Getting into the Wholesale Greeting Cards Industry

Published: 02nd December 2011
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Market Research

Firstly, identify what your area of expertise will be, are you an artist, publisher or both. Do you make your own handmade cards, or will you be using printers to produce a line of printed cards? Perhaps you'd like to break into the greetings card market as an artist or illustrator and license your work to already established publishers. Identifying the extent of your role is a useful starting point as perhaps you'd like to focus on the creative side rather than the task of getting your work out into the market. This is where agents and distributors can be the best way forward.

Niche in the Market

It's important to review what sort of cards you'd like to produce, humorous, sentimental, art cards, handmade, quirky, retro...etc etc. The important factor is to try and find a gap in the market and fill it. Alternatively you may think there are cards out there but you could improve in terms of quality and/or price. It's a competitive business and there will always be new lines in production by the big publishing houses. So, as well as finding your niche in the market you also need to keep the ideas fresh, with new ranges and designs. Keep a clear record of what sells best and be on top of the seasonal trends and occasions.

Trade Magazines/Promotion

Greetings Card Association is a really useful organisation to anyone starting in this industry. They have a wealth of information and contacts, such as Printers, Agents and Distributors. They are a non-profit organisation and even more information is available to their members. One of the main trade magazines for this industry is Progressive Greetings Magazine. They accept submissions for editorials and are happy to promote unpublished artists. They have a huge amount of information about the movers and shakers of the industry. There are lots of trade magazines, so do your research and find out where you could best promote your work.

Costs

Pricing is key for getting your products. Take a look at what other publishers are charging for their cards. Although it's clear that being able to charge your cards competitively can be tricky when pitching them against larger, more established, companies. Be wary of overpricing though with a view to increasing your profit margin as this can end up being counter-productive if sales aren't forthcoming. Establish where you intend to place your cards in the retail market. For example, the price of a hand-finished luxury card will vary enormously from simple printed cards at the other end of the scale. Ensure that the quality of the materials is adequate to the pricing point, as a consumer wouldn't expect to buy a luxury card and find upon opening the product that the card is flimsy and of poor quality card stock.

Websites

A professionally laid out website is a must in terms of having a point of contact where you can promote your work. Remember this is the focal point of your product, so the look of the site should be well thought out. Design and colour choices are so important in an area where you are promoting creative work. The site should be eye-catching and easy to use. Test the usability and keep it simple. A basic set-up would be to have a home page including a clear outline of who you are, and what you are promoting, clearly laid-out product pages with pricing and ordering details. You'd be surprised by how many sites show their products but do not make it easy for the purchaser. Try and look at your website objectively and see where any potential gaps may be.

Research

The main piece of advice for anyone intending to launch their own product or business is to do a large amount of research. Clearly identify your aim and your end goal. Once you have a clear path to follow, find out all you can about the industry, your competitors and the market place. Once you know what you're up against, you'll know if your product has a clear place in the retail market. Then with hard work, determination and the right preparation, anything's possible.

Author Bio
Rebecca has an MA in Fine Art and has been running a successful wedding stationery company, Vanilla Bloom, for 6 years that also sells decorated favour boxes. In January 2011 she launched a new site, Vanilla b, making interesting and novel wholesale handmade greeting cards.

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