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Branding & Marketing

How To Reach Retailers With Cold Outreach

We know doing cold outreach isn’t anybody’s favorite thing to do, in fact for most brands even thinking about cold outreach can send shivers down your spine. What am I supposed to do, exactly? What if I try really hard and no one wants to buy from me? Isn’t there anything else I can do? Anything?????

We’re right there with you, but time and time again, we’ve asked our most successful makers how they grew their business, and cold outreach is their response EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. At a certain point, the only way left to grow your business is to introduce yourself to new retailers and let them know about your products. 

So, with that in mind, we’ve tried to assemble a list of resources to help you start flexing that cold outreach muscle and feel confident as you introduce yourself to these new retailers. Everything in this article is based on conversations we’ve had with our makers who are absolutely crushing the game, and have built massive retailer lists with these exact techniques, down to the email templates we’re going to give you.

Table of Contents:

What Type Of Cold Outreach Is Best?

We asked makers and retailers which cold outreach technique is best (in-person, phone call, or email), and the results were almost unanimous: email. We had a few makers tell us they had success with phone calls and impromptu in-person visits, but the vast majority said email was the most effective, and every retailer we asked said this was their preferred method.

The main thing we heard from retailers was that when they are in-store, they need to be 100% available to customers. Retailers reported getting very upset when their attention was split between looking at maker products or talking to a maker on the phone, and they felt they had to either be rude to the maker or inattentive to their in-store customers.

On the other hand, the convenience of being able to check email wherever you are and whenever you have time, plus the fact that you can get so much information about a brand from product pictures to pricing, turned cold outreach from a negative to a positive when it was in this format.

Retailers Want Personalized Messages

The number one thing we heard from retailers is that they didn’t want to feel like they were part of some massive spam campaign. They like forming relationships with their makers, and feeling like a brand is just desperate for new customers and is going down the list emailing hundreds of people the same copy and pasted message is annoying and demoralizing. 

If retailers take the time to read your cold outreach email, they’re using part of their valuable day to consider your small business, and they want to feel like you’re being thoughtful of their business as well. The best case scenario is that you and this retailer end up having a supportive relationship with each other, and retailers don’t want to feel like they’re taking the first step without any emotional buy-in on your part. 

This translated to retailers wanting to see something personalized about their store in that first email you send them. Essentially, they want to know why out of all the stores to email, you chose them. Was there something about their aesthetic that reminded you of your own products? Do you both specialize in fair trade or environmentally friendly products? Have you been in their store a bunch of times and always thought your products would fit, but have just been too shy to ask?

If we can give you ANY advice about your cold outreach strategy, it’s this. When you’re reaching out to retailers, make sure your message is personalized in some way.

Outreach Email Best Practices

Once you’re ready to start sending outreach emails, it’s time to start writing your copy! Because it’s so crucial that retailers find these emails engaging and useful, we’ve talked with makers and retailers about what’s worked best for them, and gotten help from our email marketing expert Ellie on what makes an effective email. 

Title: Your email title is the first thing retailers will see, and a big part of their decision on whether or not to open your email. The best tools you’ve got in your arsenal are the fact that your Abound boost link is a free $100 for the retailer, and the fact that you’re showing real interest in this specific retailer. 

Examples:

  • Shop The Nerdy Family on Abound with an $100 credit
  • I’m a candle maker in Austin and I’ve always loved your shop
  • My favorite thing about your shop is how environmentally conscious it is

Introducing yourself + personalizing the email: Once you’ve hooked your retailers with a great title, it’s time to introduce yourself, your brand, but most importantly letting the retailer know that this isn’t a random spam email, and that you’ve chosen their store specifically.

Example:

  • I love your shop because it always has the most interesting toys. I love the feeling of walking into a store, scanning around and finding so many new things to look at that I’ve never seen before. That feeling of something new and exciting is exactly what I try to bottle with my line of dinosaur toys. I’m in 20 stores in the Chicago area, and our customers can’t get enough of the level of detail in our products. Every toy comes with an interactive booklet, a poster, and a mystery egg. 

Explaining the offer: Your Abound boost link gives you a big advantage in reaching out, just for signing up they get free money! Here’s how we recommend you explain the offer. 

Example:

  • You can now try our products for free on Abound! Abound is a curated marketplace for independent makers across the US and they’re offering $100 credit on your first order with me when you sign up through my link below. Plus, you’ll always get free shipping on your orders from me and you get free returns on your first order for 60 days.

Templates

Alright, now it’s time to start getting your templates ready! Here are our recommended templates for both new and existing retailers. 

New Retailer Cold Outreach Template:

Title(s): 

  • Shop [brand name] on Abound with $100 credit
  • I’m a [what type of maker you are] and I love your shop
  • My favorite thing about your shop is __________

Dear [first name],

I love your shop because […personal and specific reasons…]. I think our brand would be a great line for your shop because […reasons you chose this retailer…] 

Our brand is […brand story….] We are available in [number of stores] in [geographical area] and what our customers love about our products is [reasons to buy].

You can now try our products for free on Abound! Abound is a curated marketplace for independent makers across the US and they’re offering $100 credit on your first order with me when you sign up through my link below. 

Plus, you’ll always get free shipping on your orders from me and you get free returns on your first order for 60 days.

Here is my link:
[boost link]

If you have any questions or need any more information, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Best,
[name]
[brand name]
[brand website link]
[brand social profiles]

Existing Retailer Outreach Template:

Title: $100 credit from me when you shop [brand name] on Abound

Dear [first name],

I have been on the Abound marketplace for [number of weeks/months] and I couldn’t love it more! 

Abound is a curated marketplace for independent makers across the US. It makes things so much easier for me and my customers – you can order our products online as you would on any other ecommerce site and you can track its progress on the platform.

They’re offering $100 credit on your first order with me when you sign up through my link below. 

Plus, you’ll always get free shipping on your orders from me and you get free returns on your first order for 60 days.

Pretty neat right?

Here is my link:
[boost link]

I hope you give it a go. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to let me know!

Best,
[name]
[brand name]
[brand website link]
[brand social profiles]

How To Build Your Retailer Outreach List

If you’ve decided you’re ready to get started with cold outreach, and have already checked out our outreach email templates, the last thing to do is to find the retailers you want to reach out to! 

How To Get Started

Your first batch of retailers should be the ones that mean the most to you. Are there shops in your neighborhood, town, or city that you absolutely love, and have always wanted to be stocked in, but you haven’t made a move yet? These should absolutely be the shops you start off contacting. 

Because a major part of sending these emails is extending a personal touch to the retailers, start with the retailers you really have a genuine interest in and connection with. All the authenticity you’re going to have when you’re explaining why you want to be in their store is going to rub off, and you’ll have a much better chance of getting them interested in your stuff. 

Look up their emails through their social handles or website, and congrats! You’ve just made the first part of your outreach list. 

Don’t Overwhelm Yourself – 20 Retailers A Day Max

No one loves sending cold emails, which means a crucial part of this whole endeavor is keeping yourself feeling good and willing to keep going. The goal is for you to gain the skill of how to do cold outreach, so that it’s a permanent part of your continued business. 

It’s for this reason that we recommend sending 20 of these emails a day max. Since each one needs to be personalized, you’re going to get so much more bang for your buck if you’re taking the time and showing the retailers that you care, versus getting 1,000 sent in one day but getting few results. Build this into a part of your routine, don’t view it as something to do and stop doing quickly. 

Building Your List

Once you’ve sent emails to all the stores you have a personal connection with, it’s time to start researching other good potential retailers. Here are a few ways you can start building your list. 

  1. Ask your existing customer base. Post on social asking where your customers would like to see your stuff. Especially if you have a big following of direct consumers, they’ll live in tons of different states/cities and will know the boutiques that are right for your products. Sweeten the deal by offering free product to anyone who’s recommendation leads to a new wholesale order.

  2. Google ‘best neighborhoods for shopping in _______’. Pick a city you’re interested in being stocked in, and do research to find out where the best shopping is.

    I did an example search for ‘best neighborhoods for shopping in Chicago.’ Here are a few blog articles that popped up. Now all of a sudden, I went from knowing nothing about Chicago’s shopping life, to knowing all the places the locals know about.

    From here it’s just a matter of finding specific shops that look right for your store, looking up their individual emails, and reaching out.

  3. Google ‘best ______ shops in ______.’ An even more direct way to find these boutiques is to look for local roundup lists for stores in your niche. If you sell kids products in Nashville, search for ‘best toys and kids shops in Memphis.’ All of a sudden you’ve got your 20 stores to email that day.

  4. Start local, then get local-ish. If your hometown is relatively small or you’ve already reached out to the appropriate boutiques, build out slowly from your area. Retailers will still feel the local love from your brand even if you’re a few hours apart.

  5. Use social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all particularly great for finding new boutiques to contact. Use Instagram’s recommended feature to find lots of accounts similar to the boutiques you already follow, and join retailer based Facebook groups to learn more about specific boutiques. Just an fyi, when finding boutiques via this method, we still recommend that you use traditional email outreach to contact them, not contacting them directly on the social media platform.

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