Special Offers and other Disasters

Why Sales rarely help.


Some horrible truths

The mostly likely reason for something not selling is the public simply don’t like it. Not its price

People lie. They say they can’t afford something as the kindest way  not to buy .

Cutting prices makes existing customers regret their purchase and wait for the sale next time 

Special offers are for Baked Beans. They are not a quick sales fix for handmade craft that isn’t selling

The Why, How & Where of Sales

WHY are you having a sale?

You have to decide what you want to achieve

garment workers

Do you want to move stock that isn’t selling?

Is it priced above your better sellers? If it is, it could be that the price is too high for your market place. You have a choice: try reducing the price, or try another market place.

Can you afford to reduce the price and still make a reasonable profit? If you can’t, withdraw the stock. Thats  cheaper than running a sale that can’t make  any money and  better than drawing attention to unloved product.

Selling at a price just to recoup the cost of materials has to be done out of the spotlight or it will tarnish your other products

shopper Vivian Maier 56

Do you want to get more interest in your online shop/website?

When sales dry up its hard to resist taking action.


Having a sale to draw attention to  products which aren’t selling is  the equivalent of hitching your skirt up a bit further.  The horrible truth is, if you didn’t excite much interest initially, you still won’t.

If your products aren’t selling you need to develop new product or change the market place, having a sale is just moving the deck chairs on the Titanic.  It may just be  a seasonal issue in which case keep your nerve and wait it out.


A reasonably successful site can try a short offer which will increase attention and widen interest BUT you have to construct it really carefully

I like POST FREE.  At best that will persuade the buyers on the brink to come out and pay.

But  take anything off the shop whose profit won’t survive the offer.

HOW do you do a sale?

First of all you have to decide on your offer and that means a really careful examination of what you can afford. You must work from your profit margins, not from your  prices.

If you make a 10% reduction on an item with 10% profit you lose your profit entirely.

You need to use your sale to promote your site in a positive way .

oldfield invite

Sales must be stylish, not bargain basement


This sale feels like an oportunity, without any loss of status.

Notice it says nothing what so ever about price


Here is a small craftsperson keeping  her sale up market

WHERE Do you have your Sale?

vacuum cleaning, 1950s

It is important to regularly spring clean your online sites taking down any poor sellers. Online is your shop window and it’s where you have to look your best. Thats why any reductions have to be very carefully presented.

It is not the place to  cheap off your poor sellers. You do that in person at a show which has not gone well where you already know your customers are not there. The last depressing day you put out some of this stock and you cheap it off in the hope of getting your stall fee, or you deliberately choose a pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap market stall.

This is your equivalent of factory outlet stores. Keep the unsuccessful stuff well away from your winners.

Sometimes its better to bite the bullet on non -selling stock

and Vouchers?


I really don’t like these either, especially the ones that are put in with the product  to encourage the customer to buy again. To me these are a way of saying you have just overpaid.

No Discounts Ever?


Almost, except you are allowed to do a little sweetener to get people to purchase at a show, or open studios, rather than  buying online at their leisure. You want them to know about your website but you need them to buy right now, so you offer a discount if you can afford one.

How do you evaluate a sale?


You can’t

There is no certain way of knowing how many of those buyers would have bought at full price

Even if it produced more sales than usual, how do you know that wasn’t due to the extra publicity you gave the sale?

It is always saltatory to work out after a so-called successful sale how much profit you gave away. I made this much, rather than this much. Don’t deal in percent as that is a great cover for a nasty reality.

Next time you feel a sale coming on


Announce that you are going to put all your prices up in a month’s time.

It will have exactly the same effect as a sale and will save you a lot of money.


Okay that’s my take on Sales tell me your experiences of them, good and bad

Read also Pricing For Failure and you will be ahead of the pack

21 thoughts on “Special Offers and other Disasters

  1. Sharon says:

    This sounds like very good advice. I used to make jewellery, but have now moved on to something different, and used my website to reduce all my left over pieces, in order to shift them. I didn’t make one sale, so have instead decided to wear it myself or as Mandy has said, I will break them down and reuse the beads on my new venture.

    I offer excellent value & quality for money, when compared to bigger companies, selling similiar products, so therefore I wouldn’t reduce prices as such. I am in the process of building a new website and will be launching my new business with the new products very soon. I usually sell direct at fayres, where I will do a special offer, at least this way, I know I am still making a profit. Otherwise if someone has purchased a number of items from me, then I will give a small gift of something they have not chosen as a sample. They are usually very happy with this, as it’s not often people get something for free.

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Why on earth if I show I love your work and am happy to buy it do you then give me a piece free. That makes me feel it can’t be worth buying if its just given away. That is so, so WRONG.

      You have to have greater confidence in what you make and in your new venture. You should be telling the world all about it, not being coy and protective . Tell the world, get some feedback now, before you are over committed

  2. Claire Fairall says:

    Great simple and clear advice- thank you.
    I made a selection of blue bags after a run of events where customers asked for blue- well you can guess what happened 3 years later I still have blue bags- I’ve tried putting them on sale, they still did not go…. sometimes the product just is not right, and trying to promote it in a sale is just drawing attention to it!!!
    It’s time to move on and stop advertising my mistake

  3. Eena says:

    Every three or four months I give a range of unsold items to a rather classy charity shop well away from the areas where I do my craft fairs and makers’ markets. They make a display, put a sign up saying ‘brand new handcrafted designer originals by X, kindly donated as surplus stock, 50% normal price!’ and they are sold within days.

    Good profits for the shop, and it’s a charity I want to support anyway, so good feelings for me. Win-win, I believe. Better than throwing them out as rags, too.

  4. Mandy says:

    I knew I had to do something with the pieces I was making when I first started, and putting them ‘on sale’ seemed like the best idea… now I’ve read this piece, I plan on breaking up the last few pieces (of jewellery) I have in my sale – it can nearly all be re-used anyway – and I’ll make some lovely things that will be more like my style these days, which I know people DO like…
    Thank you as always for such honest advice!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      Do you know I nearly said jewellers you are lucky because you can remake in the piece. Being creative goes in waves and while you are in the wave every thing is wonderful but when the tide eventually goes out there are always some pieces caught on the shore and you are right scoop them up and make them part of the new wave you are creating. Just don’t put them in cut price no man’s land to seep gloom into the rest of your work

  5. Penny Graham-Jones says:

    Thanks so much for this. It’s put into words the gut feeling I had about my unsold Christmas stock which I just quietly removed from the shop. I had no idea if I would be regarded as being a bit precious about my stuff, but I’d rather give it away to someone I care about than devalue it in a sale. Just cos it didn’t find a home doesn’t make it less unique or worth less.
    Glad I got it right!

    • Dixie Nichols says:

      You get products that run and then just stop you can’t put your finger on why but you have an instinct that the game is over for them, but they are just as good as they were before and giving them to people you are fond of is a excellent solution and you will be able to bask in their praise which is very good for you. That seems to me an elegant win-win solution

  6. rozbeads says:

    Wow- This was an eyeopener. I could not understand why my sale offers, fan appreciation, etc didn’t generate revenue. Now I know & I understand your points. Awesome & very useful content. Thank You!

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