Greetings from a brightly colored Fall New York City.
Trees around the area have dressed in harvest hues of yellow, orange and red.
Late last Tuesday, my husband and I returned from our almost 3-week bucket-list vacation to Türkiye (aka: Turkey.) Since I wrote about Turkey in my last letter, I’ll add my marketing thoughts about our trip to the next letter in two weeks.
Heidi Cohen Outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Türkiye
We got back in time to attend the New York State Sheep and Wool Show (aka: NYSW) in Rhinebeck, New York. It’s one of the largest such events in the US.
Before I dive into this week’s letter, my heart goes out to those in Israel and Palestine and their families and friends who have been personally touched by this conflict. Please understand that this letter doesn’t discuss political events.
Table of Contents | Volume 11, Issue 31
► Event Marketing Attracts Customers And Revenues
As you may know, I’m an avid knitter. For me, knitting is a hobby that grew into a passion.
At times, friends have suggested that I turn this passion into a form of income generation. While I’ve designed items for myself, I keep my knitting as a practice that gives me joy and satisfaction without the pressures to turn out work other people want me to create.
Despite the rain, my husband and I attended Rhinebeck 2023 on Saturday. It’s a yarnie-lovefest that I’ve attended annually since 2004. In addition, it’s a sheep farming event where animals (including different breeds of sheep and alpacas and their fleeces are sold as well as related animal equipment.)
Yarn lovers continue to purchase fiber (including wool, cotton, linen, silk and others) even though their closets and other yarn hiding places overflow with SABLE (aka: Stash Available Beyond Lifetime Expectancy). Like broken New Year’s Resolutions, early in my knitting journey, I promised myself that I’d never accumulate that much fiber.
Actionable Rhinebeck Marketing Lessons
- Make your events a must-attend part of your community’s annual calendar. Many of my yarn friends plan their vacations and knitting around Rhinebeck. Friends of ours from Scotland made it the centerpiece of their US vacation.
- Develop branded must-have products. This year, attendees line up for 45 minutes to buy festival souvenirs. The biggest seller is the branded tote bag bearing the annual image and date.
- Support your merchants. The NYSW extends beyond finished yarn, fleeces, spinning products and related knitting products such as books, beads and buttons.
- Create products that stand out from your near competitors. At Rhinebeck and other knitting events, you display your wares next to other similar products. So you must have a point of distinction to attract buyers.
My favorite yarn sellers include:
- Fibre Optics. Owner Kimber Baldwin has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and uses it to create rich colored fibers. I have a lot of her yarns in my stash.
- Tess Yarns. Started when her daughter Tess was small, it stands out from other vendors since Melinda focuses on high-priced fibers and organizes her fibers by color. (Most yarn sellers organize their wares by yarn size.) I’ve been a fan for years and have visited her store in Maine.
- Miss Babs. This booth always has a line out the door! Miss Babs is known for her well-priced Yowza yarn in hanks of 560 yards of DK size yarn. Also, she creates a special show color and sells kits for high-selling patterns.
- Into The Whirled. Created in Phoenicia, NY by wife and husband team Cris and James, Into The Whirled offers great colorways and gemlike solids. They exchanged my 4-skein purchase from last year without charging me
- Pucker Bush Farm. While this vendor has changed her offering over the years from yarns to fleece, the owner has her daughter and granddaughter in tow to help her. She always has well-priced skeins of sock yarn in a delightful array of colors.
- Think beyond your core community. At the NYSW, this includes food. They have a barn filled with food and wine vendors as well as plenty of stalls of ready-to-eat food. Attendees have their particular favorites like fried pickles. Now, there are more general products for sale, such as handmade soaps and sheepskin slippers.
► What You Can Learn About Publishing From Ravelry
While a few knitters and fiber artists have managed to attain rockstar status so they generate 5 and 6-figure annual incomes, Ravelry, a robust social media platform, has played a major role in helping designers achieve this success through user-created content.
Ravelry is a knitting, crocheting and spinning community where members can keep track of their fiber projects and tools for free. In addition, they can find and purchase new knitting and crocheting patterns. Members show off their works in progress (WIP) and finished objects (FOs) with photos, and other fiber and needle details. In turn, this helps others to use the pattern.
Also, designers an publish individual knitting and crocheting patterns on the platform at a lower cost than Amazon. Many of the top designers have communities who like their patterns. As a result, members volunteer to test new patterns in a variety of sizes, get noticed on Ravelry, and provide feedback in return for getting the pattern for free.
From a marketing perspective, Ravelry has disintermediated magazine and book publishers in the knitting category. To build a loyal following, designers often give away their first few patterns for free. Unlike traditionally published books, knitters get to see how others have modified the pattern or found and corrected issues by reading the comments.
Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits monitors what her community wants. As Drea stated on the pattern,
“The most frequent request I’ve received this past year is for a vest. I thought – what better time to debut my first vest pattern, than at NY Sheep & Wool [aka: Rhinebeck]??”
So she created the Tessellated Vest (595 projects to date) based on her sweater version called Tessellated Pullover (440 projects to date). At a cost of $9.00 per pattern, gross revenues were roughly $9,000 with a small cost, if any, per incremental pattern sold.
On Ravelry, pattern prices tend to be similar for a specific type of item like sweaters and socks.
Actionable Marketing Tips
- Build a community of loyal followers by listening to them. For example, Drea Mowry created a special vest for Rhinebeck. Remember: Timing is key. Drea created the pattern in July so knitters could make it in time for the festival! When I saw the number of people wearing a vest or sweater in the same pattern, I knew one designer was a marketing smartie.
- Use a “Hot Now” List to increase attention for new products. I have recommended this tactic to my clients over the years. As a knitting rockstar, many of Drea’s new patterns hit Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” expanding their visibility. I would have added “Rhinebeck 2023” in the pattern name to expand the searches it appeared in.
Note: Applies to all types of publishing.
With Halloween around the corner, you probably have holiday promotions in place where relevant.
In case you want some more scary inspiration, read these articles:
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