Soliciting Comic & Card Stores:
The "How To" Manual
So, you have a product you think the retailers just need to know about. They will make tons of money (and so will you) if they only order your product, correct? Well, how can you be sure they know about it, and order it. EMAIL!! Yea, that's it!! It's easy, and best of all free, right?
Be careful though, email solicitations are a double edged sword . . you may just alienate your potential customer, the retail store owner. Why? If you send out what I've seen as a typical comic/card related solicitation email, basically, you just "spammed" him or her.
"Well ,what do you mean? I got their email address off of a public site. That makes it public information, doesn't it?"
In the eyes of this "non-lawyer", the answer is Yes & No. What I mean is that yes, he or she has made his email address "public", BUT . . . for the purpose of making it easier for "customers" to contact them. They have not allowed it to become public just so every "Tom, Dick, & Harry" can try to sell him something. Remember that as I continue.
If you are serious about obtaining these retailers as customers, then I would pay heed to what I'm about to say. There is a very specific way that I'd recommend using email to approach retailers to avoid giving them feeling of "getting spammed" by yet another creator/publisher/distributor. It's a two step process, and will involve much more work than you probably feel like going to, but I'm VERY sure that you'll get a much better response for your efforts.
There are a few "RULES" that I want to mention first.
The #1 rule is NEVER send ANY file attachments or images via email without first asking for permission to send them. You may have a broadband connection to the net, however, most people do not. Large attachments or images sent to someone with a 56.6 connection, let alone a 28.8, just clog up their system while they try to get them downloaded. If you send a retailer with slower connection large file attachments without their permission, they are going to absolutely hate you for bogging down their email. You might even possibly denying them from receiving email from customers while they try to get your message downloaded & cleared from their system. That will not put you into their "favor", believe me.
The #2 rule is NEVER send an html encoded email. ONLY use & send plain text messages. Same reason as above, in that it adds to the overall file size of the message being sent. There are several other reasons as well, that I won't go into here. Just don't do it.
OK, I've told you what not to do, now it's time to tell you what you can, and should do. Like I said above, this will be a two step process.
Step #1: Gathering a list of receptive retailers.
Ok, you've composed yourself a list of email addresses that you want to send info to. The first thing to do is send each and every store on your list an INDIVIDUALIZED email. Yes, you read that correct. If there is 100 stores on your list, you are going to send out 100 emails - NOT one email to 100 people. If you have a thousand on you list, you'll be at it a while, because you'll send out a thousand emails. If the retailer does not merit your individual attention, why would you merit theirs? This email you will send has one purpose, and one purpose only: To gain their permission to add them to your mailing list. You are asking whether or not they are willing to review email material regarding your product or company. When you send out this email request, specifically addressed to them (have I made that point yet?), with an appropriate subject line (i.e.: "Your permission is requested."), and a very small amount of text in the body of the message, the email will not be looked upon as spam nearly as often, if ever. This is a sample of what this email should look like:
* * * * S A M P L E * * * *NOTE - Be SURE that you include a link to any web-site that will have relevant information regarding your product / company. There will be a good percentage of retailers that will want info, but only on their terms. Meaning, they'll check out anything you have online to show them, as their schedule permits them, yet not respond to this email. Have as much available to show them that way as you can, through the subtle addition of a link in your signature.
Step #2: Your "approved" list is now ready.
Ok, you've taken the time to send out the individual emails. Now you are starting to gather retailer replies that are interested in your company or product. Start generating a new list of addresses of these retailers. Take extra special care to only add those retailers that have said "ok" to your previous email to this new list. You don't need any mistakes here. Trust me, I've known people to mess this up. They go to all the trouble to get the first part right, and then goof it up by adding a "no" retailer to the "approved" list by mistake. Don't make this same mistake.
You can now send out your promo stuff to these interested parties, in a multiple format, should you wish to. Meaning, you've been OK'ed to send them something, so the "personalized" bit is now not as important. Feel free to send out one "bulk" email to everyone on your approved list. However, I would recommend that you do this in a particular way. When adding the email addresses to be sent to, put them into the "blind carbon copy" feature of your email client. In the "TO" field, put your own email address, so you will appear as the person the message was sent to. This way each retailer only sees their own email address should they wish to reply to you about something contained in your message. There is no reason to spread around all the email addresses that you have laboriously collected using this method I've described. I would also point out that this is a great time to ask for feedback. If you ask for it, you will get it. Ask how you can help them to promote your product or company. Use this to your advantage, by listening to what they will have to say.
In conclusion, I can virtually guarantee that this approach towards email solicitations well generate a more positive outlook upon you as an individual, and as a result, your product and/or company. This process has been reviewed & given the support of many, many, many retailers through my association in the Comic Book Industry Alliance. Use it, and you may gain their favor, instead of their wrath.
Permission is freely granted to reprint this article anywhere online or in any printed publication, as long as it is not edited in any fashion, & is credited to myself as listed below.
Mark S. Adams,
The Master List of comic book & trading card stores
All original content contained within this site is Copyright © Mark S. Adams 1998-Present.
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