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.")