How NOT to pitch to shops – mistakes to avoid
If you want a shop to sell your products, it’s important to get your pitch right. If your first email is all wrong, you’re unlikely to get that order. But what’s a good pitch and what mistakes should you avoid? As part of our ‘Selling to Shops’ series, retailer Clare Yuille from the Indie Retail Academy shares some examples of real-life emails she has received from sellers so you can learn how NOT to pitch to shops.
The secret of a good pitch
Here’s the big secret. Pitch emails aren’t about you.
Hold still for a second, would you? WHUFT.
There we go. I just vacuumed all the YOU out of your product submissions. All your anxiety about approaching a store and your wild imaginings about what might happen if they actually placed an order, have been compacted into this tiny bale of fluff.
You can keep it if you like. Now we’ve got a big, empty space, ready to be filled up with what really matters.
The specific retailer you’re writing to. Their unique point of view. Their fears, dilemmas, hopes and dreams. And how stocking your lovely thing can help their particular business to thrive.
Most artists don’t get this. They assume that since they created their product, what they think and feel is always most important. Instead of figuring out what’s going on in their stockist’s head, they camp out in their own. Which is why most product submissions don’t result in an order – and why indie retailers like me need a stiff gin and tonic before opening our inbox.
If you really want to sell your work to shops, it’s time to stop working your own angle and start seeing things from our point of view. When you do, it’s much easier to side-step the mistakes, pitfalls and screw-ups that trip up most artists.
Real-life examples of what NOT to do
I’m about to give you a peek at some less-than-stellar pitch emails that have landed in my inbox. To be clear, I’m not sharing these to make you feel bad if you’ve written something similar or so that we can have a snigger. Sometimes it’s just easier to understand something when you look at its opposite.
This artist has got things backwards. He’s concentrating on what he wants and needs, instead of considering how he can help the retailer.
This pitch has personality, but it contains almost none of the information a retailer needs to make a decision. There’s no mention of the type of product the artist makes, for example. As a buyer, I have doubts about how safe and reliable this supplier might be.
Like the others, this artist hasn’t addressed me by name. It’s a bit muddled, and she doesn’t seem to understand how busy retailers are. Expecting an immediate reply feels a little pushy.
This pitch contains some spelling mistakes, and it shows a lack of understanding of how wholesale works.
Now, knowing what not to do doesn’t mean that every pitch you send from now on will be a slam-dunk. No-one can guarantee that. But I can promise you that there’s no downside to understanding indie retailers better, especially when it comes to pitch emails.
Next time I’ll be answering questions from artists just starting out in wholesale. See you then!
Clare Yuille owns Merry + Bright, an award-winning lifestyle store in the Scottish Borders. She’s also the founder of Indie Retail Academy, where creative people learn how to sell their work to shops. Her students work in all disciplines and range from start-ups to established suppliers with dozens of stockists. Clare’s been teaching artists to sell their work to shops since 2012, and her programmes have been taken by over 10,000 artists.