Growing Your Business: 5 Ways to Connect With Your Customer

Digital life is an incredible thing. With social media, Handcrafters are able to reach more customers than ever before. No matter whether you sell in person or online, one thing is very important: connecting with your customer. Take a look at five things you can do to connect with your customer and move those fabulous products!

Be genuine. Customers can tell when you are not being genuine. Take an interested approach to conversations with your customer; don’t make them feel like you are too busy, or that they are bothering you. Oftentimes, you’ll be approached or contacted by someone who is curious about the process. Although it can take awhile to explain, don’t miss the opportunity to educate a customer-remember that if your customer is educated and excited about your product, they’ll spread the word and bring you more business.

Be honest. Don’t claim that your product can do something it can’t. Claiming your product can treat a skin condition, reverse hair loss or take 10 years off your customer’s face will get you sales, but it will also mean a herd of angry, unsatisfied customers later…not to mention an uncomfortable call from the FDA.

Be punctual. If you are attending a farmers’ market or have a brick and mortar location, punctuality is very important. Your customers are expecting you and your products to be available during the advertised hours-make sure you don’t let them down. 

Being punctual makes you look competent and organized.

This also applies when it comes to shipping products; have a timeline and stick to it. If you tell your customer that you will ship within two days, don’t put it off for five. If you have a customer who has asked for a special order, give a realistic timeline of completion-they will appreciate your punctuality when you deliver.

Be helpful. There are many reasons why a customer seeks out bath and body products (we know at least 6 reasons why ). Sensitive skin is one of those reasons. You don’t want to make any medical claims, but the opportunity to help someone with an allergy find a great product that they can enjoy will help you build a loyal customer base; as long as you are willing to put in a little extra time to help.

Be the bigger person. We are all guilty of gossiping from time to time, but this type of cattiness has no place in a business setting. Your customers will not respect you if you consistently trash talk other Handcrafters; it will make them

Gossip is a slippery slope that will make it difficult for customers to trust you.

uncomfortable, and they will not come back. If a customer asks about a competitor, politely steer the conversation back to your obviously fabulous products in a neutral way that is not an attack. Sometimes it can be difficult to take the high road, but it is always worth it.

Customers want a positive, welcoming experience from start to finish. Take a few moments to connect with your customers, and you’ll reap the benefit of a loyal customer base for years to come.

Honesty in Marketing: Why Transparency is Important

Imagine walking into a store; let’s say it’s a grocery store. You’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, ready to pick up your weekly supplies. As you meander down the vitamin aisle, you stop; a bottle on the shelf reads “Drop 25 pounds in one week AND grow 4 inches taller!”.

Now, most people will pass by this very confident weight loss/height enhancing bottle, but there are some that won’t. The people that do not walk past it will spend whatever amount is on the sticker and will inevitably be disappointed when seven days have passed and not only are they still the same height, but they are also the same weight. This is an example of dishonesty in marketing, and we’re going to talk about why that’s a no-no.

Staying in the same diet pill vein, think of the diet pill industry as a whole. Typically, that industry has been riddled with bogus products that claim to offer benefits that are never delivered. At this point, it would be very difficult for consumers like you or I to trust a diet pill claim, even with medical proof to back it up.

This is exactly the same case with handcrafted soap and cosmetics!

Perhaps you have a fantastic product, a beautifully moisturizing, luxuriously lathering product that you are selling at your local farmer’s market. A few tables down, a competing handcrafter is selling exactly the same product, but they are saying it will cure eczema, treat psoriasis, and turn back your face’s clock ten years! People will buy this, hopeful people that suffer from these sometimes severe skin conditions, and they will be disappointed. The following week, they will come back and see your stand; but they won’t buy from you. It isn’t because you’ve been dishonest, but because your competitor has failed to deliver on their claims; in the eyes of a consumer, you are no different.

As an industry, the production of handcrafted soap and cosmetics has grown by leaps and bounds. Despite its growing popularity, there are still many who falsely advertise their products as curing or preventing a disease without being approved as a drug by the FDA; this is the type of marketing that must be avoided. Industry standards are not the same as herd immunity; it should not be assumed that if the majority follow the rules, others will be protected. In order to protect the integrity and quality of handcrafted soaps and cosmetics and more importantly to earn and keep the trust of the general public, it is imperative to be honest and legally compliant with your claims!

What Can I Say? 

There are many words that you can use to describe your product’s benefits without tripping and falling into FDA drug territory. For example, you can say that your product is moisturizing, since this is a way to beautify the skin. You can also say that your product is conditioning, calming, beautifying, deodorizing, hydrating, and cleansing! That is a pretty great arsenal of descriptive words that can help set reasonable and attainable expectations for your customers.

You cannot say that your product cures or prevents acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, sunburns, or provides an SPF or anti-aging benefit unless you have registered your product as a drug with the FDA. If you are making these claims with no legal grounds, you may be opening yourself up to financial disaster, leading up to and including the closure of your business.

Your product takes you precious time and effort to produce, and no curative claim is worth losing all of the blood, sweat and tears that you’ve poured into your products (hopefully not literally)! Do yourself and your fellow handcrafters a favor and check out the FDA Cosmetic guidelines, and the drug guidelines too; your industry thanks you!

Common Scents: Patchouli

Welcome back to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll talk about patchouli! 

Scent is an incredible sense. A certain smell can make you remember a person or place, or can be associated with a whole group of people; kind of like the smell of patchouli! Patchouli has long been considered a “hippie” smell and is definitely the kind of aroma you either love or hate.

Patchouli or pogostermon cablin is a perennial herb that originated in Southeast Asia. Patchouli prefers tropical jungles, but will also grow in elevations up to 6,000 feet. It is a squat, bushy herb that can grow to around 2-3 feet in height, and can be found growing wild in Java and Sumatra.

Patchouli is harvested 2-3 times per year for the production of essential oil. The leaves are hand picked and the herb is fermented before the oil is extracted. Because patchouli is so easy to grow and is harvested so frequently, the price of patchouli tends to stay reasonable with a very low adulteration rate.

History 

Patchouli has been used in traditional medicine for centuries in Asia. Countries like Malaysia, Japan and China trusted patchouli to treat ailments like eczema, dermatitis, acne, dandruff, oily scalp and other skin conditions.

Patchouli was first exported from India during the 19th century and was used in cloth to repel moths and other destructive insects. Because patchouli was so frequently used for this purpose, dishonest merchants seeking to reap the profits of oriental fabric without providing the same quality would scent their fabric with patchouli, too; this was the only way to trick customers into believing it was official!

Patchouli in Soap and Cosmetics 

Patchouli is very popular in fragrance blending, and is considered to be a base note. It is also classified as fixative, which means that it slows down the speed of evaporation for other volatile oils it is mixed with and can prolong the amount of time the aroma is released. Patchouli mixes well with vetiver, rosemary, sandalwood, lemongrass, citrus type oils, rose, frankincense and bergamot, making it a very versatile oil with a spicy aroma. This warmth lends well to incense, and patchouli is very popular as a scent for many different kinds.

Use in Aromatherapy and Medicine 

As mentioned above, patchouli has been used in traditional Asian cultures medicinally for centuries. Today, patchouli is thought to aid in the prevention of fevers, as an immune system booster, and also as a remedy for insect and snake bites. In aromatherapy, patchouli is used to restore mental and physical balance, and is thought to bring prosperity and abundance to whomever uses it.

Please note: the HSCG makes no medical claims and does not give medical advice. The FDA has not approved patchouli for use medicinally; this information is provided strictly for educational and entertainment purposes. 

Final Thoughts 

Patchouli has a very distinct smell that your customers will either snap up or pass up; blended with other warm, comforting scents, patchouli makes a great addition to any bath line!

Do you make any products with patchouli? Drop us a comment here on our blog, or on the Facebook post for this article!

Do you love fragrance blending? Check out our article titled Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them, available on Cut to the Trace now! http://www.cuttothetrace.com/2016/11/fragrance-bending-how-to/