Tips for Creating Email Pitches

Writing a good email pitch to a retailer or sales rep is not as difficult as it sounds.

I have experience with receiving email pitches, so I can share with you which are good email pitches and which are not — from my perspective.

General rules for email pitches:

  1. Make them short.  Buyers don’t want to wade through a bunch of fluff to get to the meat of your message.
  2. Don’t make assumption on what the buyer wants or needs.  Telling them your product is perfect for their store, for instance, is an assumption based on nothing but your word.
  3. Include all the pertinent information in the email.  Complete contact info along with pictures and price sheets for your products should be included or attached to the email.
  4. Address the buyer by name, if possible.

Tips for Creating Email PitchesAs a sales rep, I receive lots of requests for representation of various products.  This is the screening process I use:

  • Since I only rep Idaho products, I first look to see if the company is located in Idaho.  If it is not, I send them a thanks-but- no-thanks return email.
  • If the email is addressed to “Dear Sirs or Madam”, or is an obviously group email sent to “undisclosed recipients”, I delete it.

Every person you contact by email should be a person or company you researched before you sent the email.  Anyone looking at my company would know that I rep only Idaho companies.  Folks that send me requests from other states are just wasting my and their time.

Group emails are the extreme of this issue.  Never, never, never send out emails to a group of stores or reps.  You would make a much better impression if you found out a bit of information about the store to share with the buyer in your email.

An example could be:  “I see you feature handcrafted gifts in your shop, so I think you may be interested in my handmade XYZ items.”  A note like this will show the buyer you have taken a personal interest in their store.

Since buyers are busy people, don’t assume a non-answer is a no!  I would wait a few days to a week to follow up with the buyer via a phone call.  Use your email as a point of reference:

“Hi I am Sandy with ABC company that specializes in homemade XYZ items.  I sent you an email about my products on (date) and was wondering if you had time to review my information.”

Just be friendly!

One last point, DO NOT send samples unless the buyers asks.  Over the years, producers have sent me box(es) of unwanted to samples that did nothing but fill up my house and, actually,  just irritated me!  Not a good practice — and not cost efficient either!

Using the tips above, go out and send your emails — of course, wait until the holiday season is over for the best results!!

 

 

 

The Perfect Email Pitch

Email has changed the landscape of sales.  Even a little as five years ago, I was driving to make sales — going from city to city, visiting store by store.

Nothing wrong with that!  Face-to-face sales presentations are still the best, but not always the most economical way to sell your products.

Email has made it much easier to pitch potential buyers without spending lots of time or money to do so.  But how do you craft a good email pitch?

I did some research for a good method and found an article by Megan Barnes posted on  The Mogul Mom and on the BizyMom — Mom Entrepreneurs blog.  Here are some of her tips:

The 4 Secrets to Being Pitch Perfect

1. It’s NOT About You

I cannot stress this point enough. It’s as true in courting editors as it is in dating. Spend the whole evening talking about yourself, demonstrate little interest or blatant misinformation about the other party and you’re not likely to get called back for a second date. The same is true when pitching.

I know many other editors consider it a deal breaker … when the writers send pitches addressing … the wrong name! …The Perfect Email Pitch

2. Be Proper

I don’t mean to overwork the dating analogy, … (but) What woman (even those of us who are drawn to the ‘bad boys’ or fancy ourselves healthily liberated) isn’t impressed when a date opens her car door?  … Why? Because it makes us feel respected. And that’s something everyone wants.  What is respect in an email pitch?

Simply put: spell-check. Along with proper formatting, alignment, terms of address, and fully-spelled words, it almost guarantees you a response in my world….

3. While Less Can Be More, Nothing Is Not More

Many current thought leaders in marketing, emphasize the importance of the brief pitch. … Brevity in an email pitch is crucially important, because the people reading them have a lot of volume to get through. However, brevity is not enough on its own.

Make sure you say something in your pitch, ideally the exact something that the recipient requested (if it’s an open call) or a valuable nugget of an idea, with a clearly stated proposal of what you’re offering….

4. Be Generous

If you are so lucky as to have your pitch picked up, the best thing you can do is to make a big show of gratitude and generosity. 

It’s not to say you don’t put a lot of work into what you’re pitching (you do) and that the person you’re pitching doesn’t stand to gain by what you’re offering (she does), but agents and editors are people too. Being gracious goes a long way. If you’re a writer and someone has agreed to publish your work, follow up with a note of thanks and a question of what you can do to make their lives easier….

Thanks Megan for the helpful tips.  Watch for my next post for my personal experience with email pitches.

UPC Codes — Where Do You Get Them?

Last article we talked about if you need UPC Codes.  Today, I will be sharing where you can get UPC codes.

The ‘official’ site to buy UPC barcodes is GS1. The website list all the information you will need to purchase your own unique codes.  Pricing, from their website link, is listed below:

Number of Items Needing a Barcode/GTIN* Initial Fee Annual Renewal Fee
1 – 10 $250 $50
1 – 100 $750 $150
1 – 1,000 $2,500 $500
1 – 10,000 $6,500 $1,300
1 – 100,000 $10,500 $2,100
NDC/NHRIC Company Prefix  $10,500 $2,100

But there are less expensive places to buy your codes.  Following is an excerpt of a discussion in our Selling to Retailers Mastermind Group about the different options for purchasing codes for your products:UPC Codes — Where Do You Get Them?

  • Barcodestalk  — Prices go from $7.50 for one, down to 85 cents each for 200 bar codes, and then even lower at big quantities.
  • Nationwidebarcode — Starting at $6.50 for 1 and $.55 each for 250.

So what is the difference — other than price?  Our Mastermind members explain … :

–…if you are going to do business with a large chain, e.g. Walmart (or so I am told), you will need the “official” barcodes, as when they scan it in, it needs to come up connected to your product automatically…. Unlike the generic bar codes which work in most venues, but the product ID must then be manually tied to the barcode via inputting into the store system. With Amazon’s seller central, all they care about is a unique bar code that falls within the range of authorized numbers.

–Many moons ago, the Uniform Code Council (now GS1) gave away blocks of 100,000 codes for free. I think it was about 15 years ago, they decided to make oodles of money off the codes instead, and started charging $750 for a block of 100 codes, and an annual renewal of $150. They even decided that those who got FREE codes previously would now have to pay an annual fee. Oregon gourmet foods association sued, and the court sided with them, so UCC could no longer retroactively charge fees for what was previously given away for free. I am less clear on what has transpired since, but it is something like this: Owners of some of those previous large blocks wanted the right to resell them… and so placed another lawsuit and won, so it opened up a huge reseller market, now fully legit. We have used some of the reseller barcodes on Amazon and at small chains with no problems. We have HEARD that this will not work with big boxes such as Walmart etc, but we have no verification in this group, beyond what people “heard”.

–I got my UPC codes from EBay and use then on Amazon with no issues. I don’t think it’s wise to spend money on a UPC code on a “if” or “maybe” a big box retailer requires it. Until order is in hand and the retailer requires it, I personally would not spend money on it.

— If you buy the expensive barcodes from the UCC (GS1) then you get your own prefix (i.e. a series of numbers at the beginning of each code that are unique to you). If you are buying from a reseller then you are using prefixes that are assigned to them.  In real terms this isn’t important at all and you’re far better off buying from a reseller for a few dollars with no annual fee.  If, at a time in the future you choose to work with large companies (like WalMart) who insist you have your own prefixes then – and only then – should you consider investing in the UCC-issued codes.

— I’m planning to sell to the smaller stores first (using the less expensive codes), then when I grow to a larger production level, get into bigger box stores, then change over to the more expensive barcodes at that time.

With the options listed above, you can decide for yourself which is the best option for you and your products.

UPC Codes — Do You Need Them?

One of my Idaho Gifts Wholesale vendors emailed me last week to ask about UPC codes — Did he need them?  Where to get them?

With all the changes going on in the marketplace — especially since we are digitizing more and more (even at the retail/wholesale level) — figuring out how and if to use UPC codes is becoming more common place, thus a bigger concern to small producers.

But before we go any further, let me explain what these UPC codes are:

Universal Product Code or UPC: UPC Codes — Do You Need Them? A classification for coding data onto products by a series of thick and thin vertical lines. It allows retailers to record pertinent data such as the model number, size, color, etc. when an item is sold, and to store or transmit the data to a computerized data system to monitoring unit sales, inventory levels, and other factors.

Not every producer needs UPCs on their products.  Here is a quick list from the Human B to check if you need them or not:

The main determinant is how you plan on selling and distributing your product:

  • If you are selling products directly to customers (on your website, private events, etc.) – you don’t need it.
  • If you are selling wholesale to small boutiques – most likely you will not need it (unless they specifically ask for it you don’t need to offer it).
  • If you are selling to a big retailer/distributor such as a big department store or any major national retailer – you will most likely need to have UPC codes; HOWEVER, check with the retailer first if you are required to have them. Major retailers will provide you with their shipping guide along with their order where this info will be included and if not you can always ask your buyer.

When we first inquired about UPCs with our gourmet food business, costs to obtain a group of codes was very expensive. (If I remember correctly, it was $150/year (or more) and then $750 for 100 codes …. but then that was over ten years ago!). Thankfully, the system has changed since then and cheaper alternatives are available.

Next post, we will explore the many places you can buy UPCs — reasonably!  I will also post some tips shared in our Selling to Retailers’ Mastermind Group on bar codes.

Getting Ready for Holiday Sales

Over the next 6-8 weeks, we, at Tastes of Idaho, generate over half of our yearly sales.  With the volume of sales over a short period of time leaves no room for error or unpreparedness.  Most product based business — and retail outlets — are facing the same challenges during the holiday season.

So much to do and so little time!

I have posted numerous articles and tips over the years on getting ready for holiday sales. Listed below are the best articles.  Hopefully, they help you have smoother holidays sales!

Getting Ready for Holiday Sales

Getting Your Shipping System in Order

With the Christmas holiday right around the corner, it is time to start thinking about developing and/or setting up a clean efficient shipping system.  When the rush hits (which is usually right after Thanksgiving), you may be too busy to figure out what you could have done to make the process easier or at least more efficient.  At least, in our case, I know this to be true!

 

Holiday Email and Marketing Tips

Last week, we talked about Tips for Making Your Web Customers Welcome using email provider services such as MailChimp or AWeber.

Today I would like to share specific tips on holiday marketing.  Do not think holiday marketing is a plan to put off for another two months as lots of planning and preparation go into a success campaign for the holiday buying season.

 

Tips for Managing Order Processing This Holiday Season

The official Christmas holiday season starts in just a few weeks!  Are you ready?

Most of us will do the largest percentage of our business in the next 4-6 weeks.  NOW is the time to prepare for the onrush of orders.  And the best way to prepare is to have a system in place BEFORE the orders pour in.

 

Holiday Email Marketing Tips

Emails and periodic newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your customers to share new products, specials, shows you are attending etc.  During the coming holidays, a special holiday newsletter may make or break your sales goals for the year.

 

Motivation During the Holiday Season

I don’t know about you, but beyond shipping holiday retail orders each day, I don’t have much energy to do anything for the rest of the day!  At the end of the day, I don’t even want to answer my phone because I know it is probably one more order from someone who doesn’t want to order via the website!

 

 Preparing for 4th Quarter Sales

4th quarter sales, aka holiday sales, is typically the biggest income season of the year for most producers.  Our Tastes of Idaho website generates about half its yearly income just from 4th quarter sales!  (Income from my sales repping business is spread out a bit more over the entire year — mostly because I sell to lots of tourist type shops.)

 

Using Good Customer Service Systems

4th quarter is the time of year where most of us are extra busy, rushing to get orders out the door!  As a producer, I understand the rush of the holiday season!

To save time during the busies weeks, we take an inventory of all our products, supplies and shipping materials in September.  The last thing we want to do is realize that we are out of packing material or shipping boxes in the middle of the rush!

 

So, are you ready for holiday sales?