Naming question -- but not a horse this time! (New Saddle Soap Name instead)
I have been struggling with this question for a while, and finally thought I should consult the collective COTH hive-mind!
I've been making my handcrafted saddle soap in my kitchen for one (actually over the years, probably several, but one for a long time) ULR. I made some for fun years ago and gave it to her very proficient groom as a gift, and to my surprise, when I ran into them the next year, the first question was "hey, can I get some more soap?!"
So, for the last almost 10 years, I've been hearing "you should market this stuff. Seriously." and I just never have. I've done it for fun, and enjoyed it. As near as I can tell, my soap has been to the WEG, the Pan Ams, and I think, to Hong Kong and London. Everyone who has used it has loved it and wanted more.
So, I'm sitting on the edge of considering marketing it, but I have NO idea where to start -- I can't even come up with a name for it!
It isn't advertising if I am not ready to sell it yet, is it? At this point, all I've got is that it is a conditioning soap for daily use, and I use different combinations of essential oils -- right now in my kitchen is one batch of Ginger/Citrus and one of Rosemary/Mint.
I've toyed with using something to do with the farm name -- Higher Standards Farm. Or something to do with Ben, or Buzz, who were my two beloved event horses.
I'm totally lost. I hate to stick something on temporarily and put some at my local tack shop and have it be popular and then change the name, or maybe that wouldn't matter?
I hate to go all out and buy a lot of gear and invest in a total marketing plan only to find out it won't sell and have a garage full of it and be in the hole financially.
Thoughts, or ideas? Help?! Is the market so crowded you guys wouldn't even buy a product different from what you are using now?
It wouldn't be a product that I'd have for sale only to eventers, but that is where the market that is already familiar with it is, and that is where I feel most at home.
Thanks in advance for any thoughts or ideas or suggestions!
Last edited by Bensmom; Mar. 29, 2013 at 11:02 AM.
Reason: Added saddle soap to title :)
Maybe there is an interim step by doing it mail order on your own? Since you've already started a base of support if you let those people know it would now be available for mail (internet) order you might be able to build up a client base. You would also be able to make up batches as needed.
Seems to me with a couple endorsements and some very focused marketing and advertising ("the custom saddle soap that has traveled to 2 Olympics and the WEG is now available for the rest of us!") you could build a clientele. Once you have a clientele it would be much easier to approach someone like John Nunn/BofB and see if he would buy a couple cases.
I would be more likely to name it in a way the explains WHAT it is and WHY it is special. "Buzz's Bubbles" is cute and tempting, but with a completely unknown product line tells a potential buyer nothing. "Custom Saddle Soap" means you don't have that unknown working against you.
Send some my way--I'll test it and write a review! (of course that might mean I have to clean my tack!
What if you named the different "flavors" after horses? Ie. Ben's Rosemary/Mint. Buzz's Ginger Citrus. Or could you get permission to use the names of the famous horses' who's tack it cleaned? I'd whip out my Visa in a flash some Courageous Comet soap!
Flip a coin. It's not what side lands that matters, but what side you were hoping for when the coin was still in the air.
I have no imagination, so can't help you with the name. Subk's marketing/advertising quote is brilliant!
I would love to try it also. The last soap I bought was Belvoir's, and it's horrible! Left a residue on my Devoucoux saddle that I couldn't believe Haven't used it on anything else, and I'll be happy to give it away if anyone wants it.
"Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George
Whatever name you decide, make sure that it's available as a website. Also google the name to make sure that it doesn't have potential to be mixed up with something else. You want people to be able to find it easily and without going through too many irrelevant sites. I really like the idea of naming the individual "flavors" after your own horses but you should have a name for the saddle soap in general. Higher Standards Saddle Soap would fit the bill and it does have two meanings--the name of your farm and higher quality that you are producing. It would also connect in well with the Subk's quote. It would make a good intro on the "About the Company" page of a mail order website. I looked at what smartpak had to offer in terms of saddle soap and all the names were pretty boring and straight forward (except for Mad Cow Saddle Soap--that name didn't entice me to buy it at all.)
Also, look into the laws for your state about producing something like this at home. You might need to be licensed to do this at home (which often is as easy as filling out an application and sending in a fee to something more complicated like a site visit) or it might not matter at all. You might have to list your ingredients or have product insurance above a certain gross sales amount, etc. Make sure you have an idea of what you're in for BEFORE committing to a local tack store.
Clarksdale, MS--the golden buckle on the cotton belt
Is there a business incubator in Tallahassee? You really ought to get some help in setting yourself up from the very beginning. The business incubators are set up to help startups. Take one of the SBA courses; I'll bet FSU or FAMU offer beginning business seminars and clinics. Our state certainly does though the Extension Service, and there are other state and federal providers here.
If you want to say small and make all the dope yourself, why not try ebay or something similar for starters. You could have a store in a reputable (I guess) web presence and could puff your product. Get a tiny booth at one of the bigger events, build up your stock, and take your show on the road. If ebay goes well, move on to a store at Amazon.
Gator Goop? Will soften a gator's hide.
"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay." Thread killer Extraordinaire
JER -- you are so very clever, but I'm not buying it!
I am certainly willing to send some out to some COTH'ers to be additional beta testers! PM me real names and addresses and I can mail you some.
I also like the point about the farm name. We chose the farm name years ago, after my little band of boarders had been asked to leave two different barns because we were too picky and caused too much work. I was feeling bummed that we were stuck as a roaming band of losers that no one wanted to put up with -- suddenly I decided to reframe the issue, and decided we just had Higher Standards than everyone else!
And so, one of our wonderful COTHers designed my logo and we were off -- it did prove to be quite interesting later once I had leased a facility when I turned people away right and left and the two places that had run us off couldn't stay open. Eventually, lax horsekeeping standards will catch up with you!
In any event, I appreciate all the ideas! I have been through everything that Smartpak, Dover and Bit of Britain sell, just to see what else is out there. (There is a Epona's Bar in a Jar, unfortunately, as I thought that was cute!) I thought it interesting as the closest product is the MOSS Goat milk saddle soap that comes in four scents. It was originally started as Morgan's Original Saddle Soap, but apparently she was bought out by John and Nunn Finer is now distributing it -- I have never tried it, as well, I make my own and $15 for 8oz seemed a little pricey, but it must have sold well for Nunn Finer to pick it up.
Viney -- if I were a Gator, I'd have to jump on the Gator Goop! But, alas, as I have graduated twice from FSU, I'm afraid I'd curl up and twitch at the thought! I will look into small business helps too! I know those exist at FSU and at FAMU.
I've also got a well known saddle fitter that took some with her after she checked my saddle the last time and has given me back rave reviews. I'm always a little surprised at how much folks like it, but that's a good thing!
I've also got a link to a long ago acquaintance of my DH that produces products similar to this in a lab/factory near his hometown. If it were to look worth doing, he will contact him to see if we need to be able to produce it in higher quantities.
Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions! Send me some PMs and I'll send the first 8 folks one of the most recent batch to test!
I think Benlibbie is good. 'Do you carry Benlibbie?' - it just sounds right. It also sounds like you have a wonderful product, and will need more than just a name though. (Packaging, distribution, etc.) Best of luck - and let us know how it goes! I always like buying a product with a history...put your story on the label.