Monday, July 11, 2016

How to pack more power into your visual images

If you are looking for strong images
to sell your perfume, your first step
is to develop a strong concept.

    Visual images can be a powerful selling tool, but not all visual images. Some are spectacular in their marketing power, others are little more than pretty pictures, nice but quickly forgotten. Powerful images stick in people's heads.

    I've had some experience with powerful images. I've seen one photo produce $100,000 in sales; another more than a million. But the key to it was getting the right image for the context in which it was to be used. These shots involved a bit of luck. But the luck itself came about by setting up the setting in which the lucky shot could be grabbed.

    If you are looking for strong images to sell perfume, your first step is to work up a strong visual concept. This is like outlining a plot for a book, film or TV show except that it will be an outline for one frozen moment.

    As you develop your concept, keep several points in mind. Most important is the image that you want to create. What will be the best image to hook viewers on an emotional level, pushing them toward a purchase?

    Also keep in mind your resources. A good idea is no good to you unless you can produce the image you've imagined.

    Models who are unavailable to you, or you can't afford to hire, or who will never be good in front of a camera have to be ruled out.

    Locations you can't afford must be rules out.

    Sets that you can't set up properly must be ruled out.

    Your great concept has to be one you can execute.

    Photographing your great concept should not be a static exercise. Yes, take the "art director" shot, the one you sketched on paper for your layout. And keep your layout in mind, the space the photo must fit. I can recall a time when I wanted to shoot jewelry on a model. You get a quick lesson in proportion. The model is large, the earring is small. You want to show the earring large because that's the product. The model's face gets cropped. So why, tell me why, was casting for a face when it should have been for an ear?

    Now comes the fun part where you are most likely to get a shot that moves people. Loosen up a bit. Go a bit crazy with the camera. If you're working                                                                                                        with a model or models, have them loosen up and go a bit crazy. Overdo it. Then cut it back just slightly. This is where you're likely to get images that move people.

    The image above is not a great example of an advertising shot but let me walk you through its creation.  

    Having just written about the importance of TEXT, I wanted to follow up with an article on the power of images. In producing this article it seemed strange not to have an illustration so I decided to cook one up. This would be a simple image using props on hand and a "model" who was sleeping on the couch next to my desk.

    Since this blog is about marketing your own perfume, A bottle of perfume was called into service, Moonfaire in this case. Then, to add human interest, I posed Kissy, a miniature dachshund, with the bottle. Now it was just a few snaps and a bit of photo editing and I was done. No, the image isn't powerful. It just demonstrates how you can put a concept together.

    A few final words on images. Few images have much meaning standing alone without a headline, photo caption, or a context. When you use a photo, make sure you've given it the support that can make it's message clear -- and powerful. You'll be amazed by how a few added words can multiply the power a photo.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

How to score more shares -- text vs. video

     An article in our Perfume Strategies newsletter from June discussed recent evidence that most social network postings that are shared have never been read by the person doing the sharing. In that issue I wrote about how you can take advantage of this quirk.

    If people share a post without reading it clearly it is the immediate impression of the post that has triggered their share. So, if you want your post shared, you have to work on that first impression.

    But some people do read posts. So if your content is your selling story, you don’t want to weaken that story just to get more shares.

Mess with the headline, not the body

    The all important trigger is the headline; if there is only a photo, the photo caption; if there is only a video, the first frame of the video, the one that you see behind the "play" button.

    Very few photos communicate a message (a real message!) fast and clear without the addition of a (text) caption. Video almost never communicates a coherent message with that single, frozen, "waiting for the play button to be pushed" first frame. Text -- a headline -- can capture attention and communicate real meaning in just a few words ... which the eye and brain can process in microseconds.

    That's why headlines have always been so important in communications whether they be news, advertising, so social. In spite of what the promoters of video want you to believe, the written word is still king.

    If you want your post to be shared, a strong headline (text) or a meaningful photo caption (text) is essential. But what do you put into your headline or photo caption? I suggest you work at it this way --

    First, try to condense the essence of your message into five or six words. This also helps you focus on what it is that you want to communicate. Then pull out, in two or three words, the most exciting, sharable point in your message. Now artfully blend these elements in a single headline or photo caption. Step back. Let it cool for an hour or two, then look at your headline again. Did you nail it? If so, go ahead and post. If not, work at it some more. Good communications are worth the extra effort and you will get more shares.

NOTE: Every month I discuss issues and strategies of importance to marketers in our Perfume Strategies newsletter, free to members of our Perfume Makers' Club.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sorting out social media and social media influencers to sell your own perfume

Do you know why we used this picture of a dog to illustrate this article? Tell us why you think we did and we'll give the dog a cookie.
    Social media is a terrific marketing tool.

    But it's a tool that can be hard to get a grip on.

    If you are reading this because you believe social media could help your case, but you aren't currently deploying social media to support your brand, let's review a few of the issues that might be holding you back.

    Issue # 1 -- "Social media" is as broad a category as "print", "radio", "TV", or "direct mail." Within the "social media" category, new platforms are being introduced regularly. Some older platforms are falling out of favor while others have seen a dramatic demographic shift.

    Because the use of social media is currently free, it's easy to forget that you are acting in the role of media buyer when you select the platforms you want to address. You make your selections the same way any media buyer would. Your goal is to maximize return on investment. You are concerned with the demographics of the platform, the reach of the platform, and what the cost to you will be.

    Issue # 2 -- What will it cost you to use free social media? If you promote using only your own social media assets, the cost is nothing more than the time and energy you put into conversations with your followers. But social media marketing has become much more than a conversation with your own followers, however large their numbers may be. Global brands, for all their money, power, and name recognition, have turned to freelance "social media influencers" for help in marketing their products. Brands pay cash for these services. Why? Because these freewheeling young kids do a better job at promoting. You may find yourself paying for these services too.

    Issue # 3 -- Social media influencers -- These are the handful of generally young people who, through their social media conversations, have developed large followings of loyal devotees whose buying decisions can be influenced through these conversations.

[Text missing ... full article is found -- free -- at our website here.]

     If you are a small marketer of your own fragrance, you might try going to one of these agencies (that are popping up all over) to save yourself the confusion of finding and approaching a self-described social media influencer on your own. Will the convenience be worth what you might pay? If you do decide to go this route, it is wise to TEST on the smallest possible (but practical) scale. But at times you just have to pick a starting point and go forward, learning by experience and perhaps getting burned just a little in the process.

    If you are the marketer of your own perfume it is likely that you'll want to make some use of social media. You may have your own social assets -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever -- but if you're going to do some heavy selling, it's likely you'll be led to consider working with an "influencer." This was a topic that was explored in the May 2016 issue of Perfume Strategies. The article made some suggestions but the fact is that, to data, there is no clear and simple path to using this tool. At present we can only keep our eyes open, be aware of what others are doing and, should a practical opportunity present itself, test this pay-to-post "influencer" tool on a moderate scale.

Monday, March 28, 2016

A treasure hunt for coupons

    I've written about using coupons to test the waters for a new perfume idea. This article suggests a way to use coupons to get more visitor involvement with your various online presences. The strategy goes like this --

    You establish a prize, perhaps a discount on one of your fragrances, perhaps a free bottle of fragrance. Next you distribute coupons, each bearing a code number, around your website and social media presences. Then you announce the treasure hunt, on Facebook, Twitter, your website, etc.

    The deal is simply this. The person -- it could be just the first person, it could be the first ten people, it could be whatever you want it to be -- who collects all of the coupon numbers and submits them to you gets the prize. (In your announcement you'll state how many coupons you've hidden and where to look for them -- website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

    To make this work you'll have to make it fun and not too serious. You're not looking for the obsessed hunters of free offers. You're looking for people who will engage with you. The treasure hunt is a way to get them interested in YOU and the fragrances you sell.

    Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Testing your new perfume idea for free

    There are many ways for a person or a company with no experience to launch and promote a new perfume but increasingly the most important tool for this type of startup is the internet. Asked "how will you sell your new perfume?" the independent perfume entrepreneur is likely to answer, "Online."

The ups and downs of selling perfume online

    Not so long ago the internet was great for taking orders but not so great for selling an unknown fragrance by an unknown company. Many of the early adapters of selling perfume online found that few if any shoppers made it to their websites and fewer still (and often nobody) bought their perfume.

    While the problem of selling an unknown perfume online remains, social media now makes it possible to get your perfume known and to draw attention, and even sales, to your online store. Companies of all sizes are now discovering the cost effectiveness of social media for generating both online and brick and mortar sales. If your business plan calls for selling online it will also call for the use of social media to stimulate sales.

Looking at costs

    The use of social media can be free or it can carry costs. It can be free if you are doing it yourself, through your own social media accounts. If you are paying for advertising or paying, with cash or gifts, for a social media "influencer" to promote your fragrance, it then carries costs.

    An important question to ask yourself is, "what will 'free' get me?" You don't yet know but at this point you do know how many active followers you have on your own social media accounts. If ALL of them bought your perfume would it be profitable? If, perhaps, 10 percent of them bought your perfume would it be profitable? In either of these cases you should consider doing your first market test with these people, for free.

    Regardless whether your promotion on social media will be free or whether it will cost something, developing and manufacturing your perfume will cost money and launching it will involve risk. Testing the market before you produce your perfume makes good business sense. Market feedback can highlight opportunities or raise red flags that should be taken very seriously.

This is how you can market test for free

    You can run multiple market tests for free using your social media accounts. Rather than going out with a "buy now" message for your fragrance, go out with a coupon offer that will get you the essential market feedback you need. You can easily run one or more tests without producing your perfume.

Coupon strategies

    The "coupons" you distribute are digital and cost nothing to produce. The trick is to have the coupon make an attractive offer or, better yet, test several offers to see which is most attractive. For example, one series of coupons might be for a straight discount on your fragrance (when it becomes available). This could be for 20%, 40%, or even 60% off, or for money off plus free shipping (within your economically practical delivery area). Your coupon could be for a free sample size perfume. A limited number of coupons could be for a free full size bottle. You could mix the coupons in random sequence so the requester wouldn't know which offer they are getting until you delivered it. Use your imagination.

    Distribute your coupons through the same channels you were planning to use for your advertising. Feedback will come quickly -- or not at all.

Evaluate your results

    Since the channels you used to distribute your coupons are the ones you planned to use to advertise your fragrance, the results from your test are important. Hopefully you will get a strong response that shows people have an interest in your perfume. But what if there is little or no response? This also tells you something and, while the message won't make you happy, you should pay attention. Lack of response to your couponing effort shows that the market is not ready for your perfume.

Be guided by your test results

    Honor your test results. If your results say "go," go! Don't hesitate. But if your test results show weakness, work harder at finding a profitable market. It's as simple as this and you can make your tests ... for free.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Opportunities for perfume -- Grab them, Make them

There's a perfume in front of the Marshall amp. You can barely see it but there's no reason you couldn't advertise, elsewhere, that it had been used in this photo.
 I've been working on a song, it's not my daytime job, just a fun thing, and up to now I've done mostly offbeat Christian-themed songs. But this one is a feet-first jump into country music. There's a bit of humor to it and a bit of commercial sell and I'm thinking it could be presented to the world as a YouTube video -- if I can get a band, a cameraman, and some props together. (Needed: boots, hat, dancing chickens and a pickup truck.)

    Now let's talk about perfume. I have previously written about selling perfume by creating an experience. When I started working on this song I was not thinking about perfume. But then, as the words and music started to come together, visual images began to suggest themselves and the project, in my head, started to become more than a song. It was becoming an "experience" -- so why not throw in a perfume?

    The perfume could just be a prop -- it could be seen and not talked about, but by having it present while the song was being presented, some interest could be generated and the perfume might then become associated with the song, and the song might get into people's heads. The song could be a perfect hook to sell the perfume.

    The point here is that by doing something totally non-perfume related I might be creating an opportunity to sell perfume. Grabbing at opportunities is important if you want to sell anything. Here, perhaps, is an opportunity to sell perfume.

    FOOTNOTE: Notice how, besides stumbling across opportunities, you can create them yourself.

    MORE: In the photo above, there is a small bottle of perfume in front of the Marshall amp. You can barely see it. But, if the guitar and amp were being photographed with some celebrity and the bottle appeared in the photo, you can bet that I would make multiple mentions of that elsewhere in my advertising.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Here's a deal you can put together to sell your perfume on the web

    Here are some realities: To sell your own perfume you need a market, people ready and willing to buy your perfume. If you are starting from scratch as a perfume maker or perfume entrepreneur you probably don't have enough loyal followers to make your perfume profitable, especially on the internet.

    To sell online successfully you need dedicated followers who hang on your every endorsement and buy, when they can afford it, whatever you present to them in your name. But you don't have this kind of a following and if you put up your own website -- as an unknown perfume maker -- you will likely be disappointed by how few people come to your website and how those who do pay you a visit quickly depart, without making a purchase.

    So your first step in making online sales is to put your perfume on a website that does have traffic, a website belonging to someone who has a following and whose following might buy perfume.

    Now here's a tip extracted from an interview by Jessica Sier with Traiangl co-founder Craig Ellis. Selling online only, Triangl has been hugely successful at using Instagram to make sales. But Ellis cautions marketers to stay on their "level" when trying to get others to help promote their product. In the Instagram world, this would mean this would mean that if you have 1000 followers, you reach out to others who have 1000 followers, not people who have 100,000 followers.

    To translate this into the situation of a perfume entrepreneur (you!) seeking a relationship with someone who has a strong web following of potential perfume buyers, your target should be a personality, a designer or performer, who is at the same point in their career (struggling!) as you are in yours.

    This will usually mean that a good candidate might be a singer who, thought though quite professional, is only now beginning to build a following and who, at present, is far from famous.

    Look what we've got so far: you, who can create a fragrance, and this other person who can influence their online following. A deal makes sense.

    Here's what the deal might look like. First you have to understand that the person attracting the following will not be terribly interested in getting involved with perfume. Their interest is in their career, promoting their music or whatever. They won't want the distraction of perfume. This means that it will be all up to you.

    Your first step will be to offer a proposal to the other person and get a consent for at least the outline of a deal.

    Next you have to determine where you will take orders. Social media can arouse interest but to take orders you'll need a website -- the other person's website -- and if they don't have one you may have to build one for them. This can be done for a few hundred dollars.

    It is essential that this website NOT be about your perfume. This site must be about your celebrity-to-be. It must highlight this person's accomplishments, give concert dates, show photos and perhaps embedded YouTube videos. You are creating an environment where you perfume can be solid. Yes, it will require work but doing it will help you better understand the person you are working with and their followers.

    Now you can add your perfume to the website. And you'll add it with a payment link -- Paypal is a good starting point -- with the orders (and the money) going to you. You can settle up later with your performer by showing sales reports from Paypal.

    So here's an opportunity -- a real opportunity -- to have money coming your way from the sale of your perfume. But there's one sacrifice you'll have to make. Your perfume will be marketed as the other person's perfume. You'll be the unknown genius behind the fragrance while the other person will get all the glory -- but remember, it is that other person's fame and following that will be pushing sales.

    Now let's go over the logistics of this setup. Cash orders will be coming to you. You will be shipping the orders. You'll keep records of what you shipped and when you shipped it. And you'll offer your own contact information for customer service.

    In short, you'll be in the perfume business: creating, marketing, and distributing. You'll quickly get it down to a routine.

    But for you this need not be a one-shot deal. Once you get your systems up and running you can repeat this strategy with other rising stars. The more success you can show, the bigger the performer you'll be able to attract. The business will grow. But lay your foundation carefully. Everything you do should make your silent partner -- your performer -- look good. Forget ego. Look to the money.