Friday, November 2, 2007

Website Essentials: Your NEXT product

A wise man once explained the secret of mail order (read "internet marketing") success to me: Before you put money into selling your FIRST product, have your SECOND product ready!

Let me explain. It's hard to make money with a business that has only one product to sell. It simple costs too much money to ACQUIRE a customer. The big profit is made in getting REPEAT SALES from a customer. The person who likes your first product is a very good candidate for your second product.

So if you don't have a second product, you've lost out on an opportunity. Your business struggles rather than flourishes.

If your "first" product is a perfume that took you a year to develop, can you afford to wait another year until you have a second perfume? Certainly this would slow down the growth of your business but, perhaps, you can find OTHER products that COMPLIMENT your perfume.

The classic line extension for a perfume is the soap, bath oil, linen spray, candle routine. But this is tricky as, not only does it involve a significant cash investment, it also requires a good deal of technical skill -- the skill of a cosmetic chemist perhaps. Going down this path may not be appealing to you.

But there are alternatives: scarves, costume jewelry, (somebody else's) soap and bath products -- items that can be purchased through normal, wholesale, "gift boutique" channels. You won't get the markup you might like on these products but you can buy them in small quantities and these other products -- if well selected -- can put the icing on your cake.

You might have a better idea for a "second" product -- but those "second products" will speed your way to business success.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How to succeed in marketing your own perfume

I once knew a not very good artist who, to my amazement, sent me an invitation to a show he was having at a prestige gallery. I went, out of curiosity, (the paintings were junk) and observed him making sales!

We can argue over tastes in art but the fact was he was a far better salesman than he was an artist. And this should give us all hope.

Creating a successful perfume is not easy. Just ask anyone at Estee Lauder, Elizabeth Arden, Inter Perfumes, IFF, Givaudan, Firmenich, or whoever. For every fragrance that "makes it" in the market place, an uncounted number die -- because they weren't "the right" fragrance at the right time and place, and because they were not SOLD successfully.

Yes, you can make profitable sales with a less than brilliant fragrance. If you couldn't, the perfume industry would be quite different than it is today.

Marketing people often don't have much choice about what they are called upon to sell. In advertising circles, the mantra is, "there are no dull products, only dull copywriters/artists/art directors."

The simple fact of business life is that you have to work with what you have ... sell what is in front of you ... generate a profit for your company from a product that might not be as great as what your competition is selling.

If you don't, your company will be out of business, your employees will be out on the street, and your spouse and children might start to wonder about you and your business sense.

Yes, you have to learn to sell what you have, to be enthusiastic about it, to find its good points, to find customers who can appreciate it, and convince them to pay you, not a "fair" price, but a price that allows your company (especially if it is a 1-person company!) to flourish.


But while you are selling the perfume that you HAVE, the perfume that you have made already, it is essential that you keep working on your NEXT perfume, using the feedback (or lack if it!) gained from your current fragrance, working toward new fragrances rather than sitting idle.

I was recently reminded that, when Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel first tried to make a comeback in fashion, at the age of 70 after being out of the business for 16 years, her collection was a disaster. But when her financial backer tracked her down, she was already working on her NEXT collection. Which proved a huge success.

Life does not revolve around a single fragrance. As a perfume creator, you have the opportunity to create many scents. You don't know which of them might be your big breakthrough. But if you keep selling hard with what you've got, and keep developing new fragrances, there's a good chance that you will, in time, find yourself with a very good business.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

How Do You Sell Your Unknown Perfume Successfully On The Internet?

Here are some points that may help!

Point # 1
The first step in selling perfume successfully from a website it to establish your yourself as a credible merchant. The websites used by successful internet merchants differ radically from "corporate information" websites that may be built around beautiful images, music and animations, all of which delay navigation from one page to the next. To sell on the internet, your website has to function like Google or Yahoo. Navigation must be simple and rapid. Pages must pop up quickly -- with the information buyers are looking for. Ordering has to be functional -- simple -- straight forward -- crystal clear -- and easy to navigate.

Point # 2

The next step is building traffic -- traffic from potential buyers. Traffic from non-buyers only serves to help the search engines take an interest in your site. Your traffic mix must include a good percentage of qualified prospects for your perfume.

How do you achieve this when your perfume is unknown? The search engines can't bring you traffic if nobody is looking for you. Shouting "My New Perfume" at your website won't help.

Since your perfume -- and, probably, you -- are unknown, you will need some sort of CONTENT at your website that people ARE searching for, and, to be effective, it should relate to the possible internet searches of people who might be good prospects for your perfume.

Articles, information, solutions to problems all offer you opportunities to build the right kind of traffic on your website. Don't fall for the line that these will make your website look ugly. The only people who tell you that are people who don't have to sell something from a website.

Point # 3
Let the customer sample your wares. Unless you are a VERY good advertising writer, or unless there is some VERY special association with your perfume, it is unlikely that you will generate sales without offering samples. Samples will not eliminate the need to "sell" your perfume -- as you now must "sell" the visitor on taking action to request your samples. BUT, if you price your sample order so that it appears "generous" (i.e., you don't appear to be trying to make money by selling your samples!), it will be far easier to sell a few samples for the cost of postage and handling than it will to sell a full size bottle.

And remember, if they DO NOT like your samples, they are telling your something! Perfume is a VERY personal product and, if a person likes what you are selling, they will PAY. But if your perfume does NOT strike them as being special -- more special than anything they would buy at the mall, they will not order the full size bottle.

Today consumers have many fragrances to choose from at the mall and, if you are simply trying to imitate a fragrance that is already a success, you have little chance of making a sale. To succeed in selling your perfume or cologne online, it had better be special! -- or your promotion for it had better be special! At least to your target buyer!

Point # 4
Once you have, through your samples, attracted a consumer for your fragrance, make it affordable. If you need to get $50 on ounce or more for your perfume, consider selling it in 1/2 ounce -- or even 1/4 ounce bottles, so that, at least for their first order, the customer don't have to shell out such a big chunk of money.

In the early days of the Coty perfume business, the company prospered by offering its perfumes in a range of different size bottles. Those who had little money could still enjoy a Coty fragrance by purchasing a small (almost tiny!) bottle. Those who had more money could buy a larger bottle. How did rich woman distinguish themselves from their less fortunate cousins? Why they could use MORE perfume and perfume themselves more often!

Let me know how these suggestions worked for you!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fragonard's unique approach to perfume marketing

Parfumerie Fragonard, named for grassoise French painter Jean-Honore Fragonard, was founded in Grasse, France, in 1926, in an historic factory building. Fragonard has been in the business of creating perfume for others (i.e., Elizabeth Arden's 1936 Blue Grass) and of marketing perfume under their own name. Fragonard's contemporary marketing technique is worth studying.

Fragonard, under the management of the founder's granddaughters, has created a perfume museum in the old factory building. The museum offers tours, both of the museum, with instruction on perfume making, and of Fragonard's modern factory and laboratories on the outskirts of Grasse. As with most such tourist tours, the final stop of a gift shop where visitors have the opportunity to purchase what they have just been primed for -- Fragonard perfume.

Backing up on site sales is a website that allows new converts to reorder -- and gives those who failed to order at tour's end a second bite at the apple.

So for Fragonard, sales promotion involves getting tourists to visit Grasse and -- since Grasse was once the heart of the French perfume industry -- once in Grasse it is only natural that they would want to see a perfume museum and perfume making,and once they have signed up for the tour, it is only natural that they would want to try a bottle of one of Fragonard's excellent perfumes. And, if they really liked it and now felt an affinity for Fragonard, the chances are excellent that, in time, they might reorder using the website.

This is very much like the promotional strategy used in the U.S. by small wineries.

How could you put this strategy to use? If you owned a B&B, you could feature a tour of your perfume "laboratory", demonstrate a few simple accords, romance your product a bit and take orders. (Be sure to have your perfume available in affordable sizes!)

If you do not happen to own a B&B, consider working with someone who does. For them, to be able to offer a visit to a perfumery would be a plus. For you, this would be a sales opportunity.

Of course the key to it all, besides having a few decent fragrances to sell, is to create a home perfumery that is visually interesting and a "tour" that holds the visitors interest. Probably some hands on lessons would be appropriate -- to get the people involved. And once they are involved, sales can be made. And, of course, you'll need a simple website that can take reorders.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A wide open opportunity to sell your own perfume -- if you can make it sell

Yesterday I was talking to a woman in a small clothing boutique. I had taken her for a sales clerk -- which she was -- but, when she started talking, she revealed that she was much more.

This lady had attended a rural college for fashion marketing and was now employed in a rural fashion boutique in a college town -- a town in which she had grown up. She had no interest in working or living in a big city.

In addition to her duty as a sales clerk, she also was responsible for purchasing and displaying the merchandise -- women's garments, for the most part. This boutique happens to be a magnet for women (such as my wife) who are looking for clothes that are a bit more fashionable and unique than those found in the mall stores. I suspect that they have a strong turnover as they have survived for a number of years in a tough market and have a constant flow of potential customers ... with money.

Now in this boutique, soaps and a few decorative items were on display, but no perfume. Could they sell perfume? Would they sell perfume? I don't know. (And I was caught without samples, having just returned from vacation.) But I do know that it would be easy and comfortable to talk to this woman about the possibility of their carrying a perfume -- yours or mine. So here is an opportunity.

But wait. There is more. It won't do you any good to have a store display your perfume unless that display can make sales. Making a display that will sell your perfume is still up to you.

This, unhappily, is the biggest challenge that confronts the independent perfume maker. Any store will be happy to display your perfume if it is making money for them.

In my mind, to make your display successful, it must have some kind of a hook ... a device that compels the consumer to purchase a bottle of your fragrance. A "hook" is more than just a nice looking display. A hook is something that gets into people, draws them to the product, makes the product fascinating to them and tips the scales in favor of their spending money they hadn't intended to spend ... because your perfume, as it was displayed, offered them a gratification that went beyond the aroma itself.

How do you do it? Perhaps you don't. Perhaps you enlist the assistance of somebody who is very clever at developing sales gimmicks. And, of course, you or this sales promotion guru must be able to relate to people like the woman who is working in this boutique, and to draw her into your plans, and get her feedback as to what her customers want and what they will not go for. The intelligent retailer must be your partner too!

But if you can put this all together, it is an opportunity for you.

By the way, did I mention that the woman in the boutique hopes to own her own boutique some day and has taken this job, in part, to gain essential experience?

I think I will go back and talk to her some more. This time, about perfume!

Monday, July 23, 2007

All Or Nothing Marketing

I recently wrote about "Selling Your Perfume Texas Style." This is a continuation on the same "take it or leave it" theme.

Let's assume you are making perfume, as a hobbiest, and your perfume is good -- very good -- but you don't need the money. On the other hand, you certainly would like to make some money from it.

Let's assume also that you know of a retailer or some sort of marketing company that has a "spirit" that is very compatible with your ideas about perfume -- but this store or company has never sold perfume, although you believe that they could be selling perfume quite successfully.

Now if you were a perfume making company selling to a perfume marketing company, you would have your sales person approach the marketing company and try to get your company on the list of companies that would be "briefed" when the marketing company was looking for a new perfume. That means that, if they "accepted" you as a qualified vendor, you would be asked for submissions -- samples of a perfume that fit their requirement -- in competition with whatever other companies were being asked for submissions. Unless you "won" the contract to supply the perfume to the marketing company, none of this would earn you a penny.

Now since you are creating perfume at your own pace, without commercial pressures, you don't want to be involved in competing with the other perfumers and then being forced to supply the required amount of your perfume on the marketer's schedule. This calls for lots of administrative effort. But, going back to the "Texas Style" approach, here's a plan that might work well for you.

You have a TARGET -- the store or company that is not currently selling perfume but, you believe, could be very successful at it.

Why not develop a fragrance FOR THAT COMPANY ALONE. Forget even the possibility of selling it to anyone else! Just work, work, work on what YOU KNOW would be right for the target company. Work until you are satisfied that your fragrance is perfect.

Now go sell it to the store for which you created it.

Impossible? Too difficult? Consider your situation. You have created a BEAUTIFUL and APPROPRIATE fragrance for this company that has never sold perfume. At the least, they should be FLATTERED that you have done this, with them in mind exclusively. (Be sure to tell them this!)

But how do you make your sale? You do it by teaching them what needs to be done to sell your -- "their" -- perfume. And, since marketing is still quite new to you, you offer them your -- "their" -- perfume on consignment, that is, they pay nothing up front and you only get paid for any bottles they actually sell. They can't lose!

Since they can't lose, there is a good chance that they will take you up on your proposition and put your -- "their" -- perfume on sale in their store or catalog or whatever. Now, if you were right about the fragrance AND about this store being the right place for it to be sold, your perfume will sell. And you will make some money.

As a "footnote" to this plan, think a little about how the store should present your perfume to its customers. No doubt you already have ideas about how you would like your perfume to be displayed and sold. Be sure to communicate these ideas to the store. It is to their advantage to see that your perfume sells successfully. You BOTH stand a good chance to make money. Perhaps even serious money ... if you both do it right!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Selling Your Perfume Texas Style

At a ranch in Texas, the menu had two options: take it or leave it. The other day it struck me that this attitude could be of some use to the independent, part-time perfume creator. The idea goes like this:

Let's assume that over the months and years you've developed a number of quite good perfumes -- perfumes that would be plenty good enough for a small marketer wanting an original perfume to sell but not wanting the expense (and uncertain results!) of going to a professional perfumer who will charge, say, $10,000 to develop a fragrance.

So Small Marketer -- "Business Guy" -- finds you. He smelled your Fragrance "A" on a woman at a party. You don't know where she got it but you know she got it free, from some samples you distributed among friends. Business Guy likes it and wants to make a deal.

You, of course, are thrilled at the thought that someone might market one of your fragrances and pay you something. It is like a fantasy come true. You might get $3,000 to $5,000 for exclusive use of your Fragrance "A" for a year or so. And it's just been sitting on the shelf all this time, never earning a penny.

But here's the problem and I'm giving you this from years in the business world, dealing with people like Business Guy. Business Guy is going to ask, "What else have you got?" (Although he has just told you how much he loves your Fragrance "A" and wants to market it because it's so special!) Then, after you've shown him everything you've ever made, Business Guy is going to say, "Is that all you've got? Couldn't you add a little something to something and make ... and your price, can you make it cheaper?" He may even add some comment about how your perfumes aren't really that good.

By now you realize that what you thought was your big break is really a nightmare. And you've already demonstrated to Business Guy that you're willing to bend on ANY point! You feel insulted and degraded. Business Guy is the reason why you never tried to sell your perfume to a marketing company.

But remember Texas. "Take it or leave it." Suppose, when you show Fragrance "A" to Business Guy and he asks what else you've got you simply say, "This is what's available." And, when the request comes to make changes, you simply say, "I will not have my fragrance spoiled." And, when Business Guy asks if you can make it cheaper, "I don't deal in cheap perfume." (Take it or leave it!)

Now you do have other fragrances and, possibly, you could make a few adjustments -- trials -- if you wished. But why? Business Guy is no nose. He's just busting your chops, trying to assert himself and make you small and desperate to please him. For him, this is great. What he really wants is a super low price on Fragrance "A". If he can shake your confidence in your creation, if he can make you grovel like a worm, if you are fawning all over him because you think he's going to buy from you, you'll probably give him the price he wants -- and establish yourself as a source of cheap, original perfume. He may even send his friends to you!

None of this is good for you. You lose your pride. You lose your creativity. You lose the joy you feel when you work on a new perfume. After all, you've had Formula "A" for years and never made a penny from it so why throw out your pride now for money you don't need?

Give Business Guy the Texas menu. You might not make this sale but you're going to feel a lot better about your perfume AND about your negotiating skills. In time you will sell perfume but to the right people, people who appreciate your gift, who respect you, and who are willing to pay a fair price.

"Take it or leave it" IS a negotiation. And if making your own perfume is a part time pursuit for you, "take it or leave it" is a negotiation you can't lose.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Marketing People Have Egos Too -- (Why Partnerships Can Have Bitter Breakups)

"Creative" people -- artists, writers, musicians and, yes, perfumers -- can have big and fragile egos. They can be tempermental (though perfumers are often restrained by the corporate environment in which they work.) Some of the greatest promoters (read "sellers"!) have succeeded in making creative people rich by stroking their egos, catering to their whims, and understanding that these "creatives", if handled right, can make the company lots of money.

But what about the marketing artists ... those people who go out and sell it to the public ... who make the cash registers ring? Would it surprise you to hear that THEY have big egos too?

Yesterday I wrote about how a perfume creator with NO selling ability might prosper by getting involved with a person talented in selling. Yes, this suggests a PARTNERSHIP and many fear partnership due to the horror stories that are told about partnerships breaking up. (And, YES, I've gone through that too!)

But look at the "partnership" issue realistically. Some partnerships break up because of dishonesty on the part of one or the other of the partners. But this is a rare. In fact, it is a police matter. In truth, more partnerships break up over EGO issues ... becase marketing people have egos too.

What happens when egos collide? ACCUSATIONS! "You're ripping me off..." the perfumer cries. "No!" says the marketing person, "Look at our agreement!" "But you took advantage of me!" the perfumer shoots back. "Until I met you, you didn't have a pot to piss in!" the now very annoyed marketing person replies. "I made you what you are!" And so it goes. Two egos clashing. Nothing more. No true dishonesty. Just hurt feelings. Feelings that are hurt because one side does not appear to APPRECIATE the contributions made by the otehr side.

How can these problems of partnership be resolved for happy endings? First, both sides need to cool down. Second, a third party, who both sides respect, may need to get involved to LISTEN to what each party is saying and help find a BALANCE between the complaints.

Holding a profitable partnership together makes tremendous good sense as in so many cases, once the partnership breaks up, neither side benefits. In fact, it may be the end to both partners' success.

So how do you keep it all together? Beware the egos! Focus on points of mutual respect. Try to talk things out before they get out of hand. A good partnership can be a very profitable way to do business.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Can You Sell Your Own Perfume Successfully, Even If You Have No Sales Ability At All?

Suppose you are making your own perfume but you have absolutely NO sales ability. Can you develop a successful business SELLING perfume if you simply CANNOT SELL? The answer is ... "maybe". Here are my thoughts.

First of all, your perfume is going to have to be GOOD! And by "good" I mean that OTHERS (not just your family and friends) must be DRAWN to it. Your fragrance will have to "sell itself" when absolute strangers encounter it. But having a perfume that is really great is only a starting point. Your perfume that can "sell itself" can't really sell until SOMEONE goes out and sells it. But that someone DOES NOT have to be you.

Recently two major perfume manufacturers merged and some of the world's top perfumers found themselves out of work. Now certainly these people could, on their own, make wonderful fragrances ... but I'm betting that they won't (or most of them won't) try to go it alone making and selling their own perfume. More likely, they will continue to work, one way or another, on MAKING perfume -- just as you may be doing.

The ability to sell successfully is a special skill, gift, art or trade, just as the ability to make beautiful perfume is a special skill, gift, art or trade. Both, to an extent, can be learned. But the key to it is the MOTIVATION (or PASSION!) Some people are motivated to sell things. They love to do it. They love to watch sales curves rise and the money roll in. They live and breath sales -- and marketing -- and deals -- and building effective sales organizations. They are a special breed of people and they are WORTH a lot of money because they can MAKE a lot of money for you -- if your perfume is really good.

And, as in any marriage, the numbers aren't necessarily 50-50. They can be 10-90 or 90-10, depending on who has the reputation, who has the track record, who is contributing what. But 10% of a successful business can give you, the perfumer, a lot more money than 90% of a business that goes nowhere. Think in terms of what you GET from the deal, not how the deal LOOKS.

In short, if you are a talented perfumer and want to make money selling your perfume but have absolutely no sales ability, think in terms of working with someone who may know nothing about making perfume but can quickly learn what needs to be learned to sell it ... and who will put just as much into selling it as you are putting into making it.

It won't be easy to find such a person and you might encounter a few failures along the way. But the "right" person to work with will be enthusiastic about your perfume and, rather than asking you for a fee up front for their work (always a negative!) will talk about -- and demonstrate -- what they can do for you.

And, oh yes, you will need a feeling of good rapport with this person. You must feel free to offer suggestions -- and be willing to take suggestions. You and this other person must be able to listen to each other, you must share certain core values, and you must be able to establish a mutual respect.

Now that's a formula for successful perfume sales, even if you can't sell at all!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Simple Test

The story is told of a perfume marketer who, with an atomizer filled with her new perfume, sat with friends in a restaurant and puffed out a bit of aroma as people passed by. She was trying to judge their reaction.

Whether this Chanel story is true or not, the interesting point would be that she wasn't spritzing people -- the way aggressive salespeople at perfume counters are wont to do -- she was just filling the air with aroma -- no name, no brand, no price -- just aroma. And, of course, she could judge people's reactions as she sat at the table -- good ... bad ... indifferent. (Indifferent was the most negative possible reaction!)

If you assume that the customers in the restaurant were typical of the people to whom the perfume might be sold, isn't this an excellent test?

If there is no reaction, you fold your cards and walk away from it. If those who smell the aroma -- not knowing what it is or where it comes from -- appear to have a positive response, isn't this a good omen for your fragrance?

How could you use this technique?

Today, of course, you would have to be careful about what kind of restaurant you sprayed in. Be aware of the "clean air" rules that ban smoking -- and, in some people's minds -- the use of perfume. So you might want to find a restaurant with outdoor tables. That should work. But what then? Here is my proposal:

Have your atomizer bottle to spray around your table when likely people walk by. Then, if someone shows curiosity or interest (in a positive way, of course!), without speaking, hand that person a sampler atomizer of your perfume glue gun glued to a slick business card size card that names the fragrance and gives information on where more can be obtained -- your store, website or whatever.

Try this technique and see what response you get. You might make sales but, more likely, you might get people talking about your fragrance and that's good too!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Paris or Perry? Where Would You Put Your Money?

Say you are trying to build a business selling your own perfume. If you had a choice of a license agreement with Perry Ellis or Paris Hilton, which would you choose?

Is this a no brainer or a question to give us pause? Certainly Paris is currently hotter than Perry. She could be hot for years. But will that translate into perfume sales for Parlux, the holder of her license?

Recently Parlux sold it's very favorable Perry Ellis license to raise money to put behind celebrity fragrances such as its Paris Hilton brand. Ironically, Parlux has earned far more over the years from it's dull, non-celebrity licenses than it has from its celebrities. But certainly having a celebrity name gets you press and into stores.

Would you have made that choice? A clothing brand such as Perry Ellis -- or Guess?, another Parlux license -- is marketed by its owner. The owner works to enhance the value of the brand, regardless of what happens with the fragrance. Yet the sale of the fragrance helps promote the sale of the clothes, and the sale of the clothes helps promote the sale of the fragrance. This mutually supportive relationship helps explain why "designer fragrances" have been so successful over the years. To the consumer, both the clothes and the fragrance are seen as coming from a common source. The advertising of both the designer and the fragrance marketer support this view.

But "celebrity fragrances" have a different dynamic. Can Parlux run cost-effective advertising for its Maria Sharapova or Andy Roddick fragrances in tennis magazines? Can Parlux sell these fragrances at tennis matches? They might have more success with beer and hot dogs. And where do you sell Paris Hilton perfume? Hilton hotels? Parties? In fact, you're more likely to find it in a drug store. And it's hard to imagine Paris Hilton bonding with "her" perfume when she can afford any fragrance she might desire.

As for Parlux, nothing Parlux does to sell Paris Hilton perfume will make much of an impact on Paris Hilton's lifestyle. So the question for Parlux is, is Paris Hilton doing something that will make people seek out and buy "her" perfume? And, if this does happen to be the case, how long will the trend last?

Building A Brand

Regardless of how small your own perfume business may be, two elements can guide you. First, there is a matter of your perfume itself. Connecting with the public is not a one-shot, all-or-nothing proposition. Sometimes it takes a number of tries before you come up with a fragrance that explodes into sales. So you have to keep working at it.

Your second guide element is marketing focus. This is your company and your perfume and, if you are to tie up with a "celebrity," however small, you'll want your celebrity to share your goals for building a brand. You'll want commitment that will make your celebrity's name valuable for years into the future. You'll want a celebrity who WANTS to help sell your fragrance because the income is meaningful to them, even if they just give it away to charity.

In short, you want a celebrity who will become, in a very real sense, your partner in perfume. A famous name unsupported by the enthusiastic cooperation of the famous person is a risky bet for building a perfume brand.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bursting Out Of Your Own Store(s)

There are still a few examples around of perfumes that get their start as a store brand and then branch out to additional sales outlets.

This was once the story with French designer fragrances. Today it is the story of Victoria's Secret. Tomorrow it could be you.

Victoria's Secret lingerie and other garments are sold ONLY through Victoria's Secret stores, catalogs and website. But Victoria's Secret fragrances are also available through other marketers -- for example.

Why does Victoria's Secret let others sell their fragrances? Two good reasons suggest themselves. FIRST, it is more expensive to launch a new perfume than it is to launch a new bra. By expanding the distribution of their perfumes, Victoria's Secret can take advantage of economics of scale and put more money into both fragrance development and package design and still achieve a lower cost per bottle and a greater profit on each bottle sold.

The SECOND reason is even more obvious. The perfume advertises the brand. When people see Victoria's Secret perfume for sale, they are drawn to the company's stores, catalog, and website. This is exactly what French fashion designers were doing back in the 1930's and 1940's. Pierre Balmain even put his phone number on a fragrance, just as he might have done with a business card.

So, the lesson? If you have a store, stores, catalog or website where you are selling, successfully, your own perfume, look around and see who else might want to sell your perfume -- particularly if the labeling on your bottle could bring new business back to you!

Monday, April 23, 2007

How NOT To Advertise Your Perfume

I'm looking at an ad in the January 2007 issue of ELLE magazine, U.S. edition, for Guerlain's "Insolence" perfume described in the ad as "the new feminine fragrance." A bottle of "Insolence" is shown on the page which is filled with a head and shoulders photo of Hilary Swank. The largest type on the page reads, "GUERLAIN." Lines at the bottom of the page read "Hilary Swank for Insolence" and "Available at Macy's."

This is pretty much a standard perfume ad, so why would not NOT want to use this as a template to advertise your own perfume? Why? Because you would be throwing your money away.

But let's look at this ad. There are two photos, three famous names, and two lines of copy. The oldest of the famous names is Guerlain, once a family business that was responsible for creating some of the world's great perfumes, now a conglomerate brand. Second in age is Macy's, a department store star ascendant. Finally there is Hilary Swank, a newcomer to the walk of fame.

The Guerlain name is engaged in a struggle for survival, hence it's prominent size on the page -- to remind you that Guerlain still exists. Macy's, of course, is where you would go to purchase Insolence. And Hilary Swank is the celebrity chosen to draw fans to the fragrance. Since not everyone would recognize her, the advertiser rightly includes her name at the bottom of the page.

So let's start by asking, "where is the sell?" The Macy's line is obvious. Get the viewer to Macy's and they are certain to buy something. It also lets us know that Insolence is currently available.

The Hilary Swank photo draws us to the page (hopefully) and thus we become aware of this new perfume with which she had associated herself. Certainly it is good publicity for Hilary Swank -- to keep her face in front of the public.

So if this was YOUR deal and you had your perfume in a store and had a celebrity to advertise it, you would be giving nice publicity to your celebrity and to the store. Of course, you're not Guerlain so your own name on the page would be less meaningful or not meaningful at all. But let's get back to the real issue: selling perfume. How much selling does this ad do? Without the names "Guerlain", "Macy's", and "Hilary Swank", the answer would be "none."

For Guerlain, the purpose of the ad is pretty obvious. Macy's won't stock the product unless it is being advertised. Guerlain's arrangement with Hilary Swank may also call for a certain level of advertising support. So to "do the deal", Guerlain is obligated to advertise Insolence. Creating and running an ad is no guarantee that sales will be made as a result of the ad's appearance.

So if you were the advertiser, following this template, you might be paying off your obligation to your celebrity and the store which agreed to take your fragrance. But would the ad be SELLING any perfume for you?

Companies new to advertising overestimate the power of an ad and assume that just because an ad is ordered and paid for, sales will result. This is not the case. Even a very expensive ad can -- and will -- produce zero sales unless the ad does some genuine selling.

As an individual or small business selling your own perfume, you cannot afford to do what Guerlain is doing. Guerlain may lose some money on their ad but you will lose ALL of your money. Guerlain can afford to lose some money. You cannot afford to lose ALL of your money. Not if you are serious about wanting to sell your perfume.

As the unknown perfumer with no track record, you need a really big marketing concept for your ad, a concept far more powerful than the celebrity endorsement ads you see in major publications. How to you get a winning advertising concept? The answer is simple. You avoid wasting your money on big, splashy ads that do nothing for you and, instead, spend your money going face to face with as many prospects as possible, developing your sales pitch verbally until you have a line that works for your perfume with the right people. Then you can start to work -- with that knowledge -- to build a marketing campaign ... and an ad with a true selling concept behind it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Chinese infomercial producers are waiting for your perfume!

Would you believe it? In August of 2006 the government of China cracked down on the direct marketing television industry and ordered an end to all those popular infomercials for weight loss, breast enhancement and height improvement. Zao Zhao and Youcheng Ji report that as many as 20 percent of all infomercial producers in China could be driven out of business by this distressing development. But this could be an opportunity for you.

Just like weight loss and breast enhancement, perfume is a high markup product. If an infomercial could sell enough of your perfume, you could make out nicely, the Chinese infomercial industry would be saved and men and women all over China would be enjoying the fragrance you created.

Can you develop a great infomercial idea to sell your perfume? How would you approach it? What would you say -- on TV -- to make hundreds of thousands of people want your perfume? If you can come up with the right idea, you might want to start talking to Chinese infomercial producers. If your mind goes blank ... well ... selling your perfume may turn out to be a problem for you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The easy way to get big orders for the perfumes you create

Where do you go to find a big bunch of the world's top perfumers? The answer, of course, is a fragrance house such as IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances). IFF churns out perfume for such famous names as Estee Lauder, Coty, Elizabeth Arden, L'Oreal, Liz Claiborne, Banana Republic, and lots more. IFF markets its perfume making services to these companies -- in return for being the exclusive supplier of the finished product.

The strategy is nothing new. Back in the 1930's and 1940's -- before IFF existed -- Roure Bertrand (now merged with Givaudan) trained and employed many of that generations top perfumers who cranked out fragrances for Dana, Carven, Christian Dior, Lucien Lelong, Schiaparelli, Balmain, Nina Ricci, Robert Piguet, Givenchy, and others.

Roure's owners then, like IFF's owners today, saw the profits in setting other people up in the perfume business -- people (such as the great French fashion designers of the period) who had ready made markets for perfume. Roure sold the fashion house on the idea that they should be selling perfume. The designers had celebrity status, women bought the fragrances that carried their names, and Roure made lots of money from it, just as IFF makes lots of money today off the celebrity status of David Beckham and Viktor & Rolf.

If you are making perfume -- good perfume -- but want to stick to making perfume rather than getting involved in consumer marketing, consider turning yourself into a one-person IFF or Givaudan. Find organizations that could profit from selling their own "signature" fragrance. Then offer to supply it to them.

Of course you're not likely to snag Tom Ford or Estee Lauder as a client but you may uncover some hidden gold in local organizations that can sell just about as much perfume as you, working alone, can create.

Maybe it won't really be so easy to get that all important first order. But it's a business plan that has already proven itself to be profitable. And it could be both profitable and emotionally rewarding for you.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Three Rules For Smart Perfume Marketing

Follow these three rules and you are very likely to make money. Ignoring them can lead to time wasting, expensive failures.

Rule # 1 -- Don't expect others to sell a fragrance you can't sell yourself.

It's your perfume, can you sell it to consumers -- anonymous consumers, people you have never met before? Can you approach a man or woman with confidence in your fragrance and make a sale to someone who has never heard of you?

If you can't sell your own perfume, don't expect others to be able to sell it. Don't think that just because a popular store agrees to take a small order on consignment you will suddenly be making sales.

If you are fortunate enough to find a store that will take your perfume, you'd better plan to spend some time at that store doing some personal selling. Then, when you have the winning sales patter down, you can train others.

Rule # 2 -- Test on a small, affordable scale before you blow a wad of money.

I have worked with people who committed too much money to projects that failed. Had they tested their ideas on a smaller scale, they might have gotten the data they needed to straighten out their project and take a better shot at the target -- or they might have realized they were headed for disaster and quit while they still had money in the bank.

Thirty years in the mail order business have made me a great fan of testing on a small scale. I have seen unexpected failures where I was sure I would see success -- and I have seen huge successes arise out of the most unlikely tests.

Major perfume marketers, like mail order entrepreneurs, know that only one out of three ... five ... or even ten projects will result in a genuine success. So they budget money for testing -- for trying this and that without betting the farm. The one genuine success that comes out of these tests gives the company its profit -- and its capital to do the next round of three ... five ... or even ten tests.

Be sure, through testing, that you have a winner before you mortgage your home.

Rule # 3 -- Go with your winner.

When the "numbers" -- the sales results -- show that you have a winner, invest in your project. Make your sales while the market for your fragrance is hot. Work it with all your energy. This is the point at which you make your big profit -- and put away the capital needed to develop your next round of fragrance tests!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

If you make it in China, don't plan to sell it in China!

A recent article by Simon Pitman in Cosmetics design-europe reported that Chinese consumers are increasingly unwilling to pay more for foreign cosmetic's brands (and, presumably, perfume.)

While Pitman cites several reasons for this trend -- revealed in a report by Vincent Chan -- one possible reason is pretty obvious: most of our (U.S.) consumer goods are made in China and the push to use of Chinese facilities to produce more and more consumer goods in accelerating.

For many years China has provided raw materials for perfume and cosmetics. China currently provides packaging components for both mass market and "prestige" perfume lines. Why would someone in China pay a premium price for a Chinese-made item assembled in the U.S. or Europe and then re-exported to China? It doesn't make sense.

The implications of this trend are vast. Companies that are looking at China as a huge, untapped market may find themselves out in the cold because of the price structures they wish to impose on Chinese consumers.

Think of China as a giant Wal-Mart forcing small competitors to close and large competitors to (with great pain!) match the everyday low prices charged by Chinese companies to Chinese consumers.

Perhaps the best strategy to survive the growing dominance of China in the market is to (1) get absolutely fixated on product quality and (2) knock yourself out to provide far better service than any competitor.

Funny how these two strategies work well for small U.S. and European companies -- and individuals -- trying to sell their own perfume under the noses of the dominant perfume marketing giants.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Last winter I made some comments about The Pope's Cologne in a newsletter sent to our Perfume Makers' Club members. The cologne (really a very nice cologne!) was made from a 19th century formula said to have been used to make cologne for Pope Pius IX. The marketing "hook" was the association with Pope Pius IX.

Now another California fragrance marketer, IBI, has grabbed on to an even bigger hook -- a fragrance said to "remind the wearer of God."

Like The Pope's Cologne marketer, the marketer of Virtue perfume has managed to get some press over the concept (and probably some controversy) thanks to the "hook" on which they've rested their marketing efforts.

While some may be repelled by the religious associations for commercial products, the hooks these marketers have chosen have created buzz. People are talking about these fragrances (and writing about them!) ... and these are the first steps in guiding people toward trying the products. After the trials, the fragrances succeed or fail based on their merits.

So my question to you is this -- have you considered your own perfume in terms of a "hook" that can help get it talked about ... sampled ... and sold?