One of the challenges of taking your product to retail is getting that professional packaging which can cost you as much as $10,000 to $15,000. It can be very heavy on the pocket, but then you can’t very well do it with substandard packaging because in retail, packaging is very important. So what do you do? Learn the answer to this as well as other questions that come to mind when you’re taking your product to retail and putting it on the shelf.
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What To Do If You Can’t Afford Professional Packaging + More #questionsanswered
It’s a question and answer podcast. We have four questions that we’re going to answer. These had been building up. These aren’t in any order. They’re not specific questions. They don’t follow a category. They’re just random questions that have come through our system and I wanted to address them. One is pretty relevant because I’ve been going to a lot of trade shows lately. I’m anxious to answer that one. I know that when these questions come in, it’s important to get to them because I know that a lot of you are having the same questions as well. Hopefully, if you’re having any of these questions, we will get to the bottom of them. Before we get to that though, I want to make sure that you are taking advantage of all the social and online opportunities that we have to get connected. We have a Facebook page, On The Shelf Now. We have our Facebook closed group, On The Shelf “Now” Closed Group. Hopefully, you’ll like the Facebook page and join the group. We also have a Twitter, @OnTheShelfNow and we have our podcast website, OnTheShelfNow.com. Our website gives you a specific opportunity to check out a couple of things.
You can take a look at our What’s Up Next page because that’s going to tell you when the next Facebook Live event is coming up and what we’re going to be talking about so that you can make sure that you’re on the On The Shelf Now Facebook page when that happens. It’d be great to see you there live. It’d be great to hear some of your questions right at that moment and conversate with you. Also, on there are transcripts of all the latest podcasts that we’ve done. We’re trying to get to our older podcasts as well. There are fifteen or so podcasts that have been transcribed. You can go in, read those, and then also comment. Let’s get some discussion going about the topics that we’re talking about. Take advantage of all the different places that you can get connected with On The Shelf. Also let us know what you’re doing, how it’s going, what you’re worried about, what you’re wondering about and how is it going getting connected with buyers and pitching your product.
Why The Buyer Won’t Respond After A Great Call
Let’s get to our first question. This one says, “Why won’t the buyer respond to me after a great call?” A little context here. I know I’ve been in this situation and you may have been in this situation. What we’re talking about here is you finally getting the buyer on the phone. It seems like you’re having a great conversation, a good dialogue, you’re introducing your product. You seem to be getting some back and forth from the buyer and some feedback. You then get off the phone but you can’t get the buyer to respond to an email or to get back on the phone. They’ve just gone dark on you. That’s the scenario and that’s what we’re going to talk about. One of the things I don’t know here is at the end of the call, did the caller create any next steps? Meaning, was there any type of, “This is what’s going to happen next?” Did you ask the buyer what would happen next? That’s crucial. Anytime you get off the phone, you always want to know what comes next. Either that you’re going to tell the buyer what you’re going to do next because they might have asked you for some pricing or they might have asked you for some samples.
You’re going to reiterate to that buyer, “These are my action steps. This is what I’m going to do. I’m going to follow up with you and give you this.” Once you say that, as part of your commitment or as part of you trying to get a commitment from the buyer, you should also ask the buyer, “What’s next on your end?” Once you get these things, what’s going to be next on your end? That might give the buyer the opportunity to tell you, “I am slammed. We’re probably not going to do anything with this for the next two, three, four months.” When the buyer is not responding to you, you can understand that there’s a gap. That he or she is doing something else. I spoke to a buyer who said, “You can send me samples now but if I were you, I would wait and send them in October when we’re reviewing this account or this category.” That was my cue to wait because I don’t want to send samples and have them get lost in the shuffle of six months or so until they get the chance to review this category. I waited and I sent those samples. That’s important.
If a buyer’s not calling you back, it’s because probably there was nothing specific laid down about what you’re going to do. Most likely you didn’t ask what’s next from the buyer’s perspective. Lastly, you might not have asked for a commitment either, “Are you interested in this product? Do you think it’s going to do well at your retailer? If so, what should we do next?” If you would have asked those things, the buyer probably would have told you what’s coming up next and how long this would take. You’d be in a little bit better position when you’re following up. If you don’t know those things and you’re following up each week, that could get annoying. The buyer could get irritated and put your email on block right now. To recap, if the buyer is not getting back to you, most likely you didn’t close that conversation with next steps. If you’re about to have a conversation with a buyer, make sure that you close it with next steps. Make sure you close it with a timeline from the buyer on what comes next on their end.
What To Do If You Can’t Find The Right Buyer
Question number two, what do you do if you can’t find the right buyer? Maybe you have a groundbreaking product but no buyers are taking accountability for it. You talked to several buyers and they were like, “I don’t know if that fits in my category. I don’t know who the buyer would be.” Then that’s where they leave it and they hang up on you. You’re reaching out to buyers and they write back and say, “This is not in my category,” but they give you nothing after that. They don’t even tell you what to do next or who it might be. Most major retailers have a portal on their website where you can submit new products. If you can’t find out who the right buyer is, I would submit your product through that portal. What it does is it goes to a committee, they’d take a look at it and they decide who the right buyer to send that product to is. The buyer doesn’t get the chance to say to you, “It’s not me.” The committee sends it to them and they have to review it and give you some answer. If it’s a smaller retailer and they don’t have a portal, get ahold by phone of a buyer.When the buyer is not responding to you, there's a gap or he or she is doing something else. Click To Tweet
Let them know what your dilemma is, “I have a product. I think it would be great for your retailer but I’m having trouble finding out who would be the right buyer. Can I send it to you via email and can you tell me who the right buyer or category would be?” Once you get their commitment, if you can send it to them, they will tell you at least what the category is, they’ll do it. They’re not going to ignore you once you send. I’ve done that a bunch of times where I couldn’t find the right buyer. I found somebody and I got them on the phone and I said, “I’m struggling to find a buyer that matches up with this item. If I send it to you, can you give me at least a category and then I’ll find the buyer from there?” If there’s not a portal available, if there’s not a place on their website where you can submit new items, then try to get ahold of any buyer by phone. This is not by email. You have to talk to them by phone and let them know what your dilemma is. Ask them if you can send it to them so that they could tell you what the right category is.
What To Do If You Can’t Afford Professional Packaging
Number three, “What if I can’t afford professional packaging? I want to take my product to retail. I think it’s going to do great in retail, but professional packaging is $10,000, $15,000 to get the packaging done and it’s not in my budget right now.” That’s hard because you can’t go. We can’t take your product to retail with substandard packaging. We simply cannot show it to a buyer with photographs that you took on your iPhone and handwritten packaging. It’s not going to work. As much as you want to do it yourself, you’re not an expert at it. In retail, packaging is very important. What do you do? My suggestion is that you increase online. You increase and put your energy into Amazon. You increase and put your energy into Jet or Walmart. If you’re a seller, you don’t have to have packaging. You don’t have to have professional packaging. You could just have a black box or brown box with the UPC on it and maybe some lettering that tells what it is because the customer’s already bought it. I would put everything, all your energy into online, into increasing your online sales so that you can bank enough money to call up Emily Page at Pearl Resourcing and ask her to do your packaging. That’s what I would do. Put your energy into online where the customer makes their decision with your words, your copy, your images but not your packaging. Once you’ve banked enough money to go for that, then go for it.
How To Get Buyers To Stop By Your Booth At Trade Shows
Last question, “How do I get the buyer to stop by my booth at a trade show?” This was what I was telling you. I was excited to answer this one because I’ve been to a lot of trade shows lately. This is a huge question. First and foremost, get yourself to an ECRM session where you don’t have to get buyers to come by your booth. You’re guaranteed appointments that the buyers are going to come to. If you’re going to trade shows and you’re struggling to get people to stop by your booth, go to an ECRM session. Don’t stop, go right now to ECRM.MarketGate.com. Find the session that’s right for you and start doing some research on that. This is guaranteed people. You don’t have to rope them in. You don’t have to connect with them ahead of time. You don’t have to send them emails. ECRM does all the heavy lifting there for you. All you have to do is go and pitch your product and work hard at the session.
First, how do I get buyers to stop by my booth? Go to an ECRM Session. Secondly, let’s say you already have some trade shows booked and paid for. You’re going to the Houseware Show in Chicago or you’re going to some other smaller regional trade show and you have a 10×10 booth or whatever it is. Maybe you’re going to Hong Kong Toy Show and you are locked and loaded so you can change that. It’s going to depend a little bit on how much time you have. It’s going to depend a little bit on how much connections with buyers that you’ve already made. If there’s still enough time, and by time I mean maybe 60 days, and you’ve already made some inroads with some buyers, it’s important that you reach out to them and ask them if they’re going to this particular trade show that you’re going to be at. If they are, here is your booth number. You would like to set an appointment to see them if you have enough time. If there’s not enough time, most of these buyers are already going to be booked. If there’s enough time and you’ve already been reaching out to some buyers, it’s time to reach out to them. Send them a postcard. Let them know where your booth is, your booth number, what you’re going to be doing there, and why they need to come by. Then ask to set an appointment with them.In retail, packaging is very important. Click To Tweet
Don’t say, “If you could come by, that would be great.” That’s not what you’re wanting. What you need is an appointment. If they get back to you and say, “We’re just walking the booth. We’re not giving appointments. What day will you be in my section of the trade show?” I know that you might be thinking, “Aren’t these trade shows just a big hall?” No, most big trade shows like Fancy Food or International Housewares Show or the National Hardware Show or APEX or CMET. There are multiple halls and buyers try to walk to different halls on different days because that’s all they can do. They can’t make it to multiple halls on the same day. It’s important if it’s a big trade show to ask, “This is where my booth in. It’s in the north hall. When are you going to be walking that particular section?” If they say, “I’ll be there on Thursday,” “I will look for you on Thursday.” Then what I do, because I’m a little bit of the best, is on Thursday morning, if I have the buyers cell phone, I’ll shoot him a quick text and say, “I’m looking forward to seeing you stop by our booth number 22057 because I know you’re going to be in this hall.” Another reminder of who you are, where you are, and that you know they’re going to be walking in that area. That’s what I would do if you have enough time and you’ve already made some buyer inroads.
What if you’re going to this trade show cold? You don’t know any buyers, you don’t have any appointments, you haven’t been talking to anybody and now you’re running out of time. That’s bad. Don’t do that. We have several podcasts on trade show prep, go listen to those. If you want to talk to me, reach out and let’s talk about trade show prep. Never buy, pay for a trade show that you don’t know or don’t have any inkling of who’s going to be there, and you don’t have any ability to set appointments. It’s a waste of money. Let’s say that’s what’s happened to you when you didn’t know and this is your first time. What are you going to do now? Let’s say it’s coming up next week. You have to create your trade show pitch. If you’ve been listening to podcasts, you’ve heard me talk about these enough times. A trade show pitch is something that gets people intrigued, “We’re killing bugs naturally.” You could say, “We found a way to keep 58% more of your carbonation in your soda overnight.” Those are statements that have to get a response back from somebody that’s not, “No, thank you” or “No, I’m not interested.” Those responses can’t go with that.
When you’re standing out in front of your booth and if you don’t have any appointments set and this is your first time, you’re going to have to be on your feet. You’re going to have to be out in front of your booth and you’re going to have to stop people and talk to them. You’re going to have to physically, and when I say physically, I’m not talking about grabbing ahold of anybody, throwing people to the ground, or dragging them into your booth. No, so get that out of your head. I’m talking about standing in front of somebody and say, “How’s it going? Do you do any of this? Over here, we’re doing that. Do you want to come and see?” You have to ask them, “Do you want to come to see a demo? Do you want to come to check this out?” It’s important. That’s the only way you’re going to get people into your booth. You have to stand in front of them, give them a small pitch, and then invite them into your booth to see a demo or get more information or scan their bench. That’s the way you have to do it.
For some people that’s uncomfortable and so you’re going to have to get over that. You’re going to have to get over your shyness because this is your product. This is your chance. You paid for this space. If you don’t do it, you’re going to be mad at the trade show and somebody is going to say, “Do you go to trade shows?” Let’s say you contact me and we’re talking through what you’ve done and I asked you, “Are you interested in going to a trade show?” You’re like, “I’ve been to a trade show and it was a waste of time. It was a waste of money.” That’s not it. It’s not a waste of time and a waste of money. You probably wasted the time and the money because you didn’t either know what to do. You’re not willing to get out there, pitch your product, stand in front of people and let them know what you’re all about. Trade show sales are hard, and you’re going to be tired, and you’re going to be worn out. The good thing is there are only two, three days.
Get out there. Stop people and say, “Do you know what we’re doing over here? Do you want to come in? Take a look, have a demo. Let me demo this for you. Let me show you what we’re doing.” A lot of people, when they’re invited, they have the difficulty of saying no and they’ll come in. If your demo is a wow, what you need to be is you need to figure out how to have a wow demo, then they’re going to be intrigued. Lastly, if you’re going blind to this trade show, make sure that you rent a lead retrieval machine. Everybody that comes into your booth, you need to scan them. That’s the fastest, easiest way to pick up leads. If you’re trying to get their card and write on the back of it and try to remember who they were, you’re going to struggle, especially if you’re just by yourself or there’s just two of you. Get the lead retrieval machine. It’s expensive, $500 or so but it’s going to be well-worth it in the end when you get downloaded a CSV file with the notes that you took with everybody that you talked to, with everybody that you scanned.
That is some real leads that you get to follow up with. I would highly recommend that you get the lead retrieval machine. Trade show-wise, if you have some time, try to set appointments. If you’ve already been speaking to buyers, try to utilize that and see if they’re going to go and set some appointments. If you can set appointments, come up with your trade show pitch. It should be short, and it should be in a way that creates a question, “We’ve just made composting electric,” or “We can compost your dinner scraps in three hours.” There’s nothing that you can say to that. You can’t say “No, thank you” because what are you saying, “No, thank you” to? Everybody’s going to wonder, “What do you mean you can compost my dinner scraps in three hours? What about chicken bones?” “Yes, we can compost those.” There is no, “What do you mean?” “Come here, let me show you what we’re talking about. Let me show you what this machine is. Let me show you how it works.”Your trade show pitch should be short and should be in a way that creates a question the buyer wants an answer to. Click To Tweet
If you don’t know how to come up with that pitch, if you don’t know how to create a wow demo, contact us and we will help you create a pitch. We will help you create the wow demo. If you have a product that is able to be demoed, we will help you create that wow demo. Don’t wait. If you have trade shows coming up and you need help, call us. We’ll help you. Those are the four questions. Why won’t the buyer respond to me after a great call? Remember, you’ve got to ask what the next steps are. You’ve got to tell them what you’re going to do next. What do you do if you can’t find the right buyer? Remember, go to their portal, see if you can put your products through the portal or find a buyer that you can talk to that might tell you if you send them your info, tell you who the right buyer is. What if I can’t afford pro packaging? Go and make online everything right now on Amazon, Walmart, and Jet. Drive your sales through online so you can make enough money to get your packaging done.
Then lastly, how do I get buyers to stop by my booth? We covered that in as much detail as we can. If you have questions about any of these, reach out to us. Thank you so much. If you’re enjoying the podcast, which I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people that the podcast is helping, if you’re one of those people, please reach out to us and let us know so that we can use that information and understand what people are liking about the podcast, so we can do more of that. People who are interested in the podcast, we can let them know why people listen. Please connect with us. You can go to Facebook and go to our page which is On The Shelf Now. You can go to our close group On The Shelf “Now” Close Group. You can reach out to us on Twitter, @OnTheShelfNow It’s been great to connect with you. I hope everything is going wonderful for you. I hope you’re on the brink of a huge breakthrough. I’m looking forward to the next time that we talk. Until then, I’m looking forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.