I started writing a series of articles on writing a business plan -- a business plan for yourself, a business plan you that can guide your business before you go off in search of outside money. The heart of any business plan, particularly a business plan for a new perfume, is the "how" -- how you are going to do what you've told yourself you are going to do. And the heart of this "how" is how you are going to make sales.
For some businesses, maybe even most businesses that, typically, find financing, it is pretty easy. You take the standard, for-your-type-of-business plan, dress it up with your own particulars, and you're ready for yourself, the investors, and maybe even banks.
If you try to do that with perfume you're only kidding yourself. Perfume is different. Even different from fashion (rag trade) businesses which are tough enough. Ask yourself this: "In my new perfume business, with my new perfume, what exactly am I trying to sell?"
If your answer is "perfume" you've already gone wrong.
Advertising people talk of selling the sizzle, not the steak; the fantasy, not the reality; the customer's inner need, not the product.
Your perfume -- until you develop a strong hook -- is nothing but a perfume, a product. Don't believe the myth that great packaging can sell your product. Don't kid yourself into thinking your perfume will sell because it has a great scent. Don't be fooled into thinking your perfume will sell because it has a great name. Don't be fooled into thinking your perfume will sell if only you can get it in the right stores.
Your perfume will not sell unless, in your business plan, you've developed a very strong hook.
A hook? Does that sound too non-fashionable? Too commercial? Too downmarket, even vaudeville? Perhaps, but it is essential. Let's look at your situation realistically.
You want to launch your new perfume. Somehow you manage to get a great scent and great packaging. Your bottles are, or soon will be, filled and ready to ship. This is the easy part. Now you have to unload that inventory at a profit. If it was as easy as opening a new McDonalds, people would rush to invest with you.
But the people with money aren't fools. It's not your perfume they want to see. That means very little to them. What they want to see is your plan to sell it and, if your plan doesn't define a very strong hook, they will understand that your proposition is hopeless.
I've said that creating and packaging a perfume is the easy part. Anyone with a few dollars can do it. On a limited scale it doesn't take that much money.
I'll also give you that, if your fragrances smells nice and is nicely packaged, you'll be able to get it placed in a handful of stores where, without that strong hook, it will not set the world on fire. Nor will it return your investment. If you don't believe me, try it and see for yourself. Then you might find the rest of this article more interesting.
Your perfume will sell when people view it as affordable, available, and an absolute "must have." It's as simple as that. But not so simple to achieve.
This then must be the heart of your business plan. The "real" story of how you are going to sell your perfume. The development of this incredibly powerful hook that will make your perfume a near necessity for enough customers to make your venture profitable.
You may be able to sell 1,000 bottles of your perfume though a single retail store in an incredibly short period of time if you can implant in the minds of one thousand people a compelling desire for your perfume.
This is not just "oh, how nice!"
There is no formula in any book or web page to guide you in creating this near magical hook, a hook that will make your perfume not just "nice" but absolutely compelling. This is where you need to ponder much, study others much, and not just marketers of perfume. You must draw on every ounce of creative thinking you possess. You must think like a dealmaker, a marketer, an infomercial pitchman. You must study contests, coupon deals, charity tie-ins, marketing strategies from the past and the present.
You need to become the customer, night and day, until you can think like the customer and reject all hooks that are weak or misguided.
What can you come up with? What will you come up with? Whatever it is, edit it well. Put it to your best "reality" test before you include it in your business plan.
I'm working a new hook for my perfume so I appreciate how difficult it is.
If you're not exhausted from reading all this, you'll find some guidance on the "hook" subject in "Footnotes #2" to my business plan article.
Today is Wednesday. It will be ready for you by Friday (August 23, 2013). Take it seriously as I'm grappling with the same problems that you are.