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.

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