Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

If first impressions last, then NinjaOutreach should have been doomed by our bungled product marketing long ago.

We first launched NinjaOutreach on Product Hunt—a popular app curation and discovery platform—in 2014.

I wasn’t part of the team yet at the time, but our founder, Dave Schneider, did admit the launch could have gone better.

Granted, we still managed to get featured as #10 on Product Hunt’s homepage—and on our first attempt at that.

Fast forward to 2018, with new team members, a significant rebranding, fresh look, and copy, we relaunched NinjaOutreach version 2.0.

And this time around, even with a small team and a low-budget product marketing strategy, we made it to #1 on Product Hunt’s homepage.

We eventually ended the day at #2, but compared to our previous rank of #10, that was a significant jump!

Of course, we didn’t achieve all of this without a plan.

And in this article, we’ll share our product marketing strategy for how we made our comeback and reached #1 on Product Hunt.

Background story

“It’s a ‘90s software for a 2016 price.”

Such was the comment of one unimpressed user who never made it past his trial period.

Despite those harsh words, we couldn’t deny that although we had more customers than most of our competitors, we were definitely behind when compared to their sleeker designs, cohesive branding + content, and smoother UI.

As Dave said, NinjaOutreach started out as a “desktop app that everyone hated.”

Ultimately, this lack of harmonious branding, coupled with clunky UX both in-app and on the website failed to adequately convey the true value and functionality of our tool.

Also confirming this theory was an in-depth study from a firm Dave hired, which found that potential customers rated us low in trustworthiness.

Why so?

Apparently, this was because (surprise, surprise) they didn’t find our “look” particularly trustworthy.

Fortuitously, this came at a time when I, along with our Head Copywriter, Daphnie Loong, was already pushing (short of nagging) the team for a redesign.

And with all the new supporting evidence, the ball was in our court.

It was time make the shift, and we were finally ready to give NinjaOutreach its badly needed makeover.

The rebranding was a monumental effort that led to monumental changes.

Save for the official business name, everything about NinjaOutreach changed. And not just changed, but taken to a whole new level.

Excited to spread the word about these upgrades, Dave and the marketing team thought it would be a good idea to relaunch NinjaOutreach on Product Hunt.

So, our Asset Manager Evgen Schastnyy assembled a small team, and with the guidance of Dave and our co-founder Mark Samms, operation Product Hunt Comeback was set in motion.

About Product hunt

What is Product Hunt?

For the uninitiated, Product Hunt is an online community, app curation, and discovery platform where users share app news and recommendations with each other.

It’s essentially like a Quora or Reddit for apps, where apps are curated and either get upvoted or downvoted by the community. The platform also allows commenting, so each thread comes with relevant discussions about each app.

How Product Hunt Works

Members who post app recommendations are called product Hunters, so to post an app is to “hunt” it.

App developers are called Makers, and they can also hunt their own products.

Aside from typical audience engagement and upvotes, Product Hunt has its own algorithm which determines how an app gets ranked and whether it gets featured on the homepage.

Product Marketing Tactics We Used to Generate Buzz

In a moment, we will share a detailed step-by-step guide to our product marketing strategy.

But for the impatient, here is a snapshot of the product marketing tactics we used to generate buzz for the app.

Social Media Banners

As Dave mentioned in his Reddit post, social media buzz was key to our product marketing campaign’s success.

Before we launched, our design team already crafted customized banners reflecting our new brand. Each one was tailored for Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Additionally, we had special “milestone” images designed for celebrating if and when we hit 100, 300, and 500 upvotes.

Below is a screenshot of the images we used on our Twitter page.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

In-App and In-Site Messages For Long-Time Customers

As an app that’s been around for over three years, we’ve accumulated our own loyal bunch of customers and site visitors who were more than happy to support us.

To help mobilize these long-time users, our Head Copywriter Daphnie edited the templates announcing our launch along with a section to fill in with the link to our listing.

We used Daphnie’s final copy on our pop-up message for returning site visitors as well as in-app notifications for customers logging in.

Eventually, we updated these notifications to cover each new milestone that we hit.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Newsletter Announcement

Daphnie also published our Product Hunt announcement through our weekly newsletter, where we have over 10k subscribers.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Team Member Support

To widen the reach of our product marketing campaign, everyone in the team went through their own networks to share the news.

Here’s Dave’s post on his Facebook.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Now that we’ve shared our main product marketing tactics, let’s move on to a more detailed breakdown of how we executed our strategy.

Our How-To Product Marketing Steps For Reaching #1 on Product Hunt

Dave and Evgen organized a list of tasks into a spreadsheet and made this accessible to all the team members involved in the product marketing campaign.

They divided the sheet into three tabs for each chronological period related to the campaign:

  • Pre-Launch
  • Launch Day
  • Post Launch

Each column contained instructions on what to do, where to store any files involved with the task, who is responsible for it, and a section to indicate the task’s status.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Pre-Launch Product Marketing Task Checklist

1. Find a Hunter Who Will “Hunt” the Product

There is an ongoing theory that Product Hunt’s algorithm puts less value on apps promoted by their own Makers.

Product Hunt has since pointed out that this is false and that in fact, Makers can hunt their own products.

However, we found out that certain Hunters have special privileges where a product they post makes it straight to the front page instead of the less-trafficked “new and upcoming” section.

So, we erred on the side of caution and decided to find another Hunter for our relaunch.

It’s a good thing that in all our marketing campaigns, we managed to develop warm relationships with some of our prospects.

Because of this, our Asset Manager Evgen only needed to send out a couple of emails until we got a “yes” from at least one of them.

Once Evgen found our Hunter, (special thanks to our friend Chris!) he provided the necessary info our Hunter needed to post about our product.

That included our:

  • Product name
  • Product tagline
  • Link to the product
  • Handles of the makers
  • Blurb for the maker
  • All product screenshots, GIFs, and other necessary images
  • Youtube link to our product explainer video

After setting our launch date and time, Evgen packed all these into a Google Docs folder (you can also use Dropbox) and sent it to our Hunter.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

(Tip: If you prefer to find a Hunter for your product but don’t have warm connections, you can try a cold pitch.

Most profiles of Hunters on Product Hunt are connected to their Twitter account.

If you see people with a good following hunting a similar product like yours, try and reach out.

You can also use aggregators like 500 Hunters.)

2. Brainstorm Ideas for a Special Launch Day Promotional Offer

To encourage more people to try out our product, Evgen and the product marketing team brainstormed ideas on the best special promotional offer for the launch day.

It was a delicate balance between giving a significant discount and not selling our product too short.

In the end, the team decided to offer 10% off the first month for new registrations.

(Tip: We don’t advise this for newer products with no prior fan base, though. In that case, it’s a better idea to offer something ridiculously low at first. That way, you can get the most out of your launch.)

To make sure that every Product Hunt user will see that offer, we added a banner on the top of our product pages specifically for any visitor traffic that arrived via Product Hunt.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

(Tip: We used a free-to-use tool called Introbar which let us set up our Hello banner in a few minutes.)

3. Write the In-App Message for Ninjaoutreach Users

A loyal customer base willing to leave glowing comments is a great asset for any product marketing campaign.

There’s just no better social proof than those coming from long-time, paying (and happy) customers.

So, Daphnie finalized the template for an in-app message to go out to any NinjaOutreach users logging online on our launch day.

She also edited other versions of the template so that Evgen can modify our Product Hunt announcements to match the milestones of the day.

For example, if and when we get the #1 place on Product Hunt’s homepage (which we did!) our message would look like this:

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

4. Draft the Email Template for Ninjaoutreach Subscribers

An email list is a powerful resource that you can leverage if you want to promote a product to a warm audience.

These are people who already trusted you enough to subscribe to your emails, after all.

In our case, we had over 10k subscribers. And for our weekly newsletter, Daphnie edited this template for Dave.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Related to this, next to-dos on our list were to:

5. Prepare the Email Template for NinjaOutreach 2.0 Beta Testers

Here’s the product marketing template that Daphnie edited for Evgen.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

6. Set up the Tweet Template for Reaching out to Product Hunt Influencers

And here’s the template that Evgen prepared on Twitter.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

7. Update the Knowledge Base with Screenshots of the 2.0 Version

Since our 2.0 version comes with a new look, we made sure to go back to our old tutorials and update our Knowledge Base with screenshots that reflect our tool’s improved interface and design.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

8. Prepare 2.0 Branded Medias Tailored Specifically for the Launch

A rebranding won’t be complete without promotional media, so our design team got these ready as well.

These media included:

  • Branded social media images for:
    • Each team member profile
    • All company page profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram
    • Milestone posts:
      • Launch
      • 100 upvotes
      • 300 upvotes
      • 500 upvotes
      • Thank you post to end the day
    • Demo video of the new interface of the app

9. Create a List of Related Slack and Facebook Groups and Join Them

Evgen also prospected some relevant Facebook and Slack Groups where he could join and eventually post announcements of our launch.

Of course, he made sure that the material fits the groups’ requirements and that the members already showed interest in getting such announcements.

10. Assemble the List of Product Hunt and Twitter Influencers to Reach out to on Launch Day

Social media, as we said, is crucial.

To make sure we have as many people know about our launch as possible, the team assembled a prospect list of the audiences we wanted to reach out to.

These people came mainly from 3 groups:

  • Current NinjaOutreach users who we approached via the live chat message
  • NinjaOutreach mailing list
  • Twitter users who liked NinjaOutreach on Product Hunt previously or liked one of our main competitors.

(Tip: We used the Heroku app to scrape the Twitter profiles of Product Hunt upvoters.)

Launch Day Product Marketing Task Checklist

As soon as our Hunter put up the recommendation for NinjaOutreach 2.0, the team was all set.

With an organized plan in place, it was easy to get the ball rolling.
1. Post to Product Hunt Between 12 am and 2 am PST
Our goal was to get our listing up so people can see it as the day starts, so we agreed to have our Hunter post it early.

At roughly between 12 am and 2 am PST, our NinjaOutreach 2.0 Product Hunt listing was up.

2. Drop the Maker’s Introduction Comment

A product launch isn’t complete without the app Maker’s message.

Consequently, Mark posted the template he’d prepared, which discussed NinjaOutreach 2.0’s new look and interface.

He also shared the details of our special promotional offer exclusive for Product Hunt.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

3. Post Updates in the Company Chat to Keep Everyone in the Loop

A concerted team effort needs constant updates to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Hence, here’s Evgen posting an announcement to the All Employees team chat to keep everyone in the loop.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

4. Send Announcements to All Newsletter Subscribers, Beta Testers, Website, and In-App Visitors

Since we already had our templates, we just added our link to the Product Hunt listing and sent our announcements to all available channels:

  • Newsletter subscribers
  • Beta testers
  • In-app visitors
  • Website visitors

5. Announce the Launch on All Company Social Media Pages

Our branded images and Product Hunt announcement captions were all ready as well, so we just set those to go live on all our company social media pages on launch day.

Here is how our Twitter social media blurb looked like:

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

We used the same template for our Facebook and Instagram announcement.

At this point, Evgen also asked other team members to update their social profiles and help spread the news on their networks.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

(Tip: We used Zapier for our targeted outreach, but for all other social media post scheduling, we used Viraltag.)

6. Share the News to All Relevant Facebook and Slack Groups

After having spent some time building rapport with his Facebook and Slack communities, here’s Evgen in one of his groups announcing our Product Hunt launch.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

7. Message Any Warm Contacts

We also shared the announcement via Email, Skype, and other mediums to contacts we’ve had recent or ongoing conversations with.

In my case, I just used our outreach tool to email all my warm contacts for me. (I used NinjaOutreach to promote NinjaOutreach—how meta is that?)

Since I continuously maintain a personal list of contacts that I have a good rapport with, I just opened my account and imported this list to NinjaOutreach.

Once done importing, I saved these contacts into a new prospect list for this particular campaign.

Next, I went to: Outreach > Templates > Create Template

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Because I’ve been in steady conversations with the people on this list (I move any lapsed conversations to another list), I pretty much know the right approach to use in my outreach.

I wrote my message naturally, then hit Save to store my template.

(Afterwards, when our listing went live, I just inserted the corresponding link.)

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

With my template done, I went back to the Outreach tab then clicked Autosending > Schedule a Campaign.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Next, I selected the correct list for our product marketing campaign, the email address I preferred to use, and the name of the custom template that I had just saved.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

There are ways to pre-schedule a campaign on NinjaOutreach using the Send Later option, but because my template required the link to our listing, I had to wait for us to go live on Product Hunt first.

Once our Product Hunt thread went live and I was able to insert the link into my template, I then chose the Send Now option.

With all input fields covered, I clicked Launch Campaign and just let NinjaOutreach do its job.

8. Post an Announcement to Celebrate Hitting the 100 Upvotes Milestone

An email outreach tool may be less appealing compared to some dating or cat GIF curation apps out there.

Still, that didn’t stop us from creating our own hype.

Here’s our celebratory Tweet for when we reached our first hundred upvotes, for example.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

We also used the same template for our Facebook post.

9. Publish a Post to Celebrate Hitting the 300 Upvotes Milestone

Things got even better when we reached 300 more upvotes, so we loaded up our celebratory Tweet for that as well.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Again, we used the same template for our Facebook post.

10. Spread the Word to Celebrate Hitting the Top of the Product Hunt Homepage

Finally, the best moment came when we hit #1 on the Product Hunt homepage.

Evgen and the rest of the product marketing team were ecstatic, and we gladly used our celebratory templates for this special achievement.

Here’s our Facebook post to commemorate the milestone.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

TopHuntsDaily, a Product Hunt Twitter bot, already made the announcement for us on Twitter, so we just Retweeted that.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

11. Tweet the Influencers in the Prospect List

Product Hunt discourages anyone from directly asking for upvotes, so we simply shared the word with our branded images and a link to our product listing.

We also made sure to stay within Twitter’s direct message and Tweet limits.

To accomplish these faster, we used an app called Zapier to do a Google Sheet + Zapier + Twitter integration.

Basically, Zapier connected the different apps we used and automated the process of turning our templates in Google Sheets into Twitter posts.

Zapier can do this for other apps and this integration + automation process is called making a “zap.”

To demonstrate, here is a look at my Zapier account.

I already clicked Google Sheets and Twitter to view any available zap templates for those apps.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

As you’ll see, you can also use zaps to save any Twitter mentions and followers into a Google sheet too.
But for this particular task, the zap we needed was the one that made it possible to post Tweets from new rows on Google Sheets.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

After choosing a zap, Zapier will show a short description page about it so users can double check that it’s going to do exactly as intended.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

The next steps of the in-app walkthrough are easy enough to understand and in a few minutes, you’ll have a working zap.

So, back to the campaign.

We integrated several Twitter accounts of some of our team members who have a good following and set these to Tweet around 10 messages each.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

We then scheduled these 10 Tweets to go out every 20 to 30 minutes to:

  • People who upvoted NinjaOutreach in our previous 2014 launch
  • Those who upvoted competitors and similar apps.

12. Monitor Mentions and Reply to Comments Throughout the Launch Day

All things considered, we still needed to keep the engagement going to maintain our top homepage position.

Using our other social media accounts, we also continued to share our Product Hunt link to our personal and business contacts, asking them to support us and join the conversation.

Also, some team members stayed on for the whole day of the launch to reply to any mentions and comments on Product Hunt and other channels.

Post Launch Product Marketing Task Checklist

1. Respond to All Supporters

After the launch, we rechecked our social media channels to say thank you to all the people who upvoted and shared the news. Evgen personally reacted to all the Tweets to show his appreciation.

2. Turn off All Automated Announcements

With our product marketing event done, we disabled all the automated messages we sent to our users and website visitors through Intercom.

3. Publish Documentation About the Relaunch

And our last task? It’s to publish a case study about this launch, and that’s why you’re reading this now. 😉

Final Notes

From #1 on the Product Hunt homepage, we ended the day at #2, with a total of 470+ upvotes, 31 reviews, and 21 comments.

Despite not being able to hold the #1 spot through to the end, NinjaOutreach still gained some leads from this exercise.

For one, in three weeks after our Product Hunt launch, we’ve received over 1.1k visits and 10 new signups from this source alone.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

Two months later, our total goal completions referred by Product Hunt reached almost $900.

Product Marketing | How to Reach #1 on Product Hunt [Case Study]

We even got a couple of new business collaboration proposals.

However, that’s not to say it couldn’t have gone better.

Yes, a social influencer outreach app could not possibly demand the sort of viral engagement that other cooler, more consumer-oriented apps could.

Still, we should have gotten more signups.

But given that we were able to successfully promote our rebranding with a small team, using minimal time, and with a low-cost product marketing campaign (this only cost us more or less $300 to execute), this, to us, was a pretty good first step for NinjaOutreach 2.0.

And as we push through the year with new key leaders to our team, the future continues to be ripe for more opportunities to take NinjaOutreach even further.

How I Got One Etsy Seller Featured In Four Stores

Have you ever thought about selling a product in stores?

Perhaps you are also selling your product online via Etsy, eBay, or one of the many e-commerce sites for artisans.

Or maybe not even, perhaps you make a mean cheesecake, which everyone raves about at dinner parties.

Did you ever think whether or not a store might be interested in selling it?

It’s natural, especially among those of us who are a bit more “small time" or humble to think, "No one would want to sell my stuff?"

But let me ask you this, have you ever asked?
The mistake that we are making here (aside from not being confident) is assuming that we know best about another person’s business.

Why are we deciding who would be interested in showcasing our work, why don’t we just ask them and let them decide for themselves?

After all, they know their customers.

Ah I see, you’re worried about rejection. Let me tell you, rejection is for high school boys worried about asking a girl to the prom.

It has no place in the adult world, and neither does “what if”, which is exactly what you are going to be dealing with if you don’t take the leap of faith to give it a try.

In this article we’re going to discuss

  • Why stores are interested in what you make
  • How stores can benefit your business
  • How you can get their contact information
  • How to write a proper pitch
  • A case study on how I got an Etsy seller featured in 4 stores within 2 months

Why Stores Are Interested In You

Next time you walk into a store I want you to ask yourself, where did all this stuff come from?

Now, it may be that some large factory produced most of the stuff. Or, it may be that the store is selling items they personally make.

However, I’m willing to bet that if you head to a handful of places, you’ll run into a store that isn’t selling purely factory items, or their own brand, but are selling products from artisans around the world. They are known as a reseller.

Naturally, it makes sense.

Take a gift shop for example. In order to feature a variety of items, they can’t purely showcase the items they make.

Moreover, they rarely carry enough of any one thing to be able to buy it in large quantity from a factory.

They very well might be working with various artisans to fill their stock. Sometimes, this is revealed on the website.

Other times, you just have to contact them and ask. Either way, they are interested in hearing from you.

The Benefits Of Selling In Stores Over Selling Online

It may be the case that you already sell online, and therefore are thinking - how would this benefit me?

Well, there are a lot of reasons why selling in stores can benefit your business over just selling online. Consider the following:

Less Competition – Depending on the store you might be working with less competition.

Online, if someone is looking for a particular type of jewelry, they will do a search, and everyone making that jewelry will show up as a seller.

While there may be some competition in stores, it is very likely that they will be exhibiting a range of different styles and products, thus yours might stand out more in your field.

Imagine being the only person in the gift shop selling seaglass jewelry.

Reach More Customers – Some people, many people, in fact, still don’t shop online.

Especially for certain items (particular items that you wear i.e clothing, shoes, jewelry, which many people feel you need to see and try on in person).

If you are selling your items in stores you are likely reaching an entirely new set of customers, as well as the usual people who also shop online.

No Listing Fees – Many online retailers charge you to put up an item, even if it doesn’t sell.

If you are wholesaling to store or working with them on consignment, there is no listing fee.

If the item does not sell, then it can be shipped back to you.

Scalability - There are a limited number of websites that sell artisan's work.

There are an innumberable amount of stores, especially if you include international.

This means that if you come up with a proper strategy and pitch, the sky is the limit.

You can hire an assistant for relatively cheap and chug away at contacting stores!

Bulk Sales – Again, if you are wholesaling to stores, it is like a customer who is buying in bulk (everyone’s favorite customer).

Stores tend to not buy just one item, they buy in large quantities, so just a few can potentially increase sales substantially.

Moreover, if a store is stocking up for the month or season, it can give you a good idea as to how the business environment is, as opposed to waiting for everyday online.

Networking – Selling in someone’s store can be a very personal experience.

It’s about building a relationship with another individual, and one who might very well share a similar passion for the products you are making.

They may become a good friend and even refer you to other store owners in different locations.

You might talk on the phone, or at least correspond frequently over email.

This could open new stores, craft fairs, and other opportunities that previously would have passed you by.

How To Market To Stores

Now that you have seen the benefits of selling in stores, you are probably wondering how to get in touch.

Meet With Stores In Your Area – The lowest hanging fruit is simply to approach the stores in your area.

Think about stores that might be interested in carrying your line.

Personally, I think it is easier to approach smaller, individually owned stores, as these stores have the power to make executive decisions in a much shorter amount of time.

Who wants to deal with all the red tape of trying to get your stuff featured at Tiffany’s?

Head over to Al’s Jewelry and see if he’s interested. You can probably talk with the boss right then and there.

Note – if you are going to approach stores directly, consider placing a call first. This is a simple way to litmus test the situation and see if they are even remotely interested. It might just be the case that they aren’t buying at the moment – save yourself the trouble, call ahead.

Approach Them Online – The problem with meeting with stores in your area is that it isn’t very scalable.

Unless you live on 5th avenue you’re probably going to run out of viable options quickly, and who wants to spend 3 hours driving to a store that might not be interested?

Luckily, most stores nowadays have an online presence and it is relatively easy to get contact information.  

There are tons of google search operators that can help you refine your search, for example, if you want to find links to handmade seaglass jewelry you can put

intitle:handmade seaglass jewelry

and you are guaranteed to return results that ONLY have all of those terms in the search.

However, even that is a bit off the mark, since you are likely to get a lot of other artisans and not necessarily stores.

To help with that, there are a lot of online directories, which list store information. A few of my favorites are

Yellow Pages – This is my favorite because you can get the email address right off the website.

For example, a search for jewelry stores in Boston returns over 400 results.

Many of those results include a phone number, email, and website.

Yelp – Also pretty good is Yelp. The same search in yelp returned 325 results.

The only problem with yelp is that they don’t list the email address directly, you have to go to the website if there is one.

Organizations – There are a lot of organizations who list their members.

Again, a search in Google for jewelry stores in Boston returned American Gem Society, which lists several places that could be contacted.

City Pages – Some cities have pages dedicated to showcasing the city and all the fun and interesting activities you can do there.

Check out this page for Newport, Rhode Island – goldmine!

How To Write A Proper Pitch

Now that you have identified your target market you are going to need to pitch them.

Think hard about this one because you are likely going to be sending this out to 10’s and 100’s of stores.

Most people, nowadays, have the attention span of a small mammal, so you are going to want to grab it without sounding too spammy.

It is a fine line to walk, trust me.

Introduction – You are going to want to start with an introduction, something to humanize you so you don’t sound like a spambot from Mars.

Don’t go overboard because at the end of the day the person isn’t interested in you, but it’s important to break the ice casually.

Value Proposition – What is your value proposition? What are you offering and why is this helpful to the reader?

Remember that even though you are pitching your product it isn’t about you, it’s about them, and how you can help them achieve their goals (increase revenue).

Think about the angle that makes for a mutually beneficial relationship.

For example, maybe your items will appeal to a different clientele that the store is currently not reaching.

Maybe your stuff just sells really well and you get great customer reviews.

All of these things flatter your business but above all prove to the business owner why he should work with you.

Terms – If you’re flexible it’s probably best to leave the exact terms to a follow up conversation so as not to turn anyone off immediately, however, if there are things you know for sure, especially “deal sweetners” (for example, you’ll pay for shipping) it’s good to mention them upfront. Some things you are going to want to consider are:

  • Are you selling consignment or wholesale?
  • Who pays for shipping?
  • Where will the items be featured in the store?
  • How many items can you ship? What Kind?
  • How long will they be showcased until they are sent back?

Features – If you’ve been featured anywhere such as a magazine or blog, consider including this in the pitch.

No need to go overboard, select your best and show it.

Testimonials – Human beings are, for the most part, sheep.

If they see other people doing something (selling your items in their store and being successful) then it is going to make them want to do it too.

It also builds credibility. If you’re already selling in a few stores, then ask if you can get a testimonial from them.

If you are selling online, why not grab a few of your 5 star reviews and add them on to the end, to show how much customers love your products?

Contact information – Obviously the person has your email, but go ahead and leave your phone number and relevant website(s) to show that you are a real person and you are interested in connecting.

A Case Study – How I Got An Etsy Seller Featured In Four Stores In Two Months

Let’s wrap all of this into a nice case study, shall we?

The Situation:

In September 2013 I worked with an etsy seller who was making seaglass jewelry and primarily selling on Etsy.

They were also working with four stores and seeing a good amount of sales through them.

We thought there was room for growth by adding more stores.

This would add additional revenue streams, and diversify the income in case anything went sour with one of the stores (as it turns out a few months down the line, one actually went out of business).

The Strategy:

The first thing I did was to hire a VA for the project.

If you’ve read my ultimate guide for working with VAs, you’ll see that this is a perfect project to outsource as it mainly involves online research and emailing in bulk.

Next, I identified the geography I wanted to target.

As the seller lives in Massachusetts I made Boston the top of my list. On top of that, I wanted to target other coastal states, since the product is “beachy” in nature.

I asked several VAs, who was working at $3.30 an hour, to collect the email addresses from sources I had found (yellow pages, yelp, etc).

In general, they were collecting about 80 email addresses/contact pages an hour, so each email was costing approximately $0.05.

Simultaneously, I created a pitch to send out. Here it is:

Hello,

My name is Jean and I sell sea glass jewelry of all types (sterling and silver plated pendants, earrings, lockets, animal lockets, bracelets, etc) in my online shops, which are on both Ebay and Etsy. The seaglass is collected by me and my children from all over the world and I hand-make the jewelry. Since I started a few years ago I have sold over 4000 pieces. I pride myself on high quality jewelry and excellent customer service (over 1000 reviews and 100% positive).

Recently, I have been looking into selling my jewelry in boutique stores. Presently my jewelry is sold at several stores, including:

1.) Chris Bell's Handcraft in Newnan, Georgia.
2.) WildRuby Gallaria in Framingham, Mass.
3.) Amore-Artisan-Boutique, Tacoma, WA
4.) The Sparrow gift Shop, Orleans, Mass.

I have added a few testimonials below. I am happy to provide contact information on request.

The sales there have been excellent and the establishments have been a pleasure to work with. Most of the items provided to them, on consignment or as some prefer to just buy outright and are offered in the $12-$24 range where they in turn add on whatever percentage they decide to. I pay for all shipping costs and am just looking for some shelf space to see how they sell on consignment.

I came across your website and are wondering if you might be interested in selling my jewelry. I encourage you to visit our etsy shop in order to see the jewelry we offer.

I'm looking forward to building a business relationship and wish you a wonderful day!

Warm regards Jean and Alan

Features

http://avocadopesto.com/2012/11/27/beautiful-seaglass-jewelry/

Online Shops

Etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SamiSeaglass
Ebay: http://www.ebay.com/usr/snickers-4130

Testimonials

“We have had Samiseaglass in our store since March of 2012. We are very proud to have Jean’s work. Everything she sends us is amazing. She really has an eye for adding the right trinkets to each piece of glass to make them look as if they belong together. We have many different styles of jewelry in our store, but none of it sells like this does. It honestly sells itself.

It is popular with everyone from younger girls to older women. Many come back to buy more.

We have enjoyed working with Jean, Alan and even Max. J They are very good people and have pretty much become a part of our family. They will always have a spot in our store.

If you have a chance to display Jean’s treasures in your store, take it. You will not regret it.

Thanks,

Chris Bell
Owner/Operator”

"We love Sami Sea Glass! Jean and Alan are a delight to work with and Jean's designs are simply beautiful! Delicate and charming, refreshingly different. Each shipment is a joy to open. She stays ahead of our demand, which is considerable. I highlight her work to customers and they always recognize the beauty and value of what they are looking at. We love it!"

Nancy & Tim
The Sparrow Store
Orleans, Cape Cod

As you can see this checks all the boxes on what a pitch should have.

In total, about 1k email address were collected ($50) and sent ($30).

A follow up was sent a week later, just to keep the pressure on.

As you can imagine, cold emailing does not lead to particularly high conversion rates, and the majority of people did not answer.

Some other commons responses were

  • We’re not buying right now
  • This doesn’t fit with our style
  • I only sell my own stuff

In short, 99% of people turned us down. But 10 people expressed serious interest.

Half of them asked to be contacted in a few months time as they were primarily a summer business and were closing up shop for the winter.

In the end, jewelry was sent to 4 places. One of which, I know, sent a check for $80 in December, which covered the costs of the project.

In January, several of the other stores followed suit and in total a few hundred dollars was sent.

Success!

On top of that, consider the following

  1. This is completely scalable. There are thousands more email addresses out there, and we could take this 4 to 10, 20+ without much more effort.
  2. More stores can lead to more references, which in turn leads to more stores. The whole thing snowballs. It's just about getting "out there"
  3. We’re potentially creating a life long connection. If these stores send consistent monthly/yearly sales, it will pay off in spades over the next few years.
  4. Pretty much everything was outsourced, especially once you have the pitch written. You only need to handle conversations as they come back.

So what are you waiting for? Identify your target market and come up with your strategy!