Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Getting the feedback you deserve for your perfume

If you are going to market a great perfume, you want others to talk about it. You want lots of people to talk about it, so that as many people as possible will know about it. The more people that know about it (if they hear about it in a positive light), the more people are likely to try it, and this results in sales for you.

I once had a friend whose father reviewed books for a leading newspaper. Periodically large boxes of books would arrive at their house and it was up to his father to read and review them. Judging from the number of books his father received -- and the amount of space the newspaper would give to reviews -- I would guess only a handful of those books got the full treatment. But for those that did get reviewed and whose reviews got published, I'm certain that these reviews boosted awareness of those titles and, no doubt, sales. Look at Oprah's Book Club.

As you are no doubt aware, there are today magazines and newspapers that publish reviews of perfumes. Although I don't pretend to know the exact mechanics of the business, it can be assumed that fragrance marketers shower reviewers with bottles of their latest perfumes in the hope that they will be favorably reviewed. It has also been "revealed" that certain "independent" bloggers receive outpourings from fragrance merchants and, in return, post appropriate comments.

But now let's look at the situation of the smallest of the small perfumeries -- operations like mine (Frank Bush) and perhaps yours. Speaking for myself (and you?), I don't have "connections" and -- in this year in particular, like almost everyone else -- I don't have (a lot of) money to throw at public relations and publicity. But I do have a strategy that I'm going to share with you, and I'd be willing to bet in advance it will be helpful in generating "talk" which, ultimately, will generate sales.

What I have done is simply to "create" a "Fragrance Evaluation Board" for my perfumes and masculine fragrances (I hate the term "colognes" for modern men's fragrances that bear no relationship to the colognes of the past, and most men wouldn't like to be told that they are wearing "perfume," even when they are.)

The way the Board works is quite simple. Anyone can ask to be included on my mailing list for the free -- yes FREE -- samples I send out when I feel the urge to get some WRITTEN feedback.

Of course when I send out samples, not everyone gets one because of the cost of mailing and the small number of samples I make up.

The deal is that, if you receive a sample, you are expected to email me your written review for it -- your HONEST, THOUGHTFUL review of course, even if your reaction to my fragrance is not entirely positive.

Just as there are people who cannot smell, there are people who cannot write, so they don't make good reviewers. Texting and tweets have not been kind to the fine art of English composition. Among those who receive samples and return reviews, it is necessary to discover those who are highly literate and can return meaningful commentaries on the perfumes in question. These then become candidates for ADDITIONAL free samples, while the less literate may be dropped to the bottom of the mailing list.

Beyond this, the best candidates for my Fragrance Evaluation Board are those who have their own web presence through a blog (or blogs) and/or social networking activity such as Facebook. Then, assuming that their reaction to my fragrance is positive, they have the ability to spread the word even farther and wider than they could through face to face contacts alone.

So there it is. The plan I've put into action. But I think this strategy could work for you too.

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