Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Focus Focus Focus

I have a problem with not being able to focus on my goals. This is an issue with me because I see opportunities in everything. Now, I kinda like that about me, but I do forget I have limits.

So this year (and part of last year) I decided to identify my goals and commit to them. Actually, it's really one goal broken down into smaller ones.

Acceptance is almost the whole battle when it comes to making character corrections, and I had and have accepted the fact that I get distracted but it hasn't helped. I'm tempted every day and there are times I'm off in left field and it might take me 3 or 4 days to realize I'm off course.

Who do I blame? Beause I really want to blame someone. Is it the internet? Is it the guys out there selling get rich quick stuff? Is it the wizard telling you to follow the yellow brick road?

This day and age of over-load information can wreck havoc on our thoughts. Everyday I get bombarded daily with new ideas on marketing, selling, making some cash with affiliates etc. I can't help myself falling into a trance shaking my head yes and it ends up that I look like the bobbing figurine on the back of some of those cars.

Today was no exception. I'm reading marketing ideas from a really great email and I'm tempted to buy his book (you know the books always seems to be the answer) but I got pinched from someone (I live alone) and I realized WAIT... is this going to help me accomplish my goal? Huh... what's my goal again? Yup, I was drunk with promises of riches and glories!

Okay, back to square one. My goal, yes I have to remember. It's not internet marketing guru's goal... it's my goal.

My goal, then, has to be broken down into steps to achieve it. So if I'm off on the internet highway, tempted by the goodies others are promoting, I've strayed the path.

Today I'm once again writing my goal. Then I'm going to break it down into steps, then each and everyday I'm going to work hard on those steps.

I'd like to believe that I'm not the only one who suffers from this malady. You know, now that I think about it, the internet isn't really to blame... it's the get rich quick schemes that come across the highway, tempting us with their falsehoods.

Okay, so what I want you to do today is write down your goals for the year. Then pick the one that will have the most impact on your life. For me it's my business. I eat, sleep, dream (etc) my business. Then, break down that goal into steps that you need to do to make it. This exercise comes from the author Brian Tracy who has helped me with my business tremendously.

One of the things today I was thinking about is Disney World. I was just recently there and, because I'm a soap maker, I was curious about the different soaps they sell in Epcot. Well I found some and I have to tell you they were almost ugly. The wrapping were terrible and the designs were amateurish. So this got me to thinking. "How great would it be to have MY soaps in Disney World" So my very imaginative brain was conjuring up all the details on how I would get my soaps into Disney.

What was that you asked? Is this one of my goals? Well it might seem on the surface to be with my goals (I do sell wholesale soaps) but it's not. Every part of our goals takes time, energy, planning and working and building on each other. It's like creating a firm foundation. One day I will sell to Disney but it's not today. Today I'm working on what I've decided is important for my business and chasing Disney today might just be a waste of time and energy. Disney is in the future. If I really want to get that account I have to do the other things first. Understand?

Someone once told me that most creative people are like me, (did they mean distracted, unfocused, scatterbrain, ditzy?) and I puffed up and strutted around because of the evidence that I'm creative. I love being told I'm creative. Being creative is what I love to do and be, but it's no excuse for not being disciplined in my goals. More than being creative I want to be successful. So with my plan in hand, I'm off to conquer my goals and my distractions. You do the same. You can, you know!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Buying Trip For My Retail Store

How many of you went to the Atlanta's Americasmart Gift Show? I was there for 3 days and invested $1000 to get there for myself and my partner. It was a hefty investment that was alot for me but I felt it was needed.

When money is tight as this economy is creating you think is this a wise way to spend my money? I think it was, because I got to see things that will help my business.

If you want your customers to keep coming back to you then you have to show them new and different things. Is there another way then going to the shows to find different items to purchase for your customers? You might be answer yes I can see things in the trade magazine and your right but not everyone advertises and the ability to see in person is invaluable. Your customers are expecting that you will go out and purchase items for them to purchase that they will love and probably not the thing they loved yesterday.

You might ask should it just be Atlanta's show, well that's a good place to start but I have a theory that those on the east coast should go west and the west coast should go east. Why you might ask, well new companies are going to start out where they are located and there's a good chance you just might find a new company with a great product that your competitor doesn't know about.

Big shows, small shows, craft shows go to as many as you can. This will familiarize you to what is out there and I promise you that when you come across something new and exciting it will get your creative juices going.

Another great source for products is the craft shows. I found a company at a craft show that sells a sugar scrub to die for who was willing to wholesale it to me and that was 2 years ago and we still are selling a bunch of her product. No one else around me has that product.

Retail today is tough but it can also be looked at as an opportunity for change and for growth both for the store and owner.

Oh one more tip, if it's a new product for you don't order at the show, go home sleep on it, talk about it, think about it, etc and then if it still feels right, order. Impulse buying is a curse, ask me how I know :-)

Go out there and get em!!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Different Type Of Advertising!

I was thinking about my first store I had in the 80's. I remember being able to sell the thing I loved first before anything else. This kept happening and it impressed me. I think I realized then that because I liked an item my talk of it would show my excitement. My excitement would then excite my customer and then a sale! So with this I felt that my opinion on items in my store were regarded as important by my customers.

So I was thinking about this today while I was showering using our Loofah Boat soap. Now the Loofah Boat soap is my favorite. I love this soap! Here is a soap that makes you feel great. I lvoe this bar because the loofah when you use it on your skin makes you feel awake and alive. I used that first bar till the very end. Now when a customer comes in looking for something I'll be sure to tell them about how much I love the Loofah Bar. I'm sure that I'll sell quite a bit of Loofah Boat. Now you know how thoughts travel and build into other areas. So I realized that my wholesale customers should be offering a sample bar of soap to their sales team. Get them to try the soaps. Let them have from first hand experience of this and then this way they actually know what this soap is like. Now they may really love it (and I think they will) and then they can't help but to tell your customers. We love to sell what we love.

Now I can hear you saying thatit's just another expense that you can't afford, but I think it's not an expense but an investment, a marketing advertising investment. This is a marketing idea that will increase sales.

Try this with one salesperson and keep track of the amount of sales that person has with the soap.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Distaste Of The Dishwasher

What does the dishwasher have to do with wholesale and retail soap? Well actually nothing except you do use soap to wash the dishes but not the kind I sell.

This is a confession blog entry about my love hate relationship with the dishwasher. This is an almost daily struggle.

I love the diswasher and how it cleans my dishes, the silverware well that can use some help.
I love the dishwasher because I can just dump them (dirty dishes) into the dishwasher and viola my kitchen is clean. The dishwasher is amazing and I wouldn't be without it.

But here's the problem, I hate to empty it. I really do and I avoid it like the plaque. Now this is really serious because I can look at that dishwasher with it's clean dishes and know it has to be emptied and I start to make promises to it and me that I'll get to it. Hmm when?

So at night I'm tired and I know that the dishwasher wants to be done but I'm tired and I just promise myself that tomorrow morning I'll do it cause I'm a morning person. So that night's dinner dishes sit in the sink waiting patiently to be put into the dishwasher.

Morning comes my energy level is high, I eat breakfast, drink coffee, walk the dog but decide that I'll just empty the dishwasher when I get home cause I really want to get to my business and that's way too important. So in the sink goes my breakfast dishes.

Nighttime boy am I beat I worked a good long day and I deserve this glass of wine and in a whisper I hear the dishwasher calling me. Especially when I see how dirty looking the kitchen looks with all those dirty dishes. "Dishwasher please I have had such a busy day, I promise tomorrow morning" On the counter goes the dinner dishes (cause the sink is full) with an I owe you to the dishwasher.

Morning comes with a resolve that I won't leave till the kitchen is clean. I keep that promise but first before I clean the kitchen I have to empty the dishwasher. I open the door with an ugh under my breath and just dig in. Not 5 minutes has passed when the dishwasher is done, cleaned out, empty, ready for the new batch. 5 minutes and that ain't no lie. All that promising and procrastinating for what? To get away without doing 5 minutes of work and it's really not work it's just putting dishes away I never broke a sweat or got achy joints or muscles from it.

I really can't figure out why I feel this way, so you might ask do I procrastinate putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Absolutely not I'm always ready to put in the dishwasher dishes that are dirty though except if the dishwasher has to be emptied.

So there is no rthyme or reason to this madness, I guess I'm just a bit crazy and have a phobia about emptying the dishwasher. How does that sound? You don't buy it, hmm me either.

Till next time


Monday, January 7, 2008

Who Knew I Could Do Gift Baskets!

Being in the soapmaking business for the last.....8 years people would always ask me "why don't you do baskets". Then my mind would start wandering to all the attempts I made to come up with a good looking basket. I was willing to settle for good not great. But I have to tell you all attempts were horrible. Why you ask?

Well for one I HATE shrinkwrapped baskets. They look so cheesy and cheap so anytime I did one and did the shrinkwrap covering it was ugh. Plus have you ever felt that stuff? You know we are affected by all of our senses and feel is one of them and touching that shrinkwrap after it's be shrunk feels like brittle saron wrap now what kind of impression in your mind would that conjure up?

Okay so no shrinkwrap, NEXT I went on to cello on a roll from the local craft store. Have you ever tried to cut that stuff? Dear Cello On A Roll has a mind of it's own and hates the scissor. When you finally get it cut to fit, you gather it all up around the basket with products, add the ribbon and with all that work what does it look like? Folds and folds of cello and if you look really close you can see the product. Nope I hated that almost as much as the shrinkwrap.

Ohhh one day I came across some netting at Walmart for $1.00 a yard. Bought all they had went back to the store and did up some more baskets because I was convinced this was the way. Well this was getting better but I just wasn't happy, I didn't feel that zing when I'm totally happy with what I've done. These baskets reminded me of bridal or baby shower gifts and they weren't.

One thing I did forget to mention in my quest for the good looking basket was I wasn't placing my merchandise high enough in the basket. Actually all of the stuff should be up as high as the rim of the basket. Did anyone think to start a Gift Basket University for us people who need alot of help making baskets. This would save the trial and error period.

Gift basket creating is an art, and I didn't think I had it, which was depressing. With realizing one aspect of a good looking basket was to position the items way up and also using glue dots I was starting to get a bit hopeful that I might just get it yet. I wanted to create a basket that someone would be happy to give as a gift.

So for our Valentine push we decided to order some very cute stuffed animals from http://www.burtonandburton.com/. Even at my age (58) I still love stuffed animals. Now Burton and Burton is geared towards gift basket companies and they have some cello bags in sizes big enough for gift baskets. So I decided to try them. I am so happy that I did that I'm doing a happy dance. Now each bag costs about .20 each but they are so worth it. There are no folds that your merchandise is hiding behind. The quality of the cello is such that it's a crisp and clean look (remember creating for all senses) and most of all my merchandise looks fabulous darling.

Oh yeah and the stuff animals holding my product in the gift basket doesn't hurt either. I'll post some pictures as soon as they are done this week.

So if you haven't thought about doing gift baskets in your store do try it and if you have and were like me and had problems with them just keep plugging away and if I can help please feel free to email me at Linda@firstinlinesoap.com