So you've invented, or have become an agent for, the next great gadget or gizmo and you're sure it'll be a hit. In fact, you've got boxes of inventory stored in every room of your house that you're just itching to start selling. So how can you reach the legions of consumers you're sure will want to buy it? Or have you even thought that far ahead. Have you convinced yourself the product is so amazing that you won’t have to sell it at all – it’ll simply walk off the shelves. If only it was that simple!
Having the idea is one thing - putting it into production and getting it to market is a different thing altogether and means you have to be a designer, a buyer, a serious negotiator, a logistics expert, a business guru and a marketing genius. Simple right? Thankfully, while it is essential for you to keep all these things in mind when going through the process from start to finish, there is help out there that will fill in the gaps you simply aren’t equipped to deal with yourself. Dark Horse for instance!
So assuming you’ve gone through the steps of the product development phase – ie. designing the product, sourcing a company to build your product, a logistics company to transport your product, a location to store your product etc – and you’re now ready to start selling it, here are the simple steps you must take to ensure your product becomes as successful as you know it should be:
CREATE A SALES PLAN
I can hear you now saying not another bloody plan!!!! But like all plans they put your ideas to paper and give you something to benchmark your activity and success against. Without it you are steering a ship without a rudder and will not arrive at the destination you set out for.
Your plan needs to:
Define Your Market - as accurately as possible so you have a deeper understanding of exactly who you're selling to.
What Channels You Will Use To Sell - through your own website, in partnership with on-line retailers, on shelves in-store etc
What Are Your Sales Goals - be realistic about how many sales you're likely to make and don't anticpate it being a 100 units in week one.
Target Marketing - your sales plan should also include the strategy for reaching your target markets - at the outset, once up and running and when established. Will you advertise, use social media, promotions, trade media, blogging etc
Timelines - assign dates to different phases of the plan and work as strictly as possible to these dates. They give you focus and allow you plan for the next phase early. Don't forget this can be fluid so that if things aren't going the way you expected you can react and reorganise yourself quickly
Have a Budget - you must have a plan for how much you wish to spend on marketing your product. Unfortunately, whether you do it yourself or enlist the help of an expert, your product is not going to find it's own way to the end-user so having a budget to invest in promoting it is essential
So now that you have your product and you have your Sales Plan in place – what next?
Be prepared for some extensive leg work in getting those initial sales under your belt and targeting end-users at first is the best option. It will give you confidence that there's a demand for your product and will also create referenceable customers that you can contact for product feedback before you approach bigger retailers.
There are many ways to reach your end user - you can reach your market through your own website, on Social Media, at Trade Shows, at events relevant to your market. Don’t forget good old face to face interaction still holds a lot of power with most people so don’t forget to put a face to your product also.
Be prepared to receive feedback with an open mind and with the understanding you may need to make changes to the product or the pricing if necessary.
Refine these details before approaching your next market – retailers (on-line or in-store). You'll probably start with small, independently owned shops. It's a good idea to start with them before hitting larger shops because it's easier to get in touch with the direct decision-maker, and they're more inclined to take on new items to differentiate themselves from larger shops. Be armed with the right information when approaching these discussions. Dark Horse can help you with this.
Once you’ve cracked this nut and you have a proven sales record it’s time to expand into bigger markets. Note that when dealing with bigger retailers, the sale is just the beginning of the deal. Handling fulfilment, returns, rollbacks, space fees, advertising and more will require strengthening your business's infrastructure and resources. Again Dark Horse can help you.
Having a great idea is only the start of a much more complex set of tasks to bring any product to market. Whether you're the inventor or a distributor, having the right advice early on in the process can make for a much more successful launch and give your product the start is deserves.
Dark Horse is here to help with advice or practical support. Get in touch