Selling a somewhat artisanal product such as gift baskets can be difficult. People don’t always understand how they can be beneficial in a business context, which is where the most consistent, most profitable sales are likely to be found. Others will prefer to assemble their own baskets without realizing that this is likely to cost them more, both in terms of time and money. Luckily, there exists a simple solution to this problem: giving away a few of your products to the local businesses who are most likely to order from you in future. Free stuff is rarely unwelcome, and doing this can drive the point home that you are able to provide an excellent, useful product for a reasonable price.
Show, Don’t Tell
The average sales or office manager is unlikely to have an abundance of time or a paucity of ideas on how to connect with their clients, visitors from out of town or other third parties. Nor will all of them be familiar with the idea of gift baskets as a marketing tool: some of them will be reminded of some monstrosity containing wilting bananas and candy that can be found in any corner store, while others will think that gift baskets are too expensive at the price.
Remember that you will be competing with numerous other options when it comes to your client marketing themselves to their clients: restaurant meals, event tickets and branded merchandise such as pens and baseball caps. A gift basket generally costs more than the latter, while other kinds of engagement allow a salesperson or other representative to spend time with a client in a relaxed atmosphere.
The only way to show that gift baskets are a viable option to impress and get the attention of other businesses is to give potential clients something they can see, touch and smell. This allows you to demonstrate that baskets have their own advantages: they need not cost the earth, they can be couriered or delivered to multiple people at once, and they offer unique possibilities for incorporating advertising messages in a way that recipients are bound to notice without being intrusive.
Put Your Efforts Where They’ll Stick
Delivering a sample basket to “The office, 42 South Street” virtually guarantees that everything edible, elegant or shiny will have disappeared into a dozen hands long before anyone who’s in a position to make a decision about ordering from you even sees it.
Instead, a personal visit to deliver your sample baskets could take no more than ten minutes each and allows you to leave a price list, make a personal connection and ask around until you find the person who is most likely to order from you in future. If your cost of assembling a sample basket is $10 and you sell them at $20, you’ll want each sample basket, on average, to result in at least another being ordered. This will usually require not only having a great value offering, but also in letting potential buyers know what kinds of benefits gift baskets can bring them, and how well they compare to other alternatives.
Finally, make sure that potential clients can actually find you! If the sole way for them to contact your company relies on a card affixed to the exterior of a covered basket, chances are that it will be lost along with the packaging. Few people will be willing to do a large amount of work only to spend their money.
Making an Impression is Good, Selling Value is Better
It’s far better to sell 100 baskets at $5 profit each than 10 that each earn $50. The former makes getting repeat business that much more likely and helps drive down your costs by allowing you to negotiate with your own suppliers.
For this reason, while you will probably offer one or two high-ticket baskets for exceptional circumstances, it’s better to focus on products that offer the highest degree of perceived value for the lowest cost – you are giving them away for free, after all. Little touches like ribbons, careful arrangement of the contents and double-checking every promotional basket cost nothing but time and will certainly be worth it.
It is certainly a good idea to get a little creative when making a budget stretch further. The idea is to be as elegant as possible for the lowest reasonable cost, the savings of which can be passed on to your clients. Buying in bulk and using your own branded packaging is a good idea, as is considering substitutions, such as choosing an essential oil burner and its supplies over scented candles. Also, do a little research and tweak each basket you plan to give away: primarily male companies will only be confused by a basket containing many female beauty products, while alcohol is not always appropriate.