To gain a buyer’s attention, I email them. This sounds overtly simplistic if you have the buyer’s contact info. But if you don’t have their contact info, it can be a herculean act to obtain it.
Some tips for obtaining the buyer’s contact info:
- Almost all web sites these days have corporate phone numbers (I have actually come across some that do not). Call up the company, ask for the name, phone and email address of the person to whom you wish to communicate (i.e. baby buyer, OTC buyer, Fem Hy buyer). Sometimes the receptionist will give you the contact info you wish, or at least the buyer’s assistant’s contact info.
- If #1 above doesn’t work (i.e. the receptionist just won’t give you any information except for a corporate mailing address), call back the next day and see if you get a different receptionist who is more compliant.
- If #1 and #2 above don’t work, and you have some great press to share (if you don’t have some great press to share, go get some and then do the following), go back to the company’s web site, find out who their PR/Media contact is (most major retailers have a media contact listed on their web site and/or have press releases included that indicate a press contact), and contact the media person by phone. Lead with an explanation of your recent press and that you wish to discuss your recent success with the buyer, and ask the media contact for the buyer’s contact info. I have used this approach successfully in the past.
- Go to the store you wish to do business with and ask to speak with the store manager. Give them your elevator pitch and ask them for their regional or corporate buyer’s contact info.
- If all else fails and you can not get in touch with the buyer via email, send them your pitch via snail mail along with product samples (if you can afford to do so. I realize that not all products can be sampled). Note: do not expect to receive unsolicited samples back.
Once I have the name of the buyer and their email, I email them. I have found ALL buyers to be super busy. Some will not even pick up their phone. I find that most prefer email to phone – they can check it at their convenience and everything is in writing.
My emails are succinct. I introduce myself, my product (Psi Bands), and why I feel they should consider adding my product to their assortment (within the email, I include a photo of Psi Bands in and out of package and a reputable media feature to catch their attention). As an attachment, I include a customized PowerPoint presentation.
In my email, I ask for their reply. If I don’t get one, I follow up. Again and again (don’t hound the buyer, but follow up. Don’t give up). Always be mindful of the buyer’s time. They are extremely busy. You should always be respectful, polite, and even add humor where appropriate (who doesn’t enjoy a good sense of humor?).
Good luck! Share your comments and questions below.
About the Authors:
Romy Taormina is Co-Founder/Nausea Relief Chief of Psi Health Solutions, Inc., the maker of Psi Bands. Psi Bands are FDA-cleared acupressure wristbands for the relief of nausea due to morning sickness, motion sickness, anesthesia, and chemotherapy. Romy suffered from terrible morning sickness during her pregnancies yet found nausea relief from wrist acupressure bands. Dissatisfied with existing products on the market, she helped to co-create Psi Bands, a product designed to help those with nausea find relief – in comfort and style. Romy has hit the stage with her product Psi Bands with national retail distribution at Rite Aid, CVS, REI, Whole Foods, Meijer, Target.com, Walgreens.com, etc., and international distribution in five continents.
Vanessa Ting, Former Target Buyer and Founder of Retail Path, is a 12-year veteran of the consumer goods and retail industry. Her career has spanned retail buying, consumer marketing, new product development and brand strategy for companies such as Target Corporation, Johnson & Johnson and Lieberman Research Worldwide. Vanessa has launched dozens of consumer products – both the super successful as well as a few good duds. In the process, she has honed her instincts to quickly identify a great idea and how to position that great idea into a successful product on store shelves.