How to sell your product to a “big box” store
Introducing New Products
Why is it that so many new products fail on the market? Usually many reasons. Companies often are so in love with their new product they fail to do their research or worse, ignore what the research tells them. Pricing or distribution channels are wrong. Maybe the advertising doesn’t communicate to the target audience and if it does, maybe it’s not the right message.
Successful new product launches result from a long process of research and solving problems BEFORE the launch date. In fact, for the best results I learned that it’s best to do your own legwork and gather the “big box” buyer’s contact information and present your product yourself! Getting straight to the buyer and bypassing the gatekeepers is the key!
Preparing for Market
Other than the actual quality of the product, many other factors can determine the marketing success of a new product. First, an added perceived value can be achieved by packaging the product differently or bundling a service and presenting it in a glossy, high quality pictorial brochure, just be sure you have an electronic copy as well to share with those buyers that prefer to support the green initiatives. Remember, how the product is packaged has a big effect on the target audience and how it is perceived before, during and after the purchase.
Finally, consider the ever so important “product placement.” Depending on where the product will be sold and placed can vary greatly. If the new product is sitting on a shelf among multiple competing products, a cool or professional appearance may be needed to gain attention. On the other hand, if most sales are made on the Internet, the box the product comes in doesn’t matter as much, what will matter is the visual. Be sure to use audio, video, high quality images of the product. The customer may have already been sold on buying the merchandise, but poor representation could dissuade them. This includes the website. If you do not have your own website, be “picky” when it comes to where your product will be marketed online. Do your homework, does the website have a good reputation, what are their website analytics (hits, traffic, abandoned carts, etc.). A powerful website is a key marketing tool of “packaging” when selling online products.
To sum it up – product packaging is an important element to consider before going to market. It can alter the way a YOUR is perceived by customers.
Determine your market
Nothing spells disaster like not knowing or having identified your target audience (the sooner you know this information the better). Market research does more than confirm your “gut feeling,” it validates that the product has the opportunity to be successful.
For example, I knew a man a few years ago. He was an investor that had made millions of dollars investing in inventors and startup companies; you would think he would know all about launching new products. One day he had an idea for a new educational game, applied for a patent, and produced a prototype.
Without doing any marketing research, he sent the prototype overseas to have the game manufactured. A few months later he received his bright shiny new games, all packaged and ready to hit the store shelves of retailers like Walmart. He called a few buyers and asked to make appointments.
Can you guess what happened? Walmart was one of the first that hit him with the bomb shell of “not knowing” his target market. He walked into Walmart and presented the new game without knowing his target audience. Because he did not do his research and was unprepared with any message or game plan regarding the marketing strategy of his game, he missed the opportunity to get his foot into a “big box” retailer and more than likely any other opportunities in the future. This failure cost the investor thousands of dollars and his reputation with the “big box” store.
There are marketing tales a mile long about companies who announce a new product only having to re announce when the product lags behind in manufacturing. The result is loss of credibility, loss of sales, and another failure. In the end, BEFORE beginning any of the processes be sure to ask yourself:
- What is my product (Is it something new? Determine early if what you have is a niche product/ service?)
- Who will by my product and why? (What does the market research indicate for the chance of success to the targeted audience? Should it be expanded, narrowed down?)
- Do I have the right outlet and/or contacts for my product to be recognized? (i.e. Is this outlet the place for my product? Which works better brick and mortar, online or both?)
- Will the market bear my product? (i.e. Is the market already saturated with similar items?)
- Are all the elements of the process coordinated?
- Is production on the same time schedule as the promotion?
- Will the product be ready when you announce it?
- What is the timeframe to market? (This should be in the Project Plan. Set a timeframe for the roll out and stick with it. Miss it and invite failure.)
In the end it’s wise to do your marketing research BEFORE you jump in and find out that the market isn’t quite ready or if there’s simply no market at all!