If it is Friday, it is "Guest Blogger Friday". Today's article is by Cookie Wherry and looks at how networking is important even if you have just one retail product. Cookie is the president of Wherry Enterprises of Illinois Inc. and the inventor of the "Garden Wedgie", considered the world's best new gardening tool. See for yourself at www.wedgie.biz.
Networking Is About Personal Touch
By Cookie Wherry
You’ve created a new product. It’s all packaged and ready to sell but when you start cold calling and visiting stores, you discover that retailers are often hesitant to take on a new vendor with a single SKU. They’re used to dealing with distributors who provide a large array of products which means less paperwork and less time dealing with reps. So how does an independent vendor overcome those factors? How do you get your product into the marketplace? Focus on an independent vendor’s strengths.
Since you’re selling one product rather than trying to push a whole product line, there’s less pressure on retailers to purchase something they don’t want in order to get something they do want. Retailers appreciate that. They also appreciate the smaller minimum order that independents can offer.
You know your product better than anyone because you created it. Offer to demo it in local stores. Customers are enthused about meeting an inventor, you can generate good word of mouth with your presentation, the retailer appreciates the extra effort you’re making to sell your product, the staff learns from you how to promote it and you gain valuable customer feedback for your marketing strategies.
If possible, deliver your shipments yourself, for free, to businesses within a certain radius of your home base. You’ll develop a closer relationship with your retailers and they’ll appreciate the cost savings. You’ll also be able to keep tabs on how they display your product.
When shipping orders, accuracy counts. The invoice may go to a different address than the shipment. Boxes may be required to have the purchase order written on the outside. Delivery may be 3 months hence if it’s a seasonal product. Independent vendors have a distinct advantage here. There are fewer mistakes since they do everything themselves.
If shipping individual website orders, score points with customers by being willing to include personal notes or by offering free gift wrapping. If special requests are made, you’ll be able to respond immediately because you’re the decision-maker. This is customer service at its best.
Offer to list retailers on your website when they purchase from you. The free publicity for them is a great incentive to buy. Your mutual goal is to move product and publicity is key.
Send press releases to newspapers in areas where your product is sold. Remember to list the retailers with their addresses and phone numbers (with their permission). Be sure to include your website. Pique editors’ interest in your product by including tips, quotes, back story on its development and recent accomplishments. Keep in mind that editors are looking for articles to interest their readers, not ads for your product. They’ll be less than impressed if your materials arrive with spelling and grammar errors. Your goal is to get into print so proofread, proofread, proofread.
Networking can expand your business so attend trade shows and join organizations. Everyone you meet is a potential customer. Carry business cards at all times. Refine your one minute elevator speech so that whenever you’re asked what you do, you have a ready answer. Make the most of all opportunities that come your way; some may only come once.
It’s a lot to do but hey, you knew this wouldn’t be a 9-5 job!
Thanks, Cookie, for a great article!!!
Have A Great Day.