Category: Marketing

Scaling Up Through Strategic Partnerships

Scaling Up Through Strategic Partnerships

Strategic partnerships can do a lot to boost your brand visibility and increase market share and profitability if done correctly. But the wrong partnership can cost you tens of thousands of dollars and end up a logistical nightmare. So the question is- how can you scale up your business through strategic partnerships intelligently?

Give yourself enough time. Partnerships don’t happen overnight. While you may get the sign off to proceed with a project or idea, implementation can take much longer. Just as you are managing your internal team with existing deadlines and bandwidth issues, your potential partner is likely dealing with the same. Appoint a lead project manager (PM) to keep an eye on timelines and both parties’ responsibilities. Bi-weekly or monthly check-in’s may be necessary in the beginning, leading up to more frequent communication depending on the project scope.

Let’s find the right partnerships.

Go Big.

How to Work with Large Retailers and Brands to Collaborate?

Lately we’ve been witnessing a lot of partnerships between larger retailers and brands with smaller emerging market designers. Nordstrom have been on the forefront of this. It seems every other month there is a new collaboration. Other retailers are following suit opening shop-in-shops, launching exclusive distribution deals with their brick-and-mortar spaces and elevating their own branded image by working with these emerging market brands. Larger brands are doing it as well. Collaborations between emerging market brands and companies like Levi’s have been giving visibility to brands that would otherwise remain small and niche. A great example is the Adidas x wings+horns collaboration. Adidas, known for collaborating to stay relevant, partnered with wings+horns on a collection of sneakers. This has taken the wings+horns brands to a much larger audience.

Also, don’t be afraid to step out of the box as long as the partnership falls in line with your brand. For example, Poketo has taken their well-curated collection of accessories and other stylish art and lifestyle products to a new pop-up shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in L.A.

The logistics of collaborations with bigger companies can take a while to negotiate and fructify so plan well in advance.

But how to secure these types of partnerships?

Reach out to the marketing departments of the companies you want to work with. This is your first point of contact. Even though you may be working on a design collaboration, it will be the marketing department that will determine if you’re a good fit and serve as your main point of contact.

Go Medium.

As a growing business, working with brands in similar positions to yours with different strengths can be very rewarding. There is an ability to be more agile and nimble and do things faster with a company that’s at the same growth stage you’re in. Look for brands that share the same values and target market but are pushing a different type of product. You can also find interesting cross-market collaborations between industries. Think about a yoga studio partnering up with a health food company or an activewear line partnering with the same health food company. These types of collaborations can be seen in event marketing and product collaborations. If you’re looking to partner with other brands that are producing products but targeting a different market, you may be looking at sharing supply chain resources. Companies like PACT are working with other manufacturers to buy cotton in bulk with famers. Imagine driving costs down without worrying about being cannibalized.

The issues I’ve seen when smaller brands do collaborations are centered on logistics, planning and financial liability. Do make sure you’ve got the right contracts in place.

Don’t Go Small. Not Yet at Least.

While you may get pitched from startups and brands that want to jump on board your growth wagon, be mindful of who they are and how strong your brand foundation is. Has the brand considered if this is really a good fit? Do they have a market or asset to add value to your business? Don’t just do collaborations for collaboration’s sake. This can be a huge time waster and cost you a lot of money. When working with smaller brands, events and organizations, make sure you have the bandwidth and that the ROI is clear.

Four Smart Strategic Partnerships and the Questions You’ve Got to Ask

1. Marketing Partnerships

What are the KPIs (key performance indicators) that will tell us if this is a success? How are we marketing the activation? Who are the key point people and stakeholders? How long will the activation run? What is the budget? What are the timelines?

2. Product/Category Partnerships

Is your company lending the design expertise? Who are the ultimate decision makers? What are the points of sale? How are the marketing, labor costs and profits being split?

3. Supply Chain Partners

How are you sourcing? What types of materials are you using? Is there a focus on sustainability? How often are you producing? What are your quantities for production?

4. Retail Partnerships

What are your goals and expectations for this collaboration? For my brand? Who will be responsible for which expenses? How will my brand be marketed and how will my products be merchandised for this occasion? How long will the activation period run?

When we look at the power of well-strategized, well-executed collaborations, it’s definitely worth it to give it a try. Just make sure it’s a authentic fit for your brand and that you’ve covered all of your bases and defined all of your goals.

Are you interested in scaling up via collaborations but don’t know where to begin? Email us at hello@scalingretail.com for custom, one-on-one guidance on business development for your brand. Or to learn more actionable tips on your own, visit www.ScalingRetail.com.

7 Ways to Scale Up Your Fashion Business

7 Signs You Need a New Business Model to Scale

Do you feel like you really have a handle on things and that you’re ready to take your fashion business to the next level? Before you develop any growth stage plans, find out if you’re actually ready to scale and seven ways to make it happen!

It seems simple enough- implement new strategies or build out your team and watch the additional revenue pour in. In reality, that can’t be farther from the truth. You have to have a solid, healthy business foundation in place or your brand and bottom line can suffer in a big way.

Your fashion business may be ready for the next level if you’ve been seeing success in all of your current sales channels and you know for a fact that you have a compatible (and profitable) product-market fit. That means you’ve proven your products are wanted by consumers and that there’s a sizable enough market to grow your business (i.e. as opposed to a niche that is too small, certain handcrafted goods…).

It’s also time to think about growth when you need support. Maybe you’re a solopreneur and you’re unable to do more with your sales and  because there simply isn’t enough time. This is when you reach the point where doing it all on your own becomes a major obstacle to your success. Maybe you have a small team of 2-3 people but you’re not able to keep up with all of your business’ needs – and forget about outside opportunities!

In both of these scenarios, you’re preventing your business from taking off and you’re actually losing money by not investing in expanding your team. If you can secure the resources and know-how to do it (capacity building, infrastructure, etc.), scale up by hiring a professional team or by taking on a few additional team members. If that isn’t an option for you right now, scale up by hiring outside help from freelance professionals.

Speaking of resources, what are your finances like these days? If you have the cash flow to invest in building out another revenue stream, go for it! But you don’t necessarily need to have tons of cash on hand to be able to grow to scale. You can also scale up with the help of investments from outside investors.

And finally, it may be the right time to scale up if you dream of creating something even bigger than what you’ve already established. So go ahead and chase those dreams (with the proper planning and preparation of course).

7 Ways to Scale Up

1. Expand Your Market Geographically.

Once you’ve reached a certain level of business in your geographical target market, it could be time to move forward into a new region. This can be done through exploring new wholesale accounts in other regions as well as via expanding internationally online. If you do go the digital route, keep in mind that this isn’t as easy as turning on your shopping cart for worldwide shipping. You’ll have to really dive into everything it takes- including regional-specific marketing and advertising, payment types and currencies.

2. Venture into E-Commerce.

After you’ve achieved a strong wholesale business, it’s  a good time to start thinking about selling direct-to-consumer online. A successful e-commerce shop of your own means you’ll be able to enjoy your own well of customer data, more precise branding and increased profit margins.

3. Launch Your Wholesale Business.

The same is true the other way around. If your e-commerce business is solidly established, this may be the time to explore potential wholesale accounts. Think strategically, be selective and remember that it’s better to be in the right stores than in the most stores- maintain exclusivity.

4. Open a Retail Store.

Ignore the news reports insisting “retail is dead” because the industry is only transforming for the better. In fact, for the most part, it’s the bigger brands and big box retailers who are suffering most. Why? Because they continue to present more of the same and they lack a sense of “newness”. If you’re ready to open your own store, by all means go for it. Choose from a single brand or multi-brand shop and think outside of the confines of what already exists. We love what Apolis is doing with their NYC shop. They’ve based their brand and entire business model on social enterprise with production in L.A. as well as places as diverse as Uganda and Peru via advocacy projects.

5. Create a Lifestyle Brand.

You can also scale up via product extensions. Look at your business strategically and assess what should come next. Jason Wu just launched an adjacent product line at New York Fashion Week – branded phone chargers, headphones, Moleskine notebooks and Sharpies!

6. Develop a Diffusion Line.

Target another price point for the chance to reach another group of customers.

7. Get Vertically Integrated.

Start to bring elements of your supply chain in-house to gain short-term and long-term benefits such as greater control over your brand and sourcing and producing for less. You can also create a new revenue stream by manufacturing for other brands!

Need help scaling up? Contact us for personalized support for everything from team building and market entry strategy to brand extensions and CEO advice. Schedule a consultation session today. For DIY international growth strategies and support, check out our e-book, Going Global.

 

 

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.

 

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 Days to Launching Your First Great Facebook Ad

Facebook is such a powerful advertising tool. It is effective for both fashion retail brands with robust Facebook pages and those who do not have active Facebook pages- as you can drive traffic to your site and bypass the Facebook page engagement. Facebook for fashion startups and growth stage ecommerce businesses can be especially confusing and overwhelming. I’m not sure why the user interface is still so complicated.

Read More

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.