Category: Marketing

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.

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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.

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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.

5 Ways to Get Pinterest to Convert for Your Brand

Pinterest can be a time consuming platform unless you are dedicated to building it out and engaging on it. So, if you are already swamped with Instagram then please don’t try to launch a Pinterest platform until you’ve got it down. If you have been working on Pinterest but want to optimize your results and make it work this blog post is for you.

  1. Segment and Create lifestyle boards with product, not just product pages.
    • I cannot tell you how often I see Pinterest boards that only have product. As if it were some kind of catalogue. This is not the purpose of Pinterest and doesn’t work with the audience you are looking to convert. Make sure your boards have inspirational, lifestyle images, and products all mixed together.
    • For segmentation please create different themes as if you were merchandising an editorial story. Boards that are titled “dresses” or “pants” have nowhere to grow. You will just end up with an ever-expanding dress category. Think about topics like Summer 17 Dresses or Fall Coats Trends or even Dress Staples (for categories that are season less). The goal here is to get someone to engage with your point of view.
  2. Add the “Buyable Pins” function to your products
    • This is an obvious one, but still not used as much as it should be. Enable your business account and start creating buyable pins. These pins should not just be straight product shots; they should be lifestyle shots that showcase the product. Once you have buyable pins, and people hearting and saving them, then you can enact a more strategic approach to price changes. When you make price adjustments or do flash sales a notification will go off to those who have engaged with it- so use it wisely.
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  3. Make sure you are using strategic long-tail keywords for your pins.
    • Long-tail keywords is probably something you have heard before regarding Google AdWords. It’s also important for Pinterest. Long-tail keywords tend to attract real buyers who are ready to convert. A good example of this is the difference between someone typing in “black dress” vs. “short lace dress in black”. The images that come up with the longer description have a higher chance of being bought because they are specific to a need. When you are writing your descriptions for Pinterest think about how someone might actually find your product. What might they really be looking for and how can you filter to the top of that search. Unlike your regular product pages where you have a ton of details on dimension and fit, think of this as story telling.
  4. Align your product offering with what works on this platform.
    • Pinterest is great for selling mid priced items. In a recent interview for eMarketer, the head of commerce at Pinterest observed that the majority of items being purchased were between $45-$170. This doesn’t meant your products won’t sell if they are higher or lower, but that you may not be in the ‘sweet spot’ to see higher ROI’s.
  5. Collaborate with super-pinners + Advertise
    • It’s important that you exercise a channel to its fullest advantage. Working with super pinners is like working with influencers on Instagram- there is a pay to play element. Super pinners will re-pin your products on their site to drive you more traffic and visibility. Pinterest promoted pins are also a great way to increase sales. Promoted pins that are positioned with the right ad copy and are selling in the sweet spot of price are ideal for being a promoted pin.

Consistency should also be on this list. Its important to make sure that when you are building your Pinterest pages you don’t just launch it and build it for just one campaign and then let it go until you need it again. While your pins will still be indexed they won’t be very recent so ranking will drop. Pinterest can be an amazing tool if it becomes a part of your core social media program.

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Syama Meagher is the fashion business consultant for start up and growth stage businesses. As the CEO of Scaling Retail she focuses on the convergence of sales, marketing and merchandising across ecommerce, mobile, brick & mortar and pop-up shops. If you need help with your fashion business marketing strategy then send over an email to hello@scalingretail.com.

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.

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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.

5 Tips to Pitch and Work with Brands you LOVE

This post was originally written for Simply Stylist by me (Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail). Simply Stylist is an Online Platform & Conference Series for Female fashion enthusiasts. They are the bridge that connects you with other like-minded stylistas, beauty babes and tech whizzes, and allows you to tap into the minds of major style influencers.

Your blog relies on working with brands you love. Not only does working with brands you’d personally use appear more organic, but it also increases the chances of that brand wanting to work with you. However, pitching and working with brands you love requires a strategy! I will discuss the fundamentals to building relationships and positioning yourself to get the visibility and, ultimately, the income you want. I warn you — its not easy, but can be very worthwhile!

1. How to Identify the Right Brands

There are so many amazing brands out there, but who is the right fit for you?  Ultimately, this depends on your brand positioning. What kind of content do you produce? Do you know your tribe? When was the last time you actually engaged with them? Truly understanding your own brand will give you a foundation to identify the right brands that you should work with.

So, how do you start to find out about your audience? Do research or ask them! People love to know that they are important. Surveys and questionnaires produce amazing results. Once you know your audience, it’s time to analyze the brands. What are the brands that your audience already engages with? What are they wearing? Where are they going? Become a detective and start to write down a list of the brands they engage with.

Tip: Don’t just write down fashion brands; write down all the brands- Airbnb, Uber, Blueprint, etc. This is your starting point.

2. Identify What You Have to Offer

What is your USP (Ultimate Selling Proposition)? This applies to your content and your audience. Do you have amazing images and high engagement? Do you have a lot of followers who click on the links in your bio? How about a small targeted audience that really listen to you?

Once you establish what you have to offer, it iss time to package it nicely. Create a PDF with your stats, a bio about yourself, images, and some information about your following. Also, identifying and including the types of brands your followers are interested in will help brands feel like you are a good fit.

Tip:  I work with brands every day, established and new brands. What they are looking for is real engagement and a targeted following. Yes — they will look at your followers and analyze!

3. Know What You Want

Whether you’re a flatlay queen or can get your readers to buy anything, being knowledgeable about what you bring to the table will ensure you’re working with brands that align with your aesthetic.  Know what kinds of products you want to work with and start to slim down your list to those brands within your context. Ask yourself, “If I work with this brand, would I want to work with my brand?” That is the important question.

Also, please note that if you have big brands that you really want to work with, consider featuring their products on your page prior to reaching out. Brands take note of whether or not an influencer has previously posted about them!

4. Pitching

As your following grows, pitching should become a part of your daily routine. Pitching can include anything from emailing brands to sending DM’s (Direct Messages) on Instagram directly to a brand social media page. However, you should only pitch to brands that make sense, meaning they, too, would benefit from collaborating with you to share their product with your readers. The pitches should be personal to each brand and portray a casual confidence without overselling yourself or your brand.

Tips:

  1. Highlight your best social media platforms first.  Don’t immediately propose posting on platforms that you are not building or that have low engagement. Instead, showcase your strengths!
  2. Don’t limit yourself. Instead of having one set rate for all collaborations, offer tiered pricing and al la carte options to appeal to brands seeking small activations.
  3. You need to be willing to start small and work your way up! Small collaborations will show brands the type of work they’d expect from a partnership with you, so make them count.

5. Building Your Perceived Value

The value of your brand is based on what others perceive of you. If you decide to collaborate with other influencers, be sure you’re featuring brands that are consistent with your aesthetic — this will help you develop a strong brand. It takes time to build your portfolio of collaborations, but don’t worry! No one is going to ask you about the nature of previous collaborations. Just remember: Have discretion and be smart as to what the return on investment (ROI) is for each brand or collaboration you do.

Building your brand is a long-term decision that is essential to success. So don’t be afraid to be aggressive and diligent in ensuring you’re working with brands you love!