Not Your Traditional Gift Basket

With all the competition in the gift basket industry, customers are looking for value and something different when making  a purchase more than ever before.  Sending a gift is still an accepted way to express feelings–regardless the occasion.  But that gift has to be more than just an ordinary gift.  That gift has to be special.  It has to speak louder than words.

Our customers have all sorts of options for gifts.  They don’t have to send a gift basket.  They can send flowers, a gift card, a book, a cake, cookies, or any number of other things instead of a gift basket.  If all you offer is a traditional gift basket, you may be left behind.

I can hear you now.  “But I don’t want to have to carry a lot of gift inventory.  This box of cookies that I bought can be used in any gift basket that I create.  Buying more stuff just isn’t practical with today’s economic downturn.”

All of that is true.  But you are a CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR, aren’t you?  If not, stay in touch with this blog.  Follow its suggestions, and you will become one.

Creative Entrepreneurs think outside the box–and even outside the container.

Let’s start with the box.  We use lots of themed gift boxes in this business.  It’s how you use them that can make all the difference.  You’ll find the Boxco Doctor’s Bag box on just about every gift basket website.  But look at how it’s used.  Some people theme it with Dr. Feelgood.  Others fill it with cookies.  There are those who incorporate a teddy bear.  It can be used for a Get Well gift, a gift to welcome a new doctor to the hospital, a gift to say “Thank You for Being a Great Doctor and Taking Such Good Care Of Me”.   But really thinking outside of the box, it could be used as a housewarming gift filled with move-in necessities and called “Doctor Welcome to the Rescue.”

capTake a look at all those Boxco gift boxes that you have on your shelves.  Put on that Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap and think of other new and exciting uses for them.  In other words, think outside the box!”

Now, let’s take that box of cookies that you bought because it could fit in any gift basket.  Is your Creative Entrepreneur thinking cap still on?  What can you do differently with it?  How can you make it an inexpensive gift of it’s own?  There’s wrapping paper, labels, gift containers and more that can be used.

I could give you suggestions but I’m not the only Creative Entrepreneur online.  You have to be one too!  My purpose is to guide you to the new sparkling, clear water.  Now it’s up to you whether you drink or go back to that comfortable, familiar old watering hole.

So think outside that box and suggest some ideas that you came up with when you put on your Creative Entrepreneur Thinking Cap!  Share your thoughts by adding a comment.

Why don’t my gift baskets look like those in the magazines?

mastersHave you ever looked at one of our trade magazines, delighting in the exquisite designs and huge variety of products used in each basket, and then asked yourself: “Why don’t my gift baskets look like that?”

The designs in the magazines are what those new to the industry see and try to emulate.  When they either fail to achieve the same effect OR have accumulated cases of the many products OR can’t sell the completed designs because they cost too much, they consider themselves a failure.

What they don’t realize is that there is a big difference between many of the baskets designed for the magazines and those that sell to our customers.  The next time you receive a trade magazine, with its many gorgeous designs, take a more careful look at those designs. 

Yes, they are gorgeous.  Yes, they entice you to strive for a higher level of design.  Some of them are even designs that we can emulate and sell.  But there are many that I could never create and sell in my market area.  They are the type of baskets that I would produce as a donation when I want to really impress but could never sell and make a profit.  They were designed to give you ideas and to encourage you to strive for more than just an “everyday” look.  They were designed to sell advertiser’s products.   Many of them are winners or entries in design competitions at the last Convention.  They were designed for the design effect with little thought given to cost or whether the design will sell. 

Ask yourself how these designs will look wrapped in cello–which is essential to keep the products in place.  Can they even be sucessfully wrapped in cello at all?  How will they look when the bows, perching promptly on either side or front of the basket, are suddenly moved to the top of the cello?  How much does the excellent photography techniques used affect the appearance of the basket? 

Look at the products used to create the basket.  Are they primarily high cost products or a mixture of high-end and reasonably priced ones?  How much of the cost of the basket is dedicated to gorgeous enhancements and floral treatments?  Think about how much time was spent designing this particular basket.  Do you have that kind of time to devote to each and every basket that you sell?  If you’re familiar with wholesale prices–and most of you are– sit down and calculate what you would guess the basket would cost to create.  Then use your formula to determine what you would need to sell that basket for. 

Look at the holiday themed issues.  Count the number of holiday specific themed products are used in one basket.  Can your business afford to buy cases of a dozen or more holiday themed products for a holiday such as Halloween?  My business certainly couldn’t.  I’d be eating Halloween candies and cookies for the rest of the year.

Now that you’ve looked at these gorgeous works of art and asked yourself the above questions, look at them as they were intended.  Most, but perhaps not all, were not intended for you to copy and sell off your store’s shelves or website pages.  They were intended to give you ideas and to encourage you to buy advertiser’s products. 

With that in mind, take the bits and pieces of what you like about each design and create your own.  Create designs that you know will sell for you.  Use your imagination and design talents to create something similar, but more practical, with products that you can use in a large number of designs.  Incorporate one or two themed items and even some florals and enhancements (if that is your style) keeping a careful eye on the total cost of products and labor. 

When you are finished, you probably won’t have a gift basket that looks like the ones in the magazines but you’ll have a design that you can sell and make a profit on in your local market.  And isn’t making a profit what being in business is all about?

And, just in case you are wondering, the basket shown above is one of mine that was created specifically for the 2007 Designer of the Year competion.  It won second place as “Best Corporate Design” and, no, it’s not a design created to sell. It was created for a specific purpose and served that purpose well but the cost of the products used and time involved to create it would make it a difficult one to sell for a profit.