Friday, October 23, 2015

Opportunities for perfume -- Grab them, Make them

There's a perfume in front of the Marshall amp. You can barely see it but there's no reason you couldn't advertise, elsewhere, that it had been used in this photo.
 I've been working on a song, it's not my daytime job, just a fun thing, and up to now I've done mostly offbeat Christian-themed songs. But this one is a feet-first jump into country music. There's a bit of humor to it and a bit of commercial sell and I'm thinking it could be presented to the world as a YouTube video -- if I can get a band, a cameraman, and some props together. (Needed: boots, hat, dancing chickens and a pickup truck.)

    Now let's talk about perfume. I have previously written about selling perfume by creating an experience. When I started working on this song I was not thinking about perfume. But then, as the words and music started to come together, visual images began to suggest themselves and the project, in my head, started to become more than a song. It was becoming an "experience" -- so why not throw in a perfume?

    The perfume could just be a prop -- it could be seen and not talked about, but by having it present while the song was being presented, some interest could be generated and the perfume might then become associated with the song, and the song might get into people's heads. The song could be a perfect hook to sell the perfume.

    The point here is that by doing something totally non-perfume related I might be creating an opportunity to sell perfume. Grabbing at opportunities is important if you want to sell anything. Here, perhaps, is an opportunity to sell perfume.

    FOOTNOTE: Notice how, besides stumbling across opportunities, you can create them yourself.

    MORE: In the photo above, there is a small bottle of perfume in front of the Marshall amp. You can barely see it. But, if the guitar and amp were being photographed with some celebrity and the bottle appeared in the photo, you can bet that I would make multiple mentions of that elsewhere in my advertising.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Here's a deal you can put together to sell your perfume on the web

    Here are some realities: To sell your own perfume you need a market, people ready and willing to buy your perfume. If you are starting from scratch as a perfume maker or perfume entrepreneur you probably don't have enough loyal followers to make your perfume profitable, especially on the internet.

    To sell online successfully you need dedicated followers who hang on your every endorsement and buy, when they can afford it, whatever you present to them in your name. But you don't have this kind of a following and if you put up your own website -- as an unknown perfume maker -- you will likely be disappointed by how few people come to your website and how those who do pay you a visit quickly depart, without making a purchase.

    So your first step in making online sales is to put your perfume on a website that does have traffic, a website belonging to someone who has a following and whose following might buy perfume.

    Now here's a tip extracted from an interview by Jessica Sier with Traiangl co-founder Craig Ellis. Selling online only, Triangl has been hugely successful at using Instagram to make sales. But Ellis cautions marketers to stay on their "level" when trying to get others to help promote their product. In the Instagram world, this would mean this would mean that if you have 1000 followers, you reach out to others who have 1000 followers, not people who have 100,000 followers.

    To translate this into the situation of a perfume entrepreneur (you!) seeking a relationship with someone who has a strong web following of potential perfume buyers, your target should be a personality, a designer or performer, who is at the same point in their career (struggling!) as you are in yours.

    This will usually mean that a good candidate might be a singer who, thought though quite professional, is only now beginning to build a following and who, at present, is far from famous.

    Look what we've got so far: you, who can create a fragrance, and this other person who can influence their online following. A deal makes sense.

    Here's what the deal might look like. First you have to understand that the person attracting the following will not be terribly interested in getting involved with perfume. Their interest is in their career, promoting their music or whatever. They won't want the distraction of perfume. This means that it will be all up to you.

    Your first step will be to offer a proposal to the other person and get a consent for at least the outline of a deal.

    Next you have to determine where you will take orders. Social media can arouse interest but to take orders you'll need a website -- the other person's website -- and if they don't have one you may have to build one for them. This can be done for a few hundred dollars.

    It is essential that this website NOT be about your perfume. This site must be about your celebrity-to-be. It must highlight this person's accomplishments, give concert dates, show photos and perhaps embedded YouTube videos. You are creating an environment where you perfume can be solid. Yes, it will require work but doing it will help you better understand the person you are working with and their followers.

    Now you can add your perfume to the website. And you'll add it with a payment link -- Paypal is a good starting point -- with the orders (and the money) going to you. You can settle up later with your performer by showing sales reports from Paypal.

    So here's an opportunity -- a real opportunity -- to have money coming your way from the sale of your perfume. But there's one sacrifice you'll have to make. Your perfume will be marketed as the other person's perfume. You'll be the unknown genius behind the fragrance while the other person will get all the glory -- but remember, it is that other person's fame and following that will be pushing sales.

    Now let's go over the logistics of this setup. Cash orders will be coming to you. You will be shipping the orders. You'll keep records of what you shipped and when you shipped it. And you'll offer your own contact information for customer service.

    In short, you'll be in the perfume business: creating, marketing, and distributing. You'll quickly get it down to a routine.

    But for you this need not be a one-shot deal. Once you get your systems up and running you can repeat this strategy with other rising stars. The more success you can show, the bigger the performer you'll be able to attract. The business will grow. But lay your foundation carefully. Everything you do should make your silent partner -- your performer -- look good. Forget ego. Look to the money.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

"Join the conversation" -- No thanks!

    Anyone who follows marketing trends is aware of the stampede to commercialize social media and the growing number of success stories from businesses that claim to have used social media exclusively to promote their products profitably.

    There is no argument against the wisdom that you CAN use social media to grow your business. But for the smallest businesses, an individual making their own perfume for example, HOW can you use social media successfully WITHOUT losing the creative mojo that inspires a new perfume?

    Here's the rub. Promoting a product through social media and building a social media presence (now called your "brand"), is a full time occupation. If you don't believe me, read Brooke Erin Duffy and Emily Hund's article in the Atlantic, "The Invisible Labor of Fashion Blogging." It will quickly set you straight.

    The heroes of the blogging world, the real stand outs, are the ones who receive dozens of comments to each of their posts. Readers of these posts are invited to "join the conversation" by adding their comments to the post. These comments, each of them, must be moderated by the blogger or a member of his or her staff.

    The vast MAJORITY of comments that will be received are spam -- comments trying to move you to another website so the commenter can push some nonsense on you.

    Some comments will simply be "thank you for your post," which adds nothing to the conversation. No information or intelligent opinion on the post is being shared.

    Abusive comments have become rare but the real "problem" -- if you are busy trying to make your own perfume, write books, articles, or a newsletter, or are engaged in any other labor intensive task -- are the comments that call for a RESPONSE.

    These, ironically, are the comments you WANT. They are the other side of the "conversation." I write something and you ask me a question about what I have written or share useful insights on the topic that will be of value to others who read my post.

    But now I have to join the conversation with YOU. I have to respond with the information you have requested or acknowledge and perhaps validate information you have shared that expands on the topic. I have to be AVAILABLE to interact with you.

    And I must constantly monitor incoming comments so that my response, to the few that should get a response, is TIMELY, so that you will feel that I am part of the conversation, that WE are interacting. In short, to "join the conversation" to my own blog, I must be on call 24/7.

    But I don't want to be.

    If you look at the history of this blog you'll see tremendous posting gaps -- weeks without a post. Why? Because I am busy elsewhere, perhaps working on the products themselves, the fragrances, the books, the newsletters for which this blog was created as a marketing tool.

    Feedback is good. I welcome it. But I'm not ready to devote my life to "conversations" 24/7. For now I would rather blog as time permits, when I feel I have something to say and want to share, and when my head is not fully engaged in some other project.
Moonfaire perfume by Lightyears
Moonfaire perfume by Lightyears

    In using social media to market your own perfume or other product you too will experience this same conflict. My advice? Don't feel bad about it. Build the product. Then worry about getting the word out. But don't play the 24/7 game.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Can experimenting with price help you improve your perfume?

    In my post earlier today I discussed how pricing experiments by the Bezos-owned Washington Post could be helping not only to fix the "right" future price for the Post but may also be helping develop the Post itself by adjusting the content, based on reader metrics to shape the right product at the right price.

    If you are a developer and seller of your own perfume, could you use price experiments to help make your perfume more commercial? ("Commercial" is not a dirty word. It just means being able to sell your perfume profitably, which must happen if you hope to have a business.)

    How might price experiments help shape your future perfume offerings? One "discovery" you might achieve is finding the best way to deliver your fragrance. What might be the best bottle size for a fine, alcoholic fragrance? Are you using too big or too small a bottle? Size affects your cost, cost affects your potential retail price range. Is there a sweet spot where cost, price, and bottle size make both you and your customer happy?

Xotic, by Lightyears
Xotic, by Lightyears.
  Would a solid perfume be greeted with more enthusiasm than a liquid perfume? A solid perfume is easier to ship. No problem with "hazardous material" restrictions. No problem with glass bottles that can break or closures that can leak. You can ship internationally with ease and produce your fragrance at a lower cost.

Xotic solid perfume
Xotic solid perfume by Lightyears
    But maybe customers would prefer your fragrance in a soap, or a shampoo, or in a room spray or some sort of diffuser. You might not have the resources to test all of the possibilities but it is helpful, when you are testing, to know that they exist.

    Tests can be difficult to set up. Responses must be adequate to insure statistical significance. But there are secrets in the pricing model that are worth trying to unlock.

The topic is price and pricing


 I just finished and mailed the one hundred and twenty-seventh issue of our Perfume Strategies newsletter. The four articles in this issue all involved pricing strategies and the advantages an online business has in experimenting with price.

    The articles were inspired by a special subscription offer I received from The Washington Post, now owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame, and an article I cam across about the Triangl bikini company, a business said to have been launched to fill an unserved niche in the bikini market. Both Amazon and Triangl sell online exclusively.

    The Bezos link, to me, was particularly interesting and while I won't go into the details of the offer I received, I will confess that I was hooked by it and paid the price. I expect that, when renewal time comes around, I'll receive more bold and interesting offers.

    The hook wasn't in the copy, it was in the price. Now that I've revealed this you can guess that the price was remarkably low. But the Post got a new subscriber and their cost to service my account is likely close to zero (excluding administrative overhead).

    The offer I received was bold and was likely sent to a limited number of potential subscribers. These people aren't fools. They aren't trying to build a business on the subscription rate I received but they are gathering valuable data and in my case they did move the needle from my being an occasional reader to my becoming a paid subscriber.

    But I suspect, at the moment, the data from their tests is more important to them than the access they are giving me to the Post. And now, from viewing the Post daily, I am guessing they are conducting many experiments and gathering a great deal of data -- data that will mold the product, The Washington Post, as the data is analyzed and the analysis acted upon.

    What do you charge for a bottle of your perfume? How did you arrive at that price? Is your price simply some multiple of your cost? Have you priced your fragrance based on what others charge for their? Have you done tests to determine the most profitable price for your perfume? Have you asked yourself how having some price data from customers might help you develop a more commercially successful perfume? Are there bold but intelligent tests you could be making to learn more about people who have been watching you -- but are not quite yet your customers?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Using free software to (help) generate perfume names

    In a recent article I wrote about the value a coined name -- an invented name -- could give a new perfume. One technique I've mentioned in a book on naming new perfumes is to use automatic name generating software. This will not -- except in the most extraordinary circumstances -- give you a good name, a usable name, for your perfume but it can help open up your imagination in a way that will lead you to a good, usable, totally original perfume name.

    In the book I've mentioned a few websites that let you use their automatic name generators without charge. None are particularly useful except to get you started moving around ideas, words, and letters.

    Free to use, automatic word generators exist to help expectant parents generate baby names and entrepreneurs name new websites or even new companies or even new products. While baby names can be useful in perfume naming -- particularly in popping up rare names or names from other cultures, they may be best used when used as only part of the naming process, by starting with the conventional and then working into the "Sally to Shallie" mode, transforming adding and subtracting letters until a new -- appropriate -- name is coined.

    Then continue to play with it. Think about the sound, the color the name might suggest, and the scent. (The name should at least help suggest a scent.)

    I've been playing around with two name generators -- just for fun (and because, at present, I have two fragrances that need names!) My toys today have been a baby name generator (where they ask for "Mom's name" and "Dad's name," just enter some themes from your scent story), and a business and product name generator (just keep clicking and you'll see some wild names and, with enough clicks, you might get something close to useful.)

    Even if you aren't naming a fragrance today, play around with these toys now. You might want to come back to them -- strictly for inspiration -- in the future.

    (These comments were inspired by my book, How To Create A More Valuable Name For Your Perfume.)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Is it possible to find a "perfect" name for a new perfume?

There is a standard formula. The name, scent, and marketing must all tell the same story. The scent "is" the name, the marketing sells precisely what the name and scent suggest. This is the creative side of naming a new perfume.

But there is more to it. While you would not rush to abandon a name that fills the standard formula perfectly, there are some additional considerations that can help you cement your sole possession of this name so that nobody else can use it -- unless they pay you for the rights.

By now you're probably thinking "trademark" -- if I trademark my name I'll be fully protected -- and you could be but you might not be. It depends on ... on the name you've chosen and how you are using it. It's not complicated but a little knowledge here can help you obtain more valuable rights for your perfume's name.

If you are an individual or a small company, you're probably asking "What will it cost?" Here the good news is that, if your perfume name isn't already being used by somebody else, you can obtain some very valuable rights to that name without spending a penny.

Of course the most important step in naming a perfume is to develop a name that harmonizes with your scent and marketing strategy. This is about 90 percent of the game. But if you want that extra 10 percent, that extra value that might even allow you to sell your name to someone else some day, read more here.