How to Plan and Execute a Kick-Ass Sample Sale

There are plenty of reasons to have a sample sale.  Maybe you have some excess inventory that has piled up throughout the years.  Maybe you’re looking for a way to reconnect with old clients.  Maybe you just need some cash. Whatever your reason for having a sale, you can’t expect success if you just hang a “sale” sign on your studio door and hope people show up.  If you’re going to go to all the effort of organizing and preparing your inventory to sell, you want to make sure the effort pays out.  

My business, Kendra Renee Jewelry, recently held a very successful sample sale.  I created a buzz, hosted a fun event, generated new clients, and more than exceeded my sales goal.  My way is certainly not the only way to run a successful sale, but the method I used worked for me and I am happy to share it with other creatives.  Below you will find an outline of the strategies I used to execute a smash-hit sale.


Branding Your Sale

Creating a branded event is step one and it lays the foundation for the success of all the other steps.  Your customers are likely constantly inundated with marketing information. Creating a consistent look for your sale marketing materials will help it stick in people’s minds and double the effectiveness of each marketing tactic you use.  Here are a few samples of my materials used in my recent sample sale. You can see that they all have consistent colors, fonts, and messaging.  The sale branding is completely different from my normal branding, which helped to highlight that this was a very special event.  

Pre-Sale Marketing

When you host a sale, no one will come if they don't hear about it from you, so pre-sale marketing is essential.  I created a schedule for my marketing pushes starting 4 weeks before the sale, and that seemed to be just right.  

I used a variety of the usual suspects to market my sale: Facebook, my mailing list, printed postcards and posters, banners on my website, Instagram… you know about these things, so I’m not going to go into too much detail.  Suffice it to say, decide what works for you and use it.  One tool I do want to highlight, though, is Paperless Post.  Creating a Paperless Post invitation was one of the smartest things I did. It allowed me to email key clients or people in my social circle who do not subscribe to my mailing list or my Facebook page.  A Paperless Post invite feels special, personal, and non-spammy.  They have cute, easily personalized designs that look professional.  You can see who has viewed the invite, collect RSVPs so you know how many people to expect, and send automatic RSVP and event reminders.  It’s not a free service but definitely worth the small fees.

Inventory preparation and pricing

Count it up: how much inventory do you want (or need) to sell?  Set a sales goal and make sure it’s realistic based on how much inventory you actually have.  Gather the things you want to get rid of from consignment accounts, go through your old pieces, and even go through semi-finished pieces you might have sitting around your studio.  I know I had a big pile of pieces I had about 80% finished and then abandoned.  By finishing up that last 20%, I was able to convert them from scrap to salable goods.  Keep in mind that people will want the things you may think are worthless - especially if they’re the right price.

When pricing the pieces, I made sure to set the prices at or below wholesale because I really wanted them to move.  On each price tag I wrote the original price and the sale price so people could see how much they were saving.  This visual reminder of the savings really worked!  Another effective pricing psychology technique I used was to create a deal for buying in bulk.  I offered an additional $20 off for each three pieces purchased.  Many people who were going to buy two items bought three, and people who were going to buy five bought six.

Enticing your palate

I made sure to offer great refreshments.  Not only does it make the event feel more upscale, but you can use the food and drink aspect to reach new clients.  How?  I procured a wine sponsor - a friend who owns a winery provided the wine for the sale.  I used his logo on all my marketing materials and in turn he promoted my event to his clients.  It was great for both of us!  It brought me new clients as well as made my sale look extremely legit.

Not only is wine tasty, it encourages the impulse to shop ;)

Not only is wine tasty, it encourages the impulse to shop ;)


Having clear signage the day of the sale was unbelievably important.  I wanted to make my sale easy to find, so I posted signs throughout the building pointing the way, as well as two sandwich board signs on the street directing people inside.  The sandwich boards were big and I put balloons on them too, making them impossible to miss.  I got more people off the street that I ever guessed possible, just because they saw my signs. And now those are brand new clients, eager to see more from me.


Move it to the net

After my day-of event was over, I snapped some cute, quick photos on my phone of the remaining pieces and I put them up in my Etsy shop to continue the sample sale online.  I emailed my mailing list with an additional 10% off coupon code, and they responded with extreme enthusiasm!  I had prepped them to look for an online sale in my newsletter, and my out of town customers had been drooling over my sale marketing for weeks wishing they could attend.  When I announced the online sale they were primed and ready, many of them buying 2-5 pieces.

It costs almost nothing to move the sale online, so why not?

Take it online! This is the banner I posted on my website to announce the sale.

Take it online! This is the banner I posted on my website to announce the sale.

Make sure they know what a deal they're getting!

Make sure they know what a deal they're getting!

Treat Yo' Self

I’m not going to lie, this event was A LOT of work.  Don’t forget to treat yourself afterwards.  I set two rewards for myself from the beginning: one was if I followed my marketing plan and executed my sale, I would go out to a favorite restaurant (I chose the Front Porch!), even if I didn’t sell a single thing.  This was just to treat myself for all the focused hard work I put into my sale, and having the reward kept me focused throughout the long preparation process. My second reward was to treat myself to a gel pedicure if I met my sales goal.  My toes will be sparkling for weeks!

Raising a glass to a kick-ass sale

Raising a glass to a kick-ass sale