Category: CEO Advice

How to Hire the Right Team to Scale Up

How to Hire the Right Team to Scale Up

Hiring is a major factor when you’re growing your fashion business to scale. Your modest team of a few talented professionals was perfect in your startup days but bigger plans and more initiatives requiring a suite of new responsibilities and skills calls for definite growth when it comes to your most important resource – the people behind your brand. Use these tips to help you make the wisest hiring decisions.

Here’s advice that holds true across the board, as well as specific hiring tips as they pertain to leadership positions and support staff.

First Things First

No matter the position you’re looking to fill, always begin by assessing personality and enthusiasm. Your new hires can’t just be talented. They’re also going to need to have the right personalities to build on the overall synergy of your team. Also, having the skills, experience and personality for the job won’t stand to benefit your brand much if they just don’t have the passion. The initial excitement can quickly wear off and you’ll find yourself trying to find new ways to motivate them or they may not waste much time before simply moving on.

Take a look at your potential hire’s background. The retail industry is huge but not all of its categories are easily transferrable. For example, a potential hire who has acted as social media manager for a tire company has had a totally different experience than someone who has done the same job for the fashion industry. Look for candidates with experience in your sector, with the exception of roles that aren’t sector dependent – such an executive assistant.

Finally, be sure to include a non-compete clause in the contract of every one of your employees. This prevents people from getting your secrets and then running away to apply them at the firms of your competition.

Welcoming New Support Staff to Your Team

While it’s tempting to mine personal contacts, here’s a big caution: don’t hire your friends as employees. Unless you feel comfortable telling them what to do and they’ll feel comfortable taking your instructions, these types of arrangements can quickly go sour.

When it comes to office positions, it’s best to hire seasoned professionals. If not, you’ll need to train on everything from communication to software which can be an expensive and time-consuming process. You also don’t know how much time it will take for them to get used to all of their new responsibilities.

Finally, don’t discriminate against people who may have too much experience based on only reviewing their resumes. These days, people go through multiple careers and they’re a lot more open to big life changes. If a candidate fits the bill and has a great personality, why not? Most of these potential hires tend to be independent contractors so just be careful that you aren’t breaking any labor laws. If you need them to work in a fixed environment for a fixed amount of time, it may legally be time to transition them into salaries.

Leadership Hiring Practices

For leadership positions, look for people who have experience doing the same exact role at another company. Don’t hire anyone who simply “thinks” they have what it takes and don’t get too impressed by resumes from big corporate backgrounds. Corporate candidates are used to working with bigger teams and bigger budgets so their experience tends to be worlds away from what you have to offer – unless they were part of a startup or incubator at the firm or somewhere else. Leadership positions will usually account for your very first salary hires so be extra careful about your contracts and HR procedures.

Before You Make the Hire

Now that you’re ready to hire top talent, make sure you have all of your on-boarding materials in place. Take some time to figure out what benefits you can offer generously to employees. Maybe you can’t afford dental and health but you can afford a one week paid vacation, a clothing stipend or a matching 401k. Next, get a comprehensive payroll system (such as Gusto) and have everything set for smooth accounts payable/receivable. Be sure you can pay everyone on time while also being able to follow up on receivables with ease.

You don’t have to scale up on your own. At Scaling Retail, we help businesses grow with a comprehensive array of custom services including capacity building, rebranding, wholesale sales strategy and product extensions. Email hello@scalingretail.com to schedule a consultation session today.

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.

Do You Need a Business Plan for Your Fashion Business?

Today’s video we are discussing if you really need a business plan for your fashion business.Traditionally we are told before we even start working on your business you need a formal business plan in place. There are different kinds of plans that can relate to you; such as a Product Plan, Action Plan, Sales Plan etc. Watch our new video and see how you can start your planning!

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://blog.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-websites-that-sell-ebook/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

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10 Tips to Starting a Fashion Blog for Your Fashion Business

Writing a blog can seem like a daunting task, especially when you consider the amount of time it takes to plan the content, write, edit, and syndicate it. But if you find yourself reading this blog post then you realize that it can also be very powerful. Lets unpack why a blog for your fashion business is important.

  1. Blogs can share ideas, value, and lifestyle and create context for your existing and future customer base.
  2. Brands that have engaging blogs create a sense of community that transcends a short-term customer lifetime cycle. Your tribe will keep coming back.
  3. Blogs give you an opportunity to sell through context and link yourself with other brands in your industry. You can position your brand as an authority and link yourself to adjacent brands.
  4. Blogs can be very helpful in indexing your online brand through Search Engine Optimization.
  5. A blog post that creates value to the reader is a better marketing tool on paid advertising then just showing product based ads. Subtle selling creates relationships.

Nastygal Galaxy

It’s important to indicate what a blog is not.

  1. A blog is not an advertising section on your site to just show product.
  2. A blog is not a place to be negative- it reflects poorly on you brand.
  3. A blog is not a place to practice your writing skills. If you don’t have a distinct brand voice and style in place then figure this out before you start writing.

How you decide to write your blog can take on many forms. I prefer a strategic approach to one that is haphazard, so this list of how to optimize your fashion business blog is extensive. Here we go- 10 tips to start a blog for your fashion business.

  1. Create a content calendar. Start by writing down major dates and events related to your brand, then dates and themes industry wide.
  2. Start researching interesting topics that will be relevant to your new audience. Take a peek at your competitors.
  3. Develop two buckets of content: brand focus and lifestyle focus. Brand focus will be behind the scenes content, first glimpse into lookbooks etc. Lifestyle will be focused on other people, brands, and content. Aim to have a quarter of your posts about your brand. You will still want to weave in your brand to the lifestyle posts, it’s just not the focus.
  4. Decide how often you want to write. One time a month? Every week? Pick something and stay consistent.
  5. Create a style guide for writing if you plan to have someone else write the blog going forward. If you write your blog conversational, as I do, it may be challenging to find someone to fill your voice so having guidelines will be even more important.
  6. Do research on competitor keywords so you know which words you want to rank for. Remember that writing a blog post is a powerful piece of marketing and you want to make sure your efforts are well placed.
  7. Blogs need to be visually stimulating so you will need to create a bank of images you can pull from. The bank should include both stock images and those of your brand. So make sure you tell your photographer next time you are shooting that you need more than just editorial shots.
  8. Be choosey about your blog platform. There are many templates out there, and you want to make sure that your template highlights your content and the brand. Your blog should be hosted on your site though, and then you can share it on other platforms (Medium, Tumblr etc.).
  9. Aim to write between 500+ words. Since this is a fashion/lifestyle blog it doesn’t need to be super long, but word count matters for Google indexing.
  10. After you write ask yourself “why would anyone care, how is this useful”?

Make sure you have a fun time writing your blog. Its an amazing opportunity to bring customers inside the world of your brand. And don’t forget- blog content is so powerful when it’s well thought out and syndicated on all your platforms.

Syama Meagher is the CEO of Scaling Retail– the consulting firm for start up and growth stage fashion businesses. Email: hello@scalingretail.com to set up a consultation.

Driving Sales this Holiday Season: Black Friday to Christmas

Black Friday is upon us, and as a business that may not have $50,000 for an advertising budget you may want to re-consider what options you have. Not all businesses HAVE to participate in Black Friday or the sales leading to Cyber Monday. Your business is only responsible for catering to your audience. This is not the time to go all out on big campaigns if you are going to be bidding against big retailer budgets. This is time to communicate with your customers and take the time to reinforce your existing relationships.

If you will be participating in Black Friday and other sales this quarter then follow these marketing steps to create cohesive campaigns and see results.

Step 1: Research

Digital Marketing

You are no stranger at evaluating your own digital platforms, but have you really analyzed it? Spend some time looking into your own platforms to see what people are engaging with. Make note of that content. Is there a core user base of followers on your platforms? These people will come in handy. The more organic your engagement the less your digital advertising spend needs are. If you don’t have much organic engagement then you will want to increase your budget for paid marketing and read on.

Facebook Ads:

I’m not a huge fan of Facebook for Facebook pages, but I do think their digital advertising is really smart. Leverage hypertargeting ad placements to get specific with who ends up seeing your ad. Remember: It’s not about the number of people who come to your site, but the number of people who convert (a.k.a. buy things). Since you may not have a lot of time to test advertising to hone in on your Facebook target market, take an educated guess.

As you monitor and pivot your campaigns you may be able to make some tweaks based on what you find. For these ads you will be creating graphic assets to support it. If you need to hire someone fast to do it I suggest Upwork, TaskRabbit and 99designs. Make sure your ad lands on the right shop pages and that you have supporting banner ads to echo your messaging.

Example messages: Free 2 Day shipping Over $50, BOGO (buy one get one free), Free Shipping with Code HOL15.

Twitter Ads:

Twitter has updated their advertising platform to allow for more dynamic product advertising. If you have an active Twitter account then this is a good option for you. If you don’t then I wouldn’t suggest hopping on Twitter right away just to do these ads. The cool thing about Twitter ads is that they allow you to target your competitor’s handles directly. This will allow you to market to your competitor’s audience. If this is a good fit for you, you will need to reformat and change your ad specs to accommodate this platform.

Pinterest:

This is a good platform to use for selling. If you have been on this platform for a while I do suggest taking advantage of dynamic pins. At this moment Pinterest is getting ready to open up promoted pins, so you will have to join the waitlist to be notified when it opens up. When you do engage with dynamic pins and change pricing on your products it will bubble to the top of the feed for your followers.

Tip: Do price changes just for the weekend just to get the visibility.

Instagram:

Until they open up their platform to allow smaller brands to engage in advertising this will remain an organic channel for our purposes. The best way to leverage your organic audience will be through giveaways that generate likes, reposts and tagging.

If you have some time to do research into influencer marketing you may be able to get on the radar of high ranking influencers, but be cautious of high ranking influencers who don’t have much engagement on their platforms. Its too easy to buy followers these days, so if you get awed by an influencers 45k followers see if they have a 5% conversion rate (2,250 likes). To track your sales generated by Instagram use Google short links and alternate the products promoted on your channels by day.

YouTube:

Does your brand have a YouTube channel? Have you thought about partnering with a V-logger (video blogger)? If you have a YouTube channel, you may want to create a short promo video about the holiday season. Maybe it’s a sneak peak into the office and talks about your best selling holiday products. Maybe you are offering ideas on what to give for the holiday. These can be free to produce and be edited very fast. On YouTube make sure you connect the links to your product pages! If you couple this with an ad it could become a place to drive sales for your brand.

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Banner Ads:

Creating a banner ad on your site is a great way to harness your own traffic to convert. Keep your messaging consistent, especially if you have different ad promos running. Purchasing banner advertising on niche market websites is also a great option. Smaller, more targeted publications will also be speaking directly to your customer and they won’t be targeted by larger brands- so do some digging you might find some jewels.

Dedicated Blog Posts/Dedicated Newsletters/:

Similar to the Banner Ads, if you are looking for placement on another parties channel it takes a little time. Do some research into niche markets and find potential partners that your product will make a great fit for. It should be a natural fit, as if their audiences were to say “but of course this product/brand would go in my closet/shelf”. If you do find a great opportunity make sure that you find out the number of people your placement will reach, and what similar advertisements have converted.

Direct Marketing

Getting in front of your customer has to take on a 360o approach. It’s not enough to rely on digital to get the word out. It does take time to create direct marketing assets, find the right outlets, negotiate pricing and get placed. Long-lead publications take 3 months and smaller ones take about 1 month. Keep in mind that the holiday season is the biggest time for ad spending, next to the Super Bowl. The earlier you plan this- the better. While your timing and budget may be limited there are a few things you can do to generate sales.

Pop-up Shops:

Putting together a multi-brand pop up shop can happen very quickly if you already know whom you want to work with. Think about the brands that currently target your same demographic but are selling different kinds of products. Make sure your pricing is aligned, doesn’t make sense to have a luxury brand trying to sell to an entry-level price brand. Check out resources like thestorefront.com to get a read on what spaces are available in your target area. You will need to make sure you have inventory to sell and to make it a cohesive campaign will want to have postcards, stickers for shopping bags and back it all up with some placement on your digital channels.

le-fashion-truck-1000x567

Postcards:

Having postcards handy are great for passing out at events, leaving them at local coffee shops, mailing out to your existing customer base and to your trusty list of bloggers and editors. Use a beautiful image of your product and include all of your relevant contact details plus a few key words or sentences about your brand. To get extra oomph out of it have small stickers printed up with a few targeted coupon codes. You can stick them on before an event or marketing opportunity to track effectiveness of bounce back to your site.

Print Advertising: Magazines, Newspapers, and Periodicals:

For a last minute strategy this type of outlet can be the toughest to target. I only suggest using these channels as a supporting campaign to your digital or live events. It’s tough to track the conversions on these ads, and even with bounce back codes the conversions can be quite low. Heads up: most print advertising will have longer lead times for deadlines. If you are running out of time but want to include this type of channel then look to weekly publications since they might still have some openings.

Step 2: Outreach

Since you are on a short timeline you need to find out quickly which paid and unpaid channels you are going to go forward with. Start by reaching out to the paid channels first to get an idea of deadlines and cost. Make sure to get all relevant data on the target market, reach numbers, and what assets you will need to create the best campaign ever.

Example Email:

Hi Cristina!

I hope you are great. I’d like to chat with you about November/December ad placement on Man Repeller. Could you let me know what your deadlines are for submission and your ad rates? Right now I am looking into <insert type of ads >.

Thanks!

Syama

Step 3: Budget

Now while we would love to do everything on our list of potential outreach, we need to optimize for budget and timing. Normally I would suggest we create the budget based on your overall marketing budget for the year, but if this is last minute here is what I suggest. Set aside a minimum of $50 a day on your digital marketing campaigns until you get some solid data on what is working. This should be evident after 7 days of advertising. Once you get a sense of your responsive target market then up your budget and keep trekking.

Creating graphic assets, while echoed throughout this guide, is often overlooked. This aspect can take time and you want to make sure you have the right dimensions and call-to-actions in place. If you aren’t creating these yourself then look to some outside help. A copywriter might also be in your budget if you aren’t the strongest writer. A general rule of thumb your annual marketing budget should be about 15% of your yearly sales. This very much applies to businesses that have tested and gained target insight.

Step 4: Develop Timeline

No matter how much (or how little) time you have a timeline is important. Create an excel spreadsheet with the platforms both paid and unpaid and track it out by week. What channels launch when and what assets need to be finalized by when. Also track your goals and expectations. Are you targeting a niche market? You might have a small outreach but a higher expectation on click throughs and conversions.

Tip on conversion: make sure you have a newsletter pop up ready on your site to capture all these new leads!

Step 5: Develop Assets

Get creative! If you don’t have Photoshop then I suggest using simple graphic design programs like Canva and PicMonkey. Make sure your graphic assets are cohesive, with the same branded fonts and design direction. For this reason it’s best to either have a style guide for consistency purposes or to have the same designer create all your assets and then create the style guide afterwards. Be clear on the dimensions you need and what content can be put on the graphics, or on the text portion of your post. Many ads allow you to create multiple variations to test your image and text, so be sure to take advantage of this.

Step 6: Launch

Whoohoo! You made it. The work is almost over. Remember to be patient and to keep in mind that marketing is a long tail game. The first time you see an ad will you buy it right it away? You might buy it, but you also might not. In many cases it takes up to 3 different social proofs before a potential client converts, hence why I push the multi pronged approach.

Step 7: Monitor & Pivot

Even if your campaign is only 7 days long it’s important to track data on performance. Use your timeline and goal sheet and add your results right next to it. If your campaign is longer, then monitor which ads are performing best and redirect your ad dollars to those ads. Having multiple styles of ads will allow you to compare more effectively. Maybe it’s the image with the model that’s getting the most traffic, maybe it’s the clear product shot. Creating the tests to get the answers you need.

Step 8: Recap

A post-mortem allows you to recap what worked and didn’t work during your campaign. Remember the whole point of doing all of this is to make sales! Over time you will develop the channels that work for your brand but you need to keep records so that next year when you start to plan for Holiday again you can improve your odds of conversions.

Tip: Add a reminder on your calendar for February of the following year to review your recap and start to think about holiday again.

Tips To Find The Perfect Co-Founder

This post was originally written for Create & Cultivate by me (Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail). Create & Cultivate Is an Online Platform & Conference Series for Female Entrepreneurs in the Digital Space. Its such a useful post, I wanted to make sure my readers saw it.

Many of us have a vision of launching a business with co-founder who is the perfect compliment to our right brain or left-brain selves. Strong creatives tend to seek business strength and vice versa, but actually finding the perfect fit can be more difficult than we like. This is largely because we 1. Travel in circles that tend to be more like us 2. Don’t understand our own personalities, weaknesses and core competencies 3. Are eager to find someone that when we do we say “YES” too quickly. There is a formula to finding the right partner and setting yourself up for success. Lets dive in.

YOUR INNER GAME

Your capacity to understand your traits as a leader is essential. Are you passive aggressive? Can you hire people well, but struggle with firing? Do you think you are always right? Maybe you have self-worth issues. Or, like me, maybe you are a work-a-holic and treat your business like it’s your first-born. No matter what your unique personality type, it’s critical to understand how you work and to be honest about it. Launching a business is not the time to work through your personal baggage, but you are the center of your business so these things do come up.  You need to square away personal obstructions and work through anything that might keep you from performing at your optimum. I suggest making a list of how you like to work, what types of personalities you have worked well within the past, and what might someone else need to know about you to know if you are a good fit for them. Do you like to do things last minute but never miss a deadline? Your potential co-founder will need to know not to worry about your commitment.

“Launching a business is not the time to work through your personal baggage.”

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WHAT YOU BRING TO THE TABLE

Aside from bringing a great idea to the conversation you need to stack up your skill sets. I always ask my clients to make lists: what are they really good at, what would they like to learn, and what is something that they would have to hire out/have zero interest in learning. If you are a creative that struggles with business matters or vice versa it’s important to itemize the specifics. I work with a lot of clients that are creatives and need a business backbone, and let me tell you, you can be successful doing it on your own, but it’s definitely easier when you are working with someone who loves MS Excel if you hate it.

MATTERS OF MONEY

Who pays for what? With a biz partnership it’s cleaner if both parties can equally split liability and expenses. Not only does this keep things feeling balanced, but there is true shared ownership. If going 50/50 is not a possibility and you are looking for a co-founder to fund the operation, you might actually be looking for an investor. In my experience having a co-founder that’s really an investor can muddy decision-making processes. A co-founder should be able to bring something beyond money to the table. They should have skills and expertise that will relate directly to the day-to-day operations. If your co-founder is unable to invest as much money as you are or nothing into the business it’s critical that you stipulate in your operating agreement how your investment gets paid back over time and if/when the company dissolves. At the end of the day this is about playing fair, doing what’s right for the business and yourself.

“Having a co-founder that’s really an investor can muddy decision-making processes.”

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DOING BUSINESS WITH FRIENDS & LOVERS

In theory it’s a wonderful idea to start a business with a friend or romantic partner. Working with someone you know you already like and have things in common can be very rewarding, but it does require knowing yourself very well to pull this off successfully. Before launching into a business idea with someone you care about make sure to ask yourself and him or her- why now? Why would you two be the best to do this together? What complementary traits do you have? Discuss how long you want to test the process and have a trial period together before committing to a contract. And yes, you will want a contract! Business amongst friends/lovers can still get ugly and you want to have a contract out of respect for you and them. The goal is to preserve the relationship and possibly launch an amazing business!

TINDER FOR CO-FOUNDERS

I wish there was Tinder for Co-Founders (kind of like Bumble BFF…). But as of now there are only co-founder sites that really focus on technology. Sites like CoFoundersLab, FounderDating, and Angellist are a few places to look if you are looking to start an ecommerce site, otherwise I suggest good old fashioned LinkedIn and reaching out in Facebook groups, friends and family. As you would on a first date, you need to make sure to meet your potential co-founder for coffee or a drink and not just trust the phone or email. You wouldn’t marry someone without really knowing him or her right? So why would you risk your financial investment working with someone you don’t know well. (Jessica Alba jokes that partnering up with her co-founder is like an arranged marriage.) I suggest dating around. Dating around means having lots of coffees and working on small projects with someone to test out the personality styles and core competencies. Think of it as an experiment. You could sign an NDA, but really, it’s not necessary unless you have a patent pending. Ideas are easy come, easy go, but execution is hard. You need a partner you can execute with that has a shared vision. Don’t expect your first couple dates will yield a co-founder! Be patient.

Inside the SAP Retail Forum: The Future of Retail

The SAP Retail Forum is a yearly conference where industry leaders gather to discuss new technology in retail and the future of customer service and sales. This year I had the pleasure of attending and speaking on the topic of Social Selling: how to leverage popup shops, mobile and social to sell to customers. I touched on four distinct case studies: Warby Parker, JCrew, Fruit of the Loom and Nordstrom’s. All brands that are creating noise to gain customer visibility. I’ve included a couple slides below from the presentation. The major takeaway was: brands need to engage in attention arbitrage when selling and use cohesive campaigns that are disseminated through online, offline and mobile to sell and create effective brand stories.

SAP Retail Forum

I got to see amazing new RFID technology that allows sales associates to know when customers take product off the shelf. New shopping bag technology that will allow customers to walk out of a store and pay with their profiles and never have to swipe a card or stand in line. There were many “wow” moments.

 

One of my favorite speakers of the conference was Doug Stephens. Doug is a retail futurist and is always looking towards the future of how selling is evolving. He spoke of how the brick and mortar store is becoming a media outlet, and referenced a popup shop we all know well- Rachel Shechtmans Story in NYC. Rachel’s ‘store’ evolves a couple times of year and she sells square footage to brands that want to use her space to sell, test market products etc. Doug pushed the audience to think of this question “what if it was free?” What he was pushing these big retailers to think about was how they could sustain their businesses if their products were free. How would they make money? What types of infrastructure and channels do they have in place that they could sell? Could they sell data? Could they rent out space? What is of value besides the product? This is a very important question. Brands create the conversation on all channels: stores, social media, blogs, tv, radio, newspapers, digital ads, billboards, newspapers. Brands can own the market simply by owning the conversation and brands can create the data an infrastructure to become more than just the seller of goods.

SAP Retail Forum

So how to build the business that will last?

 

Start by thinking about your brand beyond the product. What channels do you want to exploit? Where is your customer? Where can you dominate and be the best? Don’t try to be everything to everyone- be something powerful and poignant.

 

Next, create content that does not center 100% on your brand. No one wants to be in a world that is mono brand. In fact, most consumers are mixing high and low. Think about your ideal brand partnerships- where are they? What channels are they exploiting? How can they create a larger conversation with you? How can that create value for your customer?

SAP Retail Forum

Once you establish the how’s and why’s now its time to monetize. Think about your valuable data on the niche market you are catering to. Who would find that useful? How about the brand partnerships you have created? How valuable is the conversation? Could you charge for co-op advertising? Create events? Think about the value of the brand, not the value of the product. If you hone in on your customer and the conversation you won’t have to build a business based on what worked last year, you will be building based on what customers are asking for tomorrow.

 

Creating value doesn’t just happen on the front end, it happens on the backend too. One of my clients opened up a retail store, and simultaneously created a distribution center and ecommerce platform. The model allowed her to have sustainable revenue streams coming in from both the front end with customers and on the backend with other brands. And since she had the retail space already there was only little that needed to be done to up the shipping systems to allow for creating extra income.

SAP Retail Forum

Ok, ready to rumble?

 

Take a step back and look at what you have already created or want to create. What is the bigger picture here? What value/story can you create? What if what you were selling was actually free? Think big, think beyond your brand.

How To Finance Your Fashion Business

 

It is possible to make your entrepreneurial dreams come true with the right guidance. Everyone always asks how much it will cost
them? Learn how to finance your fashion business with these helpful tips.

If you are ready to launch your brand then set up a consultation. Email: hello@scalingretail.com. Scaling Retail is the consulting firm for retail globally. Specializing in startup and growth stage ecommerce, brick & mortar, and wholesale.

For more tips and exercises for building a fashion website check out
Creating Fashion Websites That Sell by Syama Meagher and Nicole Giordano: http://www.scalingretail.com/product/creating-fashion-website-that-sell/
Check out Scaling Retail website for more business ecommerce and retail tips, reviews and more: http://www.scalingretail.com/

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Why No One Reads Your Emails + How to Fix It

Why No One Reads Your Emails + How to Fix It

 

This blog post is going to change the way you send pitch emails forever. If you are lucky you will have caught the post in time to make it to “NET 30” the webinar on how to sell wholesale and be able to download the “12 Subject Headers to Get Your Emails Opened”. Enticing, yes? Read on.

 

I know you.

 

You are a brand owner looking to increase sales. I meet people like you everyday. You spend a lot of time developing your product, executing on marketing, and worrying about making more sales. If you are in the business of writing pitch emails ( emails to retail buyers, press, influencers and editors) then you know how frustrating it can be to spend a lot of time on getting everything perfect, writing you pitch email, then closing your eyes and pressing send. That moment you press send you have sent your pitch into the world and you want validation. You want the buyers to write you back and the editors to come a ringing. But, 99% of the time you send these emails you get crickets. Why is that? Why is no one opening? Then panic sets in, does no one like the product? Is it the pictures? What about the price?

 

The top 3 reasons why no one reads your emails are:

 

  1. Poor Subject Headers
  2. Too Long
  3. Too General

 

The Fixes

 

You need to change your mindset + take action to create an email that warrants an open or a response. Ask yourself before you write your next email, why should anyone care about what i am writing? How is this relevant to them? How am I helping them? Once you master the confidence your reader (buyer, editor, press, influencer, customer) will respond accordingly.

 

  • Poor subject headers: Be casual and confident. I cannot stress enough the power of not overselling in your subject header. Headers like “New Brand: FW 17” or “S/S 18 WRTW” is too general and to be honest will generate stress by your audience. Try something more approachable like “Hi”. You will be surprised at how many people actually open this. It’s usually a near 90% open rate every time.
  • Too long: If you email is too lengthy no one will read it. We are used to skimming! You should bullet point, italicize and bold key words and phrases you want to emphasize. You should also get clear on exactly you want them to do. Do you want someone to write you back? Set up appointment? Maybe you want to prep them for your follow up email or phone call. Get clear on what you want to say, why its relevant and what you want them to do. Try to do this all in 3 paragraphs.
  • Too general: How many times do you get an email that has nothing to do with you? That is called bad marketing. Don’t do that to the people you are trying to pitch to! Personalize each email and please don’t use Mailchimp or another auto-responder to send out mass emails when you are trying to create a personal connection. Make sure you nail the following: name, company, why you are a good fit for them specifically, what is interesting about your brand that they would find interesting.

Curious on how to track your opens? Make sure you have your corporate email running through Gmail and download Streak ASAP. This will allow you to track, schedule and optimize your email forever. You can send me a thank you email for turning you onto it 🙂