I left you with suspense in my last blogpost with the promise of an update on our product’s first meeting with the world; After a couple of challenging days in production, we were finally ready for our first trade fair with product in hand.
I make it sound so easy, but trust me – it wasn’t. We went back several times to alter our product and the combination of materials to ensure the best and most comfortable combination. One of our main challenges in the previous model was the difficulties of attaching the product to the ear. In the new version, we installed head shaped plastic material at the core of the product to make sure that it went behind the head. We then covered this in two layers of memory foam, so that the product would be comfortable to wear in bed. The rest of the materials include faux leather and cotton.
We spent three whole days finishing our products and preparing for the Kingston Market trade fair, where ComfyEar for the first time would be presented to the world.
Kingston Market consist of several stalls – most of them food stalls, but every Saturday you would be able to find anything from vintage candlesticks to homemade marmalade.
Arranged by the course, we went there on a Saturday – the busiest time of the week. Just after christmas we had a trade fair at Kingston University to test out the product and to gain some knowledge on how to present the product in the most useful way to attract more customers and avoid any confusion. We learned that our initial setup was way to messy, and that the things we brought to make it look “cozy”, actually made the whole thing more confusing.
So, at Kingston Market we only brought the necessities; A white duvet, to illustrate the bed, our pillow shaped packaging, a head for the product and some pictures of the product in use. We placed a set of earphones into the product, so people at the fair could try ComfyEar to get a better idea of the benefits and usage.
ComfyEar is sold at 15 pounds – a very competitive price considering the market for sleep accessories. We brought five units to the fair, as we hoped to recoup what we had spend on product development and trade stand materials.
We had a lot of interested visitors – some were curious, some had seen our add and knew that we would be at the fair, and some came to buy a pair.
Luckily, we had a session on sales with senior lecturer, Adam Raman on the 10th of February. Having worked in sales for 7 years, I was familiar with the conditions for a “good sale”, but it was very helpful to learn it in a different setting. One of the first things on Adam Raman’s “Selling Process” is “Focusing on Need Satisfaction Selling” (Raman, 2017) . Somehow it seemed more obvious now that we were selling our own product, since we created the product in the first place to solve a problem.
Another thing I became quite aware of (maybe also because it was quite cold that day), was my body language. I’m mostly used to dealing with sales over the phone, so being aware of what you’re singling to potential customers just by using your body language became really important. Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy (2012), has researched the importance of posture and body language in different situations, and she says: “So social scientists have spent a lot of time looking at the effects of our body language, or other people’s body language, on judgments.And we make sweeping judgments and inferences from body language. And those judgments can predict really meaningful life outcomes like who we hire or promote, who we ask out on a date.” (Cuddy, 2012). NOTE: For the full talk, see below.
Our customers in Kingston Market proved to be quite diverse; we sold two to our immediate target group, but also to parents and grandparents, who recognised that the children in the family often tend to wear their earphones in bed.
As the day came to and end, we realised that we didn’t have anymore units left, and we could conclude the day with success.
Now that we know that the market is there, we are in the process of figuring out how to outsource the manufacturing in the best possible way, since the “handmade”-strategy proved to be way to time consuming.
To be continued…
Amy Cuddy (2012)
Cuddy, A. (2012). Your body language shapes who you are. [online] Ted.com. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].
Raman, A. (2017). Professional Selling – The Selling Process.