The question goes like this:
“I’m curious about pitching when you’re in the midst of putting together a new line sheet for the next season. I plan on having a new line sheet with lots of new cards around mid August (that’s the theory anyway) and I wasn’t sure if I should wait to pitch to new retailers until it’s ready? Or should I pitch them my current line sheet and just not worry about that?
I’m also worried about annoying new retailers by coming out with the new line sheet right after they’ve placed an order. Is this something I should worry about?”
We often hear this question because creative people are always in the process of making new pieces, new lines, or new line sheets. So they often wonder: should I go ahead and introduce my work now? Or should I wait until I have everything set?
The usual caveat does apply here: do what feels right for you. There are no hard-and-fast rules that can be applied across businesses, product type, time of year, etc. If you have questions about a specific situation, reach out and we’ll get right back to you.
That said, there are a couple of general ways to approach this (and either approach can be right at different times): The “Wait” Approach and The “Get-After-It” Approach!
The “Get-After-It” Approach
What we've been seeing with the businesses we work with is that there's not a real disadvantage to using what you have.
In our free e-course we always say to start with what you have and then make it better. If store owners like the work enough to place an order, it's unlikely they're going to feel shortchanged by new product coming out. It tends to be great, actually, when you look at this process more as relationship-building than as ‘order-prompting’ because then you can reach out now with your current line sheet. From that perspective, this initial contact is about starting a conversation, not selling any piece in particular.
You can consider adding a short line to your introduction email along the lines of "I also have some new products coming out in the next few weeks so I'll circle back with that when it's ready!" If you are following up (and you need to be following up!) then this is just a great way to do that. Your final followup can include the brand-spanking-new line sheet, or if the timing doesn’t work out you can set a task for yourself to reach back out a month or two down the road to send them the new line sheet. Don’t think of it as an excuse to follow up, but rather as a value to them.
One other thought, from the perspective of relationship building, is that even if someone places an order a week or a month before you launch your new line, why not be proactive and send an email to any stores who have placed an order recently announcing that and offering to replace or swap out if they like any of the new stuff. This kind of care is how you turn a $150 order into $3000 as the years go by.
The “Wait” Approach
We’re always working to improve what we do. But there are times when, for whatever reason you are at a point where you are not really thrilled about what you’re offering. If that’s the case, it’s likely that others won’t be either.
If you have some specific changes you are making to your line (or the story you are telling about it through you line sheet or photos for instance) that you’ll be really excited about in a month or two, then waiting might be the right decision. This is most often true when the changes are already in progress (e.g. the photographer is sending over the files next Tuesday or Wednesday) as opposed to a more general hope of, someday, time permitting, changing a line sheet. If you go this route, we highly (highly) recommend that you have a specific time frame that you are really trying to stick to. If you don’t have a time frame, you are likely not making a strategic decision -- but rather pushing it off -- which is not going to result in growing your business in the way you would like.
In general, it usually pays to keep connecting, cultivating orders, and iterating on your line as you go. But if it feels right to wait for a month or two -- especially if you have a particular timeframe you’re making changes in -- then go ahead and wait before connecting with stores.
What have you done in the past when deciding if you should reach out with what you have or the new version of your line or line sheet you are actively working on?