Advertising Ideas for Handmade Soaps
Advertising is everywhere. We are bombarded with it visually and audibly in our homes and wherever we go. Soap is everywhere, too — drug and big box stores have entire aisles devoted to it. So how do you advertise your handmade soap to make it stand out?
Fortunately handmade soaps are, by their very nature, a niche product. Your customers are not the people who buy a 12-pack of Irish Spring at Costco or who shop for natural soap at Walmart. You are not going to make a profit by selling large volumes to the general population.
You are going to make your profit by appealing to people who are looking for something unique and who like the idea of supporting an individual entrepreneur. Your advertising should reflect this. Handmade advertisements are low-cost and go well with a handmade product. If you do not feel talented enough to create your own ads and promotional materials, ask a friend.
First, there is the obvious. Ideally you should have a website. At the least, your soap needs its own Facebook account. Check out other soap sites for ideas. Napa Soap Company and Dr. Squatch Soap Co. are two very different examples of well-done soap websites.
Check out internet sites that carry homemade products. Etsy, Bonanza and Zibbet are good places to start. Apart from selling your soap on these sites, you should consider paying the extra fees to have your product featured for a while. A featured or sponsored product will show up front and center when potential customers search for “soap”.
Use social media. List your business on Yelp. Get going on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and others. They are all free.
Make a batch of small, guest-size soaps and distribute them as free samples. Schmooze wit local shop owners; offer them a free, regular-size bar and ask if you can place a basket of samples on their checkout counter — even better if they will let you put up a small display of bars for sale. Hit health and specialty food stores, kitchen stores, antique shops, beauty supply stores and local hardware stores.
Yes, hardware stores, because DIY projects can be messy. Even if your target market is women, hardware stores can be a great and often overlooked place to advertise. Women are increasingly handling their own DIY projects. Seeing a display of creatively packaged handmade soap at checkout is a pleasant surprise, an easy impulse purchase and a nice way to reward oneself for hard work.
Do not forget pet stores, plant nurseries and livestock feed stores if there are any in your area. People with pets, gardens and horses get dirty — most horse owners are women. Consider putting ads in local publications that cater to these markets. You can go national when you hit the big time.
Renting a booth to sell your product at your local farmer’s market or arts & crafts fair is a great idea. But if you do not yet have the budget to pull that off, you can still take advantage of these events. Ask vendors (except soap vendors and booths next to soap vendors) if you can display your product at their booth on a consignment basis.
Ask on the first day of the event so that your product gets maximum exposure, but do not ask the moment the event opens. That is when vendors are often preoccupied with putting last minute touches on their booths, so wait until later in the morning and watch for a lull in business.
Even if you break even after giving vendors their share of sales and reimbursing yourself for costs, you got people to try your product and you got a bunch of free advertising. Do not forget home and garden shows, dog shows, horse shows and rodeos. One of the nice things about advertising at events is that they often attract people from out of town. They are a great opportunity to spread the word about your handmade soap beyond your local market.
Advertising is not just to attract new customers. To stay present in the minds of existing customers, you must advertise to them too. Include a small gift with each order. Everyone likes a gift, even a little one.
Customers like to be acknowledged and appreciated. Set up a reward program for loyal customers or just send a free bar to your regular customers once in a while as a way to say thank you. Remember, it is cheaper to keep existing customers than it is to acquire new ones.