Ladies & Gentlemen,
Welcome to our primer on how to plan your product introductions for the rubber stamp and paper crafting industry. While talking to several store owners, we realized that many companies miss out on getting their products on the shelves simply due to poor timing.
As in any business, preparation & timing is key. Though we understand that many business specific factors such as the size of your operation and your manufacturing choices will affect your timeline, we hope the following planning article will help you tune your new product introductions more effectively.
- Advertise products 3 months before it needs to be on shelves! — Sending Valentine’s advertising in January is too late! Make sure you are giving the store owners enough time to have the products in their store to generate sales before the target season is over.
- Allow 2-3 months for manufacturing and creation of marketing collateral – Manufacturing timelines will vary depending on your solution. You may want to overlap the first round of manufacturing with your advertising cycle to allow some time for your design team to create nice samples and projects with your new stamps and crafting products.
- Start design of products 3-9 months ahead of advertising campaigns — The creative process can be time consuming and unpredictable. It will take some time to create or acquire the new designs, create marketing collateral and update your websites and blogs. For companies that have been around for some time, the product design work is a continuous process.
There is a little bit of magic in coming up with wonderful new designs that will WOW your customers. There is a lot of good old fashioned planning work that goes into getting it on the market at the right time. Consider the following chain of events between planning your products and shipping them, and you will notice it will consume almost an entire year. Surprised?
Product Planning → Product Design → Marketing Campaign→ Product Manufacturing → Product Shipments
So how do you break this down into manageable chunks? How do you keep stores interested in your products throughout the year? Below we have a suggested timeline for new releases. You can of course enhance this with additional supplements when available, but be careful not to miss the timing of important events!
- Option I: Main yearly introduction + quarterly refresh
- Option 2: Main yearly introduction + mid-year refresh
Planning a Main product line for the year is an important element in the identity of your company. It gives you the opportunity to shape the look of your products to the trends of the year. It gives your customers something to look forward to. Hero Arts has done this wonderfully throughout the years.
Providing updates targeting seasons and events throughout the year gives you the opportunity to reach out often with fresh ideas and adapt to changing trends. The stores need to keep a fresh inventory of designs to keep their customers engaged and returning often!
Below are suggestions on how you may organize your offerings. Clearly these can vary according to your design portfolio. However, if you are targeting some of these seasons, events, or holidays, do keep in mind the timing of your advertising cycles! We used the 2013/2014 calendar as an example.
Option I: Main yearly introduction + quarterly refresh
1) November: Main product introduction of the year – think 201X catalog. Include your “spring” time stamps in the main catalog, or target a Spring refresh no later than January.
- Spring Themed Stamps
- St. Patrick’s Day
- April Fool’s Day
- Cinco de Mayo
- Mother’s Day
2) March:Summer refresh
- Summer Themed Stamps
- Father’s Day
- Independence Day
3) June: Autumn/Winter refreshTake the opportunity to target Christmas in July. If you do, you may want to send a supplement out earlier, say in May.
- Autumn Themed Stamps
- Grandparent’s Day
- Rosh Hashana
- Veteran’s Day
4) September:Winter refresh
- Winter Themed Stamps
- New Holiday Stamps
- New Year’s Eve
- New Year’s
- Valentine’s Day
- Superbowl Sunday
Option 2: Bi-Annual Refresh Cycle
1) November/early December: Main yearly catalog
- Consider doing an additional big marketing splash in January and participating in CHA.
2) April/May: Mid-year refresh
- Update with strong focus on Summer/Fall & Christmas.
We hope you have found this post useful, and we welcome comments from paper craft companies and stores on how we may improve this guidance.
Your Stamperzine! Team