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How best to sell nonessential goods; are you networking or wine tasting?
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the December 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Needful Things?

Let's be honest--some of you sell things that can't technically be labeled "necessary." Those scented candles, for example, aren't exactly what you'd save in a natural disaster. Nor are DVDs, bubble

Gum or greeting cards Absolutely vital to life, except that they add something to the human existence. And that's the idea you have to pitch if your business is built on selling non-essentials.

According to Pam Danziger, author of Why People Buy Things They Don't Need (Paramount Market Publishing), people look for permission to buy non-necessities. "Once people have made that emotional gut reaction [to buy something], they have to justify it from a left-brained point of view," she says.

Example: A customer buys new curtains to replace frayed ones that are falling apart. He or she will then buy new paint, new carpet and new furniture-and justify it by saying "We needed to buy new stuff to go with the new curtains."

A smart business owner knows to push this angle when a customer comes in to buy a necessity, because pushing nonvital items can increase the sale.

Nice Meeting You!

Networking is a great way to grow a business-but you'd rather pull out your own teeth than attend another boring mixer.

The founders of Imagistic Media Studios Inc. in Venice, California, found a way to "network" without the negative connotations. Company founders Marcelo Ziperovich, 37, Michael Weiss, 33, and Kevin Goldberg, 37, started The Wine Project ( to build their contact list while drinking wine and eating good food.

They host wine tastings, invite professionals in varying fields (especially outside the graphic and Web site design circle) and charge a small cover simply to meet new people. "We let people's conversations come naturally," says Ziperovich. It's worked like a charm-they've already garnered new business from the events, as well as more than 250 new contacts.

Andrea Nierenberg, author of NonStop Networking (Capital Books), says networking can be easy if you think creatively. You can sponsor "getting to know you" events such as a shindig where you give free samples or demonstrations of your product or service.

Just don't be too "sales-y"-concentrate on meeting people and listening. Also, consider sponsoring a free seminar at a local college in whatever your business expertise is, whether it's sales or party planning. When Nierenberg sponsored a free seminar, for instance, it led to three new business leads. Says Nierenberg, "Those kinds of things-you never know where they open doors."

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