Hoiday packagingIf you have not started planning your packaging and marketing strategies for November and December’s holidays, it’s not too late, but almost! Have you considered dressing up your packaging to make your products more appealing as gifts? What opportunities are there to attract new customers during this time? How can your promote early ordering? Use these tips to plan a joyful season of increased sales!

Consider adding new packaging concepts and colors to inspire purchase of cottage food products as gifts. Many people will be looking for attractive, one-of-a-kind gifts to give or to take to family gatherings or office parties. Use a package design that makes it easy for customers to “grab-and-go.” Colorful boxes that can quickly be filled and wrapped with decorative ribbon, or pre-made baskets get people thinking about using your products as presents. Don’t forget to include your primary label on the top or front of the outside package, OR on each product contained inside.boxed goods

As Cottage Food Operators in California, we cannot mail or ship products to our customers, but we CAN package them in a way that makes it easy for others to send. Help Customer Cindy or Client Carlos send your goodies to family and friends by putting your product in easy-to-mail cartons. Or, plan your packaging so that it easily fits into one of the two medium sized US Postal Service Priority Mail boxes. The post office will deliver either the long, flat shape or more squarish shaped Flat Rate Priority Mail box anywhere in the US within two days for only $12.35–and irrespective of the weight! This is an especially good idea for last minute shoppers needing gifts for out-of-towners.

imageCan you create an eye-catching display? With planning, you can use the same product(s) in a variety of display formats (individually, framed in a gift box, artfully arranged on a tray or tiered display) and photograph them. (The more professional looking the display and photography, the better!) Maybe you can build an attractive centerpiece from your products. Whatever type of holiday display you make, post pictures to your Facebook page, email them to previous customers, and create a Special Orders Book suggesting that people order ahead for their event or loved ones. Now is the time to get creative and make your pictures available!

Sales and Discounts
Most people get overwhelmed as holiday deadlines loom. Special events, social get-togethers, and parties start in mid-November and peak around the second week of December. New Year’s Eve celebrations present another great time for hosts or guests to share your products. Gift giving continues all the way through the end of December, with people willing to pay a premium for last minute answers. Be prepared!

Begin suggesting people order early and offer discounts to those who do. Start now promoting “special sales” of your easiest or most popular items.  Promote sales by including a free gift to those who buy a certain amount of products, or who order early. Maybe give existing customers free samples of products they have not yet tried.  Put together special combination gift packages.

Getting new customers
This is probably the best time of year to expand your customer network. By encouraging gift-giving, you are expanding your range of contacts. Consider these ideas, too, for expanded sales:

  • Take advantage of school fairs, festivals, church bazaars, craft fairs, etc. to get a table selling and promoting your products. Nonprofit organizations (schools, churches, etc.) are less restrictive and cheaper than farmer’s markets. Use the opportunity to get your business and products to new people. Encourage them to remember you for the holidays. Be prepared with business cards and order sheets!
  • Approach clubs, organizations, businesses for the chance to supply their meetings with a some of your treats. Most companies will have a Board of Director’s meeting toward the end of the year. Many businesses throw client (or employee) appreciation parties. Some independent agents (insurance, real estate, financial brokers, etc.) like to send a token gift to their better clients. Suggest they give or send a hand-crafted artisan food product such as yours.
  • Think of unusual places — other local small businesses, repair shops, banks — where the business owners might buy your treats to offer to impatient customers while they wait.
  • Remember last-minute gift givers. Make extra product, advertise to the end, and promote ways that you will personalize it for the recipient — special tags or cards which say “Made especially for [recipient’s name]” or “A special order created just for [recipient’s name]”

Now is the time to get your holiday and year-end specials in place if you have not done so already. For maximum effectiveness you should be anticipating upcoming holidays 3-6 months in advance, so you should also start now “cooking up” your marketing strategy for February’s Valentine’s Day gifts!

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  1. is a great way to sell your food for free.

    1. The challenge with Yumdey, Etsy, etc. is that CA Cottage Food Operators are not allowed to ship products. They must be sold directly to the customer, wholesale or retail and delivered or picked up.

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