Episode 205: Show Notes
Today on the podcast we welcome Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp. Katie is a third-time guest on the show, where she was on previously to talk about wholesale and tradeshows. Katie is a business strategist, a mentor to creative entrepreneurs and has been super helpful for us in the realm of retail and all things product based. Today, Katie brings a new conversation to the table to help all you service-based babes who are wanting to dip your toes into physical products but just don’t know where to start. She is going to talk to us about how service-based businesses, and any business really, can start having a product shop without housing an inventory.
We are going to be breaking down drop shipping, print on demand and the different software and systems that you can set up to get you going as hassle free as possible. Katie will also be giving you a bunch of vital questions that you need to be asking yourself in order to help get yourself ready for your product journey and ensure that you are setting expectations from the get-go. This conversation definitely set fire to our own booties and inspired us to get our own products listed. If introducing products is an idea you’ve been toying with for a while but just don’t know where to start, Katie is here to help us hit the ground running.
What Does It Mean To Be A Product-Based Business Without Inventory?
For a service-based business there are ways for you to dip your toes in the water and build out some automated systems, so that you don’t have to invest in and house a lot of inventory. However, adding physical products to your business is still a lot of work. A good example that Katie gives of a service-based business that has successfully incorporated physical products into the business is Robin Long of A Balanced Life. She provides a service of yoga videos but also has an online shop that sells a handful of products. She uses print on demand services that connects to her online shop. When orders come in, the print on demand service fulfills it and sends it out directly to her customers. Robin has under 10 different products which all have the same artwork on them. A lot of people think you need a super wide range of products. But this is not necessarily true. You can keep it simple, like Robin has done. The trick is to find complementary products that are going to fit in with what your audience is already looking for from you. Incorporating products into your business can serve as an extra revenue stream for you and it can also serve to attract a wider audience to you and your service. And yes, it can be done without an inventory using the print on demand / drop ship systems.
The Downfalls Of Not Creating Inventory And Having Someone Drop Ship Instead
When you use drop shippers you are paying a higher price per item. When you are running a product-based business, you will at some point need to house inventory because you are going to want to order higher volumes. So one of the downfalls is that your profit margin will be slightly less using a print on demand service because you’re paying more per piece. However, if you think of the time you would be spending to receive the order, package the order, go to the post office – it’s really non-negotiable. A lot of people just don’t factor in the cost of their time, so the higher price for that print on demand service kind of feels like you are trading the time for the money. Katie recommends Printed Mint as a great site for print on demand / drop shipping services. They have a wide range of apparel that you can personalize and you can order as little as one item at a time! You can also have them ship products directly to your customers so that it looks like it’s coming directly from your company.
Printful is another helpful site with a wide range of apparel, however they do also sync with online shops like Shopify, so it’s a lot less hand-off than Printed Mint. Another great option recommended by Katie is Digital Lizard. So check them out! The whole point of this conversation is to layer in added revenue with products and to make it as simple and streamlined as possible. It’s not to create a separate business model, so keep it simple and do what works for you. The truth is, we just don’t know if people are going to respond to you adding products to your service-based business and that’s one of the beauties about the print on demand services – you don’t run the risk of ordering high volumes of product that no one wants! So start small, say five products, market them, see what people like, see what they don’t like. What they don’t like, pull down and try something new!
How To Know What Products To Add To Your Service-Based Business
Before you starts adding products to your business, you of course need to know what might be relevant to audience and what can compliment the service you already offer. So think about what people come to you for, your catch phrases, the words you use, your personality, your brand design and colours etc. How can you incorporate that into your product, so that when they see that product, they think of you? But at the same time, nobody wants a damn mug with your logo on it! There’s a difference between being on-brand and just slapping your logo on it. So ask yourself, are you actually adding value to your clients with the products you add or are you just adding more clutter to your website and to their lives? It’s easy to head straight for the generic products like coffee mugs and t-shirts, but try to think outside of the box a little bit. What product will fulfill and excite you and at the same time really serve your audience? Introducing products is for the most part really fun and it’s very easy to get absorbed in the fun aspect of it. But just be aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to double your business! So be careful not to spend too much time on products if they are not your main revenue stream. By using a drop ship service you will be able to test what products are working, faster. So you will know which ones to cut and change, faster.
Setting Expectations: What Purpose Do You Want Your Products To Serve?
Ultimately, you need to set an intention with your products. What do you want to get out of this? Are you introducing them just to better serve your audience? Are you introducing them as an opt-in to lead them to your services or email list? Is it just to spread the word of your business? Or are you introducing them to double your income? Once you set your intention, it will guide your product choice and your project plan. Start off small and try to do something that feels good for you. And every three, six or 12 months, reassess and see how it is going. And consider your marketing plan for it too. Sometimes providing a physical thing that people can touch, share and use to talk about your brand can really be helpful when trying to break the ice with influencers, clients and the public. You need to get very intentional with your products and the systems that you set up because it can get very overwhelming, very fast! Even just finding the correct manufacturers can lead down a huge rabbit hole. So start simple and stay on track with the initial intention.
How To Set Tangible Goals On Your First Product Journey
It’s hard to know what type of goals to set when this is your first time dipping your toes into product sales. A good place to start however, is to set goals around how many products you want to sell and how many dollar bills you would like to bring in. And then you’d need to set goals for your three, six or twelve month checkpoints. Your goals also need to be non-quantifiable too, like are your products getting in front of people, can you see more people talking about your product on social media, are you seeing more people join your email list or buy your services since you launched your product, etc? Ultimately, you need to have a variety of goals and a variety of checkpoints for them. A good way to help you set goals and figure out how your audience is really feeling about your product, would be to set up a poll so that you can include your audience in discussions. You also need to bear in mind that this is not the path for everybody. It is a different aspect to your business entirely and it does require a different skill-set to manage, market and sell. So you need to really consider if this is something you want to get into in the first place. If it is, why? There’s no point in doing it simply because everyone else is.
Volume of Sales: How To Ensure That You Sell Enough To Make Enough.
Everybody’s business is different but the most important thing to look at is your own personal trends and see who is coming back and where you are getting repeat orders. Repeat orders are great but you also want to see where you are getting new customers in. It all goes back to those check-ins and seeing which products are selling best and where are the trends; monitoring that information and responding to it. Notifications and emails are hugely important, so systemize a way to remind people of things they added to their cart or wish list. It’s just as important in a product-based business, as in a service-based business, to be constantly re-evaluating your numbers. And more than just your expenses and income but really looking at the patterns within the products. It is very different for every company, so get to know your numbers!
- What Does It Mean To Be A Product-Based Business Without An Inventory? [0:02:50.1]
- The Downfalls Of Not Creating Inventory And Having Someone Drop Ship Instead. [0:07:50.1]
- How To Know What Products To Add To Your Service-Based Business. [0:15:15.1]
- Setting Expectations: What Purpose Do You Want Your Products To Serve? [0:22:50.1]
- How To Set Tangible Goals On Your First Product Sale Journey. [0:27:50.1]
- Volume of Sales: How To Ensure That You Sell Enough To Make Enough. [0:36:40.1]
- Start small and keep it simple.
- Do your research and find great manufacturing partners.
- Run your numbers.
- Build and automate systems.