Ask Indie Business: “Should I Sell Information About How To Get Products Onto Retail Store Shelves?”

Q: “Dear Indie Business: I need your advice on something. I have been getting a lot of inquiries from people asking how I got my products into Whole Foods Market and other stores. Should I give this information away or write an ebook on the process? I have found when I try to help others (although the learning process for me was difficult), they sometimes come back with additional questions before doing their own diligence.”

— Jameel Nolan, Natural Candle Pastries, Alpharetta, GA

supermarket shelves

dM's Answer: “Jameel, first of all, congratulations on getting your products into Whole Foods Market and other retail stores! That's a super success … and with it, as you now know, comes lots of people who want to know the “secrets” of our success.

The key to answering these types of questions is to create a system for dealing with them so you can respond to quickly and without spending valuable time figuring out what to do on a case-by-case basis. Here are my suggestions:

1. Decide what you want to do
Do you want to answer these types of questions at all? If not, you have a few options.

First, you can collect a short list of people who provide consulting services to help people get their products on store shelves, and create a form response to the inquiries. Zip it off whenever one comes your way, and you're done.

You could also post the information in a blog or website page and refer people directly to the link for resources.

A less “hands on” approach it to let people know that you don't provide consulting service of that type, and recommend that they contact the Whole Foods Market in their area for resources. You can always politely suggest Google too. The point here is answer the question quickly.

While you have their attention, you might also gently steer them in the direction of products you do offer. Finally, invite them to subscribe to your newsletter so you can stay in touch.

2. Capitalize on your hard-earned expertise

Another option is to capitalize on your hard-earned knowledge by adding another information product to your line. It can take the form of an e-book, a live online class, an in-person workshop, an audio CD, or a combination of all of them.

Plan ahead and insert this new product into your existing business model so it becomes a natural complement to your core business.

3. Celebrate!

Don't forget to celebrate that your hard work has created a new opportunity for you to make money by adding a new product that flows naturally and logically from your past efforts.

The organic creation of additional revenue opportunities is a great success in and of itself, and you should feel good about that.

Happy Dance!

Press Forward To Make Your Business Even More Profitable

Here's an important bonus note. I have heard people balk at paying someone to share information they feel should be given to them for free. While I agree that there are times when giving things away is entirely appropriate, this is generally not one of them.

I believe women should proactively pursue all opportunities they feel will complement their lives and add to their financial bottom line.

You should make as much money as you want to make, and you should not feel guilty because you want to exchange your expertise for a fair dollar amount.

You worked hard for years (I know this personally because I watched you do it!) to create a line of products worthy of the attention of one of the nation's most respected retail chains. After you did that, you took the initiative to discover exactly what they required of you to get some of their valuable shelf space.

You read specs, talked to buyers, downloaded PDFs, filled out forms, made phone calls, personally visited stores, signed contracts, purchased products liability insurance, complied with retailer labeling requirements, invested in UPC codes — and that's just the tip of the iceberg, right?

You can create a training program or ebook that can save another entrepreneur all the stress and trouble you went through. That's worth something, and anyone who thinks you have an obligation to give it away is not showing much respect for you as a woman, not to mention their own future success.

If a person won't invest in herself, how can she rightfully expect you to invest in her?

Some people won't like it if you decide to make money on what you know. That's their issue, not yours.

You’ve already gotten your products into Whole Foods Market, Jameel, but IBN members who have not may wish to check out How I Got My Products Into Whole Foods Market (and how you can too, a member teleseminar with IBN's Boston Directory, Susan Mann of Manor Hall Soap Co. Susan's products are in Whole Foods Markets throughout the northeastern US, and in stores all over. (If you're not an IBN member, learn more and join here.)

Good luck, Jameel, and let us know what you decide to do!

— Donna Maria”


Natural Candle Pastries
Manor Hall Soap Co.


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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.