I’m willing to bet this has happened to you:
You walk into a store and pick up a [bag/necklace/shirt] and think to yourself “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe this [bag/necklace/shirt] is in this store! My [bags/necklaces/shirts] are a zillion times better! Why are they such a big deal? Why won’t this store carry my [bag/necklace/shirt]?”
You may be totally right, your product might be way better than a competitor’s version and they might be selling their crap right and left while your struggling to sell anything. The problem has nothing to do with your products vs theirs. Here are some of the more likely reasons they’re outselling you:
I talked about distribution channels yesterday but can’t emphasize their importance enough. It’s the same idea as a crappy top 40 song getting huge. If every radio station is playing a song all day every day it will get popular, whether it’s good or not. If a product is in everyone’s face enough people are going to buy it. Take a hard look at how your branding and product are being distributed now and what more you can do to get your brand and product in front of more people.
Packaging and presentation are sometimes way more important than the product. I wrote a post several months ago about companies selling incredibly unremarkable products with great packaging. If your competitor’s presentation is nicer than yours they’ll sell more product, even if the item itself isn’t special.
Relationships matter in every industry. Knowing the right people can make or break your brand so forging connections is an important part of growing your business. A famous blogger is more likely to write about her friend’s company than a stranger’s company. A buyer at Saks is more likely to buy product from a friend who started a handbag line instead of you. A magazine editor at Lucky is more likely to feature a friend’s line instead of a stranger’s. You may not have friends in high places yet but making friends in the right places can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Look into trade shows and networking events where you have the opportunity to meet people and see if friends of friends have connections that can be of value.
4. Sales Skills
Whether you’re doing direct retail at pop up events like craft shows and festivals or business to business sales with store owners and buyers, sales skills are important. I’ve been to so many live events where people working in the booth are surly, unfriendly or snobby. I can’t imagine those people trying to charm a store owner, since they can’t even talk to a consumer. If you aren’t a naturally outgoing, confident, charismatic person hire someone who is to deal with the sales side of your business.
While I won’t go so far as to say having a great product is meaningless, it won’t make or break your company. A good product helps, but without the other ingredients you’ll have a difficult time realizing any success.
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