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.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Join the conversation" -- No thanks!

    Anyone who follows marketing trends is aware of the stampede to commercialize social media and the growing number of success stories from businesses that claim to have used social media exclusively to promote their products profitably.

    There is no argument against the wisdom that you CAN use social media to grow your business. But for the smallest businesses, an individual making their own perfume for example, HOW can you use social media successfully WITHOUT losing the creative mojo that inspires a new perfume?

    Here's the rub. Promoting a product through social media and building a social media presence (now called your "brand"), is a full time occupation. If you don't believe me, read Brooke Erin Duffy and Emily Hund's article in the Atlantic, "The Invisible Labor of Fashion Blogging." It will quickly set you straight.

    The heroes of the blogging world, the real stand outs, are the ones who receive dozens of comments to each of their posts. Readers of these posts are invited to "join the conversation" by adding their comments to the post. These comments, each of them, must be moderated by the blogger or a member of his or her staff.

    The vast MAJORITY of comments that will be received are spam -- comments trying to move you to another website so the commenter can push some nonsense on you.

    Some comments will simply be "thank you for your post," which adds nothing to the conversation. No information or intelligent opinion on the post is being shared.

    Abusive comments have become rare but the real "problem" -- if you are busy trying to make your own perfume, write books, articles, or a newsletter, or are engaged in any other labor intensive task -- are the comments that call for a RESPONSE.

    These, ironically, are the comments you WANT. They are the other side of the "conversation." I write something and you ask me a question about what I have written or share useful insights on the topic that will be of value to others who read my post.

    But now I have to join the conversation with YOU. I have to respond with the information you have requested or acknowledge and perhaps validate information you have shared that expands on the topic. I have to be AVAILABLE to interact with you.

    And I must constantly monitor incoming comments so that my response, to the few that should get a response, is TIMELY, so that you will feel that I am part of the conversation, that WE are interacting. In short, to "join the conversation" to my own blog, I must be on call 24/7.

    But I don't want to be.

    If you look at the history of this blog you'll see tremendous posting gaps -- weeks without a post. Why? Because I am busy elsewhere, perhaps working on the products themselves, the fragrances, the books, the newsletters for which this blog was created as a marketing tool.

    Feedback is good. I welcome it. But I'm not ready to devote my life to "conversations" 24/7. For now I would rather blog as time permits, when I feel I have something to say and want to share, and when my head is not fully engaged in some other project.
Moonfaire perfume by Lightyears
Moonfaire perfume by Lightyears

    In using social media to market your own perfume or other product you too will experience this same conflict. My advice? Don't feel bad about it. Build the product. Then worry about getting the word out. But don't play the 24/7 game.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Can experimenting with price help you improve your perfume?

    In my post earlier today I discussed how pricing experiments by the Bezos-owned Washington Post could be helping not only to fix the "right" future price for the Post but may also be helping develop the Post itself by adjusting the content, based on reader metrics to shape the right product at the right price.

    If you are a developer and seller of your own perfume, could you use price experiments to help make your perfume more commercial? ("Commercial" is not a dirty word. It just means being able to sell your perfume profitably, which must happen if you hope to have a business.)

    How might price experiments help shape your future perfume offerings? One "discovery" you might achieve is finding the best way to deliver your fragrance. What might be the best bottle size for a fine, alcoholic fragrance? Are you using too big or too small a bottle? Size affects your cost, cost affects your potential retail price range. Is there a sweet spot where cost, price, and bottle size make both you and your customer happy?

Xotic, by Lightyears
Xotic, by Lightyears.
  Would a solid perfume be greeted with more enthusiasm than a liquid perfume? A solid perfume is easier to ship. No problem with "hazardous material" restrictions. No problem with glass bottles that can break or closures that can leak. You can ship internationally with ease and produce your fragrance at a lower cost.

Xotic solid perfume
Xotic solid perfume by Lightyears
    But maybe customers would prefer your fragrance in a soap, or a shampoo, or in a room spray or some sort of diffuser. You might not have the resources to test all of the possibilities but it is helpful, when you are testing, to know that they exist.

    Tests can be difficult to set up. Responses must be adequate to insure statistical significance. But there are secrets in the pricing model that are worth trying to unlock.