April 9, 2006
Vibrant Life started small, like many enterprises. When the week was finished, we were happy to have three orders. That was back in the days of "real typewriters." Each sale got a personally typewritten thank-you note and a real carbon copy was put in a file.
As the sales increased it became common to get many orders every week -- so many, in fact, that some sort of "law of usuals" came into play.
The usual number of orders received in one week rose to about 100. Then it was VERY unusual for a week to see only 20 orders, and also unusual for us to receive 200 orders in one week.
The the "Law of Usuals" kept pretty much in force -- we "usually" got about 100 orders every week and the sales "usually" increased gradually so that, in another several months the "usual" number of orders in one week was 150, etc.
Very unexpectedly, during this time, ONE PERSON would order a very large amount from us -- it would be so large that it was about the same as 20 other "usual" orders.
These were rather "infrequent" sales -- we didn't see how we could predict when some customer would unexpectedly order a 24-bottle amount.
As our sales grew the number and size of the "infrequent" sales became "more usual."
When we added bulk sales of MSM, by the ton, to our product list, ANY sale of that type would be several thousand dollars. We only had a few customers who purchased our MSM in one-ton lots and when they made a purchase the value of sales that week jumped tremendously.
Just as in the past, this one order for a ton of MSM would be equal to 20 or more of the "usual" orders we had received that week.
These "infrequent" sales played havoc with our sales statistics. We had a nicely increasing graph of sales -- going up in the "usual" way. But, now and then, on some sort of unexpected basis, there would be an enormous spike in our weekly statistics.
This seemed to make it harder to be responsible for the sales in the NEXT week to be UP again. After all, we only had a few of these large customers who placed large orders and they did this on a rather unpredictable schedule.
If you find yourself thinking along these lines, you might take comfort in knowing that I have felt the same.
I started studying the concept of a "sub-product" list.
I then recalled a series of Policies written by Mr. Hubbard, with the subjects: "Name, Want and Get your Product."
If the product were large sales, much larger than the usual sales, then that product should be "named" precisely.
I started with this as a name:
The "product" of a "large sale" would be one which is much higher than the usual retail sale. It would be a bulk sale, or a wholesale sale or a sale of unusually large amount. If the average sale during a period were $250, then a "large" sale would be $2,500. A rule of thumb would be that a large sale was one of about ten times the average sale during that time period.
It sounds odd, but not everyone really WANTS a particular product. So you need to examine yourself and others around you to see if they really want to have this product. For instance we have a firm rule on what profit margin to expect. We figure the average profit rate for every individual sale and we have a daily or weekly report on this margin. Normally we expect that the profit rate is about 70% of the amount of the sale. That is enough to allow us to cover our overhead and marketing costs. However, when we sell a ton of MSM our profit rate may be as low as 30%. Do we really "want" that type of sale? If we sell that ton on an open account basis and the guy doesn't pay, does that cause considerable harm to us? It is good to examine the level of "want" for any product. That examination forces us to consider whether that product is really worth going after.
The "large" orders we go after should be those where we are able to maintain our usual profit margin -- this would not likely be with "bulk msm" but could well be true with a "proprietary MSM product" where we are assured of no other firm being able to copy our formula.
We could well look for large customers who get our maximum "regular" discount of 40% off the retail selling price of our VL products. That would mean we make a 66% margin of profit on the selling price. That is enough to go after. Most often these will be people who may re-sell, but not with the primary motivation of "operating a profitable business" or they may simply be spreading their orders among family and friends. We do NOT offer them a larger discount, but we CAN AND SHOULD approach them with different promotional material.
Next is the part that seems hard, but the first two parts are so often missing that doing this third step becomes even harder -- without a careful review of the first two steps.
How do you GET this product?
That's where the sub-product list comes in.
The final product may be easy to envision, but how do you get it? You start with a "sub-product" list -- in the order in which each item is needed to allow the next item to be produced. Then, that product, still a sub-product, allows the NEXT sub-product to be produced. It goes on until you have the FINAL product.
This process starts with this as a name of a prospect for these large orders:
A person or entity which has already made large purchases from us or whose business it is normally to deal in purchases for further sale -- a broker or wholesaler who regularly deals with others including those who deal with final consumers.
Probably the first step of the sub-product list would be to get a list of names to whom you can send some offer or message.
The name and the intention to "get" those names are part of the concept of "collection of identities." Those identities must be more than a name, and even more than a name plus an eMail address. An email address could be called a sub-product to a complete name that includes a mailing address. Finally, a real name would have to be "correct." It doesn't help to gather individual names which turn out to be wrong addresses. You can purchase a list of thousands of names and expect that some standard percentage of those names are wrong addresses, but that standard percentage should be low and then you call all those names "names."
Next on the sub-product list is that you dream up some message that you will send to this list of names. The primary purpose of this message is not to sell something (although that is OK too) but to get a response from the recipient. Your message may often include some promotional brochure or other literature.
Recognize that you are a stranger to this person -- that he doesn't know you from Adam and probably receives many pieces of junk mail every day. Your first job with the mailing is to get him to open the envelop. IF, and that is a big IF, he opens the envelop you have less than one second to make some sort of an impression on him so that he will read more of the message.
This takes clever copy-writing. There are MANY clever authors who write such messages, so you can be sure that some of the best copy has been used so often that it may not work now.
As a general guide, if you can create some bit of "mystery" in some beginning item, or image -- at the top of your letter, you have a good chance that he will read further -- to see what this is all about.
Next, as a general guide, there are certain things that ruin people's lives -- if you can mention one of these "ruins" that is already uppermost in his mind, you will get his attention. Let's say he has customers who have been trying to solve "psoriasis" and not found a remedy. If your mailing piece says:
Do you have customers with Psoriasis?
Here is a new solution!
IF you have figured out what is on his mind (psoriasis) these two lines will probably get enough of his interest so that he will read more.
Even so, he is cynical and disbelieves most claims. So, he will read down to the first statement he feels is false -- then throw it away. You want to be careful, therefore, to not make wild claims, and to NOT make claims that have been made before (he has heard them and they don't work -- or he wouldn't have attention on the problem).
There are many items that are commonly on the minds of the managers and owners of wholesale sellers and brokers, etc. You can do best by using a well-done survey of such people if you can manage it. Mr. Hubbard developed an entire technology of how do these surveys -- that technology is very different from what you might expect and well worth study.
If you are trying to guess what will interest these people without a survey, you can talk to just a few of them -- learn about their industry -- get into their shoes.
You also want to look at how YOUR product and service might be different than what is provided by others. With just a few talks with people familiar with this industry you might realize that you do have an advantage compared to others -- and it may be enough to interest him?
When you call your supplier do you get an answering machine?
At our place you should get an answer in less than 4 rings and the FIRST person who answers can give you technical information, quote a price, take an order and will be the one who actually ships it to you usually the same day! There has never been one day in the last 5 years that we were not able to ship one ton of bulk MSM on a one-day's notice!
Can you offer exclusivity to your clients?
YOU tell us who you want to have an exclusive line of our proprietary Ayurceutical™ health products. We deal through you to set them up as exclusive representatives for this line. We will select only one broker or middleman who can set up retailers nationwide or more than one broker or middleman who can handle large geographical areas that do not overlap with others we select.
Are you the one?
These retailers receive goods "on consignment" direct from us, formal agreements with both YOU and them. Because we continue to own the goods shipped on consigment, we control prices. There will be no discounting -- but premium awarded for taking Company-provided training courses on the web and service to their customers.
You can get basic information even without responding, by reviewing: http://www.bulkmsm.com/convention/
You get a commission on all payments made by the store as well as complete data and records of shipments.
Just answer "yes" to that part and I'll start a dialogue.
The "quantity" of your mailings is more important than the cleverness of your message. So, send SOMETHING then tinker with the message to get you a better result.
When a message to a name does not give a response it is usually worth a few more mailings before you discard that name -- but the collection of new identities is a never-ending task -- as it is also never-ending to send out SOME message to your list on a regular basis.
As people respond, each response calls for a personal reply and a categorization of that person according to some level of interest and likely status as a customer.
This Policy should be enough to get you started thinking along this line.