Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sample piled upon Sample

(My own sample strategy is found at the END of this article)

The surest way to get someone to buy your perfume is to let them try it and be overwhelmed by how its beauty is "so much like them." Yes, even if they LIKE what they smell there is no guarantee that they will buy it. But getting people to TRY what you are offering is the first step.

How do you get people to try your fragrance? If you are selling your fragrance through retail stores, you supply the stores with tester bottles and paper test blotters. In my experience I'd say that stores are often lax in keeping the tester bottles filled and available, and even worse at supplying paper test blotters. And probably worst of all is the mutual failure of marketer and retailer to IDENTIFY what is in each tester bottle. Often the consumer is left to guess. But at least, at the perfume counter of a store, there is some hope that your fragrance will get sampled.

Drawing customers to the perfume counters of retail stores is the second big issue. For the larger marketers it is done with magazine advertising and, in many cases, sample cards inserted into the magazine. This type of advertising requires a considerable budget. The ad pages alone are not cheap. Then add the cost of preparing samples -- and the graphics, including model fees, and you are into the millions. But even this is not enough. Today these ad pages serve only as a reminder that the fragrance is available. The real push for the new fragrance is through publicity events with the celebrity endorsing the fragrance, and what major marketers would dare to introduce a new fragrance today WITHOUT assistance from a recognized personality?

Now suppose you aren't a large fragrance marketer. Suppose you are starting your business by attempting to sell your perfume through one or a handful of small, carefully selected boutiques. There are two ways you could make a success of this. The first, and most likely to be profitable, is to build a buzz for your perfume in the communities where these retail stores are located. Your buzz will drive people to the stores where they will ASK for your fragrance as they are already "pre-sold." For the store owner, this is the ideal situation. On your part, it takes a good deal of energy and creativity and it helps if you are well known in your community or have teamed up with someone who is popular and well known.

The tougher alternative for selling your perfume in stores -- and less favored by store owners -- is for your entire promotional effort to be your in store, point of purchase, display.

Think about it. In this second scenario you are first competing for the customers attention with everything else in the shop. The customer did not come into the shop to buy perfume and particularly not to buy YOUR perfume. So you first have to attract attention, you then have to inspire an INTEREST in perfume, you then have to "sell" the customer on BUYING your perfume. This requires some clever marketing. It is a myth to think that just because you have PLACED your fragrance in stores, people will buy. They will not. They need a great deal of inspiration to push them over the edge and reach for their credit cards.

My Own Approach -- Outside The Mainstream

Mail order sales -- and now the internet -- have long been my specialty. I've never sold one of my own fragrances through retail stores. (I hope you aren't too disappointed to hear this.) Why do I (now) sell only online? Simply because I work alone, I have good systems to handle online orders (I've taken orders from just about every country you could think of, although not always for perfume), and it allows me to focus on what I WANT to focus on -- building a library of fragrances that I can take pride in, and building my online store,

But if you are selling online or through a mail order catalog, how do you get people to buy PERFUME? I won't kid you. It's not easy. But it can be done and, once you get it down, it can be nicely profitable.

Let's face it. Right now -- Summer of 2009 -- a good part of the world is struggling through a difficult economy. So what better time to offer MORE rather than less, to offer your BEST rather than the minimal. And that's what I've been doing.

Before leaving the office at the end of June for our summer house in Canada, I put together a "deal" at my website that offers "samples piled upon samples." I've been offering small, "tester" samples for some time but, although I'd worked at it, I was never full satisfied with the sample "deals." I think I worked too hard on the presentation of the samples and not enough on the "tremendous money savings" side of the offer which, let's face it, can be pretty compelling both in good times and in bad.

So what I've done has been to take TWO sample testers (I use a small spray tester) of each of my TOP women's fragrances, TWO small samples (sorry, these are smaller than originally intended -- looking back, I wish I had used larger sampler bottles) of each of my (two) original men's fragrances and then, after dumping all these samplers in a simple zip lock baggie (I was rushing to get away for the summer and didn't have time for "elegant"), I tossed in some ADDITIONAL samples of fragrances I am planning to discontinue (although some people really like them), and then I added a full size bottle (of a fragrance to be discontinued) to the offer. Wow!

This seemed a bit like overkill. Too much for too little. So I was about to stop there but then I got to thinking, wow, I have a NEW fragrance that people tell me they like but I haven't yet made available because I'm still doing some final "tweaks" on the formula. Why not throw THIS into the "sample bag" too? So I did -- but just ONE tester of it.

So that was it. A "??? dollar" value all for just "XXX" (plus shipping and handling, of course). Why did I do it? Because I WANT to 'spread the word' -- I WANT people to use my fragrances and talk about them and have others ask, "what's that wonderful fragrance you're wearing?" -- and it happens.

The cost of putting this "sample bag" together hasn't been an issue. Advertising dollars spent judiciously can provide bountiful returns. No, my only "regret" as I departed for the summer was that I didn't leave ENOUGH of these "sample bags" behind and my summer staff may be left short before I return to the office at the end of August when I am going to produce ... MORE!

Oh, yes, that number to call, again -- Check it out for yourself!

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