This is an excerpt from Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps (Updated 2017 paperback) If you like to make greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them nationwide. Learn about changing trends in the indie card market and niche opportunities available for artists. Book includes detailed guidelines on pricing cards for a profit, getting professional feedback on your designs, finding sales representatives, pitching your card line to them, approaching stores, and the industry standards you should follow. Information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals and calendars.
Every rep is different, but I have found these things to be common with almost every rep I've worked with.
1-The rep does not pay for the artist’s card sample deck.
2-Reps expect all cards in the sample deck to have a code, either preprinted or hand written on the card, that is unique for each design. So, for example, if you have a card line of 50 different kinds of flower images, the artist needs to assign a code to each one, so when the rep writes up an order, they know #45 means the red rose card.
3-The artist is primarily responsible for the cost of all promotional materials, such as brochures, catalogs, and store signs.
4-The most important thing you can do in your relationship with reps is to pay them on time.
5-Normally, the artist pays the sales rep once a month for all the prior months’ orders, independent of whether or not the stores has first paid the artist. This is referred to as “paying reps by ship date.” Some artists pay reps after being paid by stores, but I believe reps sell more, and are happier with artists who pay by ship date.
6-Reps sell cards in dozens and half dozens. A typical beginning order for an artist might be 12 dozen cards of 12 different card designs, or 144 cards.
7-Independent artists usually pay the rep a 20% commission on the wholesale price the cards. Therefore, if you receive an order for $200 wholesale (the price you sell it to the store for), the rep’s commission is $40. Some reps might accept 15%, but that is usually for larger companies that have high sales.
8-Reps expect the artist to discontinue slow selling cards and replace them with new designs. A good plan is to add new designs 3-4 times a year: January, May and August, and seasonal items approximately 6 months ahead of the holiday.
Here is an excerpt from Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps If you already make your own greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them sell nationwide. Included are guidelines on: how to price your cards for a profit, how to get professional feedback, where to find a sales representative and and what industry standards you should follow. All the information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals, calendars, collectibles, etc. Chapter topics: Getting Professional Feedback, Getting Your First Account, Pricing and Profits, Sales Reps 101, Where to Find Reps, Rep Readiness Checklist, Pitching Your Line to a Rep and Working With Reps.
1-Websites often display a limited amount of cards on one page.
2-The average time anyone spends on a website is three minutes.
3-The rep is less likely to look at the entire line if she does not like the homepage.
4-Websites often do not reflect textures, paper thickness, or envelope colors.
5-Images on websites are usually very small, and if they are large, the page loads slowly.
6-You might know exactly where everything is on your website, but a rep might find it confusing to negotiate.
7-A rep cannot open a card on a website if they want to read the inside text. Some artists try to resolve this problem by having two images for each card (inside and front) but clicking on each one is time-consuming and requires the webpage to refresh. It is much easier to just pick up a card and open it.
8-If the card is elegantly packaged in a cellophane bag, this is difficult to visually represent on a website.
9-The rep cannot shuffle through a card deck, pick out favorites and put them in a pile.
10-If a rep wants to show your cards to one of her accounts, she will have to print out the images.
11-Most people look at websites on small mobile devices instead of desktop computers. This makes your cards look even smaller and harder to read. If you have not optimized your site for mobile devices, your cards can look distorted on the screen.
A website is always a good resource as a reference, but when trying to present your line to new reps, it's always better to have your cards in their hands. Reps tend to deter artists from mailing samples because they don't want their office full of unsolicited artist's samples they cannot use, nor do they want the expense of returning them. Later I will explain more about how to communicate with reps ahead of time, so that they are not inconvenienced by your samples, and instead welcome them.