How to get to OCOC

Are you wondering how to gather funds in order to get to OCOC next year?  Our Business speaker for 2015 is Fiona Pullen, owner of online sewing resource The Sewing Directory, and author of the number one Amazon best selling Craft Business book "Craft a Creative Business".  Here Fiona gives tips and ideas on how to raise money in order to gather funds for any project, not just getting to OCOC.

Fiona with fashion icon, Zandra Rhodes, October 2014

Fiona with fashion icon, Zandra Rhodes, October 2014

How will you afford to go to Oxford Conference of Corsetry?

Tickets have just gone on sale, you’re looking longingly at the photos of past events and wishing that you could go to the Oxford Conference of Corsetry.  You know it will be great for your business, the networking, the new skills you’ll learn, getting professional photos for your portfolio.  However not everyone has £650 sitting in their account ready to spend on an amazing weekend away.

So how can you fund your trip to the Oxford Conference of Corsetry?

Shift that dead stock
Most of us have items we’ve made or bought that just didn’t sell like we expected.  You are reluctant to drop the price because you still believe that perfect buyer is out there.  However, it is taking up space and energy that could be devoted to products that will sell much quicker and easier.  Have a big rummage through and find that stock that has been sitting there for ages, reduce it down, promote your big sale, share pictures across social media, let them know it’s a flash sale (to encourage immediacy) and get it sold.  Put those funds aside to help fund your trip.

If you can include a little extra in your sale those extra bits of income could help fund your trip.  If you sell corsets could you offer matching accessories so you can sell 2 items per transaction instead of one?  If you’re selling your products as Christmas gifts could you charge a little extra for gift wrapping?   If you teach corsetry could you offer your students a little discount on another course once they’ve booked one, so you sell 2 spaces instead of one?   Or maybe a bring a friend offer?

Increase your profit margin
This is a bit of a trickier one, there are 3 ways of increasing your profit margin.  You either need to make your product faster (thereby decreasing the amount of time you put in), reduce your materials cost or increase your product costs. 

  • a) With regards to reducing the time I’m going to assume most of you have been doing this a while and are working to full productivity.  If you are still fairly new then do take the time to learn new techniques, study and read up on different ways of doing things to see if you find any shortcuts.  Have you tried batching if you are making several of the same item?
  • b) When it comes to the cost of materials many of us stick with the suppliers we found when we first started a business.  But it does pay to look around and see what else is out there, you could look at trade publications or attend trade shows to see what other suppliers there are or do some online research.  Even if it knocks just a couple of percentage of your costs over a year that can add up to quite a big saving.
  • c) Increase your product costs. Can you justify increasing your prices?  Could you aim at a market with bigger budgets, or use unique supplies that people are willing to pay a little extra for?  Has your skill level grown and your products evolved since you first priced them?  Have you looked to see how your prices compare to your competition, if they are charging more than you then perhaps you could get away with a small increase too?

Big promotional push!
It is the perfect time of year for a big marketing push.  Market your products as the ideal Christmas gift, step up your social media campaign, send a few reminder newsletters, send press releases out.  You may be too late for magazine coverage but perhaps you could get something into the local papers?  It might be worth looking at some low cost advertising like Facebook ads, or speak to complimentary businesses about cross promoting each other’s products to help reach a new audience.  Can you display flyers at Christmas events?  Could you write guest pots for relevant websites to help get your name and products out there?  People are planning to spend a lot of money over the next 5 weeks so make sure your products are in their mind whilst they are spending.

Hopefully I will see you at OCOC in August where I will be speaking about search engine optimisation and how it can help people find your products.

Written by Fiona Pullen, owner of The Sewing Directory and author of Craft a Creative Business.