Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Many Styles of Perfume Web Selling

The other day I was cleaning up some links on the "members only" pages of our Perfume Maker's Club. Going through the "Small Companies That Sell Their Own Perfume" links -- clicking on each to see if the companies still existed -- I was struck by the wide variety of styles of these websites, all of which sold perfume.

Let me say here as an "aside," you can make this study for yourself without being a member of the Perfume Maker's Club simply by doing a bunch of your own Google searches.

Dead links themselves fascinate me as they aren't all dead for the same reason. Some links die because the companies (or people) simply pack it in and go out of business. Either perfume was not so profitable for them or they moved on to other ventures that were more to their liking, or more profitable.

Then there are dead links from companies that have changed their website name (Bond No. 9 for example) and moved without leaving a redirector at the older website. (Maybe they did for a while, until they were sure everybody knew their new web address -- or perhaps they just felt those who were interested would find them through Google.)

A third set of dead links arose when companies and individuals perfumers changed their company name or business affiliation and thus their web addresses. These people were still making and selling perfume, their commitment unchanged but perhaps in a new business arrangement.

You may ask, what is the great interest in all of this? For me, since it has been about five years since I first put up this web page, I'm fascinated by those who have survived and those who have not. Remember, it can cost well under $100 a year to maintain a website so, for those who are gone, times must have gotten pretty tough; or perhaps their interest simply faded.

Among those who have continued in business I have noted some changes, some "upgrades" to websites that made them more graphically appealing. Yet among the group, at least one survivor had an absolutely crude, unaesthetic web site. And it is still offering to take orders. Of course the wonder of the internet is that a very small company can have a very beautiful, professional website which gives off the aura of major company size and success. But let's go on about these small perfume marketers.

Excluding the grotesquely inartistic, the web styles I found ranged from "friendly" to "ultra sophisticated." In the middle of this are websites that I would describe as simply "businesslike," websites that exist to take orders but don't make much effort to charm.

Now for the purpose of all this discussion: If you (or I) are thinking about setting up a new website to sell perfume we've made (or perfume someone else is making for us) it is important to match the tone of the website -- the text, the graphics, and the MECHANICS -- to our perfume ... and to the "reality" of our prospective customers.

Are they sophisticates? Then our presentation should be sophisticated. Are they down to earth fragrance lovers? Then our website should be down to earth. Do they already know exactly what they have come to buy? Then let's make it easy for them to complete their purchase.

Developing a website is, essentially, is a marketing exercise. It exists to connect our product to our market. To do this we must gain credibility with the type of people who are most likely to buy our perfume. We must ask, "What do they expect to see when they come to our website?" And then we must create a website that fulfill those expectations.

It is worth remembering too that if we try to create a website for "everyone" we only manage to create a website for no one. We need to take a position; to identify our most likely prospect; to craft our website to that individual -- not to "everyone."

At the beginning this is difficult since often we don't have a clear picture of who are best prospect will be. If we also have a retail business, a bed & breakfast, a "museum" (Fragonard) or some such, we can match our web design to our shop design. We are in the enviable position of having face-to-face dealing with our customers. Lacking this advantage, we sometimes must simply take a position and say, "this is what I am going to be ... these are the people to whom I will sell my perfume" and then design the website around this fantasy and hope that it works.

Your website is your opportunity to create your own fantasy world or to extend the ambiance of your retail shop, B&B, or museum. But by studying what others have done and are doing, you get ideas that help stimulate your own creativity and lead to greater success in selling your own perfume.