Build a Perfect List of Stores

How to build a buyer listBack in the mid-1990’s, when I was working in the movie industry, Hollywood was rocked to its foundations by the infamous Heidi Fleiss scandal

If you don’t remember her, Ms. Fleiss was the famed “Hollywood Madame”, who had an even more famous little black book, where kept the names of some of Hollywood’s elites… along with all of their naughty little deeds 😉

When she was finally arrested, the prosecutors tried everything they could to pry the names out of that book…. but to no avail. Ms. Fleiss would not reveal any of them.

And that brings me to important point (and no, it’s definitely NOT about Ms. Fleiss’ line of work…)

It’s about the importance of having a Black Book.

But in this case, I’m talking about a Buyer Black Book – your own personal rolodex of the store buyers you want to do deals with.

And while the names of the hottest buyers certainly won’t end up on the cover of the National Enquirer, it is your golden ticket to what your company needs most: getting your products into stores everywhere.

So let’s open the pages and peek inside your ideal Buyer Black Book……

In business, an LBB is:

  • A list of every location that could offer your products
  • A list of stores that offer products similar to yours
  • A big-picture vision of your ideal clients
  • A mission statement on your targeted market goals
  • A go-to referral source of allies, and vendors
  • Sales leads for follow-up or future phone calls
  • A map of connections you’ve made and want to make

In other words, the LBB is your everything.

It is a lifeline to the success of your business that you have carefully woven over time to create the most perfect fishing expedition that you ever imagined.

It is the “oh-crap-sales-are-down” list of companies that you need to start calling first to try to get more inventory orders.

It is the playing-big focus of the ideal business you’ve always imagined right at your fingertips.

And I’m going to give you an insider track to making sure that yours is so darn juicy everyone in your industry can’t wait to get their hands on it.

Of course this doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in the work, but at least these tips will give you the details you need to fully understand how to make your LBB work for you.

Know Your Target Market

Before I get too deep, I want you to think about who your target market is.  You might have heard this called a “Buying Persona” by automotive manufacturers.  Let’s answer a few quick questions about your products:

  • What is the sex of your target buyer?
  • How much money do they make?
  • Where do they shop, specifically?
  • What brands/stores do they buy?
  • Where do they spend their free time?
  • What do they value/respect/admire?
  • How old are they, on average?
  • Why would they buy from you?

Selling to Your Target Market

Now the really tough question; where do these people go shopping?  When you sell a product, you have to work to get your products into the stores that will sell to your target market.

You will never see a $250 handbag for sale at a Target or Kohls. Likewise, $50,000 wedding dresses are not the norm at David’s Bridal Boutique. And do your organic, cruelty-free vegan shoes belong on the shelves at a Cowboy Boot Outlet? (Hilariously, no.)

If you are working your butt off to put your product on the wrong shelves in the wrong store, you’ll quickly exhaust your most valuable resources: time & money. Having the right LBB helps you avoid the inevitable burn-out associated with a leak in your sales funnel.

Finally, let’s think bigger than your backyard. Where do the people who buy your product live? The geographic location of the stores you want to see your product placed in is equally relevant to your success as an entrepreneur.

Target Market Success Formula

Here’s a quick formula that I heard in a podcast once:

The right product
The right people
The right place
The right time

The wrong product
The wrong people
The wrong place
The wrong time

You can sell the right product to the wrong people in the wrong place, etc. but you won’t get very far. Your LBB will aim to target shopping environments where every single option in the book is the right product, right people, right place, and the right time.

Sarah Shaw’s LBB Super-Secrets

Creating an LBB can be a lot of work. And I should know. When I had Sarah Shaw Handbags, I had to learn the hard way that using an LBB to stop wasting my time on the wrong accounts was crucial.

I don’t want you to suffer. Here are my four best secrets to successfully creating an LBB:

  1. Look at a few competitor store listings.
    One of the easiest ways to find awesome stores is to look for complimentary brands and see if they have a stockist list. If you feel your target customer wears or uses that brands products, most likely you should be sold in the same stores.
  2. Read magazines to find new stores.
    You would not believe how many new store owners are looking for the latest and greatest things to offer their clients. In fact, they are probably dying to feature you on their shelves. Read magazines, newspapers, local fliers, even call up the local chamber of commerce once a week and ask what’s shaking.
  3. Check out blog listings for “Best of”
    Ugg Boots CEO Brian Smith recently spoke at an expo I attended. It turns out Oprah listed him as one of her “Favorite Things.” His sales instantly sky rocketed. Look for the blogs of key influencers in your industry and see what they are celebrating as the “Best of”.  Are there any up and coming baby boutiques? Did they mention a new product that’s complimentary to yours?
  4. Google “Best in…” for your cities.
    We already touched on the importance of researching the right geographic location to sell your products in. A second idea is to google the “best of” in those cities. You can be generic and say, “best clothes shopping” or get specific to your product, “best fitness wear for women.”  Remember these will be the crème de la crème in your LBB so don’t expect to find 1,000 results for every area you search.

Bonus LBB Builder

The second thing you can do that might have not even occurred to you is to ask your target market where they go shopping. This is perfect for very unique products that you don’t have the luxury of using the above tactics for.

I’m a huge fan of Facebook groups as a source. Find these on social media and just start asking the people that you meet:

  • Where do you go shopping?
  • Where did you buy your last XYZ?
  • Would you try an ABC product?

The anonymity of the online environment will let you harvest the field for the best possible targeted responses from the people around you. The key is to be friendly and polite. Act like a friend.

However, let’s say that you sell dog sweaters. That’s a pretty cool, targeted niche. Buyers have to own a dog plus have the expendable income to buy clothes for their pooch.

Why not reach out to someone and ask, “I see your dog has a sweater on. Where did you buy it?” If you tweet @ someone, 9 times out of 10 they will answer you.

And the answer will lead you to do additional research of a company that should definitely be part of your LBB. Just think of how easy it was to find that tool – a person you could sell your product to – right there in front of you on social media.

Bigger is Better

Your LBB, in essence, establishes the perfect list of stores that you have the potential to work with. Therefore, don’t limit yourself.

Conduct the above searches once a quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4). Put it on your calendar and make sure it gets done. Consistency is key to getting the best results in marketing.

During the times when one store is buying, another might be on hiatus, and so on and so forth. Additionally, if you work with a lot of family-run boutiques, extenuating circumstances sometimes get in the way.

The bigger your list, the more stability you’ll have if anything happens beyond your personal control. Likewise, the more connections you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to develop a thriving, healthy, no-excuses business for yourself.

And that, my friends, is what will keep you moving forward no matter what.

Book a strategy session with me and let’s talk about your business!













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    Written by Sarah Shaw

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