustrating calls to resistant contacts.

First! You get every last cent of sales from your existing customers BEFORE you go looking for new.

You do mailings to offering them products THEY HAVE SHOWN A HISTORY OF USING. You make them special offers, you educate them about your products and so on.

Second! When you do need new customers you get new customers by going to where your old ones came from.

How do you know where your customers come from? You make sure you get to know them. You become downright nosey! What magazines do you read, Dick? What radio station do you prefer, Jane? What do you do for a living, Sally? Where do you live, Puff?"

You'll begin to see definete patterns emerge. Common threads will run through your customer base. And when you are ready for new customers you will know where to go to look for them. If you discover a lot of your customers are...say...upper-class country clubbers (and don't we all wish)...parking lot under the wiper flyers ARE NOT for you. Fish where the fish are. In order to do that you need to know your fish and what bait they will rise to.

If you discover most of your customers buy from you because they like your bubbly personality use that to get most customers.."Bubbly Beth will make washing behind your ears a trembly pleasure!"

Advertise only in the media your customers use- the papers THEY read, the radio stations THEY listen to...

Go where they are. If ya got 'em, milk 'em. If you don't have them, know who you're looking for the go to where they are.
Marv Walker

An Answer to "Is it lye soap?"
After having gotten the "is this lye soap?" question numerous times, which of course set me off into a long explanatory speech expounding the wonders of saponification, I finally opted for a different strategy. I made one batch of lard and lye soap, cut it into big chunks, wrapped in brown paper, tied with jute. I made a sign that says "Just Like Grandma's Lye Soap" for that basket of soaps. All my veggie soaps,beautifully wrapped or bare but marbled, etc are on one table.The "other" soap sits forlornly on the other table with misc herbal products. Most, not all of my customers look over everything, make their own conclusions, and merrily buy the safe, apparently "non lye soaps". If people outright ask me, I still talk about saponification until their eyes glaze over, I don't lie about lye, but it comes up much less often. The blessing to me is that I had kind of become like a crazy person when I heard the question and was afraid someday I'd attack some little old lady, knock her to the ground,scrub her leg with a bar of my soap, and ask, "Does this feel harsh to you?" This is probably not an approved marketing technique.

Leaves of real soap!! Wow... lookee here - if you do this on relatively wet soap, won't it curl - woodshaving-wise? Yesss - and then have a basket of melba toast... a range of colours on a white fabric over the basket stuffing, a couple of dried 'real' leaves in, too, get some beautiful coloured ones like virginia creeper and oak, a few acorns and there are your gift baskets for the autumn fayres....)
Melanie Dunstan

Scenting Business Cards and Brochures
Store your business cards and brochures with your soaps and other fragrant products. That way you get great scented cards for free and they represent your own unique products. This also can apply to boxes/materials you use for wrapping/shipping. (No, not my idea - everytime I order from Sunfeather Soap, the entire boxed smells great.) Also, a good idea was shared about separating scented cards/etc from unscented ones.
Iris Emily

Scent Sampling Aid
Here's a tip for the scent mixing problem. Keep a little jar of instant coffee on your table. When you nose (or your customer's nose) gets saturated with scent, sniff the coffee. It clears the olfactories so you can smell more scents and actually be able to smell them. It'll really impress your customers that you're so knowledgeable and you may sell more that way.

Finding Customers
Anywhere you do business is a possibility: banks, realtors, stores....leave a basket for sale...give the people a bar of soap to use in the staff washroom...a bottle of lotion for the people in the office to use. Lots of possibilities! Make sure you also give/leave lots of cards, brochures and price lists.
Sherri-Lee Gagnon

Catchy Naming
At the tiny city festival this last weekend, my two best sellers were ones with catchy names. My guy soap, I took the plunge and called it "Stud bubbles". Folks loved the name and lots of ladies bought just to give that guy. They went away giggling. The other one was "Victorian Flowers", a purple bar with lavender flowers in a mixed flower scent base. They said it reminded them of relatives. I advertise it with "reminds you of attics, aunts and old English movies"...
Sharon A. Ruck

Bed and Breadfast Opportunities
You may not know it, but you have *two* sales opportunities in a B&B: the small guest bars and full-size take-home bars. If your soap is as outstanding as you hope it is, once a guest uses it, they very likely will want some for home use as well as to give a co-worker or relative when they get home. Be sure to stress the possibility of check-out or after-stay sales of the full-size bars.

Keep in mind that cutting, wrapping and labeling the small bars is just as much work as a large bar - but you won't get nearly the price you probably need. I would suggest 1 to 2 ounces at least 2 x 3 inches - any smaller dimensionally and it will be difficult to use.

Something else to consider is suggestions for the innkeepers use of all the little leftover, partially used guest soaps . . . in the laundry? What are the benefits? How easy/hard are they to use?

Another consideration is custom labeling - are you prepared and/or willing to do this? The labels should be supplied by the B&B; if they don't have them, you should be paid an extra fee for this service. You'll probably have to feel out how to present this to each individual inn owner: a very diverse, individualistic bunch of folks. What works for one may not/probably won't appeal to another. You'll have to play it by ear.

Do your homework before you pitch them: find out as much as you can about their establishment - talk to folks at your chamber, get their brochure, call and pretend you want to get information to decide on staying there. They probably are quite proud of their inn - or exhausted and sick of it. Running a B&B is a ton of work! How does the look/feel of your product fit in with their decor/theme?

I can't tell you how to price your soaps, but you *must* pay yourself as well as pay for your ingredients and other overhead. Be sure to take into consideration how much time it takes to make your soap the way you do it.
Jane Ujhazi

Giving Free Samples
Why not give out some free samples with the condition that they fill out a questionnaire about the product and what they thought of it. Then you have feedback and also a possible customer list?

A Soap Survey
Soap Survey

Type of soap:___________________________________________Date:____________

Please us the following scale to rate this bar of soap:
	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10
  Totally 							  	        The Best 
Unacceptable								  	Possible Bar

I.  First, please rate your present soap:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

What is your current Brand and Type of soap?______________________________

Comments on your current soap:____________________________________________


Now for the soap sample I gave you with this questionnaire:

II.  Appearance:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10	

III.  Texture:
	Outside texture:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

	Texture when wet:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

IV.  Lather:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

V.  Scent:
	Dry Scent (new bar):

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

	Wet Scent:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10


	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

VI.  Overall rating for this bar of soap:

	1	2	3	4	5	6	7	8	9	10

VII. Pricing:
	What do you feel is a fair price for this bar of soap?


	What is the most you'd pay for this bar of soap?


VIII.  Additional comments: ____________________________________________


(if you need more space feel free to use the rest of this page and the
back of this form)

I really want to thank you for taking the time to fill this questionnaire
out...I want to make the best possible soap and your comments and input
will help make this possible.  If you have any other ideas of soaps you'd
like to see, feel free to put them on this form as well;  and, if you have
any special skin needs let me know, perhaps we can come up with a soap
that will help!

Company Name

Setting up a Web Site

You need someone to host your website and you need to get it registered. Search Yahoo under Web Hosting. You'll come up with a long list of companies willing to host your website. Break it down from there to see monthly prices/vs. features you will want/how much space they give you etc.

If you want online ordering, you need a host that can handle cgi scripting or has it's own shopping cart service. This is for credit card processing online only. If you do not take credit cards via the web, you can just do a simple form and have the customers phone in their card numbers.

You need to register your domain name via Internic. I believe the current charge is 70$ for 2 years. Some web hosts will do this for you for free, some will charge you a 'service charge'. The charge is ludicrous - find out first, if there's a charge, do it yourself. It's as easy as filling out a form. Go to Search in their search window to see if the domain name you want is available, then follow the instructions on their website to register your new name.

You will need to give this domain name to the web host once it is approved. All web files are ftp'd (transfered) to your personal ftp site in order for you to get them onto the web. The web host will provide you with a user name and pass to do this.
Nancy Gallagher 12/03/98

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