Building Your Store Prospect List
Let's talk about building your store prospect list so now that we've talked about the types of stores that you're going to see it's time to go out and build that list because we don't have to wait for them to find us we could go out, we can make our list and we can start contacting them. So this is a case where I highly recommend keeping this list in a spreadsheet now as I said when we were talking about pricing, I'm pencil on paper kind of girl I like I like to write it down and you know, I like my workbooks I like my sketchbooks definitely pencil on paper kind of girl, but in this case we want to be build our list in some kind of spread sheet because this is actually going to make us so much more efficient in the long run. So just to give you a really concrete example when we get to talking about how to reach out to stores, one of my big marketing things is I do postcard mailings a couple times a year because I have all my stores in a spreadsheet I can click a couple magic buttons an...
d it exports this right into mailing labels how long would take me if every time I had to make new mailing labels from us stores every time I change this list, so this is a case where having this spreadsheet really is going to help keep us organized. So what I d'oh in my list is I actually keep two separate lists, one is my prospects, and one is my current stores, I think that's still my prospect list eso well, someone's prospects, one's current stores, and I want to be able to know the difference because I want to be able to keep tabs on certain things, you know, prospects is going be a much longer list, people. I want current stores it's important. When you're thinking about starting to build this current stores, I need to be able to know what zip codes my stores, aaron, we're going to talk about setting your terms in terms of exclusivity, but a lot of times stores want something like zip code exclusivity. They don't want another store in their zip code carrying your product. Uh, and again, these are things that you consent you could decide that maybe that doesn't work for you, but it's something I want to be aware of, and I can check that off my current stores list. I can also use my current stores list just to keep track of one the last time somebody ordered wass, because if a store wants to buy and I used to sell to the story on the block and they haven't bought in two years it's okay I can move on to that next door so we're gonna keep track of all of that but right now we're dealing with this side which is our perspective stores and what you're going to do is you know you're gonna start building story and we'll talk about how to find them but on this sheet I'm gonna keep track of my store name the store website the mailing address ah phone number if I can find it um a buyer's name if I can find it uh the buyers email or a stor e mail something that I'm finding on there if the store is a preferred submission method like some stories might have just a form that you feel out on their website I'm going to note that and then for now we can ignore these last two cons but eventually as we start reaching out to stores I want to know when and how I first communicated with them and if we've had any communication afterwards so this helps keep you really organized so you know what's going on here so we're going to build this list and then this is my current store list so what changes here is then I've added on data first order and date of most recent order so I know when they bought first and when they bought last because I want to know that there were keeping him current so we're actually going to work now on filling this out starting to build your list of stores but I know some of you are probably thinking can I just buy a list of stores like really you're going to make me do all this research meghan please so probably yes eso you probably can I wouldn't want it because it's not gonna be tailored to you it's probably going to be really expensive and so you're going to spend just as much time going through that list, figuring out if they're really the right stories anyway uh so we're going to actually build our own lists um I will also say that occasionally this is the exception, not the rule you might get a list of registered buyers from a trade show it's happened to me once I've done what I say twenty five trade shows I did one where I got a buyer list so I tell you it really is the exception um but it's that same thing I got this giant fire list like ninety five percent of these people are my customer. But how do I know from an excel spreadsheet is the stores my customer without then going to every single store's website some of which didn't really have them where they weren't so good? Uh this is also I should mention as we're getting into this research with brick and mortar stores, especially ones that have been in business for a long time you can't always judge the brick and mortar store by its website or its name, so let's be clear about that so we're gonna put a little bit of judgment aside here because not all the websites are gonna tell us everything we need to know, so just keep that in mind I have some fantastic stores I'm not so great one side's still so all right, so let's work on building your list of stores and this is where we come back to that ideal retail customer profile or those profiles because I want you to start thinking about where is your customer likely to shop, and the two pieces of information that are going to help us on this search are the types of stores that they shop in and the geographic areas and that geographic areas piece is actually two pieces where do they live and where do they travel? Because remember someone who is a selector that cautious shopper when they're at home might become an impulse buyer when they're on vacation? Um, you know someone who at home when they're getting ready for like somebody's baby shower, seventy five dollars for that card again might feel a little steve but and he's on vacation and she got to bring something back for her nephew doesn't that doesn't seem so bad charged to the room you don't even think about it um so we want to think about those things types of store and then geographic areas all right, so how do we find stores first? We're just going to head to google um and this is where we start to plug in that information so if I know that bernie's is either in san francisco or she's gonna travel to san francisco and she's gonna buy stuff in museums or so we know she's in san francisco because lindsay's our way the first thing that I'm gonna do is I'm just going to google san francisco museum stores maybe you're going to google san francisco boutiques are you gonna google oakland boutiques? So you're just going to start to pick out geographic area type of store and you're going to start to google and it really can be as simple as that that's a great place to start and then you start to look at stores you start to go to their web sites and we'll talk about looking at that website in a second you might also just serve something like best small stores in san francisco what's great about this is that instead of giving you a list, you might start to get teo things that are put together by media or other people, so now I've got the bay area's top one hundred shops I don't think they did the twenty fourteen list that's why that's why we're on twenty thirteen right, so right there, I've got a hundred stores, the sf gate said we're the best shops in the area and you have to say pictures, right? So now I can click through this entire list. I don't know why there's only ninety two. If there's a hundred shops, I can click through this entire list you can immediately get a sense of this is the aesthetic of the store you know there's, a link to the store's website you can click over from there. You could probably add fifteen to twenty stores to your list just from this one feature, and you can do this for every geographic area that you think your customer is in, whether they live there or they travel there. So if it's me, I'm searching this for san francisco, I'm searching it for boston, I'm searching it for philadelphia, I'm searching it for chicago, I'm searching it for baltimore, I'm searching it for d c I'm hitting lots of major cities if maybe your customers not so much an urban dweller, you might start looking for different states. Pull out a map. Um, you know, if I know that they're living in the suburbs outside of philly, I'm going to do a search for best stores on the main line because the main line is what they call that link of suburbs outside of philly. It's on the main railroad line that's how I got that's name so I might search for that, I might do a little digging like, what are the boston suburbs? Literally? I'm gonna put that into google if I don't live in boston and I used to know I'm gonna google what air the boston suburbs it's going to tell me? And I'm gonna start doing those searches, but doing those things like best of really helps you because it gets you to these kinds of kinds of things that are put together by media and it's gonna be so much easier than just tryingto read through a google list of, like, every store in san francisco, this is going to tell you a lot, so using things like best of really helps you get to this, all right? So we're starting to do this, and now we're starting to find some stores, and we need to figure out are those stores a good fit for my products? I've got that list of the hundred best stores in san francisco I'm not going to put all hundred on the list because they're not all a good fit for me, so I want to figure out are they a good fit? So do they sell your product type that's the first day they don't sell jewelry and you make jewelry clearly not gonna work uh then is the price point a good fit? You don't want to be like if they're only selling sixty dollars jewelry and you sell three hundred dollars necklaces not gonna work I personally like to be in places where I am the low end, the high end like I love my stores where my three hundred dollar necklace is like one of the cheapest things in the store, so I tend to look for that, but I do have a solid handful of stores where I am like mid to upper end and they still work okay too so you might fall into different ranges, but certainly if everything is fifty dollars and you're a two hundred, you don't want it. If your stores selling that two thousand dollar crib, you guys certainly want to be there with your hundred dollar product, I should send one twenty I'm just gonna keep teo right um also is it the right aesthetic you're gonna be able to look at those pictures and you're going to know like, this is not my vibe, it doesn't work for me. Uh, you know, you guys are gonna be in the upscale baby boutique, you're going to be in the funky, quirky baby boutique, you're not going to be in the same store even though technically baby boutiques, right? So making sure that the aesthetic is the right fit for you and then the last one is we can start to apply that filter would my ideal customer shop here? And my attitude with that is if you're not one hundred percent sure just put it on that prospect list for now, because especially in the beginning, you're not one hundred percent sure about your ideal customer, right? You think you know who she is, but maybe it takes you a little while to refine. I didn't know who bernice wass originally. Now I know she really she exists. I love my confirmation that, um, but at the beginning she was kind of fuzzy, so I couldn't really use her as a model. So if you're not one hundred percent sure on that last question, put them on your list anyway, one of the things that you could also do with your list is you consort of mark like high prospect prospect so when you're filling out that list if you know like one hundred percent I absolutely think I want to be in the store would be such a good fit for me you know, stick that store name and bold or put an asterisk behind it something that tells you this one's really important and some of your just going to put on there because there if they could maybe work because there are different ways of outreach that we're going to talk about and some of those methods of outreach are perfect for hitting every restore on your list and some of them are better for yes, this is definitely a store that I think works for me so you can start to mark that on your list so let's say you go to a store we're gonna look at ray device because we're actually gonna have her in here in our next segment yeah so when I'm heading to a store you know I want to start to know a little about it so I'm gonna actually go I'm gonna look at product price point you know what products does she carry? You can see very kind of you gift in lifestyle here she's hitting everything living jewelry, accessories, stationary bath and body kids she's got a little of everything going on here um so you know, I can look that I'm going to get price point then I'm also gonna head to the about paige because I want to try to find out a little more, right? Is the owner what's going on with the store? Oftentimes about pages have a great shot of the store, so you start to see a little bit more about the overall aesthetic, then I'm going to head over to the contact page and start to pull together some information. S o this is typically a case where if you don't see the store's address on the contact page it's probably because scroll down and it's in the footer so we want to pull that address from the store. This is a great example where it says right here, if you are an artist or designer and you would like to submit your work for consideration, please felt this form on this page, so I know I might put one of those e mail addresses on there just so I have it, but I'm also going to go into my form and I'm gonna mark in my preferred submission method, this girl, because if I want to submit to this store, this is how she wants this and I'm sure when giselle is here she's going to tell us it drives me nuts when people don't submit this way because that's what she wants, right? So we're gonna make note of that so here you can see I've marked the email on here, but really, I know her preferred submission is this form and I'm going to keep that in mind so you could do this with every store. Go through, pull the contact information. So there are a few other places that you confined. Um, do your store research as well. This is one of my favorites. We're going old school, huh? We're actually gonna go to a store and look at magazines in real life. I know crazy, but I have found that local and regional magazines are some of the best places to find store information. So you know, if it's philly magazine, if it's, whatever, a lot of them do an annual shopping issue. So that's, really fantastic, because I can grab those I travel a lot. So when I'm in the airport, I am always looking for, like, what's the regional publication. Let me grab that. Let me take that. Um, I remember once I was in minneapolis for a conference and it just so happened that the minneapolis magazine had it was their shopping guide issue. I picked it up, I spent the whole flight home marking stores. I was like, I got home and my list looking twenty more stores it's like, oh, that one, that one perfect so this can absolutely work on and you can find these in general travel magazines too. I believe this is the current issue of travel and leisure it's a issue about traveling around the u s and they have a couple of stores listed in there, so, you know, scope those things out if you get a little tired of google or I know some people are better at search than others, so if you're trying to find things on the internet and you're coming up a little short this, you know, going old school going back to those magazines can certainly help and of course pretty much any city you can also then turn this on back online to any city, any state, any country they're goingto have travel guides you can pull those up, you can see shopping is an option even start to take a look at stores this way. So this is a really great way to build your list and all you have to know is, again, that type of store and where your customers are located and again, this was I think this is trouble your travel nature's online, you confined travel guides there too you're not limited to travel in this case actually, one of my favorite places to find stores is designed sponge to this whole series of city guides, so here I know these are stores that are definitely gonna have a strong aesthetic sensibility sometimes with those travel ones, you're gonna wait through a list of like cheesy souvenir shops, especially if it's like the city travel guide right this I know these gonna have great aesthetic they're probably who I'm looking for so I can and I have gone on to design sponge is just going through all these city guides and look for stories that I thought made sense one caveat is that you know, they started this process a pretty long time ago and so some of them are a little bit old now I know that they're in the process of redoing a lot of them they're starting to make the updates, but you might have to pay attention to the date on the post because some of those stores might not be in business anymore. So the one that I think is most commonly heard in terms of where to find stores and you can see it's not where I had you guys start is to look at other makers websites if you've heard one piece of advice on how to find stores it's probably this who else are people selling two who are your competitors selling to actually don't think that who were you your competitors selling to is a really fantastic method and part of that is because if you're looking at someone who sells a similar product the first thing that story's going to say is we already have a product like that why do we need yours? So one of the things that you khun dio is think about complimentary products so I pulled this off of hobos website expensive bags, stores that are gonna carry expensive bags. They might carry expensive jewelry too, right? So then I went to their website and I just pulled up all their stores in massachusetts so you can see, you know, some of them are like bloomingdale's I'm gonna skip that, but some of them are actually small midsize stores that could be perfect for my product and actually it's not on here but just to prove that this system really works. When I was scrolling through this list, I found one or two of my current retailers. I was like, hey, it's really true eso you start to see those patterns emerge so instead of thinking about so in your case, who are those really expensive crib companies and what boutiques can you buy them in that's what you're looking for not who else is making the diaper bag, but who else is making that crib so that's going to really help you narrow in on you know, if you want to look at other people stores or other people's shops there selling to do that complimentary products, not competitors and of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention that pinterest as I said on the big interest girl uh this can become a place where you can also find stores and this one is a little less about going out and doing the research and a little bit more about having a place to put this while you're browsing pinterest so we all know what happens, right? We're browsing pinterest and you see something like you that's a store that could work for me but you're not in like store research mode, right? I have a secret board that's just for stores tales of a secret boards just for media outreach for the same thing, so I want to be in that magazine that's a great feature so this way your school on pinterest you're just chillin throw that on your secret board now you can come back later and you can dive in research those stores and you can see here like these air more features fifty states of shopping, so now I can go back and later dive into that article look for great stores, add those to my list and if you want, you can be a little bit more aggressive on pinterest by you know you find it a great image of a store and you might find other boards, other pens that will take you to more stores I will say that the challenge of this on pinterest is that sometimes they don't actually take you to the store people are just paying because it's a cool image right? And it doesn't take you anywhere useful so this is definitely a secondary strategy, not your primary strategy um but you could also use a place like pinterest to get to know your potential stores so you know, here I talk about abc carpet in home great store in new york they're on pinterest if I dive in here, I can actually start to see what's in their store they have boards that are specific to their store display their merchandising, their product so this could be a really great outlet in terms of getting to know your stores and that's really kind of going to be your next step. We're not ready to pitch stores yet well, you've got it. We've got some work to do, we've got to get those line sheets and those policies in the place so we're not quite ready to pitch stores, but we can start to get to know them a little bit better. We can follow them on pinterest we should can and should definitely get to know them on places like instagram, right? If they're on instagram, we wanna be following them for sure, you know, so we can start to build those relationships, see what they're carrying so you may even want to add that as a column in your spreadsheet like what's their pinterest once their instagram or I didn't actually do that because honestly I would just pop in and follow him and then it's done so definitely do that now the next question that you're probably wondering is how many stores should I have on my list right now? So do you have a thought on that? Do you think like are you thinking like should I fifty shy five hundred? Are you just totally not sure that I question what's a reasonable number of stores and what's a reasonable number of stores to actually have his wholesale accounts awesome. So that question is going to be different for everybody it's going to depend on you know what your goals are, how many, how much you want to sell? What portion of your income do you want to come from wholesale so some people might be totally happy with ten to fifteen stores. You know, I feel like if I'm not selling to at least like sixty in any given year like that, I need to be a kind of that number to sustain me. You could also kind of figure out that number by thinking about your income and we're going to talk about this a lot more another segment but thinking about your income like I want to make this amount of money I assume that every store is probably gonna order such and such an amount. So your minimum order is five hundred some stores gonna order one. Some stores are gonna order a bunch of times, so maybe figure that every store is maybe gonna get you a thousand dollars a year, so if you want to make it and you can fudge does, it might not be your specific numbers. We're gonna use that as an example, you know, so if you wanted to make a hundred grand and you figured every stories maybe worth a grand to you, that means you sell to one hundred stores in that year so you can start to kind of get that. Now, if you want to sell to one hundred stores, you are not making a list of a hundred stores because you are not hitting every single store. So actually, I wantto pull up this quote because I'm reading this book right now. I think it's called the is it called the art of the sale, maybe by philip delves broaden, and he says it's actually a really great book about selling. And he says the more knows a sales person received he's telling a story, the more money they made, um, the nose or an indication of effort and creativity, so I think we start to get this feeling like I can't reach out to someone unless I'm going to get the yes right like it's scary to think about getting the know but when you're building your list you absolutely you're going to get knows it's gonna happen over and over and over again it has nothing to do with your products has nothing to do with you as a person because you're all awesome people, you guys and the online audience I know you're all awesome people uh but not every story's buying right now, not every stores ready to do that, so you're going to reach out to weigh more stores then are actually going to carry you so I think a really good rule of thumb is like you should be somewhere between five to ten times the amount of stories you want to be and should be on your list. So I think right now, my I call this my my postcard list it's my prospect list, but I call my postcard lis because that's all the people that I would send a postcard to and I'm trying to promote my business. I think right now I'm at like, seven, seven, fifty and then I've got another hundred fifty hundred sixty or so on my current and prior stores list um no don't worry you could build those over time it's not like I'm saying go out right now and find a hundred stores this is a list that I've built up over time so a good place to start might be I'm going to work on building up you know, fifty or hundred stores to start with, but over time I'm going to add more and more to that list and this is also where that idea of like hitting priority kind of comes in because we're gonna talk about some outreach methods that are much more personalized I am never going to sit down and email all five hundred stores on my list I would just be insane partly I'm not doing that because I'm doing trade shows so I don't need thio said out an email five hundred stores so you want to know if I miss it on email stores who were the twenty or thirty or one hundred that are really, really the most important that deserve that special individualized outreach they get an email, maybe they get the line sheet mailed to them so your list is actually gonna be pretty big. But again you're going to build it over time. You know, give yourself little chunks of time to do this research because it can take you a little while but know that you're always gonna add, maybe you're traveling you see a magazine that's got a good shopping guide you pick that up um you've got an extra hour one day I know most of stone of extra hours but maybe you find an extra hour uh you've scheduled out into your calendar and you sit down and you work on that for a knauer and you build that list you do a trade show and you're going to start collecting leads those go on to that list your list could be as big as you want it see a thousand two thousand keep going there plenty of stores but certainly you know you at least probably one aim for fifty to one hundred and I really feel like I like being up you know, over that over five hundred number I feel like that's a lot of options one of the other questions that I know is going to come up and I just want to kind of clarify this to hopefully it has a name or should I start local because I think when we're thinking about stores everybody thinks that the easiest thing to dio is go to the store down the block. First of all, I'm gonna say this like twelve times throughout the next couple of segments but do not just walk into a store with your product do not do it please don't do it and it's like the easiest way to make a store really angry they're busy they're dealing with customers and suddenly you show up and spill it all out you are not their friend so do not do that instead so we're gonna talk about all kinds of methods that you should do instead but I want to talk about this should I start local peace because the answer is yes on ly if it makes sense for your customers the most important thing is not what's close to you it's what's close to your customers I think I said this before if I had tried to start with only local stores I would not have a wholesale business I would be like dead in the water now I have one store that you could maybe call local it's about a forty five minute drive from where I live local it's local when you live out in the country uh that's the beauty of wholesale if your customers aren't where you are don't start there it doesn't matter start with where you know your customers live and you know your customers travel tio and if it's not local, don't worry about it people has asked me where you sell locally I don't but I saw the san francisco and chicago and boston and new york and fili and baltimore and cooler anyway I can hit I could find those local people if I really want to all right again so we've identified these stores were starting to build this list now what do we do? Um you know you could go ahead like I said follow them on social media look at the other lines they carry start to see who they're following right now we're just working on building that relationship we are not going into the store and we're not making our pitches get because we're not quite there we've got us like I said ah little more work to dio so hopefully we've got those shares coming in and while we're getting those shares coming in, I'm also gonna give you guys homework as we move forward, which is to start building your list we're going to say five storeys is a great place to start it's gonna give us something to move forward and take action on so you're going to go out you're going to start to do your research and you're going to find your infill in that spreadsheet names, addresses contact info for at least five stores here excited do you want to keep going? Keep going, but this is a good place to start. So what we see in our line? Well, the only response we've had so far is off from our secret tree house and they're looking at nature centers I'm not sure this is there in but maybe they can tell us in there in the new york area and then looking at nature centers fantastic on you know they also might want to check out so nature centers, but you might also get some places that are I'm thinking something very specific, which is falling water. The frank lloyd wright house in pennsylvania, it's it's, not a clinical nature center, but it has a fantastic gift store and it's out in the middle of the woods. So they're even though it's about great architecture, they're also thinking about that beautiful natural setting there in. So that could be a really great place for them to look.