Getting your product to market on a shoestring

Today I published a guest article by Stephanie Chandler, Get Your Product to Market on Any Budget. She offers a good selection of very workable outlets, and I’d like to add a few words about one of her suggestions.

Ms. Chandler suggests hosting home-based parties, and mentions Mary Kay, Tupperware and the Pampered Chef as examples of a possible method of selling your own product(s). She advises developing a theme for your parties and launching your start-up by inviting family and friends to hear a presentation about or demonstration of your product(s). (And, of course, buy your product.)

My own two cents on the subject is this: I’ve seen this process work wonderfully well for various different kinds of sales. My first encounter with the variations on home party sales was when we were vacationing in Mexico and met a couple who took very profitable vacations all over the world. They would spend part of their vacations shopping for local crafts and have their purchases shipped back home. When they returned from a vacation, they would fix up their home for a sales party — and I mean they would do it quite professionally, setting a theme for the particular country where they’d bought the sales items. So, if they had brought back goods from Mexico, they would have a buffet of Mexican foods and drinks. They would rent palm trees to line their entrance walkway. They would play Mexican music. And they would build an appropriate display for their Mexican goods. It would be a real party, a social and entertaining party. But everyone knew they were there to buy something. People had fun and all the goods always sold out. At a very nice profit.

They had started with inviting friends, family and neighbors. Their family, friends and neighbors started bringing others. They built a list. They got feedback on what the folks on the list would like to see next. They learned what to buy. They learned who to invite and when. They learned the buying and selling customs of various countries and types of people.

At first, it was just a great way to write off vacations and get some extra cash. As it grew, all they had to do was have fun traveling and throw parties about four times a year and they could make a good living. After a while, a number of friends liked to have them do the shopping and send the goods back to the friends. The friends would reimburse them and then the friends would have their own sales parties.

You can see how the idea of just one kind of home party sale grew and blossomed into something big. It’s applicable to most products and even many kinds of services. Think about the variations you could do with your own product. This is a wonderful way to add a new marketing venue, start up a new product venture, have a sideline business or moonlight while employed.