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.

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