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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Carol Cypher, Marketing Magic, and a Middle Aged Slumber Party

Promotional events are the lifeblood of a spectacular retail experience.  It is all about SHOPPERTAINMENT!  You know you should do more Store Events and I know that I should do more Studio Events.  Life often gets in the way of our intentions.  After all, there are only so many hours in a day and the "Hostess with the Mostest" Ball is often the first one to get dropped in our struggle to get the bills paid.  However,  in the interest of practicing what I preach, I am going to share with you the evolution of  a Cooperative Marketing Event that I am orchestrating in my little corner of the world.  It is a first for me and I am sure that there will be some lumps and bumps along the road, but I figure that it will be a great learning and networking opportunity.

First the idea....

I was thumbing through my copy of Hand Felted Jewelry and Beads this past July and found myself wishing that I could take a workshop with Carol Cypher.  I have been a fan for years as her work was the first that I had seen that combined felting with beads.  I checked around but she wasn't teaching anywhere close by...Sigh.  Maybe another time.
WAIT!  I have a studio with plenty of space.  I really, really want to take a workshop with Carol Cypher.  Tampa has a large crafting community and a number of fiber and bead hobbiests.  Maybe Carol could teach from MY studio.   Hmmmm.....

  Most National Instructors charge between $375 and $575 per diem, plus all expenses relative to travel and accommodations.  A quick call to Carol confirmed that her fee structure fell well within these parameters. She had one open week-end before the end of the year and I snagged it!   
[Yup---that's me.  Leap first, consider the consequences later.] 

[Gulp.  Carol Cypher is coming to Urban Stitch Studio November 11-13!]

The biggest challenge:  My customer email list is composed of Brick and Mortar Shopkeepers throughout the country, not crafters in  the Tampa Bay area.  Clearly, my existing email list is NOT going to fill Carol's classes.  What to do?  What to do?

[What if no one signs up?  What if I am the only one in the class?  What if there is a hurricane?  First inklings of self doubt start to plague me. ]

BRIGHT IDEA!  I decided to call a couple of the local craft store owners to see if they wanted to split the cost/share the profits of the workshops.  The gals I talked to love the idea of a National Instructor, but no one was keen on the idea of sharing expenses.  EPIC FAIL[Gulp].

NO!  Failure is not an option.  Carol is amazing.  There is a dearth of  amazing instructors in Tampa Bay.  I just need to figure out how to make this work. 

Ruminate.  Ruminate.  Ruminate some more.

BRIGHT IDEA!  Clearly, I need to keep costs to a minimum.  After some mental hemming and hawing,  I got up the nerve to call Carol  and asked if she would be willing to stay in my home rather than a hotel.  We are almost pals, after all.  I offered a comfortable bed, wonderful home cooked meals and even promised that my dogs were well behaved.  [well...they are.  Kinda sorta.]  She graciously agreed.  [Whew.  OK, this might just work out]

Although I was able to save on hotel/car rental expenses, I still need to cover Carol's teaching fees as well as airfare, so it is critical to get the word out to area crafters.  What is the best way to let them know that a Beading Rock Star will be in their midst?   [Hmmmmm....While the store owners didn't want to take on financial risk, I wondered if they might be willing to jump on board in a different capacity......]
Ruminate.  Ruminate.  Ruminate some more.

BRIGHT IDEA.  I sent an email to several local craft stores, choosing those who had some miles between them in an effort to avoid sending emails to direct "competitors" to the extent possible.  My email was entitled "Cross Promotion Opportunity" and detailed my decision to host Carol Cypher at Urban Stitch Studio for a series of felting and beading workshops that might be of interest to their customer base.   

I included a coupon code offering their customers 5% off any Carol Cypher workshop fee, as well as a 5% referral fee for each shopkeeper.  Participating stores would agree to post a coupon on my site offering 10% off supplies purchased for the workshops.  Finally, I offered each retail store owner who participated one free workshop with Carol.

I wanted to make participation easy, so I included a PDF flyer touting the event for electronic dissemination by the store owner.  I figure that it is a win-win.  I am not selling supplies that compete with any of the businesses that I approached, but we all have a similar customer base.  The stores get to avoid the financial risk, have something fun to talk about with their customers, and get the AWESOME OPPORTUNITY to take a free workshop with Carol.  I get to build my customer email list while fulfilling my need to work with Carol Cypher.  Happy Sigh.


Reaction has been very positive and the classes are starting to fill up.  We still have some availability, so I figure that I will send out a press release as well as email all of the local bead and fiber guilds in the next week or so. I am totally stoked about this event, but am taking it one step further.    I invited Felty Diva Marlene Gruetter of Marlene's Felting Madness to join us for the week-end, and to my delight, she will make the trek from Ohio.   Carol and Marlene know and like one another, so I figure that it might as well be a slumber party!   My husband agreed to head out of town to visit his mom for the week-end, which means we have the house to ourselves. In fact, I still have two extra bedrooms so if any Crafty Retailer needs a creative week-end getaway, let me know!  The energy is sure to be INCREDIBLE and I am counting the days to the big event. I know it will be fun...but with a little luck and elbow grease, maybe it will be profitable as well!


  1. Oh man, I actually checked mileage to see how far it would be. And flights! So jealous!!!! Please post plenty of pics!!

  2. LOL...will do, Shirley! I am very excited and will definitely be posting lots of pictures!

  3. I wish I was closer too! It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun!

  4. Wow - sounds like a grand time! Good job with your creative marketing, by the way

  5. Thanks, Stacey! I am keeping my fingers crossed on the marketing, but have great faith on the drawing power of the great Ms. Cypher!

  6. I wish I could come too! I will be living in Port St lucie next year I would love to take or give workshops in your studio! Hope to meet you one day! Love your blog!

  7. Jean:
    Port St Lucie is only three hours away---we will almost be neighbors! I have long been amazed by your incredible butterfly shawl ( and would welcome the opportunity to host a workshop!

  8. Hi pat!
    That sounds great! Looking forward to meeting you someday! Just gave a butterfly shawl class this weekend and they all did a spectacular job! It was such fun!!! They inspired me to go home and make a new one! I should be posting photos and a video soon stay tuned! See you next year!