Before she had one of the largest pottery studios in the U.S., Rebecca Wood was simply trying to figure out to how to take her small business from strictly business-to-business (B2B) to also include a business-to-consumer (B2C) sales channel. It’s a big move for any small business, with the potential to increase overall profits and introduce new revenue streams. The What’s in Store team traveled to R. Wood Studio in Athens, Georgia, to learn how Mailchimp’s optimization tools are making the expansion possible.
Life before retail
When R. Wood Studio first launched nearly 3 decades ago they were solely a wholesale business, so the majority of customer relationships and sales were made at trade shows. However, Rebecca wanted to be able to create and sell one-of-a-kind ceramics to the average retail consumer. To that end, she started posting the new merchandise on her website, and created a mailing list. That’s when she and the team started taking their email marketing efforts seriously.
“After we started using Mailchimp and we started to build and grow our email list, we were able to speak directly to our retail customers,” says Studio Manager Josh Skinner. “Now we are more of a retail than a wholesale business, which is something we never would thought could be the case 10 years ago.”
Today, along with their wholesale accounts, Rebecca’s team is connecting with consumers on the hunt for dinnerware, apparel, books, gift certificates, and original ceramic pieces. Fortunately, they’ve got a messaging strategy that incorporates collecting data from reports and using that information to better speak to both audiences’ interests.
2. Then speak to their interests.
According to Josh, the messaging strategies for the wholesale and retail businesses aren’t that different. What matters is how they’re speaking to each audience.
“Wholesale customers—we talk about their store and how our product fits into their vision as a whole,” he says. “We are also trying to help them to develop marketing strategies to help sell our pieces in their store. On the other hand, we are able to talk directly to our retail customers and we show them how to use our pieces in their homes. We can tell them about sales or promotions and when we release new product. Mailchimp allows us to get information out immediately.”
3. Never miss a moment to connect with customers.
One successful campaign with high open rates, dubbed “Love Notes,” involves messaging without calls to action. Instead, these newsletters include seasonal recipes, small essays from Rebecca, timely spotlights on non-profits, or highlights from product photo shoots.
“It is basically an email for our customers to relax, enjoy, and spend time thinking about what is happening in the upcoming month,” Josh says. “I think it is effective because it helps our customers see us as humans with interests and concerns about the world around us.”
1. Get to know your audience(s).
Rebecca says the marketing goal for both B2B and B2C businesses is “trying to reach the folks that will be inspired by the things we make.” After launching campaigns, Rebecca’s team is using data from reports to track their performance over time, trends, and audience preferences.
“Reports help us to know how many customers have opened an email, clicked on a link, and even went through with a sale,” Josh says. “That information helps us either tweak a strategy, stop a strategy, or, in some cases, just leave a strategy alone, because it's working.”