If You Handle “Made in China” Items in Your Home Business….
In our “Apprentice” type friendly competition on the b5 Business Channel, we’re following Kay as she sets up her business selling aprons and chefs hats for children. Last week, we posted, Starting a Business on a Limited Budget at Startup Spark, information on how to use $500 for her promotion. (This also gave some great marketing tips for any start up business.)
Kay just found out that the novelty buttons that she sews onto her children’s aprons and chef’s hats are manufactured by the same company in China that has been associated with selling toys coated with lead paint. She has received confirmation from the distributor that the buttons have been re-tested and do not contain any lead. The buttons are, however, clearly marked “Made in China.” Kay DOES NOT have the budget to remove the buttons and replace them with new buttons. With just six weeks to go before Christmas, she is worried about the potential hit to her sales if parents worry that there is lead on her buttons.
Half of her friends have encouraged her to go public about buttons and re-assure her potential customers that there the buttons are okay. The other half tell her not to mention the buttons at all because it will cause more problems for her than it would help.
What do you say? In other words, how proactive should you be when things go wrong in your business?
The solution: Leading a campaign for lead free toys and products, as well as promoting hers as lead free could gain her positive PR.
Get the Facts on Paper
*Do some research. Each state and country has its own laws about such issues, so whether Kay has a brick and mortar store will affect how she deals with this. Also, since the distributor is from another country, you have to consider the laws of that country. Check all of this with a legal expert first before proceeding.
*Get the proper paperwork from legal experts, the distributors, and relevant government departments (like http://www.cpsc.gov/) that the products have been tested as safe and lead-free. Independent laboratories can also conduct research, such as Consumer Reports (http://blogs.consumerreports.org/safety/lead/)
If she has all of the necessary paperwork, she can proceed.
Update the Product
*She should add an attractive, readily seen tag that proudly proclaims “Tested Child Safe For Your Peace of Mind.” This tag doesn’t have to specifically be in the buttons. The tag may be written in two formats: one for authorities (with all the legalese) - and one for the customers, if they wish to seek more information. This way, she can cover both the concerned customers and the legal aspects.
*Another option: add a leaflet inside the packaging explaining her policy for child safe toys, and that she has confirmed the safety of these buttons with the distributor. (including excerpts from the legal documents and paperwork from the government agencies and the distributor).
Get the Word Out
*Hold a press conference, with the manufacturer (or the US rep) and announce that the product is safe.
*Send Out a Press Release announcing the products’ safety as well. Begin all marketing messages with a “Worried about lead paint?” type of question, then show that she is lead free and happy to share the certification.
*Find reporters doing stories on the recall issue - and show how a proactive business owner checks and double checks. Do interviews, PSAs, about the importance of lead check-ups for healthy children. Including tips for parents on how to look for lead-free certification.
*Host a Get the Lead Out of Toys Day, which includes tips from her and other experts; as well as a special Get the Lead Out of Toys Sale. She could not only feature her products, but other items the manufacturer has developed as well. She can even go hand in hand with other lead-free toy manufacturers in promoting each other’s products on this promo day. (See Kay’s Press Release on this.)
*As this is a topical issue especially with Christmas toy shopping, there may even be scope for a newspaper article and/or You Tube Video highlighting her approach and that she prides herself on stocking only child safe items, taking the peace of mind and safety angle for parents. She can do this by using some lead test kits and take a video of her testing her products and coming up with “lead-free” results. This may even attract new customers.
Since it is a kid’s chef products business, she could use the word “recipe” or similar to get her message across e.g. “Kay’s Recipe For Child Safe Toys” .What would you do if you were faced with this problem? Do you have any suggestions? Do you happen to be stocking “Made in China” items that you’re in a quandry about?
Related post: Great Advice for Home Business StartupsTags: b5media+Business+Channel, home+based+business, Home+business, home+business+competion, home+business+PR, home+business+promotion