Thursday, December 19, 2013

A video for your perfume?

A quote from designer Foti Flogeras caught my attention

    I'm up to my eyeballs finalizing a video for a perfume, "Confusion II." I'll offer it for sale in mid-January. The project, since I am new at doing videos, has probably required more time than necessary but it is a learning experience.

    Among the headaches and obstacles were non-functioning video editing software (I won't mention the brand), trying to find replacement software, starting up the learning curve for the new software (I had used an older version of the other program before, without problems), and learning something about audio editing and music producing and discovering that I am not going to be the next Jay-Z. But by keeping it simple it looks like the job will get done on time.

    I mention all this for two reasons. First, there are some myths out there that you can achieve fame and fortune with perfume without investing any money and without doing any work.

    You can produce a small quantity of perfume for perhaps a few hundred dollars -- but you can't develop and successfully sell a perfume without hard work. In fact, the less money you have to spend, the harder you will have to work. I'll write more about that another day.

    But today (and for the last few weeks!) the video has been on my mind. The questions you might ask are, "Why a video for perfume?" and "Won't it cost a lot of money?" Let me start with the first question.

    The December 2013 issue of Beauty Packaging magazine ran a report from Luxe Pack Monaco, a trade show of Luxury packaging for fragrances and cosmetics. The article quoted Foti Flogeras, a European-based fragrance package designer with clients in the Middle East and China. Flogeras told the editors, "You have to win over Chinese consumers with the packaging because often they have no experience with the product -- what's inside."

    Isn't this exactly our situation when we small perfume marketers try to put out a new perfume? We have no history, we don't have millions of followers on Twitter or Facebook, and nobody is ready to rush the retail stores to purchase our perfume the minute it hits the shelves.

    So we must generate buzz. Video is one device that can help do that.

    Notice that we are all carrying video cameras in our pockets. What smartphone can't shoot video? So the first tool is at hand although other cameras may be more appropriate, depending on the "script," but we don't need to do it in Panavision.

    When my first video editing software pooped out on me I was surprised to discover how may affordable options were available -- in the "under $100" price range. (As mentioned above, developing and selling your own perfume does require that you be prepared to spend money!) So now I'm using (learning to use!) one of these and the work is progressing nicely.

    But what about all else? The cost, the music, the special effects, the props and sets? Here's where, if your budget is as limited as mine is, you have to get creative. You can get creative by reaching out and seeing what's going on right in your own neighborhood. Lots of young people are into all this. Or look at YouTube, look at websites featuring video, look at store displays for perfume that attract your attention (if you can find any.)

    Selling an abstract product like perfume requires creative thought and strategizing. And it requires money, some money, but not necessarily a whole lot.

    Start keeping your eyes open for video ideas. And don't forget to pay attention to the commercials on TV.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Creating an event to sell perfume

Shooting the "Confusion II" video

    I'm working on a video for a perfume. Shooting is finished; editing will soon begin. Why? How does it all fit together and how will it (hopefully) help me sell my "Confusion II" perfume?

    I'll describe the strategy in depth here, after it has been executed, regardless of whether or not it is a success. But for now let me make a few comments about what I'm doing and why there will be this (simple) video with its (simple) original music.

    It comes down to this. When a handful of select prospects are offered a chance to become distributors for "Confusion II," I want them to have a vivid image in their minds that connects with the fragrance. The fragrance is called "Confusion II." The artwork is called "Confusion II." The video is "The Confusion II Video." The music is "The Confusion II Theme." So even before my prospect gets a chance to smell this fragrance (and they are going to be asked to stop by my studio personally if they want to smell it and get their free sample), they will (hopefully) have a strong image of "Confusion II" in their minds.

    Think about it. What smells do you remember that are not linked to an experience? Does not the perfumer who remembers and can identify hundreds of smells play memory games, finding memorable mental associations for each?

    I want people -- prospects -- to become comfortable with "Confusion II," to think of it as a strange and perhaps mystical experience, but one that imparts a warm memory.

    So we'll see what happens. But I think this is going to work a whole lot better than just posting an ad with a pretty girl that says, "The new fragrance from ..."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Why writing a business plan can be so hard -- and why it is so important

    There are people who make their living by scouting for talent, writing a business plan, launching a company, scooping up a generous salary, and then maybe selling their interest for a nice profit. What the company does -- or was intended to do -- isn't as important to them as the money they can make ... by writing a good business plan. They know how to do it.

    But most of us don't. That's why it can be so hard to do when we need to do it -- and, if we are trying to build a business, we DO need to do it.

    Ask yourself, "do I know what a business plan is?" and "why do I resist preparing one?"

    The short and simple -- a business plan defines your goal, focuses your efforts, and makes your success many, many, many times more likely.

    With a business plan you don't ramble. You get up in the morning and go to work -- with a purpose.  There's no wondering what you have to do that day. It's all spelled out for your in your business plan.

    The first obstacle in developing a business plan is the need to set a goal. For the professional business plan writer (not you!) the goal will be formulated to please potential investors, thus it will be focused on achieving magnificent profits. But remember, the true goal of the professional business plan writer is to take a quick profit, then cut and run. You may actually want to develop a business that can grow pleasantly and profitably for years, providing you with both economic security and life satisfaction.

    But how do you put this in words? A good starting place is to write down your dream as your goal. After all, this first business plan is for you, not investors. You can adjust it and fine tune it later, when you begin to gather up the other parts of the plan.

    Those "other" parts of your business plan involve the "how" of "how you are going to do it." Again, putting this down on paper isn't so easy but again there is a practical starting point. Try this --

    Write down in simple words what you think you will have to do to reach your still somewhat vague goal. Now start to refine the "how."

    You refine the "how" by asking yourself questions -- and trying to answer them. Then questioning your own answers and finding out what data is missing. It's the missing data that makes the preparation of a (useful!) business plan so difficult for the non-professional. (The pros know how to wing it but this should be avoided, at all costs, by you.)

    As you get into this you begin to find out lots that you didn't know and, at first, you may be convinced that you can never known. But when you break down the big unknowns into their smaller component unknowns you find that yes, there may be ways to discover these facts. Call it detective work, research, or whatever. But the more you can substitute facts -- knowns -- for vagaries the sharper and more useful your business plan becomes.

    How hard should you work at it? How much money of your own are you planning to invest? How much money do you want to make from your investment?

    Preparing a business plan yourself, for your own business, can be hard work. But without a sound business plan you can work very, very hard for a long time while achieving nothing.




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Perfume Business Plan Searching For The Hook

    I started writing a series of articles on writing a business plan -- a business plan for yourself, a business plan you that can guide your business before you go off in search of outside money. The heart of any business plan, particularly a business plan for a new perfume, is the "how" -- how you are going to do what you've told yourself you are going to do. And the heart of this "how" is how you are going to make sales.

    For some businesses, maybe even most businesses that, typically, find financing, it is pretty easy. You take the standard, for-your-type-of-business plan, dress it up with your own particulars, and you're ready for yourself, the investors, and maybe even banks.

    If you try to do that with perfume you're only kidding yourself. Perfume is different. Even different from fashion (rag trade) businesses which are tough enough. Ask yourself this: "In my new perfume business, with my new perfume, what exactly am I trying to sell?"

    If your answer is "perfume" you've already gone wrong.

    Advertising people talk of selling the sizzle, not the steak; the fantasy, not the reality; the customer's inner need, not the product.

    Your perfume -- until you develop a strong hook -- is nothing but a perfume, a product. Don't believe the myth that great packaging can sell your product. Don't kid yourself into thinking your perfume will sell because it has a great scent. Don't be fooled into thinking your perfume will sell because it has a great name. Don't be fooled into thinking your perfume will sell if only you can get it in the right stores.

    Your perfume will not sell unless, in your business plan, you've developed a very strong hook.

    A hook? Does that sound too non-fashionable? Too commercial? Too downmarket, even vaudeville? Perhaps, but it is essential. Let's look at your situation realistically.

    You want to launch your new perfume. Somehow you manage to get a great scent and great packaging. Your bottles are, or soon will be, filled and ready to ship. This is the easy part. Now you have to unload that inventory at a profit. If it was as easy as opening a new McDonalds, people would rush to invest with you.

    But the people with money aren't fools. It's not your perfume they want to see. That means very little to them. What they want to see is your plan to sell it and, if your plan doesn't define a very strong hook, they will understand that your proposition is hopeless.

    I've said that creating and packaging a perfume is the easy part. Anyone with a few dollars can do it. On a limited scale it doesn't take that much money.

    I'll also give you that, if your fragrances smells nice and is nicely packaged, you'll be able to get it placed in a handful of stores where, without that strong hook, it will not set the world on fire. Nor will it return your investment. If you don't believe me, try it and see for yourself. Then you might find the rest of this article more interesting.

    Your perfume will sell when people view it as affordable, available, and an absolute "must have." It's as simple as that. But not so simple to achieve.

    This then must be the heart of your business plan. The "real" story of how you are going to sell your perfume. The development of this incredibly powerful hook that will make your perfume a near necessity for enough customers to make your venture profitable.

    You may be able to sell 1,000 bottles of your perfume though a single retail store in an incredibly short period of time if you can implant in the minds of one thousand people a compelling desire for your perfume.

    This is not just "oh, how nice!"

    There is no formula in any book or web page to guide you in creating this near magical hook, a hook that will make your perfume not just "nice" but absolutely compelling. This is where you need to ponder much, study others much, and not just marketers of perfume. You must draw on every ounce of creative thinking you possess. You must think like a dealmaker, a marketer, an infomercial pitchman. You must study contests, coupon deals, charity tie-ins, marketing strategies from the past and the present.

    You need to become the customer, night and day, until you can think like the customer and reject all hooks that are weak or misguided.

    What can you come up with? What will you come up with? Whatever it is, edit it well. Put it to your best "reality" test before you include it in your business plan.

    I'm working a new hook for my perfume so I appreciate how difficult it is.

    If you're not exhausted from reading all this, you'll find some guidance on the "hook" subject in "Footnotes #2" to my business plan article.

    Today is Wednesday. It will be ready for you by Friday (August 23, 2013). Take it seriously as I'm grappling with the same problems that you are.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The Business Plan You Really Need

    Bankers and investors, even "angel" investors, are constantly fussing, "show us your business plan." It can  be annoying and embarrassing when not only do you not have one, you're not at all clear as to how you would prepare one.

    The one person who is the least likely to ask you for a business plan is you, yourself. Why? Because you "know" your plan -- or, more commonly, you know you don't have a plan and are hoping to stumble your way to success without one.

    Why all the fuss about business plans? Why do bankers and investors require one? And why, of all things, would you want one for yourself when you're not trying to borrow money?

    The answer is simple. Preparing a business plan forces you to clarify your thinking, bring your goal into sharp focus, and plot a realistic series of steps by which you can reach that goal.

    When your thinking is muddy, trying to write even the most basic business plan can be painful because it dashes your fantasies of quick, easy success and forces you to take an inventory your true resources.

    I'm working on a business plan now for a small company that would be happy to make even modest sales in a small market but, thanks to this business plan, they are forced to confront several obstacles which they find troubling. These obstacles are troubling largely because they lack sound research that will tell them whether these difficulties will be fatal or whether they will amount to nothing.

    The research they need to make this determination will not be expensive, nor will it prove difficult. But to acquire the facts will require a plan within a plan, which in this case will amount to next to nothing.

    But the point is that, had they not decided to prepare a business plan, they would not have put their finger on a problem and the need for facts to explore this problem and guide their planning.

    What would they have done minus this business plan? They would continue to dream while worrying about an obstacle. The project would never get started.

    Good business plans aren't fussy stuff to impress bankers and investors. The person that benefits most from a good business plan is you. A good business plan, perhaps no more than a page or two, can hang on your wall and be your daily step by step guide toward accomplishing your goal -- which is success.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why it's hard to make money if you have only one product to sell

    A lesson from a mentor when I was very new in business: "Before you offer your first product for sale, have a second product ready." Why? Because the cost of making that second sale will be much lower then the cost of making you initial sale. Thus your transaction with the customer becomes more profitable, with no additional advertising expense.

    Did you know that many marketers are willing to take a loss on their first sale to acquire a new customer, because they know, from past statistics, that each new customer will bring them more than enough profit to make up for the money lost on the first sale. The hard part is acquiring new customers.

    Ask yourself why your wireless provider gives you a mobile phone for far less than the cost of the phone to them. Or why does that ink jet printer cost so little while the ink costs so much!

    Wise marketers know so well that acquiring a new customer is many times more expensive than making additional sales to an existing customer. Think of the Apple computer business for an example. Once Apple acquires a new customer -- say a teen or college student -- that customer is likely to continue buying Apple products for YEARS .. perhaps even FOR LIFE.

    Direct sellers who ship their products know that the best time to get a second order from a customer is before the first order has even been delivered! Why? Because they are catching the customer at the high point of their enthusiasm -- the point at which the product which has been ordered is still a fulfillment of a dream rather than something tangible which can be examined. The marketer is credited with providing this seemingly miraculous wish fulfillment. When the product arrives the customer, hopefully, will still be happy with it but now it is tangible and some of the mystique rubs off as it is more easily compared to someone else's product.

    Let's talk about your perfume. Are you about to launch a perfume? What else will you be selling? Look at why that second product is so important. Start by considering the time and effort and money you put into making a sale. Deduct that from the revenue you made on that first sale. Perhaps now that sale doesn't look so profitable and you wonder how others are making so much money.

    Let's assume your customer was happy with the perfume you sold her. Now let's suppose you had a second product available, right then and there, that your happy customer could, and would, buy. The sale of that second product can be made without all the fuss, effort, and expense that went into making the initial sale, hence you get to keep -- as profit -- a larger portion of the revenue you received.

    In selling perfume you probably will not want to hit your customer with a second perfume before she has used a bit of the first. But, if your first product is a woman's fragrance, your second, the follow-up product, might be a man's cologne, or a scarf, or a bracelet.

    Remember, for this second product you're not putting money into advertising. You're using the customer's enthusiasm alone to make the sale.

    When you have a customer who is responding to your sales presentation, don't lose out on potential revenue from that customer by not having a second product to sell!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Can you afford a Launch Party?

   I doubt whether any celebrity perfume has been launched in the last twenty years without a launch party -- a gala event with a champagne, wine, and cheese and famous people, all come to see this new perfume take off like a rocket.

    So when YOU are launching YOUR new perfume, shouldn't you hold a fabulous -- or as fabulous as you can afford -- launch party?

    Maybe not.

    Give a thought to the raw mechanics of the event. Party costs money. Money comes from perfume sales. People who come to celebrity perfume launch parties are not buyers. They are going to be GIVEN the perfume, free.

    For the celebrity perfume launch, the goal is publicity. The cost of the party is (expected to be) far less than the value of the publicity. Have you ever heard of a reviewer come to a celebrity launch party, drink the champagne, mix with the rich and famous, then write a bad review? That would be the end of their free party going days.

    For the celebrity perfume, the launch party publicity is valuable because it gets spread so widely among the celebrity's fans -- on websites, blogs, social media, etc., etc. The message is spread to the people who WILL (it is, with great hope, expected) BUY the perfume.

    The whole point of a celebrity perfume is that the celebrity has FOLLOWERS who WILL PAY to please and show their support for the celebrity.

    But what about you?

    If you were to hold a launch party for your perfume, who would attend?

    Certainly you could invite the press. Depending on their schedules and how hard up they were for "news," they would or would not come to drink your wine and snack on your goodies. But for sure they won't come to buy your perfume.

    Your friends (hopefully) will come, hoping you will give them a bottle.

    Your mother and father may come, free bottle or not.

    In fact, you'll probably invite everyone you know who has any interest in your perfume -- but aren't these the people who might BUY your perfume ... the people you EXPECT to buy, thanks to the publicity???

    Think about the effort and expense of the party and the valuable marketing data you are likely to gather -- none!

    Then think what might happen if you made a deal with a single store to stand at a booth for an afternoon and try to sell your perfume to passing customers.

    It would be tough work for many an introverted creator but the lessons learned about selling perfume would be ... VERY, VERY valuable.

    Now think about it. If you seriously want to sell perfume, which approach would work better?

    (These comments were suggested by a reading of Paul Graham's article, "Do Things That Don't Scale.")

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ten steps to creating your own perfume formula -- and one simple step to get it made

    You can't sell a perfume that doesn't exist -- so here's how you can get your custom perfume made in just a matter of weeks. Let me tell you about The Perfumer's Workbook and a company that will make a custom fragrance you have designed, even if your order is very small.

    The Perfumer's Workbook is a computer program used to design fragrances for perfumes, colognes, and other fragranced products. It is used by industry professionals and hobbyists -- and entrepreneurs who can make money if they have a perfume to sell but may know and care nothing about how perfume is made.

    The "big" version of The Perfumer's Workbook used by big companies with big computer systems. It can come with on-site installation, technical assistance, and employee training and the price currently starts on the high side of $5,000.

     But this full version includes features largely of interest only to big companies developing laundry detergents, deodorants, and toilet cleaners. Stuff like that.

    For those focused only on their own perfumes and colognes there is the more widely used "student" version of The Perfumer's Workbook that runs on a normal desktop, laptop, or tablet computer -- hardware that you are likely to own yourself.

    By using the wizards that are part of this very affordable version of The Perfumer's Workbook you can design your own professional perfume or cologne in an hour or less, even if you've never designed a perfume before.

Here's what it means to "design" a perfume

    You may  have an idea for a perfume you would like to create. You may have the smell in your head. But if you want someone to make that perfume for you, you must translate that mental scent into a list of ingredients -- a formula. Without a formula, you can't get your perfume made.

    The Odor Design Wizard in The Perfumer's Workbook gives you a simple, accurate tool to produce the formula for your perfume from your mental image. With that formula in your hand, you can now go to any perfume manufacturing business and have your fragrance made. But first look at the steps you will take to convert your idea into a formula.

Ten simple steps (illustrated with screenshots)

    You can see how easy it is to design your own perfume by looking at this series of screenshots of a fragrance being designed using The Perfumer's Workbook. Just ten steps. That's all there is too it but when you look at the last screenshot you will see how complex the formula really is.

    When you use The Perfumer's Workbook, your perfume will have a similar complexity and you may not have a clue as to what any of these ingredients are or where they could be purchased. It doesn't matter. You now have what you need to get your perfume or cologne made -- the formula.

Now get a sample

    Once you have finished designing your perfume and have used The Perfumer's Workbook to produce its formula, your next step is to have a sample made. Then you will be able to smell what you have created.

    How do you get this sample? When you look at the formula you have created you will be confronted with a list of anywhere from 30 to 50 or more ingredients, each of which have to be measured and blended very precisely.

    Here is where PerfumersWorld comes into the picture. Not only have they created The Perfumer's Workbook, their fragrance technicians stand ready to make and mail to you a sample of your perfume or cologne for little more than the cost of postage.

    How does it work? How do you place your order? The Perfumer's Workbook offers a link you can use to transmit your formula directly to PerfumersWorld. Inn just a few days they will have your sample in the mail to you and you can then smell what you have created. It's as simple as that. And again, the cost to you is barely more than what it costs PerfumersWorld to mail it to you.

What comes next?

    If you like what you have created, PerfumersWorld can make more of the same for you. In fact they can make up any quantity of your perfume you may need, large or small. But you control the formula. It is yours and it is in your hands. If you would prefer to have it made up by someone else, that's up to you. You are under no obligation to PerfumersWorld.

Look at these screenshots and decide for yourself.

    You can see a screenshot for each of the Odor Design Wizard's steps here.

    You can get more insights into The Perfumer's Workbook through the descriptions and screenshots starting that this page.

    If you want or need a perfume to sell, this is an absolutely brilliant way to get it, at the lowest possible cost.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finding Your Own Niche (It's going to be small!)

    If I had the key to helping perfume makers get their perfumes into Macy's and Walmart, I could make a lot of money very quickly. What I try to get people to understand is that the "problem" is not that Macy's or Walmart doesn't want your perfume. The problem is that Macy's and Walmart know that in their stores, your perfumes will not make sales. Even if a few bottles were sold (which might be exciting for you!) the loss the stores would take by giving you valuable retail space, that could be making money for them with someone else's product, would simply make no sense to them.

    Add to that your cost of preparing your product for sale to one of the large retailers. Have you looked into their "Vendor Requirements" which can be found at their websites. Most large retailers publish their requirements for vendors and if you're just making perfume without some serious money, serious promotion, and serious business management behind you, you simply won't qualify to be accepted as a vendor by a large retailer. It's nothing personal. It's just business.

    So that do you do to make money with your perfume?

Think business!

    Your artistic side goes into creating your fragrance. Then your business side has to take over to develop a way to sell it.

    Business means profit and loss. When you spend more than you take in, you've got a loss. If you were trying to prepare your perfume for sale at Macy's and you didn't have a following like Justin Bieber, you would take a loss -- a big one.

    But, using your business head, think out ways you could sell your perfume that can be worked within your realistic resources.

    Look at a simple element -- a UPC (universal product code). Most larger retailers and many mid-size ones will expect you to have a UPC on your box. Box? Think about it. If your operation is really small, just producing a box can be a big investment. Then the UPC. To get that you have to spend money. And remember, each individual product you sell -- say three fragrances -- has to have its own UPC. The cost begins to add up.

    But there are ways to sell your perfume without a UPC, and even without a box. If your perfume is good, and it looks nice just in its bottle, you may find one or more small local shops that will take it. Then it's up to YOU to make sure you're doing all you can to get people to BUY your fragrance in these stores.

    Look at it this way. Local stores will often agree to display a product by a local person. But to display it isn't the same as making sales. To make sales happen YOU have to DO something. This is the moment that decides whether you have the start of a business or whether to hang it up.  If you can't make sales locally, where people know you, don't expect larger stores somewhere else to be interested in your perfume.

    There are other ways to get started. I've written about many of them in  61 Ways To Sell Your Own Perfume! But if you seriously want to develop a business selling your own perfume, you simply must fight to make SALES -- to the public, not the stores -- and start by doing it on a small, affordable scale where you really do stand a chance to make money with a stripped down product (perfume bottled but not boxed or UPC's) and a very modest budget for your promotional campaign.

    If you can succeed at this, the sky's the limit.



Friday, February 15, 2013

Market Research: Does It Matter?

If you want to sell your own perfume you have to look at it as a business. If this is a new business for you, you have to do your homework before you invest. When someone buys a pizza parlour, a bowling alley, or a health club they look into the situation before they sign the papers. They consider the neighborhood, the customer base, whether the existing business is actively growing or declining, and whether the business is likely to produce enough revenue to cover expenses and still yield a profit.

Perfume is no different.

To make sales you need customers. Before you invest you need to assure yourself that you will have enough customers to make your project profitable. You do this by preparing a business plan and before you can develop a realistic business plan you need to conduct some market research.

The most important questions are, "Are there people who will buy my perfume?" and "How will I go about selling it to them?"

In short, you need to know who your customers will be and how you will make sales to them.

This cannot be vague. This cannot be wishful thinking. You have to have a realistic, practical, way to make sales or you cannot be in the perfume business.

Anyone can make a perfume to sell but not everyone can make sales.

What is your plan?

 When you first thought of launching a perfume, how did you plan to sell it? Did you plan to do the selling yourself or were you banking on turning sales over to some other organization (Walmart? Macy's?) that you thought would do the selling for you? If it's the second case, have you looked into the vendor requirements for these stores? These requirements are published on the stores' websites. Reading them will give you some sense of the steep climb you will have and the money and management skills that will be required to develop a relationship with a major chain.

More realistically, if you want to be in the perfume business, you'll find a way to make sales -- yourself -- by carving out some sort of niche for yourself.  (Read "61 Basic Strategies For Selling Your Own Perfume" for ideas.)

If you are approaching this business in a practical way, you'll be working to make a profit on a small scale initially rather than getting in way over your head and taking a colossal loss.

If starting small doesn't appeal to you, you might not be a good candidate for owning your own business.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Market Research For You

I've started a series of articles on market research on a scale anyone can undertake. This series appears on my other blog, "Learning To Make Perfume." It seems to apply to both making and marketing perfume as, if you're trying to make perfume to make money, you need to answer a few basic questions first. These answers can be fetched through some very simple, inexpensive, market research. They are essential.