Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A test of your ability to sell perfume!

    I'm running a campaign to find marketers for my perfume -- people who can take a bottle of one of my perfumes -- with their name and artwork on it -- and go out and sell it. My campaign is in the form of a contest and the prize is perfume. You can find the basic details here, and more information at my Perfume Strategies blog.

    Meanwhile let me share an insight with you -- not one that will be useful for the contest but one which will help you to understand, in the big world of fragrances, how companies select their licensing partners and distribute their fragrances. I am not going to give you direct links to follow. You will learn more by discovering them for yourself. But I will give you all the clues.

    Publicly traded perfume companies -- I am thinking in particular of Elizabeth Arden, The Limited, and Parlux -- produce annual reports and their annual reports can be downloaded, free, from their corporate websites. They are typically found under the heading, "Investor Relations."

    These reports can run over 100 pages. You don't need to read them from cover to cover. But, in these reports, you will find discussions of the fragrances the company sells, sometimes a few words about how they are produced (always by an outside contractor), and how they are distributed.

    This information is not likely to help you market your own perfume directly. But it will help you understand how large companies work with perfume.

    Now about my contest ...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How to revise your business plan when everything goes wrong

Everything going wrong? Cool off. Relax. Then sort it out and try again!

    It is rare that "everything" goes wrong but there are times when you might have that feeling. Last fall I wrote business plans for two projects of my own and this week I've been taking stock of my success -- or lack of it -- with one of those plans. My initial impression was that everything had gone wrong.

    But what has happened is now water over the dam. Time to move forward. But if the business plan didn't pan out, if the goals weren't reached, if certain assumptions now seemed dubious, it's time to take stock of where things are -- now -- and what didn't happen that the plan had called for to happen.

    In short, it's time to re-work that business plan and bring it more in line with present realities. Going forward without a plan would be insane. The business plan is what focuses your energy and, if you find yourself lacking in energy toward your project, it may be that you need to rework your business plan, to make it more realistic, so that you can, once again, get excited as you go about putting it into action.

    I've been going over that business plan in which everything seemed to go wrong. What I've discovered is that certain points were overambitious and certain assumptions have proven doubtful. But most important, I've noticed that, while some money was made, certain necessary points were left out.

    The points that were left out didn't seem important to me last fall when I wrote my plan. Today they appear critical. Two issues stand out.

    First, I was looking at what I wanted to achieve long range without putting enough thought into how I was going to lay the foundation for this project, or what that foundation should be.

    True, I had it all in my head, but I've noticed that ideas that can seem so clear when they are in your head can suddenly become very muddy when you are forced to put them down on paper, to communicate to others. (That's why writing up your plan is so important!)

    The second point I seem to have messed up on was the classic inventor's downfall. I was more concerned with what I could build than with what it would do for others, and who those "others" were, or should be.

    I was reminded this morning of two people I know and have worked with who have made a good deal of money with their projects. The first had both hits and misses. The second had a few insignificant misses but a very strong track record of hits. Both had "creative" minds but I believe that this second person was far better at understanding the customer and building his projects around what people really wanted.

    So as I rebuild my business plan I'm starting with the market and what the thoughts and needs are of the people for whom I am developing my product. As I develop my product -- and write my plan -- I'll be thinking about how my product can serve these people in a way that will be so exciting to them that they will happily seek me out.

    I'll work more on the foundation of this business, developing a following with a core group however small it may be. I'll seek to improve my product to better serve the interests of that group. I won't project big numbers for now but project the need for the R&D, the development inputs, that will allow me to build a product, and a business, that in time will scale.

    These are the thoughts and inspirations that are now going into my, revised, business plan.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Recruiting "helpers" to sell your perfume

'Magic Moment' by Daggett and Ramsdell, Distributed by the Fuller Brush Company

    Making perfume is on thing. Selling it is another. To sell perfume you can either develop your own brand, so that sales bring credit and fame to your company, or you can "partner" (i.e., "make deals") with other companies to have them sell your perfume under their name and brand.

    The idea of building a perfume empire under your own name and brand is a grand one. But the path is a difficult one, strewn with failures. Why? Simply because the marketplace is competitive. Consumers have many choices. And to win their admiration and dollars can be slow, difficult, and expensive. This is why companies explore alternatives.

    I've written elsewhere about my own efforts to find marketing partners and even now, after the first successful partnership, I continue to be open to new and additional arrangements. Why? Because I enjoy making perfume, I've developed a number of formulas which I would like to get out there, to consumers, and I have neither the time, nor the organization, nor the money to risk to make a big push to develop the "Lightyears, Inc." brand.

    Thinking about this issue, the selling of your perfume under another organization's name, I stumbled across a bottle of perfume on eBay that was produced by Daggett and Ramsdell but marketed by the Fuller Brush Company.

    As best I could find out, the fragrance dates from 1951 which was a time when the Fuller Brush Man still sold Fuller brushes door to door.

    Magic Moment -- or any small, inexpensive perfume -- was an enticement to garner the good will of the housewife before launching into the Fuller brush sales pitch.

    Also note that Avon's roots involves a similar practice -- the giving away of a small perfume in order to pave the way for book sales.

    Daggett and Ramsdell, like Fuller, was an old, respected company but, while it had marketed a number of fragrances over the years alongside its cosmetics, the brand never become famous for their fragrances. Thus a marketing partner made good economic sense.

Footnote:

In addition to Magic Moment, Fuller also marketed a line of Daggett and Ramsdell cosmetics, door to door. But by the 1950's, the "Fuller Brush Man" could also have been the "Fuller Brush Woman."


Thursday, March 6, 2014

A new fragrance - the marketing begins


    I've written in this blog about "Confusion II," a fragrance I created for a marketing test, but I didn't say much about that that test was.

    I've now shared full details with members of our Perfume Makers & Marketers Club through our February Club Newsletter. Now I can share some of the details with you.

    The plan for the perfume was to market it as a minor scale "celebrity fragrance" but to do this I needed a celebrity who would be interested in making "Confusion II," under their name, "their" own fragrance.

    The fragrance -- all of it for the test -- was ready in January. Finding a "right" celebrity took a bit longer than I had expected but now it has happened. "Confusion II" is no longer and from it, "Children of the Rhythm" has emerged, thanks to The Big Takeover.



    The Big Takeover is a reggae band out of New Paltz, New York. "Children of the Rhythm" is their newly released CD. "Children of the Rhythm" perfume took its name from the name of the CD.

    "Children of the Rhythm" fragrance made its debut last weekend on the band's merchandise table at their show in Hudson, NY. Like the music, the fragrance got good reviews and has now moved on to their online store. Of course you'll also find it on their merchandise table at future gigs.

    If you like music, you can play a few of their songs and watch their video at their ReverbNation page. They are a talented group and very professional.

    Now a few remarks as to WHY I sought out this marketing path rather than something more conventional, like getting the fragrance in a few local gift shops on consignment.

    My first point would be, local gift stores aren't going to do much for you by way of sales. If your relations with local people are good, you might expect to sell a few bottles -- but now enough to make a business. And when you try to expand beyond the local territory where people know you, what happens? -- Nothing!

    But look what happens with a band -- especially one like The Big Takeover that writes their own original songs. As their fame grows, their audience grows. Of course you can't expect the same type of sales that Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift get. But YOUR PERFUME is now being presented to more and more people with the hope and very real possibility that more and more of their fans will give it a try and even talk about it to their friends.

    Marketing perfume successfully is a strategy game. There's more to it than just creating a "good" perfume, whatever that is. Today more than ever there's money to be made with perfume. But for YOU to be the one making money, you must understand the strategy side of marketing. There are no magic templates.

    If marketing perfume is of interest to you, you really should sign up with the Perfumer Makers & Marketers Club to get our monthly newsletter. (It's just $21.95 for the first three months.) Discover what strategy is all about, and what it can do for you.

   

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Seeking the right person makes good sense

    If you've been following my blogs you know I've been working on a scheme to sell my "Confusion II" fragrance. I promised updates and, in time, an exposition of the full business plan for the project.

    At present the project is in a holding pattern while I recruit a person I need who can be a bridge between what I've done (manufacturing and planning) and what I need others to do (retail sales in a very special niche market.)

    In the past I've been fortunate in the people I've been privileged to work with. I want, once again, to find one of those special people -- a person who, with minimal guidance, can make things happen.

    But once again I'm reminded that these people are not so common, even in an environment where a great many people are seeking jobs or money making opportunities.  It has been a while since I've been in the hiring mode but now it's all coming back to me.

    Getting the right person really does matter.

    Fashion advertisers pay big bucks to the "right" fashion models -- because they sell the goods. They help ring up sales many times what they are paid.

    Likewise for athletes. It's not just about being good. It's about being special and bringing in revenue for the team owners -- many times more than what they are paid.

    Getting the right person or people involved in your project can spell the difference between success and failure.  There is a tendency among most of us to be willing to "settle" for the people we can get with little effort -- because they are willing to work cheap (they appear to be cost effective) or because they gave us a snow job on their qualifications (without proof they could really deliver.)

    I've done it myself, hired the wrong person, because it seemed easy and getting the people I really wanted just seemed so hard.

    But now I'm sitting back a bit. Putting the rest of the project on hold while I spend some time and effort recruiting one special person who I really want to work with.

    I'm betting that in spite of what seems like an annoying delay, the results will be worth my patience.

    If you want to follow what I'm doing, try this link.

   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Finished on time, on plan, on budget


    I've been writing about my "Confusion II" project for what seems like months now. The project involves a small marketing test which I hope will lead to a larger opportunity. I had written that the launch would occur mid-January. The program launched yesterday -- on time, on plan, and on budget.

    After pulling the trigger, so to speak, I noticed that, to date, the program has moved along smoothly with no trauma, no unexpected expenses, and no last minute discovery of an unanticipated blockade.

    I believe this "on time, on plan, on budget" was the result of three factors and I would like to share something about them with you.

    First, the SIZE of my project was strictly controlled. My plan called for the production of a small number of bottles. (This could easily be scaled up in the future.) I made as much use as possible of materials I already had on hand, many left over from other projects. Development time, from conception to finished bottles, took just over two months -- as planned.

    Timing was set to avoid the Christmas holiday shopping season, which now runs from mid-November through the end of Decembe and thus the scheduling of the mid-January launch date. For this fragrance, trying to sell into the holiday season would NOT have been an advantage.

    The quantity of bottles I produced was large enough for me to test my marketing concept -- but no larger. In other words, my test was as small as I could make it but not so small that I wouldn't be able to make projections from the data I captured.

    Next, the project was broken up into a number of very simple steps, as per the original plan. This resulted in checklists for the development of the fragrance, the development of a marketing "event," and the development of the marketing program itself.

    Each step on the checklist was clear and simple -- count the number of caps available, count the number of bottles available, check whether there is enough perfumer's alcohol on hand or whether more will be needed, and so on. When each task is accomplished, it is checked off.

    Finally, each step was given a completion date. For the fragrance compound, a month was allowed for it to age and another month for mixing thoroughly after alcohol was added. Producing a label design took only an hour or so but it too received a deadline.

    If, in setting a completion date for an item, you find yourself unsure how long that particular step will take, it's time to examine that step for the possibility that you might not UNDERSTAND what it requires. Studying that step, you may discover that you can understand it better by breaking it down into several smaller steps. Remember, you're doing all your preliminary planning on paper, which is cheap. Getting stuck in the middle of an ongoing project can cost you money you shouldn't have to spend.

    Setting deadlines forces you to think very carefully about every little detail that your project will require. The more attention you give these details before you get started, the smoother your project will go once you do get started.

    That my "Confusion II" project has gone smoothly I attribute to the planning, the planning that was done before I "went into action."

    Now, having launched, I can start tracking my results.

   

   

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A video for your perfume?

A quote from designer Foti Flogeras caught my attention

    I'm up to my eyeballs finalizing a video for a perfume, "Confusion II." I'll offer it for sale in mid-January. The project, since I am new at doing videos, has probably required more time than necessary but it is a learning experience.

    Among the headaches and obstacles were non-functioning video editing software (I won't mention the brand), trying to find replacement software, starting up the learning curve for the new software (I had used an older version of the other program before, without problems), and learning something about audio editing and music producing and discovering that I am not going to be the next Jay-Z. But by keeping it simple it looks like the job will get done on time.

    I mention all this for two reasons. First, there are some myths out there that you can achieve fame and fortune with perfume without investing any money and without doing any work.

    You can produce a small quantity of perfume for perhaps a few hundred dollars -- but you can't develop and successfully sell a perfume without hard work. In fact, the less money you have to spend, the harder you will have to work. I'll write more about that another day.

    But today (and for the last few weeks!) the video has been on my mind. The questions you might ask are, "Why a video for perfume?" and "Won't it cost a lot of money?" Let me start with the first question.

    The December 2013 issue of Beauty Packaging magazine ran a report from Luxe Pack Monaco, a trade show of Luxury packaging for fragrances and cosmetics. The article quoted Foti Flogeras, a European-based fragrance package designer with clients in the Middle East and China. Flogeras told the editors, "You have to win over Chinese consumers with the packaging because often they have no experience with the product -- what's inside."

    Isn't this exactly our situation when we small perfume marketers try to put out a new perfume? We have no history, we don't have millions of followers on Twitter or Facebook, and nobody is ready to rush the retail stores to purchase our perfume the minute it hits the shelves.

    So we must generate buzz. Video is one device that can help do that.

    Notice that we are all carrying video cameras in our pockets. What smartphone can't shoot video? So the first tool is at hand although other cameras may be more appropriate, depending on the "script," but we don't need to do it in Panavision.

    When my first video editing software pooped out on me I was surprised to discover how may affordable options were available -- in the "under $100" price range. (As mentioned above, developing and selling your own perfume does require that you be prepared to spend money!) So now I'm using (learning to use!) one of these and the work is progressing nicely.

    But what about all else? The cost, the music, the special effects, the props and sets? Here's where, if your budget is as limited as mine is, you have to get creative. You can get creative by reaching out and seeing what's going on right in your own neighborhood. Lots of young people are into all this. Or look at YouTube, look at websites featuring video, look at store displays for perfume that attract your attention (if you can find any.)

    Selling an abstract product like perfume requires creative thought and strategizing. And it requires money, some money, but not necessarily a whole lot.

    Start keeping your eyes open for video ideas. And don't forget to pay attention to the commercials on TV.