Founder and Perfumer Extraordinaire Charna describes herself in third person
and claims to create the finest perfume in the WORLD! She is a megalomaniac who
sigh . . . (DELETE)
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I define my business and myself as a perfumer. This is due to the fact that I've been focusing on public relations. A more accurate term would be: doggedly trying to get my name out there. I feel like I should wear a billboard that says "HAVE YOU HEARD OF PROVIDENCE PERFUME CO? WOULD YOU LIKE TO?"
Consequently this means I have been writing press releases, creating marketing pamphlets, reading everything I can about search engine optimization (groan), making sure my packaging is up to snuff, joining pr websites, contacting reviewers, bloggers, websites . . . it's exhausting. Perhaps I should pretend that obtaining sales is effortless- but let's get real -it's not. I'm a small business in a specialized market with a small amount of funds (read miniscule) to spend on advertising, glossy webdesign, and promotion. I spend all my funds sampling amazing and expensive absolutes!
steps in the PR process
Due to my recent focus on promotion, I'm frequently asked the same qualifying questions by reporters, editiors and the like. They are:
1. How long have you been in business?
2. What sort of degrees or certification to you hold?
3. What are your annual sales?
4. Where are your perfumes available for sale? Do you have your own store?
Most often I don't think my answers are exactly what they're looking for. I've learned the hard way and can now craft a paragraph that makes me sound fabulously successful, experienced and predominate without actually saying I'm fabulous, successful, experienced or predominate. I am constantly having to define myself, my perfumes, my point of view in a nice tidy sentence or two. Most of the time I realize the reporters have no idea what I do. This becomes apparent when they ask questions like, "Do you allow customers to blend their own perfumes from your website?' or "How long have you been an aromatherapist?"
On the other hand approaching those in the field who understand what I do comes with it's own set of classifications. Maybe because creating natural perfumes seems like such a niche market I wasn't expecting this. I now realize I must define myself even further. Saying I'm a "natural perfumer" to a bunch of people who work reviewing natural perfumes isn't exactly a revelation, or defining, or for that matter different or exciting. Realizing this, I've had to delve much further into my idea of who I am and what I do than I ever expected. To be honest, it's a little uncomfortable. I thrive on self deprecating humor. I like to crack jokes at my own expense. This sort of "down to earth" personality doesn't translate well into publicity. I need to toot my own horn and sell myself and my perfumes. All this focusing on ME and MY perfumes is uncomfortable but necessary. It's embarrassing to pontificate on the questions of "who am I?" and "what makes me different?" In the past I would have answered these questions sassily by saying I'm different because I am a natural perfumer, with a penchant for wine drinking and watching bad reality t.v. like "Hoarders" and well, um "True Beauty" --don't ask--I blame the wine. Once you start playing the publicity game, these answers no longer suffice.