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 Show Date: 2/4/2008
 Segment 2 – Tapping Into Emerging Product Markets – Lisa Suttora

Colette: Today we’re taking a closer look at tapping into new evolving product markets with Lisa Suttora, founder of WhatDoISell.com.

Colette: Lisa, right before the break we were talking about customizations and I know we could make a whole radio show on customizations. Were there more examples you wanted to give or could we get into what’s the key to marketing products in this trend?

Lisa: Yes. Colette, let me just run through a few more examples, because I’ve got some unique categories that I think will interest people and then I’ll tell you what the key is to marketing these products. We’re talking about taking an existing product, something you get from a wholesaler or supplier and embellishing it or customizing it and offering it to your customers. And, of course, you don’t have to do the customization, you can hire someone to do that for you. For example, we have entrepreneurs who are customizing surf boards. We have entrepreneurs who bought plain moccasins and embellished them and have started an entire business around customized moccasins. We’re seeing them with car seat covers, the covers you have to put in your car to protect your seat. Bathrooms are a huge industry for customization, sinks, mirrors, lighting, everything. The bathroom is like the IT place for customization in 2008.

Colette: I tell you what, that’s where I am right now.

Lisa: Do you have one of those sinks that are not rectangular or square?

Colette: No, not yet, but I’m looking at a whole bunch, that’s for sure.

Lisa: Okay, well there’s someone who’s customizing them and making them in the shape of a river which I thought was cool.

Colette: Wow, that’s very interesting.

Lisa: Yeah. Koi ponds, outdoor gardens, bird houses, garden adornments. Wedding favors is a huge area for customization. Baby products, vase ornaments where you take a basic vase, probably that you can buy for probably under $1 wholesale, you add your customization to it and they’re selling for $20 to $30. That’s a pretty nice profit margin. We see people customizing soap. We see people customizing cookie jars. There’s a great entrepreneur who is starting to do customized boat accessories so when you go out on your boat you have matching accessories that fit in your boat to hold all the things that you need when you go boating. Really, the question to ask is, what can’t be customized?

Colette: (Laughter)

Lisa: You can customize everything. And again, you don’t have to make the product, you buy the product and then you put your unique touch on it. But there is a key, as you mentioned, to selling these products. This is not something, like, you don’t do the Wal-Mart touch where you try to be everything to everybody. Unique and perceived value is the key. You want to create your products as a limited edition. You want to include a certificate of authenticity, because this adds tremendous perceived value to your customized product. And the way you present them, the way you sell them, you want to play up. Use keywords like “unique” and “customized.” “Customized” is a highly searched keyword online. If you’re selling customized canvas tennis shoes you want to advertise them as unique and special. You’re not going to find these anywhere. So you really need to, when you’re presenting these products, play that customization angle up. And you also need to go reach out to your customers, which means if you’re selling customized boating accessories you need to go to those boating forums where boating enthusiasts go and you need to start participating. And then in your signature link you put a link to your website or your store promoting your customized products.

Colette: And listen. Listen at those forums. Read through. You’ll get some tremendous ideas from those forums of what people are asking for.

Lisa: Yes.

Colette: Right there is a great source of information for you.

Lisa: And they will tell you what they want, you don’t even have to think it up yourself.

Colette: Right (laughter). They make it easy for you.

Lisa: They do.

Colette: Let’s talk about mass market products, though. Those aren’t going to be affected by this. You can still sell what you’re regularly selling online as well, right?

Lisa: Absolutely, and that’s a really good point. Because there is not just one trend that dominates the retail industry. The desire for mass marketed products will never go away, there is always going to be that desire. What’s awesome about this retail environment is that there are so many different niches that people are interested in. The person who buys a customized product, that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to buy a mass marketed product, it just means that there’s additional interest and additional opportunity.

Colette: Lisa, it is time for a quick break. We have a lot more to talk about when we return. Go to ProductSourcingShow.com to listen to any of our past shows, read written transcripts, and more. I’m Colette Marshall and we’ll be right back with Lisa Suttora.

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