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!