A Little Trick Makers Can Steal From Silicon Valley

A big concern we hear from makers is that "stores only buy from brands that are already well-established."

And that can be so frustrating. How can you break into stores, if stores will only buy from makers that are already in a lot of stores?!

Our take? Yes -- this can be a huge barrier. Established brands feel less risky to stores because they believe they'll sell better and because they think larger companies will be more organized and professional. 

But the fact is that your relative newness doesn’t have to be a barrier. Your products may actually sell better than those other “more established” lines. Your stuff may be a better fit for the store. It may be higher quality, or more affordable, or just plain cooler. 

But how do you get the store owner to believe that? You give them proof. 

There is a concept called "social proof" that is popular with tech companies in Silicon Valley. It's common sense, basically, but has a lot of hype around it since it significantly impacts sales.

The idea is simply that people are more likely to choose to do things that other people are doing. It's less risky. It seems cooler. You don't have to think about it as much.

Stores have all of those human reasons to look for social proof -- plus, they have the pressure to only spend money on products that are going to sell. If they buy too many products that don't sell, they can't survive.

These are some examples of social proof that you can share with store owners in an email:

  • Other great stores you're in. 
    Of course you should link to your stockists page, but also be sure to mention in your email if there are likeminded stores that carry your products. 
  • Press and exciting news. 
    If you have press about your products, you should definitely mention it and maybe even link to it. If you have the good fortune of being featured in Fashion Week or other great event, use that! Mention it in the email and add a link to the moment on Instagram.
  • Sales facts. 
    Not everyone has something like this, but if you do, you should share it. For instance, "I've been thrilled to see that this line is selling well: when I put the first earrings on Instagram, they sold out within 6 hours." If you have anything directly from stores (in terms of reorders or how quickly your stuff sold), that's great too.

Ok, but once you have something that you'd like to mention, where in the email do you mention it? I think it's best to put it towards the end of a paragraph about your products or company. You can describe what you do and then have one of these pieces of social proof be the clincher that drives home the value of what you do. Sometimes it's even best to give this social proof line its own paragraph so that it stands out more to a store owner who may be scanning your note pretty quickly.


  • Don't worry about…
    sounding arrogant. This isn't about you talking about how great YOU think your products are -- it's about sharing a concrete fact that might be helpful to the store owner.
  • For a quick-and-dirty 3-minute fix, just…
    If you do nothing else, choose the stockist you're proudest of, and mention them by name in your email (along with linking to your stockists list.) Takes zero creativity and may help.
  • Or to really dig in, consider…
    brainstorming a list of 10 things that you could consider including as social proof. Pick 1-2 to share in your next email. Then, as exciting things happen in your business, add to that list of social proof so that everything is one place and you can pull from it as you need to.

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