#294 How to Become an Online Sales Master with Virtual Events

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We’ve been teaching designers how to host virtual trunk shows for years as part of our Train Your Customers to Buy From You Online (TYC) coaching program.

Virtual trunk shows have always been important, but over the last year, they’ve become central teaching to help jewelry designers protect their businesses during the pandemic.

When you learn how to make sales online, you better prepare your business for anything the world throws at you.

And, oh my gosh, the world threw a lot at us this past year.

Virtual trunk shows are just like in-person trunk shows you may have participated in before. It could’ve been at a brick-and-mortar store, hosted at someone's house, at a convention, or an art fair. 

A virtual trunk show has the same goal and basic elements: making it easy for shoppers to buy from a jewelry brand. 

The only difference? Everything’s virtual. All your customers have to do is get online and show up.

We teach a TON of different types of virtual trunk shows to try in our TYC program, but today I’m going to dive into 4 of our favorites so you can begin your journey to becoming an online sales master!

#294 How to Become an Online Sales Master with Virtual Events

A virtual event is just anything where you are reaching your customers via live streaming, and or an event page or in a group. And you're basically hosting the event in a virtual modality.

Welcome to Thrive by Design, the podcast for ambitious independent jewelry brands, looking to profit from their products, get ready to make more and sell more doing what you love, without spending every single waking minute doing it. Hey, and if you're a creative fashion or product-based business, I want to welcome you to the show. I'll be dropping big tips on launching, growing, and scaling your business. Spend more of your precious time using your creativity to make you ready. All right, let's do this.

Welcome to the Thrive by Design podcast, Episode 294. Hey there, it's Tracy Matthews, Chief visionary Officer of Flourish and Thrive Academy. And I'm so excited to be here today to talk a little bit more about, you know, one of my favorites becoming an online sales master with virtual events. Oh my gosh. So I don't know if you guys remember this time last year. I mean, it seems like March 2020 is like 17 years ago, in my opinion, it seems so long ago. And I remember, like scrambling because I'd been in Arizona. And then as I'm recording this, it's like the beginning of the month of March. And this is airing at the end of the month of March. And I remember like right around the time that I'm recording this feeling so frantic, I just left Arizona to go back to New York City, Jason and I weren't supposed to see each other again for like another couple weeks. And literally a turn around in like three days came back. And I ended up moving here. It was like so nuts, because of all the mayhem. And I remember trying to like keep it together for our students and our Momentum program and all the things, which was awesome. 

But I know that a lot of people were in a state of panic, because they build their business on either wholesale, or they build their business on these live events, retail pop ups, art shows, all the things. And with social distancing, and everyone's a fear of getting COVID-19. Like it became like, we all became afraid to like being around people, right. And so I'm hoping that most of us are a little bit more relaxed. Now I feel pretty confident, I'm actually going to see people in real life again, and attending business masterminds and stuff like that, of course, in small groups, because for me that in person connection is super important. And to combat any other risk, you know, I'm obviously taking care of my health, which I think all of you should, as well. 

So, that being said, one of the tactics that many of our students that we started really leaning deeply into is our basically virtual event system. And we really want you to become a master at selling online. Because if you have this tool under your belt, and you can run a successful virtual event, well, you are like 10 steps ahead of all the other people who really struggle with this and never end up figuring out how to replace their last show income because of fear of asking for the sale. Or they didn't really know how to transition those people online, or they didn't know how to teach people who had already bought from them to buy from them online. Right? 

You know, it's a tricky thing, like, especially if you're not really sure how to have those conversations, or how to reach out to people, and all the things. And little did I know, three years ago or two, two and a half years ago, when did I launch it for the first time in 2019. Little did, I guess I guess that's two years ago that our Training Your Customers To Buy From You Online workshop would be so valuable and important during times like this, I feel like it was like literally divine intervention that the universe was saying, 

Tracy, you must bring this workshop to the jewelry and product world so that they can because something's gonna happen in a year, they're gonna really need it. So we have run our Train Your Customers to buy from you online workshop. This is our fourth season, we ran two times the first year, once last year. And I actually didn't even want to run it again.

I love the workshop. But I wanted to just really focus on some other things as a business. And my team and the students in our community, were begging for me to bring it back because it's that good. So I'm super excited about it because we are in our fourth iteration of this. And if you are someone who really wants to elevate and amplify what you're doing online, to reach your customers directly on their website, and you're ready to take action now. I'd love to invite you to participate in our Train Your Customers workshop, one of the core trainings in there is that we actually help you dive deep into is pulling off a virtual event. 

I'm going to be talking a little bit about that. Today, but we go in-depth to help you plan and actually pull it off without a hitch. And the thing that I'm really excited about is one of the masters. She's one of our Desired Brand coaches over here. She is a graduate of all of our programs, she coaches in our Momentum program and in the TYC. Her name is Ana Maria Andricain. And she has a company called jewel Ivana. And the thing that's so awesome about Ana Maria is that she has literally mastered the art of virtual events. 

And so she's teaching this workshop, she has pulled off, I don't even know how many I've lost count, probably like 30 virtual events last year by doing collaborative events with other artisans. And it has totally paid off. She had a business that was super heavy in in-person shows. And she more than replaced her income using virtual events as a substitute for in-person events. And it really works. So if you're interested in learning more about the TYC workshop, it is a 12-week workshop in an intensive style. So we deliver training once a week, and then we give you a couple of days to implement that. And then we follow up with a feedback session. 

So there's tons of personalized coaching and attention in that workshop. And we're there and committed to helping you implement and get fast results as you go. So let's talk about who this is for it's for any designer who is trying to get consistent monthly sales online. It's cool if you're doing great in other areas. And or it's great for people who are trying to actually elevate and scale those online monthly sales that they do have. So one of the main or major outcomes that people have when they take this program is they go from maybe having a couple of sales a month online to having daily sales or more on their website. And that's really the goal we're trying to get you to build momentum there.

You're someone who desires to have a more leveraged business model so that you no longer have a single point of failure. And what I mean by that is, if you're selling in only one channel, I feel like selling direct to consumers is one of the only ways that you're actually really protecting yourself because you're not at the mercy of foot traffic at a show. Or if a wholesale store is actually going to sell your product, or God forbid, you're selling consignment and you're just waiting for those checks to roll in those types of things, we want you to make sure that you are taking control and power back in your business because you have a way to make sales on a daily basis. And if you already have a successful business, and you're doing shows in wholesale, but you really can't seem to crack that online code. This is a perfect program for you. And the only caveat that we need for you to have is that you have a website up and ready to sell on your business model doesn't matter, the type of jewelry or product you sell doesn't matter. 

We've helped people, obviously all ranges of the gamut from fine jewelry to like costume jewelry in this program. But we've also helped other people with other types of products. So it will still work for you then. And this is all really about building a Desired Brand and creating a system and cycle for sales that keep money coming in all the time. So if you're interested in learning more, you can head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/tyc put your application in today because we are filling up like crazy. And we closed enrollment at the end of the month. And we get started on April 5th with our kickoff call. And it runs for 12 weeks all the way through the middle of July. So you head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/tyc We have all of the details and the information right there. And we'd be happy to chat with you. Okay, are you ready to talk a little bit more about how to become an online sales master with virtual events? Well, you're in the right place muddier. 

So a virtual event is just anything or a virtual trunk show can also be called. It's just anything where you are reaching your customers via live streaming, and or an event page, or in a group. And you're basically hosting the event in a virtual modality. So there's a lot of different ways to do this. We go in-depth into this in the TYC but it is really powerful because it works and especially if you're using some sort of video component because at the end of the day, it's a great way for you not only to showcase your products, but to also get in front of a variety of people and leverage other people's audiences. 

So if you have friends and family, they can bring in people if you want to do this with other artisans, they can bring in people and all those things. And here's the thing, you know, pre-pandemic, you probably were hosting trunk shows, jewelry parties, all the things in a brick and mortar store, maybe in your home at a convention center or some sort of art fair. So this is a great way to reach your customers and I love it. And a virtual trunk show has the same elements as a traditional trunk show. 

It's just really making it easy for shoppers to actually buy from your jewelry brand. The only difference is that The customers all you have to do is to get online to join you virtually. So instead of walking into a store, they just like click on your zoom or join your Facebook Live or whatever it is, or join your Facebook group, whatever it is, and they can join you virtually for the trunk show. 

So the benefit of that is that you have the opportunity to reach a much bigger audience over time which is great. And here's the thing: virtual trunk shows work. I'm going to share with you some results and case studies and talk to Shehana Kimiangatau on the show. I think last year around May, she did a virtual trunk show for her birthday and she sold $39,000 worth of fine jewelry. For this virtual event. It was amazing. All she did was spent 10 hours of work setting it up. And it only sold for two hours. So that is super awesome. It's incredible. 

Lisa Leeman regularly hosts virtual trunk shows through Facebook Lives. You've also heard on the podcast, you can go search our podcast episodes and find it. She sells typically like upwards of $7,000 of product in just a two hour window. Flourish and Thrive Academy Momentum graduates, Jeana and Jared rushed in and pulled off an amazing virtual event over Black Friday and Cyber weekend doing a multi strategy event that included email marketing video and leveraging multiple social media channels. And they sold over $8,000 over that Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. 

And then it also mentioned Ana Maria Andricain who is a virtual event Master, she's basically created, I feel like she should start a business like hosting these virtual art shows. She's done such a great job partnering with organizers and stuff and leading these events. And she is brought in, she tells me like her typical trunk show and she does these all the time is bringing in about $5,000 for her and all the other artists and each time she does it and she does them multiple months. So she's doing pretty well with the virtual trunk show. 

So if you're curious if this actually works 100% it does, and there are so many ways to do it. So we teach a ton of different ways, and different types of virtual trunk show to actually host in our  TYC intensive. But today I want to dive into four of my favorites. So you can begin your journey, becoming an online sales master. Now, the first one is sample sales are getting rid of excess inventory. And the reason why I love this is because all of us at certain stages in our career is going to be stuck with a bunch of dead inventory and debt by debt inventory just means stuff that you're not using stuff from old collections, maybe you went to some of those big shows and trade shows or whatever, or you bought a ton of stones or gems and then you never use them. And they're just collecting dust on yourself, your shelf on yourself or your shelf either way or maybe you just have a bunch of old samples that haven't been cleared out. 

So you can do this, like I used to have in person sample sales in San Francisco and New York, when I had a production line. And that was back then this is like 12 years ago, I would do anything from five to $15,000 with my basically my bridge jewelry line over the course of like an evening or two days or something like that. It was insane. So sample sales work. And the idea behind it is that you take all of the samples from your old collection, old inventory, and then you discount it super cheaply. So you can sell it maybe at wholesale prices directly to consumers. And the reason you do this is because this is the kind of stuff that is still awesome jewelry, but you're just trying to clear it out. 

Now my consultant Phil used to describe excess inventory on the shelves as this, like 50 cents on the dollar is better than a bunch of stuff just sitting on your shelf, like eating up your cash flow. So you want to think of this not in you. Obviously, you would like to get the most bang for your buck, and you'd like to actually get your cost out of it. But I don't want you to think of this in terms as the biggest profit center. This is really about clearing things out. So it's okay if you're selling things at wholesale or even at cost if it's super old, like I don't always recommend to do that. But that's an opportunity. So it's a great way to liquidate inventory and get rid of old stock. It's also a great way to upsell your customers on other options. So you can give anyone who shops maybe like some sort of gift card to shop on your website for regular priced items. Or you can even have something where you have a bunch of excess stones that you are trying to get rid of, and you can upsell them into a custom order. Lisa Lehman talked about this on the podcast episode that we did with her a while back and so that's a great idea. So if you have a bunch of just loose stones like calves or gemstones or whatever and you fabricate jewelry, this is a great opportunity for you and I love it. 

All right the next one of my next favorite ideas is to launch a new collection. You know who's doing this really well, she's doing it every single month is Twyla Dill she has really mastered the art of online sales, and she knows a thing or two, about getting crushed when COVID hit, the girl had most of her sales coming from her in person, kiosk, the Pikes Place Market in Seattle. And as we know, you probably heard on the news, Seattle has been hit really hard with basically everything when it comes to COVID. And everything that's happened in this last year. 

So her main goal like she joined our programs a while back to help build her online sales business. And last year, was really like a test for her she had to try and replace all of her in person income in while her sales weren't quite where they would have been if she had the in person events, she actually did an amazing job using virtual events, and the online strategies that we teach in the TYC To replace a significant amount of her insanely good income anyway, so she was doing awesome. And she's been launching new collections through virtual trunk shows all year long, and it's working great for her. 

So you can do this by celebrating your new launch with the virtual trunk show, create excitement around that new launch and provide your customers with really an interactive way of viewing the pieces. So you can show the pieces. It's great for people who do one of a kind drops. It's also great if you just want to have a big party and have some sort of event or incentive for shopping on the launch party date. You can think of your new collection launch as similar to a book launch or something like that. 

You can also consider hosting a private virtual trunk show for all the VIPs on your email list, or strong store partnerships to sell to you. So this is a great way where you can collaborate with your wholesale accounts, or other artists in your industry and help promote together to get more exposure for your new collections. You can do this with a bunch of your key wholesale accounts. There's a variety of ways that you can use this to launch a new collection. Also, this is a fantastic way to get more engagement and online to sell more of your products and get people excited about your new collection during a launch. 

Now the third piece of this is to do collaborative trade shows. Now this is perfect for people who really want to go deep into selling wholesale, and you're not doing in person wholesale trade shows. Plus, if you want to kind of cut that expense, doing the virtual trade show is awesome. In fact, I saw on the interwebs, many of the people in the industry actually switching their business model to host their trunk shows or their excuse me, their collaborative trade shows, virtually online. So this is a great virtual trunk show idea, especially to target wholesale buyers. And many of the wholesale shows have been cancelled as we know it doesn't mean that people still aren't buying right. And we just want to wait for them to get together with a lot of people. So the best way to do this is to get together with some friends in the industry, leverage each other's wholesale audiences. invite all of your dream store list to attend the event. 

You know, preview your collections, you can each have like maybe 30 minutes to preview the collection, give them a strong call to action to show them how to purchase and make it a super fun event and reward people for actually showing up. 

And then finally, this is one of my old school favorites: the house party, right? You could do like a jewelry party, I loved jewelry parties, especially when I was first starting out. And like I think that they're great even if you're an established brand because people love meeting the artist. And it's also just a great way for you to connect with people. So take your in person house parties online, this is a great way to do this. So normally, for in person house parties, you typically ask a friend to co host the party with you. So I used to do this with my sister, I would co collaborate with my friend Brooke back in San Francisco. I do it with other people in New York, apartments in New York were a little bit smaller. 

So it was a little bit harder to do those in house ones. But all you do is you invite a group of friends and, and family anyone you have a little like drinks and a little sip and see. And you get them to enjoy the party. So you can do the same thing. Virtually right you can invite people to your virtual house party. And if you want to play around, you can like send the big spenders like a bottle of champagne after or something. But you just basically position it like hey, I'm having a virtual sip and see, I'd love to show you the new collection or I'd love to show you my products and bring a glass of wine, bring some cheese and crackers like the whole thing and let's make it a fun event. 

So you can take what you did in the in person thing and just turn it into a virtual scenario and it's super fun. You just simply move the online event or the In person event, excuse me online and encourage everyone to enjoy a glass of wine together, which is the best part about it. So I hope that you enjoyed those virtual event ideas. In the show notes, we're also going to have a link to a resource where we share a bunch more ideas for the virtual trunk show. If you want to learn how to do this, amazingly, and do it super awesomely, then I'd love to encourage you to head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/tyc and apply for our Train Your Customers to buy from you online workshop. 

Virtual events are one of the core training that we're doing and we have Ana Maria Andricain leading that session, you are going to love it. And she, as I mentioned, is a master at these things. And you definitely want to learn from the best. So get your application in today. We are closing enrollment really soon, because we're getting started on April 5th And this is an application-only process, we only want to make sure that people are a good fit. Join us for this program. So if you're interested in learning more, head on over to flourishthriveacademy.com/tyc, And let's do this. All right, this is Tracy Matthews, signing off. Till next time, thanks so much for listening to the podcast. And if you know someone who would benefit from what you're hearing here today, please share this podcast with them and spread the word about what we're doing. And if you haven't done so yet, I'd love for you to share your experience by giving us a little rating and review on Apple podcasts because it's super helpful. Your five-star ratings and reviews actually help push the podcast out into the feed. It helps deliver it basically to more people like you. And we're trying to help and impact as many people as possible with our message and help them grow more impactful to our businesses. So thanks so much for everything and I'll chat with you soon. And hopefully, I'll be seeing you inside the team. 

Click here to download the show notes

Virtual Trunk Shows Work!

Virtual trunk shows are a staple teaching here at Flourish & Thrive Academy because they work.

Shehana Kimiangatau sold $39,000 worth of fine jewelry for her virtual birthday event. She invested 10 hours of work to prepare for the virtual trunk show and only a two hours sales window. Wow!

Lisa Lehmann regularly hosts virtual trunk shows through Facebook Live and shared that she recently sold $7,000 worth of product in just a two-hour window. Her secret? Figure out ways to make it fun and entertaining so it’s more of an experience rather than a transaction only. 

Flourish & Thrive Academy Momentum students, Jeana & Jared Rushton, pulled in more than $8,000 over the Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend with their virtual trunk show strategy.

With those results in mind, let’s look at a couple of types of virtual trunk shows you can host…

Build Hype Around A Collection Launch

Celebrate your upcoming collection launch with a virtual trunk show! 

Give your audience a look behind the scenes at how raw materials are transformed into their next favorite necklace.

Create excitement around your new launch while providing your customers with an interactive view of the new pieces. 

This is a great way to get engagement online, sell your products, and build up hype about your new collection during a launch. 

Take In-Person Events Online

Normally for in-person house parties, you’d typically ask a friend to co-host a party with you. 

They’d invite a group of their friends and everyone would enjoy drinks and snacks while perusing your collections.

The same concept can work in a virtual trunk show scenario, too. 

Simply move the event online, and encourage everyone to (virtually) enjoy a glass of wine together as well. 

There are two more types of virtual trunk shows I want to talk about. Listen to the full episode above to hear the details!

xo, Tracy


Resource: Virtual Trunk Shows That Sell Done-For-You System

Broadway, Bartering & Baton Rouge—Oh My! Jewelry Designer Turned a Dressing Room Hobby Into a 6-Fig Biz

Ana Maria Andricain

Shehana Kimiangatau

Lisa Lehmann

Jeana & Jared Rushton



Listen on Apple Podcasts!