I Found a Product …Now help me sell it!
You have always wanted to start your own business and now you’ve done it. Yeah!! After weeks of agonizing over what to sell, you finally found your product – congratulations! Now what?
In this blog we talk a lot about ideas to start a business as an entrepreneur with little or no capital. Today, we want to spend some time showing you how to start selling your products.
Who is this article for?
If you are a large organization with lots of money or one man operation with funds from your rich uncles – this article is not for you.
This article is for the person or small group that is trying to start a business with little money and no idea what the hell they are doing!
I have several degrees but I’m not a marketing expert. Books have been written and a lot of people have studied and have many different approaches to sell products, so if you want can go read any number of books to get expert advice on this.
I don’t care, how do I get sales for my product?
Ok, so now that you have your product, how do you get sales? How can you be sure you will make money and not loose your investment?
The short answer is: you don’t know. There is risk involved. So get comfortable with being uncertain and taking risks – but don’t be reckless in taking too much risk. Its tricky, I know.
Learn to assess risk
Risk is anything that can cause you to fail. You have to think about these possible failure points and do what you can to reduce the likelihood of it happening.
One way to assess this risk is to see if anyone else is selling what you plan to sell and how well they are doing. There are many other ways you can assess risk, more info here.
Identify your market
Next identify your buyers: who do you plan to sell to? (Don’t just say anyone).
You have to identify the characteristics of the person who is most likely to buy your item and that will be your market, if others come along – great, but identify your target market first – and do it early.
Here is an example: say I was in PriceMart shopping and I found a good deal on Jergens lotions and I think I can resell it and make a decent profit off it. So I have identified my product as Jergens lotion. How do I figure out who my market is?
Here’s what I would do: before I go crazy buying up all the Jergens lotion in the store. I would go through this process:
First, I would assess how risky this product is. I would ask myself the following questions:
- Would I buy or use this product myself? If I won’t use it I probably I won’t be motivated in selling it.
- Is there a demand for this product? – The fact that almost everyone uses lotion make me feel fairly safe that it has demand
- Can I easily find supply of this product? Since I am buying at PriceMart then I am bound by the price there. I would have to find another supplier just in case one day PriceMart runs out. I would note as a risk my dependence on PriceMart’s supply and price point.
- How will I get this to clients? At this point, I don’t know yet but I’m ok with that for now. I note it as another risk.
Ok, but who will actually buy from me?
A big question. Who am I going to sell it to? You need to profile your potential buyer. This can be by gender, income, interests, age etc…
We’ll go back to my example, the first thing I would do is hang around the checkout line for a bit and see if anybody else is buying Jergens lotions and also to form a profile of the buyer. Turns out the people buying all tend to be women roughly from early 20s to 40s. I would check out other supermarkets too – not in a creepy way, but just paying a little bit more attention than usual.
Research your product
If you are gonna sell something you need to know all about the thing you are selling. Research it.
So in my case I would go to www.jergens.com to learn about the product and also to see if there are any opportunities to buy in bulk direct from the manufacturer to mitigate against depending on only PriceMart. And while I’m there, I would check out the kind of people they market to and what do I see …hmm pictures of women and even video of women talking about the product.
Starting to look like women interested in skin care would be my target market. To confirm this I would do some more research with people I have access to by asking my friends and family. I would probably say something like: “ Hey Pam, which kind of lotion do you buy?” She might come back with a long list that may or may not include Jergens. It doesn’t matter.
You use the question to find out one thing: does Pam buy lotions or not? If she does you can create a category of buyer based on her profile and file that away. I would ask a number of different people of varying age groups as well. You can now form a target market based on the answers you get.
Awesome! now how do I get my product in front of buyers?
Where to find the people in your market is a big challenge. The one reason you want to know where to find your target audience is so that you can get your products in front of them.
So continuing on my Jergens example. Here I am having bought a bunch of Jergens lotions, I know I am targeting women between the ages of 18 to 49 ( just my quick guestimate) and now I need to sell it. How the hell am I gonna do that?
Setup a stall- quickest but most unpleasant way to sell
The quickest way to sell is to pedal your wares in high traffic areas. By doing so you are hoping that members of your audience will be among the many people who will see your product and be compelled to buy. So for example in Stony Hill where I’m from, there is a very busy town centre with lots of people selling already. I could set up a stall somewhere and sit out there letting the products advertise themselves as people walk by. This is a common way and fairly easy to do given Jamaica’s laid back business laws. But unfortunately, I am not one to sit and wait for people to pass me on the street to buy. Nothing is wrong with that, but its just not something I would enjoy doing. So I have to figure something else out. If this is ok with you, then this is the fastest way to sell in Jamaica.
If not selling in the streets then where?
If you are like me and have no desire to sell on the streets then you can
- consider getting your own shop
- rent a kiosk in a busy mall
- sign up for a booth at special events/shows
All of the above are added expense though. If you don’t want to have a big overhead until you verify that the product will make enough profit then there is another way.
The first thing you have to do is think back to your target market. Where are the people in your market going? what are the activities they do regularly? Where can you find them in large numbers?
In my Jergens example: my target audience is women 18-49. I might break that down some more to smaller target groups later on but for now I’m working with this range.
So to target this demography, I have to figure out where they go. The idea here is to look for non- competing service providers who supply this group of people. I’m looking for a service provider or other product that I can pair with my product without direct competition. So basically I need to find someone is who is not selling what I’m selling (i.e not selling lotions) but can benefit from what I’m selling.
Benefit from other people’s audiences
Try to find a service provider whose audience would also be interested in your product. Hmm, turns out women go to hairdressing salons a lot in Jamaica for the sole purpose of having their hair and body look good. Seems to me that a product that is a lotion promising to make their skin look good would be a great compliment to that. I think I just found a great non competing service provider! Yeah!
So if I can partner with a hairdressing salon then I can benefit from their audience which is also members of my target market and get my products in front of their customers without competing with them. Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?
Find a complimentary service that is a fit for your product
The idea here is to find a good fit. Make sure the product or service is complimentary. For example if you are a wedding planner it might be good to build a connection with a photographer rather than a smart phone vendor. See what I mean?
So approach complimentary service providers and find a way to align with them. In my example I would approach hairdressing salons and make an offer that will provide some benefit to them. Something like offering to supply lotion to the salon at some frequency per month or give a commission on the sales or something like that. Always encourage the owner of the business to partner with by providing something of value to them but make sure you are profiting as well.
Finally, getting customers to buy
Ok , so now I assessed my risk, I defined my target audience, I researched my product and I partnered with a non-competing service. How do I actually get my products in the hands of customers and get their money in my pocket?
So the short answer is distribution. How do you actually get them to see your product? You will have to decide on the most effective way to display. Now that you have an audience, you need to assess the best way to show them what you have.
If I were selling fine jewelry, for example, even though looking at the actual diamond necklace would help my buyer fall in love with it much quicker and hence buy it. Having it on my person is not only risky but inspires distrust. So probably what the buyer expects is to see it in a catalogue. So I’d give them a well photographed catalogue. If I were selling food, then maybe the buyer would expect me to have it right away so they can eat it. Therefore I would need to have it on spot. So you have to use your judgment on how to distribute your item based on the item and the potential buyer’s expectation.
Going back to my lotion example. I could put the lotion images in a catalogue and leave it at the salon but in this case because my product is easily available at supermarkets and the competition is stiff, I would opt to have it immediately available to anyone who wants to buy it. I would put a glass kiosk inside the salon so that they can pay for the product and have it instantly. Plus seeing a lot of the same type of product has an imposing presence that might be too compelling to resist so I create a demand with visual appeal even though, the person coming to the salon probably had no plans to buy lotions when they were planning to go. The salon reps would collect the money when customers express interest in the lotions and I would replenish stock and collect the monies at some interval of time. Accounting would be setup so I could know how much is sold and how much money I should be receiving.
Try selling your products online
Another way to get items sold is online. Alot of people are selling online. In Jamaica it is not the status quo as it is in the USA. In the USA Ebay and Amazon are the standard for selling online and they make it look so easy.
To sell online you need the same things as you do in a brick and mortar store: you need traffic and visual appeal. So you have to put your product where people are likely to see it and it has to be well photographed. We will do an article on how to sell online in more depth but here are some easy ways to get your product online for sale:
- Post an Ad on Lightpost Ads
- Create a facebook page for your business
- Try other Jamaican ecommerce marketplaces ( Jamdeal etc..)
Now get out there and sell your product!
And there you have it! How to go from product to sales as a one man or small group operation with little or no money and just the fire burning for success!
If you like this article or have any comments please write it in the comment section below!