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TimeTopicAction Items
6m25sOutbound Call Centers for e-liquid brandsAn outbound calling strategy is critical. Write a script for your sales people (or yourself) and begin calling vape stores and distributors immediately. Keep track of all calls with a CRM, or simply an Excel spreadsheet.
8m00sNurturing relationships for long-term customer successRetaining a customer is easier than getting new ones. Their happiness is your #1 priority
9m45sListening to your customers by asking open-ended questions.Make notes about the conversation, have them share their personal lives. Get to know them as people, not just prospects or customers. Find a common ground.
10m31sAustin’s tip of the day: What’s the other word you can spell with the letters in the word “Listen”?As sales people we have a tendency to speak too much and listen less. Listen for their meaning and not just the words they say. Keep probing for info. Most sales people will give up after the first “no.” You will usually get four “no’s” before you get a yes.
13m25sWhat is the difference between “customer service” and a “transaction?”A transaction may be a “one time event” whereas customer service will generate ongoing activity and sales. The key word is VALUE.
14m10sOngoing communication is keyDo Not just call when you want something! Stay in touch even if just to say hello. Take care of the relationship and the money will take care of itself.
15m15sThe Starbucks and banking experience: examples of good customer service.Use your customer’s name. Austin shares the personal treatment he gets when he gets his coffee. They get his order as he walks in the door. Would you go to a restaurant if it has good food but poor service? Your customers want to have a sense of belonging.
17m10sStart a good customer service policy and training program from the beginning.No company is “too small” to give top quality service. If you begin your company with this attitude, you will grow with it.
17m25sWhat happens when something goes wrong?It will happen and Austin’s advice: take ownership of the problem. Don’t pass the buck or defer to someone else if possible. Communicate with them even if you do not have a solution yet.
19m50sShould you pre-sell a product you do not have?Austin says no. They will get annoyed if they have to wait and you may lose them permanently.
20m40sThe two sides of the e-liquid market: B2B and B2C. How do they differ, how are they the same?Where do you want to fit in? They are both based on relationships, it depends on whether you want to work with large volume or smaller volume with more frequent orders.
22m50sFinding customers in the B2B world: www.VaporSearchUSA.com is a good directory. Another is www.VapeMapsUSA.comYour focused market will be built upon your strategy and how big you wish to grow. These directories are available and an easy place to start. They will often have owners’ names and e-mail addresses.
24m20sYELP and Facebook are great ways to research possible customers.Who are the competing stores in the area you are researching? Are they knowledgeable and do they provide good service? Aren’t these important to know before you start a relationship?

What lines do they currently offer?

25m55sCan you sell B2B and B2C? Austin offers his experience.Generally the answer is no. As a manufacturer you must also be aware of the impression of competing with your customers as well as the reality of that.
27m05sDo you use a distributor or go direct?Use both. The distributor may have a greater reach but also carry competing lines. They will probably have relationships you do not have.
27m50sVape eventsGo to as many as makes sense. Try to become part of the process by sponsoring or offering contests or giveaways.
28m10sThe vape shop staff is a big influencer in what sells.Retail customers want whatever is new. If you have good relationships with retail shops they will promote your brand over others, plus customers will comment on social media. Have bling to offer the retail shops in the form of shirts, hats and stickers.
28m35sIncentivize the shop owners and sales teamOffer the shops a $100 bonus if they sell out your brand this month. This makes them push your brand and gets the shop closer to a re-order.
30m30sNiche markets and products: we discuss the demographics of vapers.Determine if you want to focus on a niche market and research them.
33m30sVape markets that are underserved.The female market, estimated at 35% of vapors per Austin, is not served properly. How can you appeal to them?

The sweet spot is male, 18-35.

35m30sIs there an untapped flavor market?Probably not. Most flavors are already on the market with someone, so you must differ in your brand and labeling.
36m0sBest practices on packaging. How big should it be? How can you differentiate from competitors with packaging?
36m20sWhere is your best source of information?Shop owners. Read the blog posts, forums, Instagram feeds. Listen to what they say and share.
36m30sWhat sizes should you manufacture?Unique sizes are becoming more popular, including 20ML and the larger sizes. 30ML are popular, the 120ML may be too large. A “true” 15ML bottle may need to be pushed out to 17ML to compensate for the dropper. The public notices these things.
38m50sBe careful with packaging and be sure they fit onto shelvesIf your size is too different it may stand out in the wrong way. Be mindful of the retail shelf space.
40m05sWhat is the ONE thing a new e-liquid brand can do to get a new account with a vape shop?Negotiate the purchase of 100 bottles at a discounted rate? Be willing to negotiate or offer other incentives.
41m30sDoes conventional marketing work? Using print ads, magazines and radio.DO NOT give away juice. Pacific Packaging (http://ppcpackaging.com/) and in Buena Park, P&P,
43m05sNational vs local ads and vape meets- very important. How to engage an audience.Which publications have the great penetration and who is getting out to the shops? If you go local, find the leaders. Host events at important shop locations.
44m40sUnconventional marketing ideas: contests, giveaways. DO NOT give away e-liquid samples.Open houses, grand openings, sponsorships at vape meets are all good promos. Give away raffle tickets, hats & shirts.
45m05sWhat do people want to see in your promo?They like cool builds, something they can relate to, not just pictures of bottles.
47m50sCan you keep a customer for life?Yes, if you treat them like people. Do not lie, be honest. They can handle a firm no, rather than an unsure yes.
49m30sPhone, e-mail and people skillsAsk for permission to take their time or place them on hold. Use full sentences in your e-mails. We work in a casual industry but be polite and courteous.
50m50sTrain your sales teamIt takes a lot of time and focus but pays off. Celebrate your sales teams’ success, don’t just criticize them for their failings.
52m35sSome AHA insightsThings will always take twice as long and cost twice as much. Not just in this business but with most. These are just obstacles and can be overcome.
52m50sThe importance of advocacy and corporate social responsibility.Get involved with SFATA, CASAA, state advocacy groups and charities if possible. Someone else may NOT do it: It is up to us.
55mQuestions & Answers
55m10sDo tobacco or other flavors do better in certain parts of the country?Fruit flavors do well in warmer climates. Tobacco and menthol do better in the “tobacco belt” states like North Carolina and Virginia and the Southeast than other places. Lower nicotine levels are becoming more popular.
59m30sDo distributors usually ask for a discount or wholesale price?They all want to make money off you, so require a minimum order or 1000 bottles every 30 days. Find out how many shops and who they distribute to and what competing lines.
1:02:05Is exclusivity a good idea for a manufacturer?Don’t do exclusives if possible, especially with any one franchise. It’s OK to give a shop a “courtesy mile,” for exclusivity of your product.
1:03:45How would you start from scratch if you started from scratch?Find flavoring companies, craft your flavor and contact shops.
1:05:15Can you trade out your “house line” for “name brand” with distributors?Each distributor will react differently.

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