Syama Meagher is the CEO of Scaling Retail. A retail consulting firm that works with fashion brands and retailers internationally.

All posts by Syama Meagher

How to Work with Micro Influencers

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail, and today let’s talk a little bit about how to work with micro influencers. You know, micro influencers are really the next big deal. Editors, bloggers, they’re all taking a look at these micro influencers in order to see what they’re posting and what they’re trending. It’s so interesting to see how in this age of influencers, and I say this very heavy, because obviously these guys charge a ton of money, these big influencers – but in this age of influencers, the micro influencers are really where it’s at. So today let’s unpack how we work with these guys, how to negotiate rates, and ultimately the best ways to engage with them.

So firstly, it’s very important, guys, I did a recent panel over at Conde Nast with the editors of Vogue, of W Magazine, and they were telling me that they were actually paying more and more attention to micro influencers, and the reason why is that micro influencers have much higher conversion than their large-scale influencer counterparts. Now when I say micro influencers, what I mean are essentially the influencers who have just a couple thousand followers. Maybe they actually only have about, you know, a 2% engagement, but possibly it’s even higher because these guys are in a more focused atmosphere.

Next, when working with these micro influencers, it’s important to really understand in this new era, some of them are not even sure that they can be charging money, or really how much they can be charging. So one of my favorite things to do when working with them is to simply offer up an email and say, “Hey, can we collaborate? Is there an opportunity to trade, or can we see how we can work together?” As opposed to saying, “Can you send me over your rate sheet or your ad sheets,” right? Those are obviously things that we’re used to seeing from larger influencers.

Of course, guys, these micro influencers are going to be growing just as the large-scale influencers did about five to seven years ago. So trust me, they’re going to be growing in size as well as in what it is that they’re asking for in terms of payment. So if you can get in on the ground now and start to activate with micro influencers, you might find actually, that you’re going to get a better rate, and better exposure, and better conversion than you would if you jump on this bandwagon in about a year from now.

Now of course, I’m hyping up these guys, but how actually do you evaluate them and where should you be looking? Well, personally I think it’s very important to take a look at smaller cities where these micro influencers might actually be able to have a much larger visibility in terms of their market. So when you think about places like New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles that can be oversaturated, when it comes to micro influencers, think about smaller cities. Think about going global, right? Think about all the different places where your product might actually reach a more targeted audience that might actually convert a little bit better.

Now next, like I mentioned, you want to make sure these guys are turning over some great conversion. So take a look on their likes, take a look at who’s commenting, and do a little bit, you know, further digging. See who these people are and make sure that they’re real people and not just bots. Again, micro influencers do not have millions of followers, they might have 5,000 or less, so keep that in mind as you’re perusing.

All right guys, good luck with launching your micro influencer campaign. Remember, this is a new, hot marketing strategy. This is something that’s not going to be around in the next few years as these micro influencers continue to grow. Certainly there will more and more that are entering the space, but you definitely want to make sure that you get in on this trend before it blows up. If you want tips and tricks about how to do digital marketing, head on over to scalingretail.com, and if you’re ready to have us help you with your social media strategy, shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail. Please subscribe, follow our YouTube channel, it’s one of my favorite places to be, but we’re also on Instagram and Facebook. We are where you are. All right guys, have a fantastic day. Thanks, bye.

 

Learn the Basics of Content Management (and Key Terms to Master It)

Learn the Basics of Content Management (and the Key Terms to Master It)

“Content is king”. I think we come across this golden quote by Bill Gates every single day. And while he said it all the way back in 1996, it’s as relevant as ever. High quality, professional, engaging and properly branded content (and on the ball content management) is crucial to building any brand today – especially in fashion.

So What Exactly Is Content Management?

Content management is the process of collecting, managing and publishing the content you create to promote your brand and add value to your target audiences. This includes anything from sharing articles on Medium to optimizing YouTube videos with proper keyword coverage to get in front of a sizable group of the people in your market.

Your content management and production team will help you create, promote and manage your content so that it adds value to your target audiences and that it gets seen by as many people in your target audiences as possible.
The copywriter will craft high quality copy (a.k.a. text) in the form of anything from your website content to blogposts, placed articles, case studies or white papers. While content management tasks consist of taking this content and putting it to use by sharing it on social media, engaging with those who respond, scheduling blogposts, prepping posts as per best SEO practices, planning content to be written, creating and maintaining your editorial calendar and more. Finally, the photographer will shoot and edit all of the gorgeous images you need for use in your social media accounts such as Instagram and Pinterest, your lookbooks and seasonal campaigns, product shots for e-commerce and/or catalogs, editorial images and other must-have imagery.

As you scale up, you’ll definitely need to think about expanding your content production team with a copywriter, content manager and photographer. These are all trained professionals with their own languages and lingo that you’re going to have to learn if you want to be able to engage, interview or hire them.

There are tons of special words and phrases in the fields of copywriting, content management and photography, but our brief glossary of terms will give you the essential terms you need to know.

Glossary of Terms

Advertorial: a newspaper or magazine ad sharing highlights about a product that is written in the style of a news or editorial article.
Blog: a web page or website featuring written content in an informal or conversational style that is updated on a regular basis.
Blogpost: an individual entry in a blog.
BTS: BTS stands for behind-the-scenes and refers to anything that occurs behind the scenes of photo and video shoots as well as any images taken on these sets that are not a part of the actual shoot.
Call Time: the time someone needs to arrive to a photoshoot set.
Case Study: analyzing real events or occasions in business to illustrate the efficacy of business principles or practices and establish the brand as an authority.
CMS: CMS stands for content management system and refers to the software platform you use to share content such as copy, photos and videos.
Copy: written text.
Copywriting: writing text for advertising or other forms of marketing.
E-Book: a digital book typically created to serve as a marketing tool offering valuable resources.
Editing: changing copy in some way such as to improve it to read better, to streamline text, the reduce word count, to remove extraneous words, to resolve grammatical and syntax errors, et al.
Editorial: high quality, creative images designed to be used in publications such as magazines.
Email Copywriting: written text to be featured in email marketing campaigns.
Fact-Check: the act of double-checking information contained in a piece of content to ensure it is both up-to-date and accurate.
GIF: a file format that can be used for images that are either still or animated.
JPEG: a common file format for photos, also JPG.
Lookbook: a set of images showing detailed looks of every garment in a collection to be used for marketing and selling, such as introducing the products to store buyers.
Mood Board: Images brought together to share the inspiration, mood and direction of an upcoming photoshoot.
MUA: MUA stands for makeup artist. You’ll likely need to hire a freelance MUA and hairstylist whenever you have a shoot featuring models.
Newsletter: an electronic or paper edition of content arriving in regular intervals (i.e. monthly or weekly) containing valuable company news, product information and more.
Photog: a shortened word for “photographer”.
Product Description: text providing website visitors with all of the necessary details about an SKU such as features, characteristics, colors and fit.
Proofreading: reading content to identify any errors.
SEO: SEO stands for search engine optimization is the process of preparing content to be shared in a manner that will bring more traffic to your website.
Sponsored Article: an article that appears in a publication or blog but is paid for by the featured company and is identifiable by an appropriate disclaimer.
Target Market: individuals and groups of people a piece of content has been created for.
White Paper: a valuable educational tool that simultaneously informs readers, markets a business and establishes authority.
Wrap Time: the time a photoshoot is expected to come to an end.

How many of these terms did you already know? The more you understand about content management, the better equipped you’ll be when it comes to hiring these professionals and communicating and approving all of your different content management initiatives and strategies.

And of course, you don’t have to go it alone. How do we help brands? Our clients turn to Scaling Retail for content strategy development and holistic marketing execution. What are your current content needs? Get in touch to schedule a consultation session today.

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

Why You Need a Retail Calendar for Your Fashion Business

A regular calendar just doesn’t cut it when it comes to the fashion business. You’ve probably heard of the retail calendar before. If you’re not actually putting it to use- you’re missing out. Unlike most relics of old retail, the retail calendar is not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s old school but timeless. It’s your go-to tool to get results and tackle sales planning and forecasting like a pro.

Here’s a couple of reasons why you should start using a retail calendar today…

Account for Variations in Time.

If you take a basic calendar and compare this day last year, you won’t get accurate results. However, the retail calendar will give you a clearer picture of the difference between this time this year and this time last year. This is because it accounts for different variations and variables. For example, this year June 12th falls on a Monday but last year it fell on a Sunday. The retail calendar provides the sales day equivalent of today’s date last year instead of simply the same date a year earlier.

The retail calendar is a 4-5-4 calendar. It allows you to compare sales week over week and year over year with comparable periods of time and standardized variables.

Track Holiday Sales.

The retail calendar lets you understand which holidays fall on which days. Not every holiday falls on the same day every year so it’s really valuable for planning. Use your retail calendar to organize sales/markdowns, newsletters, pop-up shops, events and more. When you know when holidays occur over a few years’ time, you can accurately compare sales performance while understanding the how and why.

Determine Delivery Times.

This calendar helps you determine when deliveries need to happen so you can figure out the best week to drop products. Download the National Retail Federation’s retail calendar to start planning production dates for the next few seasons.

See the Bigger Picture.

Add a retail calendar to your fashion business arsenal! You can look at your brand on the macro level- viewing a year in the past, today and two years into the future. Being able to assess this huge chunk of time all at once is really valuable.

Pretty much everything in the fashion industry is accounted for really far in advance because of the fashion cycles. In August, you’re selling Spring/Summer of next year to wholesalers while releasing Fall/Winter online and in stores. You’re also prototyping and developing samples for Fall/Winter of the next upcoming year. Expect to deal with three different seasons at any given time and use the type of calendar that rises to the occasion.

As a fashion brand owner, there are a few calendars you need to have onboard. Get a marketing calendar, one for sales, an accounting/financial calendar, another for operations and – the most important calendar of them all – the retail calendar. Most of these are based on the fiscal year so they’re not a lot of help when it comes to production cycles. But with the right calendars in place, you’ll have a much more accurate interpretation of what’s happened in your business.

Get a good grasp on the past, the present and the future.

How to Launch Your Fashion PR Strategy

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail, and launching your PR on your own can be one of the most difficult and necessary things you’ll have to do for your own business. If you don’t have the budget to hire someone at a $1,000 to $10,000 a month, you might be looking to implement many of these strategies that I’m going to share with you right now.

Number one, I highly suggest signing up for an application called BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo allows you to track the top keywords in your niche across different platforms. Because you must be wondering, how does everyone end up with all this press? Well, it doesn’t happen without knowing all the key blogs and areas of business you should be pitching. So don’t think that getting in Vogue is always the best shot here. You might be looking at targeting different journalists or editors, and those people you’ll be able to find on BuzzSumo.

Number two, make sure that you have an idea of your targeted list building strategy. I’ve seen so many clients take a big list of what’s handed to them and just decide to cold pitch all of these people. But guess what, not all of these people give a whatever about what it is that you’re selling because you’re pitching the wrong person. So the big thing here about list building strategies is to make sure you’re targeting the right people. So that means going on LinkedIn, make sure they’re still working at that company. And then using a platform like Hunter.io to make sure you’ve got the right email address. Hunter.io is one of my favorite secret weapons that I actually share with most of my clients. It basically allows you to find almost anyone’s email address if you know the company they work for. Sounds pretty cool, right? Yeah, and it’s free, right. So talk about something that’s going to be really useful for you.

So number three, not getting a response isn’t a “No”, it’s just a “Not right now”. As the CEO of your business, you have a duty and dedication to be able to consistently hit these editors and these stylists every week or every month with your content and with your branding. And if you don’t hear back from them, you should continue to make sure that you’re sending them content on a monthly basis to see if, hey, maybe something you’re working on is really going to help them with the story that they’re doing.

Now the other thing you have to make sure you implement is something like a tracking software. I like to use Yesware. Streak is also great, and Boomerang. All of these three platforms allow you to actually be able to tell if someone’s opened up your email or not. Now, how amazing is that, right? It would be great to know if you shoot me an email, if I open it and choose not to get back to you. These are really, really important things that you’ve got to start to implement in order to activate PR. Now there are lots of places online that you can go to buy lists. There are lots of people who are gonna teach you how to do PR, but PR is all about relationships.

So number four is really thinking about these PR people as really, you know, these editors and stylists, they’re people too, right? If you just sent someone a party invitation, would you expect them to show up the first time they’ve ever heard from you? Probably not. So you have to start nurturing these relationships. And understand, the reason why PR agencies get paid so much money is really because they have the relationships, the contacts, and they take the time on a day to day basis to nurture those audiences. So you have to make sure you’re also taking the time. And don’t expect someone to say yes the first time around.

Now lastly and most importantly, you have to make sure when doing your own fashion PR that you have a strategy and a timeline. So that means how often are you pitching during the year? What types of pitching are you doing? What’s actually newsworthy? If you’re just launching out for a company right now, a launch is only valid for the first two months, right? You can’t be launching for a whole year. So you have to really sit down and figure out, “What’s new and exciting in my brand and how can I make a lot of noise in order to give that a lot of impact?”

All right guys, good luck with launching your fashion PR strategy. Make notes of all the apps that I’ve suggested, they’re going to save you so much time. And come follow me. I’m over on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube at Scaling Retail. And you’ll find tons of exclusive content and blog posts over at ScalingRetail.com. Thanks so much for watching, guys, and have a fantastic day.

7 Characteristics of Fashion Brands That Sell

7 Characteristics of Fashion Brands That Sell

There are several new, bestselling brands that seemed to have come out of nowhere to turn into “overnight successes”. They’ve learned how to cleverly leverage everything from distribution to cash flow to catapult sales. Let’s take a look at the seven characteristics these fashion brands share so you can apply them to your business.

1. Flourishing Brand Loyalty

The best brands that thrive – season after season – are the ones that create connections with their customers through consistent brand touchpoints. Brand touchpoints can cover social channels, pop-up shops, event marketing and both print and digital paid marketing.

The Arrivals NYC

The Arrivals NYC

Two brands who are doing a clever job at taking press and flipping it into paid digital are The Arrivals NYC and American Giant. The Arrivals NYC is doing a kick-ass job with paid marketing on Instagram. I love how they are taking one piece of press (a write-up from Vogue) and using it to drive conversion through the platform. The Vogue write-up was based on buying your new perfect leather jacket. American Giant has also done an amazing job of leveraging a write-up on Slate and using it for advertising on Forbes. The write-up was about American Giant having the most in demand, perfect sweatshirt.

2. Slow and Steady Distribution

Drop shipment and consignment can make it easy to be in many retailers at once, but this won’t pay the bills. Deliberate distribution can be the difference between having the cash flow to continue production season after season or running out of funds.

Mansur Gavriel

Mansur Gavriel

Mansur Gavriel launched smart. They started selling at Capsule trade show and instead of letting retailers dictate payment terms they asked for a percentage down with the balance on NET 30. Retailers that couldn’t hang, didn’t, and that hasn’t slowed down this hot brand.

3. Strong Leadership

There are so many decisions that need to be made when running a business. Without a competent leader, there is no head to the ship and responsibilities can be deflected very quickly. Businesses that have multiple founders need to be very careful. It’s important not to have too many redundancies in core competencies. While you all may want to chime in on a particular decision, someone eventually needs to make it and they need to be empowered to do so.

Rhode

Rhode

Fashion brand Rhode is an excellent example. Founded by Purna Khatau and Phoebe Vickers, this team divides work and conquers. With one half focused on designing and merchandising, and the other half focused on business development and sales, this team has been able to triple their sales in just a year. If there was no autonomy, how on earth could anything get done?

4. Organized, Strategic Operations

Have your shipping and logistics on lockdown. Brands that sell know how to ship. To scale up orders and get repeat customers make sure your packaging is on point and you have a distribution center set up. Don’t prematurely move to a 3PL (third party logistics) provider until you have a sales/marketing/PR strategy in place (so you know’ll when to anticipate sales).

Do your research so you know who you want to work with when the time is ready. Have at least three conversations with logistics providers. If you get stuck, shoot us an email at hello@scalingretail.com, we’ve got a kick-ass ops consultant to set you up properly.

5. End Game Aware

Do you want to sell the brand? Will you always be the head of creative? Understanding where you want to take your business will help you make the right decisions. Brands that want to sell to national department stores versus boutiques take different steps to get there. In order to be a brand that sells and is successful, you have to know the end game so you can make it happen.

6. Consistent Messaging

Yes, there are lots of things your brand could be, but stick to the main message. If you are focusing in the environmental sector be clear about what that means to the brand. Your brand story should be able to hold the collection and marketing for seasons to come. Create a brand bible and reference it as often as you need to get to know the difference between your preferences and how the brand develops its own identity.

American Giant

American Giant

Five years down the road you may have a brand that develops a strong following, but your own personal aesthetic may have changed. Your customers may not be ready to grow up with you, so a tough call will have to be made. Risk losing them or continue to create what you know will sell. Brands that stick to the key message become staples.

7. Money Smart

You don’t need to be a CPA to know that money in the retail industry is funny. It’s funny because wholesalers always ask for discounts, they don’t always pay on time, they sometimes cancel orders and you have to invest money into production of samples and production way before you see a penny of sales. E-commerce money is also very risky; you are placing your own buys against sales on your site, so you’ve got to have a plan to get those sales. Do it right and you may see a 70% full price sell-through, do it wrong and you may need to have a steep markdown season to clear out merchandise.

Unlike the restaurant industry where you can get cash in hand the same day, the retail landscape requires balancing a tight rope of cash. In fact, even companies that sell $200M a year (a la The Honest Company) aren’t even profitable. To be a brand that sells you’ve got to have a grip on what cash you need to survive. If you don’t have cash to produce, you can’t sell. If you don’t have cash to produce content and to market, no one will know you exist. Understand money and prepare- this is the key to longevity.

So there you have it, these are the seven characteristics of brands that are selling like crazy these days. Get to work on transforming your brand – step by step – and you’ll really start to feel the results!

Why Retail Needs Brick-and-Mortar and E-Commerce to Survive

Why Retail Needs Brick-and-Mortar and E-Commerce to Survive

Whether you rely on your own retail shop or wholesale fashion accounts to thrive, it’s time to stop choosing between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce strategies. At the end of the day, it’s all simply retail and shoppers respond best to a healthy mix of the physical and digital worlds.

Alibaba Makes a Case for Merging Physical and Digital Commerce

Alibaba is probably the largest retailer who has tossed the idea of “omnichannel” right out of the window. And they continue to grow at an impressive speed. They started with the purchase of a major retail brand in China in 2015 followed by a recent $2.6 billion purchase of a Chinese mall operator – complete with 29 department stores and 17 shopping malls across various cities.

Their CEO, Daniel Zhang, has made their plans clear: transform physical stores to reach modern shoppers’ standards using their digital cache of resources (improved inventory management, real-time customer insights and data, digital payments, et al.). The plan is to introduce new customers to the offline shops, while strengthening their overall business. Zhang says: “We don’t divide the world into real or virtual economies, only the old and the new”.

And really, shouldn’t that be the accepted idea of retail strategy across the industry? Brick-and-mortar shops hanging on to old business models and old ways of doing business are really feeling the burn. The same goes for digital businesses that don’t consider what actually happens with customers when they shop offline.

E-Commerce Stores are Opening Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

Don’t let headlines about struggling retailers fool you. Brick-and-mortar still works. Just look at the number of e-commerce shops arriving offline. We’re seeing fully operational stores, short and long-term pop-ups and even offline showrooms all over the country. These brands include Bonobos, MM. LaFleur, Reformation, and Warby Parker.

Bonobos’ Guideshops don’t sell any physical products but they’re the hubs to place online orders, confirm fit, receive style advice, and make easy, in-person returns. MM. LaFleur takes advantage of the best aspects of traditional stores but with a contemporary and digital twist. Their showrooms offer pre-pulled, personalized looks, styling sessions, and accompanying glasses of champagne – an excellent way to bridge shopping with experience. Reformation’s concept is more like a hybrid of both worlds with limited quantities of merchandise and digital screens for online shopping in store. As for Warby Parker, they plan to open at least another 25 shops this year!

Touch Is Only Human

As a species, we’re totally wired for physical touch. Touch is linked to our behavior, emotions, and crucial development. There’s a study that’s widely referenced in retail to translate the science. It was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology in 2014 and it explains how using a touchscreen interface emphasizes the benefits we experience when we get something new. We psychologically perceive that we own whatever we touch! That means we get the benefits of retail therapy – even before we buy!

The great news is the same research has been correlated to touching other physical objects in stores so every brand has the chance to benefit. Since touch is a natural instinct that brings on positive emotions, it’d be totally irrational to move all of our sales online. We have to embrace technology and the physical world to really maximize the potential rewards. And there are really so many possibilities.

Brick-and-mortar isn’t dead. And e-commerce sales are only one slice of the retail pie. We have about 19 hours a day to create valuable, offline engagement so let’s leverage what we’ve learned to ramp up the real-world retail experience.

Innovation has changed everything and at the same time, nothing at all. Technology, marketing, and shopping habits have changed but we still crave a social experience. Our desire to connect as a community is just as powerful as it was in the height of the department store heyday. Shops got their start as places to gossip, socialize, and relax and today’s stores are still great places to congregate. Digital has only expanded the size of this community, taking it to a worldwide scale.

We still need human touch and in-person interaction… physical stores will always be around. The shops that will survive will use digital to stay connected and improve the ways they engage. They’ll use digital to offer additional brand touchpoints and to deepen relationships with their customers through increased “face time” and additional outlets to share their stories.

You have to be where your customers are. Shoppers may not always make the sale offline but that doesn’t mean their in-store experiences won’t lead them to online sales or digital brand advocacy later on. We have to see retail with a much more holistic view.

Be open to change and nimble to react because if there’s one constant in fashion, it’s CHANGE.