We’re back with another delightful Saturday’s Sips of Wine from the Grapevine with Edward Cohen, founder of EZ2SeeProducts.
Join me now as we read about and celebrate Edward’s successful endeavors.
June Seems to be Jumping
By Edward Cohen
Well, so much for June gently arriving. Here in southeast Minnesota, the first 2 weeks were crazy hot and no rain. It was almost 20 degrees hotter than normal. But we had plenty of water in the air, HUMID! With all the crazy weather in the country, you may have it worse, so I’ll stop complaining at least for a while. Here’s some of what’s been going on in my world.
Calendars Sold Out
Well, it happened. The last 2021 calendar was sold by mid-month. We are only talking about 1,500 calendars, but that was the largest printing to date. I know the many reasons, but I am still amazed at how far into the year people buy it. Maybe word is spreading? We’re likely to print 50% more of the 2022’s this fall.
Getting Some Marketing Help
Since starting this business in 2015, I knew I needed sales and marketing help. I looked for anyone who both appreciated what I was doing and had far more experience in this area than I did. Not knowing any such person, I spent hundreds of dollars to be permitted to connect with sales people who signed up for free on an Independent Sales Agent web site. I reached out to well over a dozen of them who read and expressed interest in my entry. Some never even replied once I got their contact information and could contact them. Of those who did reply, not a single one actually got started.
Then a couple of months ago, a retired woman dealing with RP moved to town. We met virtually when she joined one of the blind groups I’m in. As the unofficial welcoming committee, I reached out to her. Over the next month or so, we emailed and then routinely spoke.
During those calls, we shared some of our life histories and life experiences. She mentioned her years in sales and marketing. I was also impressed to hear of her past clinical psychology practice background. In turn, she learned of my business. After seeing the calendar online, she praised its design and took steps to buy one. After that, during each call she routinely spoke highly about it and about the goals of my business.
At some point it dawned on me that she could be the type of sales and marketing person for whom I had been looking. So in May, I asked if she had any interest in helping with the business. I’m happy to say that she did! She agreed on the terms and to work part-time during a trial period. We’re working to bring her up to speed on what she needs to know to help her be as helpful as we all want her to be. This could give our outreach efforts a real boost.
The Halo Tactile Overlays
Remember that I alerted the Prevent Products ladies about these innovative flat panel control bumps? Well, they made an initial purchase of a set of them in black and orange. We’ll begin to decide how to weave them into our websites. I don’t make a penny off of their sales. Adding them is consistent with my belief that many people with low-vision don’t know about the many simple, helpful products that are out there. This way, I can alert them when they visit my website.
The Address Book Product Update
Since last month, we’ve confirmed that the printer can provide the larger disc size we think is needed to allow for the number of sheets that the book could hold. Higher level decisions still remain.
A Happy Chain of Events
I occasionally hear from one of you who receive these emails who share interesting information. Through this Sign-up Group, I’ve met some talented and interesting people. This month one of those emails arrived from Gloria. She let me know that her book dealing with adjustment to blindness had been published and was now on Amazon. She encouraged me to reach out to her publisher who might have some marketing tips. Being comfortable at making cold calls, I took her up on the idea.
Itty Bitty Books Publishing really does publish books that are small in size and quick informative reads. I assumed someone at the front desk would pick up. When Suzy answered with a simple Hello, I had to quickly pivot.
I assumed she gets flooded with all sorts of calls for help. In such situations, I have a strategy. I immediately give my name, explain we’ve never met and then say who said I should call her. Her response was, “You’ve given me the 3 things I wanted to hear right up front”. She spoke highly of Gloria and we were off on a great conversation.
As is my practice, I gave her the URL for the website early in the conversation. She pulled it up and immediately said she liked it, saw the vast market for it and started to fling market ideas at me. While all her suggestions were already on my list, I thanked and said I appreciated her quick thinking. I mentioned certain areas of interest. Suzy had a vast network and graciously shared the contact information for two of them. One was a specific optometrist I should contact and the other was a consulting company she thought might be helpful. Before we hung up, I promised to let her know how things turned out.
In such situations, I search for the business online before calling. But neither her name or phone number was found. So cold calling, here I go again. When the phone is answered with a simple hello, you now know what my next words were.
Kathy is an optometrist in Hawaii. As soon as she pulled up the images of the calendar on the website, she excitedly said this is exactly what she’s looking for. Her eyesight is fine, but she has come to realize how often eye professionals have no idea about the sort of aids and devices that exist that could help those with low vision. She is preparing a web site to target her island optometrist colleagues about what is out there. And, oh yes, she bought one as we spoke. Grin.
As for the consulting company, I’m still looking into what I need and what they could do for me.
Lastly, with a tip from the manager of my local small business development center, I have begun to receive two types of assistance from the faculty and students at an in-state private college. They have programs to address entrepreneurship and consulting. But sharing that news that will have to wait until next month when I know where it will lead.
Until next month.
Wishing you a happy and safe summer,
Edward is the founding owner of EZ2See® Products LLC. Visit his website if you or someone you care about are looking for innovative products for those with vision challenges. Contact him at info@EZ2SeeProducts.com
Check out Gloria’s book on Amazon