Tim addresses a couple of questions about retail and some important aspects that you need for your business. Starting with Toys R Us leaving the market, he shares the big opportunity that opens up, which those in the Toy industry should grab. He then puts forward the value of your story, reiterating how it should never be left out while offering nuggets of advice on pitching. Lastly, he addresses some questions on buying and selling. There may be times when buyers don’t reach out immediately. Should you follow-up and how many times?
Listen to the podcast here:
How Important Is Your Story? + Other Questions Answered
I am still riding high on our last podcast with Jocko Willink. I have to say thank you to Jocko for his insight. I know that a lot of you got a lot out of that podcast, especially because you’re on your own. A lot of us just work on our own. We’re looking for ways to push the envelope. We’re looking for ways to make things happen when all we have is ourselves to bounce ideas off of. To get some insight into some things that we can do to help expand our thought process and turn what some people would call weaknesses into strengths was fantastic. I hope that you enjoyed it. I’m interested to continue to see your comments on the podcast and start some conversation about the different things that Jocko talked about and how they impacted you.
Toys R Us
I had a question for myself and this is going to be about questions and answers. We’re going to address a couple of questions that came in, but I had a question and it was about what happens when retailers go down. Where does that money go? Where does it shift to? If a retailer goes out of business, they weren’t even at that moment doing nothing. They weren’t doing sales at all. They were doing something and people were counting on them. The bottom line is they were still making money, it just wasn’t enough.
I took a look at Toys ‘R’ Us and I did some research into what they were doing and how that happened and how that’s going to impact the overall toy market. The reason I want to bring it up is that some of you may be toy makers, some of you may have toys that you’re looking to get into retail. Let me tell you, there is no better time than right now. Retail Dive just put out an article talking specifically about Toys ‘R’ Us and them leaving the market. The article points towards Target and Walmart, but Target more than Walmart. Target is already talking about expanding its toy section three times what it already was.
Three times, that’s going to be some room. There’s some room for you to get your product in there and now’s the time. You need to get on the phone right now and start ringing up the toy buyers at Target to see if you can get a piece of that action. There are millions of dollars of action to be had. It’s going to get spread out amongst a lot of different retailers, Target and Walmart. I even talked to a buyer at Best Buy that they’re getting into expanding their toy section. Everybody is trying to fill the gap that Toys ‘R’ Us left, which is interesting. If Toys ‘R’ Us left this big of a gap, how couldn’t they just get it together? What stopped them from being successful? You guys know I put out a Toys ‘R’ Us podcast. I’ve worked for them for quite some time and I’ve also sold them products. I have my own thoughts on why they couldn’t get it together.It’s important when circumstance present themselves that you should act fast and furious. Click To Tweet
It’s important when circumstances present themselves that we act fast and we act furious and this is one of those times. If you have a toy that at some point you try to get into Toys ‘R’ Us or trying to get into smaller retailers, now’s your chance. Now’s your chance to go to Target, Walmart, Best Buy or any of the bigger retailers that are going to try to expand. Even places like Staples and Office Depot are getting into toys. This is your chance to go to those retailers and pitch your product. They’re looking to fill that gap. That’s your fist in the air, go forward, and make that happen. I’m excited for you. I have some calls to make myself in that regard.
Telling Your Story
Let’s get into some questions. It’s been a while since we addressed questions from the big box team out there. We only have three. It’s going to be a short podcast depending on how long it takes to work through these but I wanted to get to them. The first question came from Jenny. She’s got a pretty cool story about her product, the one that she tells retailers and buyers when she meets them. It’s part of her pitch to tell her story. We’ve talked a lot about stories and how your story and how your product came to be can be very attractive to buyers. They like to buy into that, especially if it’s partly social media and people are attracted to you because of your story.
She’s been telling her story to buyers, but recently she came up against a buyer that was more, “Save it, I don’t need to hear it.” She ended up making a deal with this buyer despite that situation. Her question was should she kill that part of what she’s doing? Should she stop telling her story? My answer is no, you shouldn’t. Obviously, you have to make your own decision. You have to take a look at how the buyer is reacting to what you’re doing. Not every buyer wants to hear the story. Some of them want to get right down to business. They want to say, “Just tell me the price. How much does it cost? What are the key factors? Can you make this much? What’s your logistics look like?”
Some of them just want to get down to business. I had a buyer at Costco that they never wanted to buy your deck with pictures and cool stuff and cool facts. They always wanted the product just in an Excel spreadsheet, here’s the product, here’s a short description, here’s your Costco price, here’s the general retail. That’s all they wanted. Just give it to me in a spreadsheet. You don’t always get to know that either. Sometimes you could be falling on deaf ears for a long time before you find out you’ve been sending the wrong thing. You should never let one buyer or one comment from one buyer alter the way that you’ve been pitching your product or the way you’ve been approaching buyers over the course of time if what you’re doing is working.People like to buy into your stories. Click To Tweet
If what you’re doing is working and then you have this one outlier who says, “Save it, I’m not interested in that. Let’s just get down to business.” That’s not a bad thing either but it doesn’t mean you should change everything that you’re doing based on what this one buyer said. I still think story is important. I still think it’s the one thing that retailers can’t have access to. They don’t know about it. They can’t find out about it. It’s not information that they can get online unless you have your story on your website, but part of what makes your product unique is your story. Why you built it, why you created it, how did that happen? That story will resonate with consumers when they take a look at your product and they read a bit and do their due diligence. That’s going to resonate with them.
I still think a story is huge. It’s great. It’s valid. No, I don’t think that you should stop telling your story, but I do think that you and all the other Big Boxers out there have to be willing to look up when you’re in a pitch meeting and read the face of your buyer. Understand if what you’re saying is resonating with them. Is it making sense? Are they leaning towards you? Are they nodding their head or are they in the back of their chair and are their arms crossed? If that’s the case, you’ve got to change it up. Don’t push through a pitch that’s not hitting the mark. Try something new. Ask them a question, even if it’s just a random question, get them engaged. Pull them back into the conversation, but you have to look up from what you’re doing so that you can see those things happening. The question was, “If a buyer said they don’t want to hear my story, does that mean I shouldn’t tell it to any other buyer ever?” The answer is no. Stay the course and make sure that you’re looking up and reading your buyer and the cues that they’re giving you.
Buyers And Selling
Emmet had two questions and he has asked some questions before, but he’s on the path of sales and he’s getting it done. His questions are buying-related questions, which are the questions I love the most. During the sale, this is what’s happening and I want to know what I should do. Here’s question number one. Emmet had received some vendor paperwork from a buyer, which is a good sign. That means you’re progressing. They want to have an official document that has your quote on there. They’re going to be looking to get approval for you to get a vendor number and that all happens when you fill out your vendor paperwork. He filled out his vendor paperwork and he sent it in and then, crickets.
I know that I’ve been there. I have totally been there where you’re all rev to go and you’re on a timeline and you send in your vendor paperwork and then there are just crickets out there. No matter how many times you reach out to buyers, they are just not responding. His question was, “How much should I follow up with this buyer after I send them the vendor paperwork? Should I be on them all the time, every day, every hour? What’s the deal?” I told him it’s okay to ramp up your follow up once you’ve sent in your vendor paperwork because you want to ensure that it was received.Not every buyer wants to hear your story. Some of them just want to get down to business. Click To Tweet
The last thing that you want is just to play passive and think, “They’re going to get back to me with the next steps.” The whole thing goes cold and you finally get a hold of the buyer and they’re like, “We never got back to your vendor packet.” That’s not what you want to have happened. Yes, I say every four to six days I will be following up with this buyer and I would call just to find out if you receive the packet and if it is complete. Do you need anything further from me? You need to get that from the buyer. “Nope, you’re good, it’s all on us. We’re working through it. It could take X amount of time.” “Perfect. That’s what I need to hear.”
Maybe you want to ask them, “What should I expect for the next steps? What should I expect for a timeline?” Those are all good questions to ask but don’t stop until you get the confirmation that the packet was received and it’s all good. Meaning, they don’t need anything else from you. That said, that packet could sit on their desk for weeks. The next thing is they give it to their assistant, their assistant goes through it and you’re missing all kinds of things. That’s when they’re going to rapid fire you with emails. They are going to be just coming at you, “We need this, we need this, we need this.” Just be ready for that and the more you fill out vendor paperwork, the more you’re going to understand what they require and make sure that you fill it out appropriately.Don’t push through a pitch that’s not hitting the mark. Click To Tweet
Every vendor paperwork is different and you can’t know every little thing. Every retailer has their own little acronyms. You can’t know it all. If you haven’t hit us up, there’s a section on our website, TLBConsulting.com. You can go there to request our vendor prep worksheet and it’s for free. It’s a compilation of all the things that retailers have asked me for in the past. I put it all together in a spreadsheet so that when you’re starting your quest, if you fill this out for your own products, then every piece of vendor paperwork that you ever get, most likely that information will be on the sheet that you’ve already prepped out. It will make your life much easier. Not only your life, but you could literally hand the vendor paperwork to somebody else who doesn’t even know what they’re doing and your vendor prep worksheet and say, “Can you fill most of this out using this sheet?” You can even delegate it. It’s under the do it yourself section. There’s just a question and you have to answer that question and then it shoots it off to us and we’ll send you the vendor prep worksheet ASAP. It’s a good tool. Don’t hesitate to reach out and it’s free. How frequently should I be following up with the buyer after filling out the vendor agreement? Pretty frequently, four to six days, calling and making sure that they received your packet and all is well.
Last question, “Should I give a retailer a lower margin for a dropship program?” The question was, “Is that normal or is that considered normal?” I believe when I answered it I said, “I’m not sure that it’s considered normal, but it can be done.” If you’re working with a retailer and they only want to bring your product in to dropship, there’s more cost to you to pack and to ship to individual customers. You can shave your margin a little bit to accommodate for that, but here’s the caveat, don’t make the gap too wide because then it looks like you’re being punitive. “You only want to dropship my product, that’s going to cost you this.”
Remember you’re still getting a vendor number. You’re still getting your foot in the door with this retailer. Let’s not treat them badly. Let’s not treat them like we’re pissed off because we’re only drop shipping. I know that sometimes it’s hard to do that because you just want to get your products on the shelf and they’re like, “We’ll take you, put it on our website if you dropship it. What you’re saying is you’ll pop it up on your screen and I’m going to do all the work.” Yes, that’s it but you still get a vendor number. You’re still in the door with that retailer. If your product does well, it still allows you the opportunity to get on the shelf there. Give yourself a little bit of margin back to cover the labor costs of drop shipping. Just don’t be too greedy about it because if you do get that shot at being on the shelf, the gap could look too big and the retailer could take it the wrong way. Don’t be afraid to cover your costs, just don’t be too greedy.
Those are the questions that I had. We have a bunch more and we’re going to be covering those in future podcasts. I hope that each and every one of you is moving forward. Another thing I want you to watch for is we’re going to go video. What I want to do is I want to commit to a certain amount of Facebook Live events. We’ll be posting those on the website OnTheShelfNow.com. We’ll be doing those Facebook Live events through our new Facebook page, which will be On The Shelf “Now”. I’m loading in some images there. I’m excited about it because we’re going to put these out in advance so that you can plan for it.The last thing that you want is to play passive. Click To Tweet
It’s going to be the first time that we’ve ever done a series of live events that you can be on, that you can ask questions and be part of that conversation right at that moment. I’m excited about it. I’m excited to interact with all of you Big Boxers, depending on what we’re talking about and whether that resonates with you, but I want to see you there. Lookout for that list on OnTheShelfNow.com. You’ll be able to find it in the upcoming section of the website.Every vendor paperwork is different. You can’t know every little thing. Click To Tweet
By the way, we do have an On The Shelf Now Twitter account. Check that out and please follow us. Be part of the conversation on our closed group. You just type in On The Shelf “Now” and probably our Facebook page and the closed group will come up. Just hit join and then you can be part of that backstage-type conversation of the things that we talk about, that we continue the conversation. I’m looking forward to that and that’s going to heat up too after these Facebook live events. We will move the conversation off of the live event into On The Shelf Now group. I’m looking forward to our next episode. I’m looking forward to you guys plugging in and getting connected. I’m looking forward to getting your questions and the things that you’re interested in talking about, but most of all, I’m interested in seeing your products On The Shelf.