Sunday, December 21, 2008


Perfume is SUPPOSED to be expensive. So what do you do when money is tight and people who WANT your perfume (really!!!) can't afford it? This isn't the first time in history that marketers have struggled with this issue.

One TRUTH is eternal in marketing. If you want to have ANY profitable sales in the future, you DO NOT slash prices. But you might consider "slashing" SIZE.

When I was a kid, candy bars were selling for a nickel -- five cents. Then one year they went up a penny, to SIX cents. A 20% jump! Then they stayed at six cents for a number of years. But the SIZE of a candy bar shrank! (Kids notice these things.) But our six cents WOULD STILL BUY A CANDY BAR!

I've heard that in the garment trade there's a practice called "shrinking the marker." The manufacturer, to save money (and cheat the marketer) cuts the pattern just a bit SMALLER than the "marker" (pattern) so the garment is, in effect, "downsized." Now you know why sizes in women's clothing haven't always been consistent!

Francois Coty, the great perfumer, innovator, and founder of the company that still bears his name, made a fortune by offering his perfumes in A WIDE VARIETY OF SIZES, in effect making them AFFORDABLE to lots of women who would not otherwise have been able to afford his very nice perfumes. Coty sold A LOT of perfume!

Now suppose you're selling an ABSOLUTELY NEW fragrance, you don't have a reputation (i.e., your company is unknown), and not all that many people will ever FIND OUT that you HAVE a perfume? What you really want to do in this situation is EXCITE those who DO come to your "store" and make sure that they DO NOT go away empty handed. You want to make sure that they take away A SAMPLE. So you want to make your SAMPLE OFFER as enticing as possible.

I was thinking about my own samples the other day. Times are hard. Money is tight. So why not give people MORE then they might expect with your samples? Why not UPSIZE your samples rather than DOWNSIZING your bottles?

I'm experimenting with this concept for two of my men's fragrances, Toxic (the name says is all!) and Blackberry. I want MORE people to walk out of my store WITH A SAMPLE BOTTLE ... so the sample bottle got BIGGER! I want to make visitors to my store HAPPY ... to feel that they've found a way to shed a little bit of gloom and brighten up their day with an exciting fragrance.

So the sampling deal is extraordinary, but I haven't cut my price.

Of course, to do this you have to BELIEVE in the fragrances you are selling. And you have to run the numbers very carefully because you are BUILDING a business for the future and you can't succeed at it unless you know what you're doing, numbers wise.

But now is the time to WORK at making sales!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blogging to sell perfume

The other day I started a new blog that has but one purpose: to generate sales for the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course which I sell at my PerfumeProjects website.

I started the Learning To Make Perfume blog out of my frustration in trying to explain the Foundation Course to people. This was the course that got me started in perfumery, creating fragrances of my own, as opposed to selling fragrances I had made using perfume compounds created by others, which, of course, is what all the major fragrance marketers do. The companies that actually create fragrance are absolutely unknown to the consuming public.

My background is in advertising – writing advertising – and in days of yore, it would simply be a matter of preparing some magazine ads, catalogs, and mailing pieces and sending them out. All would carry the same basic (tested) sales pitch. Only the formatting and copy cuts would distinguish on ad from another in various media.

Selling via the internet alone calls more for building a relationship with the customer, letting the customer get to know you better by revealing something about who you are, what your intentions are, and where you find common ground with others. So I've turned to blogging to explain – and sell – the Foundation Course. Instead of relying on a well structured ad that must keep a tight focus or risk losing readers, I've begun blogging the Foundation Course so I can write about lots of thoughts I've had about it and describe some of my failures and successes and add the little touches, the pleasures and frustrations involved in working with aroma materials as a creative medium.

My new blog was NOT created by sell my perfumes. Then I thought about it. In order to sell the Foundation Course successfully, I have to – and I want to – talk about what I've done with both the knowledge and the materials, which has been to create perfumes (call them “colognes” when selling to men!) ... and sell these perfumes, which is what I do on my FrankBush website.

As I worked to develop blog messages for the Foundation Course, it became clear to me that this same blog might also help me sell my own perfume. I'm writing this post to share that thought with you.

We both know that a good review for your fragrance in a major magazine will help sales. But, if you're only bottling a few hundred bottles of perfume a year and are unable to afford fancy, custom bottles and gorgeously expensive, decorative boxes, the odds of your getting an important review are close to zero. (The exception might be if you have lots of wealthy or famous friends who like your perfume, but most of us don't qualify there.) So you can't expect others to give you those great, sales spinning reviews.

But by blogging, you can do it yourself.

Look at this blog – my first. I set it up in about five minutes. It's hosted by Google's Blogger, which is currently free. So cost isn't an obstacle to blogging. (Someday this may change but I want to make hay while the sun is shining!)

A blog needs content. But for years I've earned my living as a writer. Give me a pen and paper and I write. So content isn't a problem. But – here's my real problem – I'm not very good about writing about my own creations!

In fact, I'm not very good at writing about perfume at all. I love it. With a bit of training and practice my nose can distinguish between two closely similar notes. I believe in perfume – the way aromatherapy people believe – with the exception that I love ALL the aroma materials that can be used in perfumery, natural or otherwise. I love the beautiful, kaleidoscopic aroma of ylang ylang. But I am also fascinated by (now artificial, for the sake of the animals,) civet and castoreum, which are not generally considered “pleasant” aromas. And I love the amazing out-and-out synthetics such as Undecavertol, Hedione and Iso E Super. But I'm not very good about putting my thoughts about perfume into words. This is a problem for a lot of artistic people. They can create but are not so hot about explaining – and selling – their creations.

So, in my Learning To Make Perfume blog, I don't really try to sell my perfume. I just talk about it in relation to my own work in creative perfumery which started with -- drum roll please! -- the PerfumersWorld Foundation Course. And I realized that all this chit chat on the blog is going to bring people to my FrankBush website where my fragrances are offered for sale.

Will this new blog boost my perfume sales? Well, the starting point is always getting the customer “in the door,” so if I get more interested visitors to my sales pages, my chances of making more sales are greatly improved.

Then, of course, the moment of truth – the customer looks at “the deal” and either buys my perfume or passes on it. But the blog gets people to give my perfume consideration that it would not otherwise receive.

The point is, with the blog I'm not trying to “sell” my perfume. I'm just talking about it in a straightforward manner, talking about something I can comfortably talk about – the creative process – and why I've made some of the decisions I've made. My feeling is that some people will find this interesting and it will pique their curiosity about various of my perfumes. And, when they go to my selling pages, they just might buy a bottle!

So I think that blogging a bit about your own perfume can be a very cost effective selling tool.