Positive Yarn

December 11, 2008

‘Non-disposable’ income

Filed under: Business marketing — heathergooch @ 4:58 pm
Tags: , , ,

While I stood in line at the library checkout last night, my daughter asked whether she could have the books she picked out to carry in her own bag. Our library system has been providing heavy-duty plastic bags for years, and while I try to reuse them as much as possible, I had only brought one with me.

“Sure,” I said, figuring that was about five less High School Musical junior novels I had to carry.

As Hannah went to grab one from the counter, the librarian looked over and said “Go ahead and take one, but these are the last that we’re carrying — once these run out, we’re not getting any more.” She turned and pointed to a canvas bag on a wall display behind her. “We’ll start pushing these more.”

While paying $3 for a library-logoed canvas bag isn’t exactly the bargain that the free plastic bags were, it certainly makes a lot of sense from both the library’s budget and carbon footprint points of view. Plus, who says bags are required when you can just carry the books out the door like we did in the “old days”?

It got me to thinking about the needlework shops that I frequent. When I make a purchase, I usually take it out in a nice floral (sometimes striped) paper bag. I’ve only been to one shop that printed its logo on the bag — and I think that’s a missed opportunity for the rest of us.

I’m not saying that your paper bags should go away entirely, but why not test the market for canvas bags with your logo? Diehard customers might like to have a dedicated “ABC Yarns” bag that they use for purchases in your shop, and will also likely find them useful to hold their latest project. Said project might go with them to stitch-ins, airports, doctor offices and other places where your logo (and Web address and phone number, of course!) is exposed.

Plus, by this time next year, the bags might be just the thing a holiday shopper is looking for to round out their gift purchase, either empty or filled. Set aside a table that displays a gift bag special: Your bag holding a couple of slow sellers plus a couple small hot items, all for a set price like $25, could be the magnet that draws in folks who simply aren’t sure what to buy the “stitcher who has everything.”

The bags are also easy value-adds throughout the year:

  1. Take a cue from the cosmetic companies: “Free bag with $50 purchase” during your anniversary sale, for example.
  2. If you’re asked to participate in a fund-raiser auction, the bag filled with some goodies and coupons for your shop delivers a consistent brand message to every bidder who passes by.
  3. Use the bags to hold kits you create for classes (if there are enough materials in each kit so it’s at least semi-full). You can charge a bit of a premium to make up the cost, but the practice separates you from the zipped-top crowd.
  4. Fill a bag with slow sellers and invite people to sign up for a giveaway during an open house sale. On the form, make sure you include a box to check if they want to be added on your mailing list.
  5. Reward employees for a contest, or on an anniversary day, birthday, etc., with a bag containing a surprise. It could be a scarf you made for them, a gift card (I recommend placing such a tiny thing into a big box in the bag, for a quick laugh and to ensure they don’t think you just tossed them a $3 bag), a set of hand lotion, box of their favorite tea, or whatever you’d give them wrapped up anyway.

It’s a simple investment that can pay off in marketing — and feeling good about the environment.

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