On Friday’s podcast, we talked about the importance of planning for the holiday season now!  If you are a stamp company, shop owner or crafter who is planning on selling cards at the holiday fairs, you should have started your planning by now.  Before you break out the pitchforks because I said the “C” word in June, hear me out.

Depending on your needs and motivation, starting your planning now could be instrumental to your success.

It doesn’t matter if you are planning your holiday cards, classes, getting items ready for the craft fairs, designing stamps for holiday releases or purchasing inventory for your shop.  Proper planning is critical for you, your business and your customers.

Stamp Company Owners

If you own a stamp company, you should be in full swing of designing and planning your holiday stamps.  If you decided not to take advantage of a Christmas in July Release, then you should start planning for a September or at the very latest October 1st release, but I would push for mid-September.  You want to make sure your holiday stamps are in the hands of your Design Team and industry influencers in time for them to use in their holiday posts.

Justine Hovey is an industry influencer who can totally MAKE a release.  She is one of the most highly prized secret weapons in the stamping world and every year she has a special 12 Days of Christmas series that launches around the first of November. This means she needs the stamps for her series in September so she can make the cards, create the videos and start her social media push.  Plus, she lives in Canada and receiving products from the States takes a lot longer.  Having someone like Justine using your latest and greatest holiday stamps can be huge for the success of your end of the year holiday releases.  If you release your stamp designs too late into the season, you miss the opportunities of having these key influencers use your stamps.

Your potential customers want to start making their cards in September at the very latest.  In order to meet their demand and to ensure you make the most out of your release, you need to get those designs to the plating company or manufacturer NOW.  As the former owner of a stamp company, I know what it takes to get stamps in house and ready to sell.

Stamp Company Release Timeline

June

  • Design stamps
  • Finalize designs
  • Send designs off for plating and manufacturing

July

  • Receive stamps
  • Package stamps (if needed)
  • Send to Design Team no later than the last week of July

August

  • Make cards using stamps
  • Upload stamps to website
  • Create product descriptions
  • Make videos
  • Plan release
  • Put together social media calendar for release
  • Write blog post

September

  • Launch Holiday Stamps

That’s a quick 3-month process and to be honest, that is pushing it.  There are times when it can take 2 to 3 months to design stamps for a release so starting NOW could be pushing the envelope to ensure a successful Christmas launch.  Don’t forget to talk to your manufacturer and see what their lead time is.  There is a good chance that the manufacturing times could be slower due to the Stamp Show circuit and other companies submitting their holiday stamp designs.

The LAST thing you want to have happen is to launch your Christmas stamps in November or December.  Talk about an epic death sentence.

6 Reasons Why You Should Start Now

  1. The stores who host Christmas card classes, will not be able to use your stamps as their classes start in November and their cards will need to be made in advance, as in September/October.
  2. Those people who sell their cards at craft fairs, will need to be making their Christmas cards in September and October, because those holiday fairs begin the first part of November.
  3. People who make a ton of Christmas cards for family and friends, will have started their cards in September or October and will mail them out right after Thanksgiving.
  4. Shipping is slow during the holidays, which means stamps that used to take 2 or 3 days, could take longer. If you are sending internationally, it could take a week or more LONGER than normal.  Which means if you release November 1st, there is a good chance they won’t get their stamps until December 1st.  Not cool.
  5. The industry influencers have already used, scheduled and posted the cards using holiday stamps. Which means the chances of you getting them into their hands and they actually using them, is slim to none.
  6. You sabotage your Design Team and make them ineffective. Which is unprofessional.

Bottom-line, if you are a stamp company, clear off your schedule and get started on those Christmas stamps.

Shop Owners

Just like we talked about with our stamp companies, you need to get the ball rolling NOW.  If you want to plan a fun event or card class in your shop, consider doing a Christmas in July sale.

  • Bring out last year’s Christmas inventory
  • Contact your favorite vendors or stamp companies and see if they have any Christmas inventory you can purchase

You never know, they may want to clear out some of their back stock and could give you a discount on old inventory.

If you haven’t ordered your products for the holiday’s,  AFCI has their mid-year buying event happening in Salt Lake City on July 17 – 20.  This is a great time to plan for your holiday release.  It’s free for members and $35 for non-members.  Go check out the new Christmas products that are coming out and get them ordered for your shop.  The last thing you want to have happen is for the products to be out of stock or on back order.  Not only will you be kicking yourself, but your customers will be disappointed and most likely buy online or from another competitor.

Get those supplies ordered as soon as you can and make sure you order more MISTI’s for the shop.

Your customers are going to be making multiple cards of the same design for their Christmas card giving.  Make it easier for them by having the MISTI’s in stock and one to use as a demo.  Show them how easy it is to use and how quick their card making will be by using it.

 

Provide value to your customer by educating them on the products and tools they can use to make the mass quantities of cards easier.

Once your holiday supplies start arriving on your door step, start making the cards for your Christmas Card Classes.  I know those were our most popular classes, they were always booked full and we had to double our class times to accommodate everyone.

  • Your cards should be finished and on display no later than October 1st.
  • Have sign ups start as soon as they are finished and plan for the classes in early November.
  • Check out the times and locations for craft fairs in your area and make sure your classes do not interfere.
  • If they are on the same day, have a class in the morning and one in the afternoon so people can do both events.

Being aware of what is going on in your community is helpful to not only you, but to your customers as well.  You may even want to have a special day for some of your crafters to come into the shop to do some open crafting so they can get ready for the craft fairs.  Post the fairs in your shop and promote your open craft days.  The more they are IN your shop, the more they WILL shop.

Consider hosting a Craft Fair 101 Class in September to get them ready.  We have a great online class for selling your cards that would be an incredible resource for you to use with your customers.  Provide more value to your customers than just the supplies needed to create cards.

Timeline for Shop Owners

  • Attend the mid-year buying event in July to get you ready for the holiday season
  • Consider having a Christmas in July event in the shop to clear out old Christmas inventory
  • Plan a Craft Fair 101 Class in September
  • Make sure you have Christmas inventory in by late September early October
  • Have the Christmas Card Class samples on display by October 1st,
  • Schedule your Christmas Card Classes for the beginning of November
  • Your Christmas sales mid-December.

Selling Your Handmade Cards

For those of you who are planning on selling your cards, as we discuss in our Price. Market. Sell Your Handmade Cards class, depending on who your target market is, will determine when you need to start planning.  You can get all of the details in the class, but if you are going to be taking advantage of the craft fairs, you will want to start making your cards this summer.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for Christmas in July sales and releases.
  • Determine how many cards you want to make and how many fairs you are planning on attending.
  • Put together your schedule of how many cards you are going to make and the types of cards you want to sell.
  • To help you with your time and the number of shows, make your cards in multiples of 4.
  • Use the MISTI to make your life easier and to ensure your cards are straight and consistent.
  • Once the new holiday stamps start coming out, grab a couple of sets and start making the Christmas cards you are going to sell.

All of your other cards, should be finished by this point.  Leaving you time to work on Christmas cards in October.

Having the bulk of your cards finished by October 1st, allows you time to focus on the new holiday cards and gives you time to work on replenishing other cards after craft fairs.

Essentially, you should be starting on your craft fair cards now.  The last thing you want to do is run around like a chicken with your head cut off in September.  School will be starting, Halloween will be right around the corner, then Thanksgiving and you won’t have time to do everything without turning into a raving lunatic.  Save yourself and family from that maniac and start now.

Bottom-line, Start Now!

Regardless if you are a stamp company, shop owner or card maker, your success boils down to planning.  Grab your planner and start working on your plan of attack and timeline.  Create some hard goals for yourself and write them down, hold yourself accountable and plan for success.

If you need help or someone to hold you accountable, don’t be afraid to reach out to us for help.  We would love to work with you to make sure you have an incredible holiday season.

Happy Planning!