SALES, MARKETING AND STRATEGY
Whether you like it or not, you signed up to be a salesperson when you started your business. Most business owners don’t like that role, but YOU are your best sales rep so you need to develop your skills.
Before you can sell, you have to know who your (potential) customer is. Are you selling directly to the end user or to a buyer at a major retailer? What does that person need to know to make the decision? How will you reach him or her? What’s the main message and what are you selling? Remember, you aren’t selling a product, you are selling a solution to a problem.
Direct Sales are sales to your customers – the people who will use your product. Customer attention span is short. Where or how is your customer buying from you? What competition will they be comparing you to? What closes the deal?
You can sell to retail buyers without a consultant or hiring someone. But, you need to understand the perspective of the buyer. Buyers are measured on their performance – how much product they sell in their department. They want products that sell themselves. They care about the market demand, how you are marketing, how your product is packaged, AND how well you can supply your product to meet demand. Prepare a sales deck that is concise and answers the buyers questions. Don’t give your inventor story or a bunch of fluff. Instead, show them how they will make money by carrying your product.
Marketing is a small word for a very big concept. Marketing includes everything from your business card to your strategic partners and retailers. The most important question to ask yourself at all times as a marketer is, “What’s in it for them?” Ask this question constantly when coming up with messaging or packaging or discovering new ways to reach your customers.
Before you start developing your website and product packaging, spend time focusing on long-term Strategy. Your goal is to make money. How will you achieve that? As product inventors as developers, some business owners approach strategy from the wrong angle. They create the product, package it, and then try to sell it. Instead, you need to work backwards.
Get in the mindset of your customer. Is she a mom struggling with a problem you had? What is she trying to do about it? Where is she looking for a solution? How much is the solution worth to her? Does she have a minor inconvenience or is the lack of solution costing her precious time every day? Think like her. Go to where she’d seek a solution. What does she find? Does she even know she has a problem? Are there inferior solutions out there? How can you show yours is better?
The result of asking all these questions is to find your messaging and your strategy. Does your kind of product need to be on store shelves next to a specific product? or, do you need to educate your customer that a solution even exists? Does that information need to come from a sales rep at a baby store or from a trusted source like a doctor or educator? How do you get those people to market for you?
Maybe you aren’t even going to market your product. Instead, you’ll license your invention, let someone with retail experience sell it while you collect royalties. Sometimes this is the only way to succeed. Shelf space at major retailers is valuable and those who are already there have the experience and knowledge to move products.
Not all products are marketed the same way. What’s right for your product?
Social media is great for staying in contact with customers and educating potential customers. There is “free” social media and paid “digital” advertising like Facebook ads. Not ever business needs a comprehensive social media program. You may need nothing more than an account with a monthly post to show you are active. Or, you may need to build awareness through social media by heavily investing time and funds to have reach.
Need PR? or want it? Years ago, PR was popular strategy for getting mass exposure. Recently media has been fragmented and each channel has a smaller audience. This makes PR challenging, but also more accessible.