People’s Opinions of My Product Are Starting to Wear Me Down, Should I Give Up?

I’ve met tens of 1000’s of product companies over the last several years and I can’t even tell you how many times people have told me that they are worn down and frustrated with everyone’s opinions of their product. They believe in their product but then others don’t. So they get confused as to whether to keep spending money on their product and thoughts of giving up start tormenting them. At that point, they usually reach out to a ‘retail expert’ like me and ask for my opinion. And here’s what I say to them…welcome to entrepreneurship! 🙂

Starting a business is not easy…trust me I know first hand. You start out with a vision and then you put your heart out there. And then all of a sudden opinions and insults show up everywhere! What is that?? All you want to do is actualize your dream of bringing your brilliant product idea to market, but then you start questioning yourself when issues come up.

Maybe the patent lawyer screws up with your patent application or your manufacturer sends you samples that are horrible or ‘experts’ are telling you that your products suck. Bringing a product to market can be scary and confusing and frustrating and I completely get why people quit. But if I can give you any advice its that you shouldn’t quit. Hold on. Even if people are not reacting the way you hoped about your product or you are not selling as much as you had hoped – hold on.

You know conceptually that people who don’t quit tend to win. Even when all of the odds are against them. Sometimes it’s really a matter of your state of mind. Maybe you are too close to the project? Maybe you have so much anger and frustration related to your product because of how difficult it’s been that you can’t see an angle that someone else can see? Sometimes you are just one tweak away from success…remember that!

The one commonality I see of people who are not doing well with their product is their mindset. They typically live in a state of fear. They are not clear and calm and that’s when people’s opinions start getting to them. On the other hand, I can usually tell who is going to do well with their product – these people are positive and focused and won’t give up no matter what. So the real question is…what are you doing to calm your mind during this process? Are you listening to positive self help cd’s or reading good books to help you center yourself? I’m telling you…the product is not just your issue…it’s probably your state of mind as well.

Don’t believe me? How many ridiculous products are on store shelves today? Products that you just laugh at when you see them. They are everywhere!! So don’t tell me that you don’t have a shot of putting your products in stores. People do it every day! And buyers are hungrier then ever for new products, so I can’t believe someone won’t give you a shot if you really believe in your product. The trick is to price and package and come up with a really good story as to why your product should be in stores. Or maybe you figure out that if you changed the product slightly people would buy. Who knows. Obviously there is other stuff you need to do to ensure success but I’m hoping you get my point. You’ve gone this far…finish what you started!

Let me ask you a question…How mad would you be if you quit and then someone got a similar product out to market soon after? I guarantee that would make you mad! The one thing I’ve learned in entrepreneurship is that people tend to quit one step short of success. Don’t be one of those people. Keep seeking answers and you will find a way. Inquire and ask for help and if you run across negative people just smile and walk away. I’ve talked to ‘Experts’ who admitted that they were wrong about a product later. So don’t take everything for face value. Your job is to focus on what you want and find people who can help you get there. That’s it. So bottom line – don’t give up no matter what opinions come your way!

To Your Success,

Karen Waksman

P.S. If you’d like a step-by-step process that will show you exactly how to get your products into stores, click here!

Small Retailers – Selling to Small Retailers or Big Chain Stores First?

Some of you have been selling to small retailers for a while, however there are plenty of you who are still debating as to how to get started with your product. You are probably thinking, ‘Should I go after big chain stores first? Is that even possible Will a chain store even pay attention to me if I haven’t sold the product anywhere else?’ These are reasonable questions, so I thought I’d take a minute to explain the way it works at chain stores related to purchasing new products.

Chain stores are in the business of making money, so they are constantly looking for a balance between keeping products that sell consistently in their stores and finding new products that are interesting for their customer base. Their customers want access to new innovation, but the buyers would prefer to make their jobs easier by only purchasing products that they KNOW will sell.

So how does a buyer KNOW a product will sell? Well the easiest way is to show proven sales. Makes sense, right? If you’ve sold 20,000 units of your product to smaller retailers already you are probably less of a risk for a buyer then if they purchased a product that hasn’t sold anywhere before.

And its understandable! If being a buyer was your day job, wouldn’t you want to do well and only pick products that are going to do well in the stores that you are responsible for? Who wants to risk their job for picking a product that offer no guarantees? Now I’m completely simplifying the retail buying process and there are obviously other reasons a buyer chooses a product, but I’m hoping you get the point. It’s human nature – you pick the things that makes your life easier.

I guess at this point you are assuming what everyone else assumes when I tell them that buyers try and avoid risk related to purchasing products that have no proven sales. People instantly assume that you should start with small retailers. Well, here’s something else to think about… Buyers WILL test new products that have no proven sales if they think it will do well.

They do this because they still need to fulfill their customer’s need for new innovation. They can’t always just pick products based on their own needs. They have to keep testing new products in order to keep things interesting in their stores. So if you think the masses will buy your product, then going direct to chain stores is an option as well! If a buyer reviews your product, and they think it’s interesting, they will buy a small quantity of your product and will test it in some of their stores. The trick is to ensure that your product will sell in stores during the test. Either way, it’s absolutely possible to go direct to chain stores if you’ve never sold to small retailers before.

Now, professionals get mad at me for saying this to people. They think it’s wrong for me to tell people that you don’t have to have proven sales with your product before approaching chain stores because they think I am ruining your options of selling to chain stores in the future. They say you should do everything in your power to do things right…test, research, analyze, go slow, start small and grow. I get that completely but I also believe that you can’t ruin your option of selling to chain stores if you don’t do everything perfectly.

I believe this for several reasons. First of all, some products just do well once they are placed in front of the masses. Sometimes it’s such an interesting product that people will just buy. And anyhow, there are plenty of products that tanked at one retail chain and then did phenomenally well in another retailer. So there is no one particular way to go about bringing a new product to market.

Plus it really depends on your mindset. If you are committed to success and you are in a positive state of mind, you tend to explore all options and know it will all work out regardless of whether a chain store test went wrong.

Here’s another thing to consider, it takes time to sell to a large chain store retailer. It can take months or a year to get a product in their stores. Why? Because chain stores are large organizations and it takes time to get through all of the red tape. So why not go after large chain stores and small retailers all at the same time? My theory is…why can’t you have it all?

So I guess the bottom line is this…only you know what is comfortable for you and your product business. If you would rather be slow and methodical, then go after the smaller retailers first. But if you have the mindset that your product will do well regardless, then try it all! You never know! Either way, you will never truly ruin your chance of selling to a chain store if you messed up initially ie a bad test. All you have to do is be positive, be persistent, learn from your mistakes, go after another chain store, have a better test and show proof to the initial retailer that your product is now doing well. That’s the beautiful thing about persistence and a positive state of mind…you can get anything you want in life!

Food for thought…Either way, I hope this article helped!

To your success,

Karen Waksman

How to Market Your Product to Stores- Expert Interview!

Everyone always asks me how to market your product to stores. It’s a common question that comes up all of the time in my workshops and classes.

That is why I’ve asked Industry Expert Greg Mondshein of the Max Borges Agency to answer some key questions related to marketing and publicizing your product for retail!

Greg specializes in new product marketing and publicity, so I thought he’d be the perfect person to answer the following questions:

  • I am a new product company…any cost effective tips for building my brand?
  • My new product is about to hit stores…what are some strategies or best practices for driving traffic to those stores.
  • Any social media tactics that that you can suggest to help me sell more products?
  • I am a small business owner, so I’m nervous about costs to hire a company to do marketing and PR for me. What’s the range in cost for hiring an outside firm to help me?
  • When’s the best time to work with an agency verses doing the work myself?

If you’d like to hear this short but interesting interview, click here:

 

Hope you enjoy!

To your success,

 

Karen Waksman

P.S. And if you’d like to learn more about how to get your products sold at retail stores,  click here for more information!

Retail Ready Packaging – Packaging Your Product For Retail Made Easy – Free Training!

Retail MBA Presents…Packaging Your Product For Retail Made Easy!

Learn about Retail Ready Packaging!

A FREE Training Webinar that has been specifically designed for anyone who is getting stuck with packaging their product for retail!

Packaging Industry Expert Fred Schechter will be sharing best practices on how you can get your products packaged for retail stores the right way.

Here’s just some of the topics we will be discussing in this training:

1) Best practices for packaging your product for retail
2) The types of packaging available for your product type
3) How to find the best resources to help you get started with packaging

…and much more!

You will also be able to ask Fred your most pressing questions about packaging on this training webinar as well!

To learn more about Fred Schechter and the types of things we will be discussing in the webinar, we’ve actually created a short audio interview with Fred for your review! Click Here to listen now!

 

 

Or if you are just getting stuck on packaging, please join us!

This event is on July 25th, 2012 at 9am PST!

Click Here to sign up now!

About Fred Schechter: Fred has over 12 years experience as a packaging expert. His packaging has been on store shelves such as Wal Mart, Target, Toys-R-us and Sallys Beauty to just name a few!

To Your Success,

 

Karen Waksman

P.S. Click Here to sign up to the event!

OfficeMax Supplier – OfficeMax is Looking For Office Products, Consumer Electronics Products, Office Furniture and Any Other Products That OfficeMax Would Buy!!!

 

Attention Women, Minority and/or Veteran-Owned Product Companies…

 

If you want to become an OfficeMax Supplier, then I highly recommend you participate in our life-changing contest!!

This is a FREE opportunity to submit your ‘retail ready’ product to OfficeMax for a chance to win a private meeting with a buyer at an OfficeMax Invite-Only Corporate Event in Chicago on August 22nd and 23rd, 2012!

OfficeMax has over 900 Retail Locations. They are looking for Office Products, Consumer Electronics Products, Office Furniture and any other products that OfficeMax would buy!

This program is ONLY for Women and Minority-Owned Product Companies…see below for criteria.

HOW TO APPLY:

1. Create a 3-5 Minute Video About Your Product (Doesn’t have to be costly…can be created on your iPhone video recorder  or something similar. The purpose of this video is just for us to get an idea of what your product is and does)

2. Video Must Include the Following Information:

  • Your Product: Explanation What Your Product Does
  • Key Benefits and Features of Your Product
  • Packaging: Show Us What Your Packaging Looks Like in the Video
  • Pricing: Wholesale Cost of Your Product and/or Your Suggested Retail Price (just give us a general idea for now)
  • Why Your Product is Different, Unique and Special
  • Why you think you should win this contest!

3. Post Your Video in a YouTube account

4. Copy the Link to Your YouTube Video and Post it in the Comment Section at the Bottom of this Page!

5. When Posting Your Link, Use the following format: “Hey Retail MBA, here’s my submission to your OfficeMax Buyer Meeting contest: [insert the link to your YouTube video here]”

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Contest starts on July 5th, 2012 and ENDS on July 25th, 2012! So you must submit your information by midnight on July 25th, 2012!

**Winners are responsible for their own airfare/accommodations if chosen! However, if for some reason you cannot make the event, please still submit your products as there is a chance that OfficeMax will review your product. There are no guarantees but we will do our best. Event is on August 22nd and 23rd in Chicago.  We will send you details as soon as we announce winners at the end of July. Also, OfficeMax ultimately makes the final decision on the winner for this contest, so they have the ability to not choose a winner. However they truly prefer to find a winner if not two! **

Please note that the purpose of these videos is for us to get a quick idea of what your product is and does.  So please be respectful of the 3-5 minute length of the video. Also, we may ask you for additional information if necessary.

And Retail MBA is in no way a commissioned product scout or anything of the sort for OfficeMax and this contest. We are just trying to support product companies in their quest of getting their products into stores!

So just do your best and good luck!!!

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Criteria for Women and/or Minority Owned Product Businesses

To  learn more about what it means to be a Women or Minority Owned Product Company…please see criteria below! You do not need to be certified as a Women or Minority Owned Business to enter this contest.  But you may be asked to get certified if OfficMax does business with you! If you’d like to learn more about certifications, click here.

Either way, here’s what the criteria is for Women and/or Minority-Owned  Businesses:

Minority Owned Businesses (MBE)

  • A minority-owned business is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated and controlled by minority group members. “Minority group members” are United States citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native American.
  • Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals. Further, the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members.
  • A minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least 1/4 or 25% minimum of the following:
  • Asian-Indian – A U.S. citizen whose origins are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Asian-Pacific – A U.S. citizen whose origins are from Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas.
  • Black – A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
  • Hispanic – A U.S. citizen of true-born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only. Brazilians shall be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.
  • Native American – A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part. Native Americans must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or otherwise organized group of native people who are indigenous to the continental United States and proof can be provided through a Native American Blood Degree Certificate (i.e., tribal registry letter, tribal roll register number).
Women Owned Business (WBE)
  • All prospective members must provide clear and documented evidence that at least 51% or more is women-owned, managed, and controlled.
  • The contribution of capital and/or expertise by the woman business owner is real and substantial and in proportion to the interest owned.
  • The woman business owner must direct or cause the direction of management, policy, fiscal, and operational matters.
  • The woman business owner shall have the ability to perform in the area of specialty or expertise without reliance on either the finances or resources of a firm that is not owned by a woman.

To Your Success,

 

Karen Waksman

P.S. You might not have a product appropriate for this particular contest with OfficeMax, but your friends and acquaintances might! Spread the word and support your fellow entrepreneurs.

Either way, Retail MBA is on a mission to partner with  retailers to help support you.  And we are committed to continuing contests and programs such as this to help you get your products into stores.  So if you’d like to be notified about future contests and programs, please send an email to karen@retailmba.com. We will keep you posted!

Please Post Comments, Video Links and Questions Here!

Walmart Vendors – When Should I Sell My New Product to Wal-Mart?

Walmart VendorsOne purchase order from Wal-Mart can mean millions of dollars in revenue for your product business. That is why just about every product company wants to become Walmart Vendors!

But here’s the challenge with selling new products to Wal-Mart. One order from Wal-Mart can be a wonderful opportunity; however it can also be detrimental to any start-up business trying to keep up with the volume that Wal-Mart can buy!

If your product sells well in their stores, Wal-Mart buyers expect to be able to buy huge quantities from you. This may sound obvious, but guess who has to pay for the goods first prior to working with Wal-Mart? You do! You have to ‘front’ the money to manufacture and ship your products to Wal-Mart and then ultimately wait until you get paid from them. And the truth is that getting paid from Wal-Mart can take a few months…

So you really have to decide what kind of volume you can handle in your product business. This will ultimately help you determine whether or not it makes sense to sell to Wal-Mart as a new product company.

How much quantity will a Wal-Mart buyer buy? Well, it really depends on your product and how much they believe in the success of your product in their stores. But one purchase order can be a million dollars easy.

Here’s something else to think about. Wal-Mart buyers are equally concerned with new product companies being able to handle their purchase orders as well. The last thing a Wal-Mart buyer wants to do is to take a new product company out of business. That is why Wal-Mart buyer’s will ask you about your ability to sell your products in mass to them. And if a Wal-Mart buyer does not believe that you can handle their quantities, they will not buy.

So…would I approach Wal-Mart with a new product first or sell to other chain stores prior to approaching them?

Personally, I would sell products to other chain stores first and then sell to Wal-Mart. By selling to other chain stores first, I gain traction in the marketplace and develop my brand. I also help increase revenue for my new product business which will ultimately help me get funding for my huge Wal-Mart purchase order!

To your success,

Karen Waksman

How to Package Your Product for Retail

Would you like to know how package your product for retail?If so, you will love this short training segment on the subject!

In this training, I discuss how packaging can make or break a major retail buyer’s decision on purchasing products from you.

I hope this helps!

How to Package Your Product for Retail

To get access to an entire 6 Part FREE video training series, please enter your name and email address in the box next to this video!

Also, if you like this content, you will probably LOVE our Retail MBA Training Program. Click Here to learn more!

Either way, I would love your comments and/or feedback below.

To Your Success,

Karen Waksman

how to package your product for retail

Retail Distributors – How Much Do They Charge?

Retail DistributorsPeople always ask me how much retail distributors charge for representing their products when trying to sell to retailers. It’s a common question that comes up all of the time in my workshops and classes.

And it’s a legitimate question! You want to know if you can afford to even with work with a retail distributor. Especially for companies who are already dealing with tight margins on the retail level.

So what’s my answer? Well, here’s a quick audio that explains how distributors typically charge. Just click on the following link:

Retail Distributors

Distributor Fees

To Your Success,

Karen Waksman

P.S. If you like this content or you have any questions, please comment below! I love feedback. Thanks!

Product Distribution – How Do I Get a Distributor to Represent Me?

Product DistributionIf you’ve ever tried to get a distributor to represent your product, then you know how frustrating it can be. They don’t return your calls or you can never find the right contact person, etc. Product distribution can take a while!

And although I typically try and avoid working with distributors when selling to retailers, sometimes it’s a must! If a buyer tells me that I have to work with a distributor for instance, then I usually comply and find a distributor. What can I do? If I want to sell to that retailer then I have to follow protocol.

So how do I get a distributor to represent me? Well, I’ve actually outlined one of my favorite tricks in the audio recording below. It’s short and to the point and gives you advice that you can utilize today with your own product!

Just click on the following link to listen to the audio:

Getting a Distributor to Represent You

To Your Success,

Karen Waksman

P.S. If you’d like this information and would like to learn more about working with distributors and getting your products into retailers, then you might like the Retail MBA Program that we have developed on the subject.

Selling Products to Retailers – How Long Does it Take?

Selling Products to RetailersA student of mine called me the other day because she was frustrated about selling products to retailers. She had the right product and all of the resources at hand to make things happen, but still nothing! So she called me to figure out why. And as I asked her a series of questions, I realized that it wasn’t what she was doing; it was her expectation of how long it should take to get her product into chain stores! At that point, I knew I should probably write an article about this explaining the process a little further.

Getting a product into a chain store can be a slow and frustrating process. It takes time, persistence and the right product. However, the good news is that if you get a test order from just one chain store, and that test order goes well, the return on investment can be huge!

So you will have to put in extra hours initially to get that first purchase order from a chain store and to ensure that your product sells well during that test. In the meantime, be prepared to be rejected by buyers. It’s just the way that it goes with chain stores. But the good news is that all you need is one chain store success story to catapult your business!

So going back to the original question…how long does it take to get your products into chain stores? It’s not an easy question to answer. Sometimes it takes months and months and even a year to get products into chain stores, sometimes it takes no time at all. The real questions you should be asking yourself are:

1) How committed am I to getting a chain store buyer to buy?
2) Am I willing to continue to reach out to chain stores until I get one of them to buy my product?
3) Am I willing to expand my reach and find other potential retail buyers to work with?
4) Am I willing to get support from an industry expert if I feel stuck along the way?
5) Am I willing to make adjustments to my product or packaging if this is the way a buyer will be willing to buy my product?

It’s just like everything else in life. If you are committed and believe in something, then things happen in your favor. If you do nothing, you get nothing. Therefore, if you say to yourself I will do whatever it takes to win, then you will! So go out and approach those chain store buyers! And quit worrying about time frames…all you should be focusing on is that you will do whatever it takes to win!

To Your Success,

Karen Waksman

P.S. Was this video helpful? I’d love any feedback or comments :).

P.S.S. If you’d like to learn exactly how to approach, pitch and sell to retail buyers, check our our Retail MBA Training Program! This is the most comprehensive course available today on the subject of selling to retailers!