Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marketing with Museums

I was updating the perfume museums listings for our Perfume Maker's Club the other day and it struck me that there were more "perfume museums" this year than there were a few years ago, and a significant number of these new museums were connected to a shop or business.

Now museum shops are nothing new. All sorts of art museums and cultural enterprises feature a "museum shop" that helps them raise money to support the museum. But in the world of perfume marketing the priorities have been reversed. In a number of interesting cases the "museum" exists to support the shop! For example, in France, one perfume house has two "museums" in Paris, one in Grasse and a fourth in Eze, just outside Grasse.

The deal is simple. You visit the museum and the museum tour leads you to the museum shop where you can buy that which you have just learned something about.

Fragonard has been the master of this technique but now Gamilard and Molinard are getting into the game. The Perfume Museum in Havana, Cuba is another example of this concept. Of course these are reasonably well financed operations so you wouldn't be setting up a museum and shop combination on their scale, perhaps.

But look what you can do with the concept.

It starts with a tourist attraction. This can be a very small tourist attraction if you happen to be in a part of the world where tourists come but there isn't much for them to do. A lot of tourist destinations are like this.

Next you need a location -- some "retail" or "museum" space. Think in terms of people selling antiques out of their home, garage or barn or an inexpensive storefront. Whatever it is, it should be inexpensive and it should have room for a nice sales area.

Now for a concept. Every museum needs a concept. The concept should, of course, entice visitors into buying a bottle or two of your perfume.

But your concept also has to have enough "educational" content so that your museum will make it into local tourist guides. It has to be more than just "come and see how I make my perfume." So turn it into, "come and see how perfume is made," and perhaps and additional flourish such as "with all natural ingredients" or "by an historic, traditional method." You can work out the theme but it should not sound too, too self serving.

Next you have to set up your museum. What do you need? A few bottles. Some modern equipment. A demonstration of how you work. It's up to your imagination but the more interesting you can make it for others, the more likely you are to get FREE publicity on local websites and in local tourist guides. If you can come up with a really strong concept and back it up by creating a really interesting and educational little museum, the bigger, more commercial enterprises in your area may actually highlight your activities, to draw visitors to the area, visitors who will stay at their hotels, B&Bs, or whatever.

All this needs to be done in a pleasant environment. No pressure sales. Friendliness toward all visitors whether they buy or not. Constant new additions to your "museum." A constantly developing website. Lots of energy.

But, if you think it out carefully and develop it with love, you just might build yourself a "museum" that can sell perfume!