So you’ve had the epiphany, you’ve road-tested your product and you are only one order away from world domination. If only you could find a way to get your entrepreneurial foot in the door of that elusive retailer. Here are my top tips on how to get busy buyers interested in your wares:
- I) TARGET the right person. You would be surprised (or maybe not) by the amount of messages that people forget to pass on or the amount of letters that go missing in the post room of even a medium-sized business. Do a bit of research beforehand. Don’t let your beautifully packaged hard work go to waste and make sure your stuff is sent to the person who makes the decisions.
- II) BE CREATIVE Think creatively about how you get the buyers attention. E-mails get stuck in inboxes, phone calls ignored & paperwork swamps desks. Consider sending in a sample of the product that you are so proud to the right person (see Tip 1) or an attractive looking invite to view the collection. It’s much harder for a buyer to forget something that they have seen in the physical.
- III) BE SUCCINCT Have a document ready which gets across your product, what makes it unique and why you think it would work in your targeted retailer in a one pager format. Pay attention to which brands or products your collection sits alongside. It is true that the simplest ideas are often the best and if you can’t get your message across in one punchy hit, consider whether it is actually going to be easy to grab buyers’ -and ultimately customers’- attention.
- IV) DELIVER SUBSTANCE Have the substance to back up your claims. Understand how retail “ready” you are. In an already jam-packed schedule, for a buyer to put the time aside to seriously consider your proposition, it is worth ensuring that you have the infrastructure in place to handle an order.
- V) THREE QUESTIONS Based on the above, cover these 3 questions as priority: What happens if your product succeeds –how quickly can you get back in to stock? What happens if your product fails –what support can you offer the buyer? How will you make sure that your product is a success –what after-sales support can you offer? You may only get one opportunity to pitch –buyers don’t usually hear brands twice- so if you aren’t confident in even one aspect of this criteria, consider waiting until you are.
- VI) SELL THE BENEFIT TO THE BUYER – In today’s competitive environment, you have to assume that a good idea is one that others have already thought about. Why should this buyer take your particular product over another? Who stands to benefit most –you or the retailer? Way up the odds and make sure that you have a compelling argument to win the buyer over on the benefits (to them) of plugging your product in their stores.
- VII) BE PERSISTENT – If you genuinely believe that your target retailer is missing a trick by not getting to grips with your idea, then assuming you have done all of the above, be tenacious. Every season, buyers are targeted with launching new product and each year brings with it a fresh budget for buying teams to award innovative ideas. Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 seasons to wear a buyer down but if your proposal is strong, it only takes one meeting for things to change very quickly.
Good luck and don’t give up!
Author: Beth Pettet - Rise Committee Member & Menswear Fashion Buyer, John Lewis