How to Talk to Local Retailers + Get Your Product on Shelves

Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt's, explains how to pitch to local retailers in her book, Supermaker.

This playbook is straight from Supermaker, a book on crafting business on your own terms by Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt’s.

Stake Your Claim

First, Jaime recommends doubling down on your one product that is truly unique. For her, this was deodorant. This allows you to “stake your claim” and hone your pitch.

Here’s a pitch Jaime sent to a local co-op when making her initial retail push:

“Schmidt’s is a local producer of natural body care products for women and men. Our deodorant is our top-selling product. We consistently hear positive feedback from customers who tell us Schmidt’s deodorant keeps them dry and free of odor, even after extended periods of physical activity. Customers regularly report that Schmidt’s is the only natural deodorant that works for them. Our formula allows for the body’s natural process of perspiring, while effectively absorbing wetness and neutralizing odor. A combination of all-natural ingredients moisturizes and soothes the sensitive underarm area: the subtle fragrance of cocoa butter is complemented by a blend of essential oils for a light, natural scent”. 

Use this as a template with your retail outreach and get a foot in the door. 

Look The Part

If you want retailers to take your brand seriously, you need to build an inspired visual identity so your brand will stand out. Your brand identity is the first thing customers see and everyone’s a critic. Branding requires highly developed skills, so it pays to hire a professional. This investment paid dividends for Schmidt’s.

Next, take risks and do the opposite of what your competition is doing. Physically visit your dream retails, scope out your competition and do whatever you can to avoid looking like them. 

Lastly, create brand and design guidelines so you can easily establish consistency across your brand's visual world (labels, decks, social media, website, retail banners, etc).

After revamping Schmidt’s branding, many retailers that had previously rejected Jaime were suddenly interested thanks to Schmidt’s new standout packaging. And shortly after, doors started opening at national retail locations.

Be Resilient

Jaime would mail samples of the deodorant to all retailers in the area and would personally follow up to get their thoughts. She’d use existing accounts to appeal to new ones by telling potential retail partners that “Schmidt’s is already selling well at X store across town” in order to “emphasize the brand's desirability”.

For larger stores, Jaime had to be much more persistent. She’d frequently check in and share social media posts showcasing positive customer feedback. She’s even encourage her customers to go into retailers and ask them directly to carry Schmidt's so they’d stay on the radar.

Jaime also learned that retailers would do “category resets” where stores would reconsider which new products to bring in for each category in cycles. She’d ask store employees when the resets occurred so she could pitch at the right time of year. This was crucial so she wouldn’t miss her window of opportunity.

Source: Hip2Save

Pitch Secrets

Know What You’re up Against

Retailers get pitched new products constantly. When you have the opportunity to pitch, come in prepared to talk about how your product differs from what’s currently on the shelves and what type of sales performance the retailer can expect.

Know Your Customers

Talk about the types of customers that buy your products (ideally new customers for the store) and be sure to demonstrate what’s in it for the retailer.

Never Trash Talk other Brands

Trash talking is always unprofessional. Focus on why your product is great without putting down the competition.

Bring Everything in Writing

Bring a brand folder which includes product pictures, line sheets, presentation, press sheet, and samples.

Get Personal

Relationships are everything. Learn something personal about the buyer that you have in common as a way to build a connection. 

Ultimately, people buy from people they like and people like other people they have something in common with.

Say Yes

Retailers like it when you’re game to collaborate with them (giveaways, discounts, etc). At the end of the day, when your product is discounted,  more customers will try it which means more money and word of mouth in the long run.


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