market research, test trading and marketing


It was in my mind to post this on my other blog, but in the true spirit of being aware of my market, I’m putting it where it will be seen by the people I want to see it!  If you are thinking, what, no Opera? be patient, I’ll get there.

I’ve been supporting my local traders today, by being a model for advertising, and by eating ice-cream (it’s a hard life!), and it got me thinking about market research.

Hills & Parkes opening 18th August

Hills & Parkes, who have had a Saturday only Deli on a stall outside Honor Oak Park station since just before Christmas, are opening a shop just over the road, in mid August. It was tipping down this morning and I think they will be very happy to have a roof over their heads!  The stall has very limited stock, and it will be a very different operation being there all week. In preparation, they have asked regular customers to be photographed with their favourite product, thus combining marketing with market research, though of a not very scientific kind, but they have of course been trading long enough to know what sells and what products people come back to buy.  I have got very lazy about  making my own bread since they arrived in the neighbourhood; their bread is excellent, and I was happy to be photographed with my favourite sourdough loaf, and playing tug of war with A over a baguette.  I am wondering what research they have done about what else to stock, however, and what people’s buying patterns through the week are.  I’ve always had the impression our shops are a bit quiet during the week.

Sectret Sundae- on Saturday 16th July at Broca Foods SE4

From the photoshoot we went straight to Broca Foods, where my friend Joan had a ‘pop up’ ice-cream parlour for her new ice-cream range ‘Secret Sundae’.  The place was heaving despite the rain, and the idea is clearly one that will be welcomed locally. (I mentioned it to H&P and they are interested in stocking local ice-cream, and several other people on the photoshoot looked disappointed when I said the pop-up was a one off. )

Joan was looking slighty wild of eye and several flavours had already sold out, and others were not quite frozen, so the menu was shorter than it might otherwise have been.  I tried the rose-geranium sorbet, which was delicious, but had melted by the time I finished it, which wasn’t long- I was warned this would happen and counselled against having a cornet, wisely.  A had a double cornet with  a scoop of lavender & something and a scoop of chocolate sorbet, which of course I also road-tested.  The chocolate was magnificent and didn’t suffer for the lack of dairy products one iota.  The lavender was too strong for me, it was a bit like getting a mouthful of soap, but A liked it.  This was a trial run for Joan and she will get useful info about the process but I was disappointed she had no questionnaire – what people order is about what appeals to them in the desciptions, whether they actually like the product and would buy it again you can only find out by asking!

So here are my answers to an imaginary questionnaire

What appealed to me at point-of-sale was the novelty of the flavours, and the herby-health foody-fresh-as good for you as icecream can be- impression they give.

Prices barely registered, so they must be fine, though think about your margin- relatively speaking they look expensive to make.

What I would want to know more of at point-of-sale: sugar and fat content and where the ingredients are sourced, explicitly.  For example I know the rose geranium came from your garden but I wouldn’t know that if I bought this from someone other than you, and its a great selling point so tell me the story! If your sorbets really don’t have any dairy in them say so – make the vegans happy!  they will buy with confidence and enthusiasm.

secret sundae @ broca foods copyright Cherry Potts 2011

Back to my own Opera related sales project, The Blackheath Onegin.  Did I say the opera was sold out of friday? and for Sunday!

The Altos 'complaining' copyright Cherry Potts 2011

So: over 300 unique visitors have read one or more of my opera blogs (thank you by the way!) and I haven’t finished yet so there may be some more new folk to come. This is my potential market for the book: them, and the people involved in the project who haven’t read the blog, and the people attending the Opera.

Fliers are pinned up and scattered about in the Dressing room, the Bar and the Ladies, and despite (I thought) plugging it to death at every opportunity, people are still coming up to me and saying ‘what’s this?’  Which is because this is passive marketing, and because when I started this process I was marketing the Opera, not  a book.  Forward planning see, there is no replacement for it. And active marketing. I need a call to action (I hate marketing speak, but there you go).

 Support local community opera! Buy this book and help fund next year’s production.

I should probably write something to the tune of one of the songs in Onegin, and sing it in the foyer in the interval. (Me?!)

The cuts hurt, we can no longer sing since our funds have gone
but if you buy this book we can go on….

But I’m only happy making an idiot of myself in company, so if anyone else in the chorus wants to join in, I’ll consider it.

Now, if every one of the people reading the blog was sufficiently excited to want a copy of the book, that would make @ £1,500 towards next year’s opera.  Assuming I gift aid my donation once I have the money, that improves the value to @ £1,800, but if everyone in the chorus, and the opera, and the parents of the children, and the schools bought one, and anyone in the audience who wasn’t one of those people ordered a copy, we could probably double it.

(See all those links back to the post about the book? That’s passive marketing too!)

25 people have already pre-ordered, and I need another 25 to maximise our discounted price on printing and so maximise the profit for the Halls. I won’t be doing anything about ordering until after 1st August so there is plenty of time to get your pre-order in!

So here is your call to action:

Order a copy for yourself, your family, your friends

Pass on a flier (or a link to the blog) to anyone you can think of, and encourage them to buy a copy too.

Support Your Community Opera! 

Copyright Cherry Potts 2011

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Author: Cherry Potts

Cherry Potts is a published fiction writer, publisher, event organiser, photographer, cardmaker, NLP master practitioner, life coach and trainer. She is an enthusiastic singer. Through Arachne Press she publishes fiction and non fiction and runs spoken word events and cross-arts workshops for writers at interesting venues. Always interested in new opportunites to perform, write or explore writing.

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