Do you have  product you want on store shelves? Don’t miss my interview with Vanessa Ting of Retail Path. She talks about the importance of PR in making yourself appealing to retailers. To learn more how to get your product in a national retailer, click HERE


Christina D: Hi, I’m Christina Daves, the best-selling author of “PR for Anyone: 100+ Affordable Ways to Easily Create Buzz for Your Business.” Welcome to this edition of Expert’s Corner. Today is for all of you productpreneurs out there. We have Vanessa Ting, who is with Retail Path and Vanessa is a former buyer for Target, and now what she does is she helps you put your product together in a package so that it’s appealing to big box retail stores like Target and Walgreen’s and Best Buy and Babies “R” Us. I know just this week she got a client into Walmart, so I’m really excited to have her share why publicity is so important when you are pitching these big retailers.
All right, so welcome, Vanessa. I’m so excited to have you here with us.

Vanessa T: Thanks for having me, Christina.

Christina D: I gave a little bit of an intro, but you’re just amazing, so tell us a little bit about your background and what you do now. I told a little teaser about, you just got a client into Walmart, so I thought that was awesome. Just tell everyone what you do, and then we’re going to dig into why publicity is so important for what you do.

Vanessa T: Great. First of all, thank you for having me. It’s such an honor to be here. A little bit about me, I have about 16-plus years both in consumer package goods marketing, as well as retail buying. I spent a good deal of time as a retail buyer for Target, to buy and across a whole bunch of different categories. When I left Target, and I left Target to return home for family reasons, I began helping product companies just for fun. I love emerging brands, and I was working at the time, and just doing some pro bono consulting. What happened was, the things that I was doing were starting to work; it was cool. I would create pitch talks, I would help founders negotiate with retailers behind the scenes, and all these things were working.

People were getting appointments with huge retailers and small retailers; they were winning shelf space. Finally a couple of these clients were like, “Vanessa, you need to start a business. There is no end with your experience and your talent out there. You need to share this with others.” That’s how I got started. I quit my job and leaped both feet in about four-and-a-half years ago, and here I am today, just having gotten back from both Bentonville, Walmart, and Target, Minneapolis, pitching brands.

Christina D: Which is awesome, and tell them some of the brands you’ve worked with, because you’ve got some pretty good ones.

Vanessa T: Yeah, let’s see, the Honest Company is probably the one that most people know very well, a bunch of Shark Tank brands such as PsiBands, HoodiePillow, and then a lot of health and wellness brands, everything from natural organic brands, Better4U Foods and skin care, all the way to lifestyle brands like Yoga Gear. Really across the board, but our sweet spot is brands that have mass appeal and are really just smart, savvy, high-growth brands.

Christina D: That gives us the perfect entry way to why getting publicity early on is so important before you go to a Target or a Walmart, so can you explain a little bit about that?

Vanessa T: Yes, absolutely. Brand awareness takes a long time to build. You can spend $5 million trying to build your brand, but it’s still going to take time; you just can’t fight time. PR is really important in building brand awareness, because you’ll be doing a bunch of things. You’ll be maybe doing a little bit of ads or you’ll be doing sampling, but PR is one of the really authentic ways of getting your brand out there. There’s nothing more credible than seeing a write-up about a given brand on People Magazine or in the New York Times. Having that credibility of a very credible media source talking about your company is a great way to get brand awareness and oftentimes a very cost-effective way as well.

Don’t forget, retail buyers and the decision-makers and retailers, they are consumers, too. They are consuming these media sources as well, and so it’s also a great way to get on their radar. It’s not just important in terms of building brand awareness, but it’s also important in terms of creating a sense of urgency and reassuring retailers that you can sell. I’ll pause here before I jump into that, but …

Christina D: No, no, and that’s-

Vanessa T: … it’s really important.

Christina D: That’s a great point, and I talk about third-party credibility all the time. I always use a “Joe’s Pizza” analogy. If you see an ad for Joe’s Pizza, and then you see somebody who wrote an article that said, “Hidden New York Pizza Gem,” and that person is from Brooklyn and says it’s the closest thing to New York pizza they’ve ever had, which one’s going to make you buy the pizza? The ad that you know is an ad, or the article? Same thing, when your product is in a magazine that you didn’t pay for, you didn’t pay for that big ad, but they put it as “One of Their Favorites” or in the “Gift Guide,” that just gives so much credibility, because that means that a journalist and a whole staff of people involved, agreed that this is a great product and they want to put it in there.

Vanessa T: Absolutely, and it works in conjunction with those paid ads, right? Like you said, it’s super credible and authentic, but I think there’s a stat out there that it takes seven touch spots with a given consumer before they actually decide to buy, so that PR piece is a really important one. It’s one of seven, but it’s a very influential one.

Christina D: Okay, so you mentioned something about urgency, so can you talk a little bit about that?

Vanessa T: Yes, thanks for asking. Retail buyers have tons of products at their disposal; there are no short supply of great products. PR, in marketing, but PR really helps force a decision right now in that. For example, if you are a brand and you were to tell that retail buyer, “Hey, I’m going to be in Us Weekly in September, and let’s say right now it’s July, that retail buyer will be like, ”Oh, my gosh, well, that is real great PR. I need to hurry up and get your product in my stores now so that I can reap the benefits of that PR hit. It’s going to drive customers to my stores, and it’s going to drive sales conversion of your product. So, yeah, I’m going to decide now.“

I always say it’s really important as part of you pitch to retailers to include your upcoming marketing, when it hits, so that it enables them to make decisions in a timely manner. Also, if you have any past examples of PR that you’ve done, that’s also great to show retailers because then they know that you have the ability to not only do one or two great PR hits, but get a whole bunch of them.

Christina D: Yeah, that’s great. Thank you so much, Vanessa, for joining us today. Everybody check out her websites. They have all the information there. Look at her blog; she’s brilliant, brilliant at this. If you are a productpreneur, you want to start following Vanessa, and thanks for coming.

Vanessa T: Thanks for having me. Bye.

To learn more how to get your product in a national retailer, click HERE