Category: Social media

Scaling Retail on the Go: Coral Gables, Paris and Istanbul

Scaling Retail on the Go - Edition 1

It’s been an especially busy fall here at Scaling Retail- including trips around the world! Here’s a quick ab showook at some of our favorite recent events.

Scaling Retail on the Go - Coral Gables, Paris, Istanbul

A Digital Marketing & Social Media Workshop in Coral Gables, FL

I took a trip to hot and sunny Florida with two members of the Scaling Retail team, Logan and Jan, to host a workshop on digital marketing. The specific focus was social media and we brought together local businesses in the Coral Gables area to learn about their businesses and chat about topics like how to work with influencers, analyzing digital strategies and industry best practices.

Digital Marketing & Social Media Workshop - Coral Gables I was able to interview and work with three hand-selected brands – POOL LabShow (a really cool high end women’s design store), Pecan’s Day Spa and Cafe Curuba. I helped them strategize based on what’s happening with their businesses through one-on-one hour long consultations, before I gave a three-hour presentation to audience of 200! I emphasized how important it is to leverage social media (and how to activate it) and analyzed business’ websites to give personalized feedback and actionable next steps.

Store visits came next as we walked into several boutiques in Miracle Mile and elsewhere in the neighborhood. Finally, we closed the day by meeting with key stakeholders from the city to give a presentation on the importance of social media. These stakeholders were City of Coral Gables, Chamber of Commerce Coral Gables, The Business Improvement District (BID) and people from different local firms, including a rep from Zyscovich Architects.

My biggest takeaways?

1) I discovered that a lot of retailers didn’t realize how important social media was as a tool for driving traffic into their stores.

2) I found out that so many retailers were on the same block and they never spoke to one another! I pointed out the missed opportunity for collaboration for occasions like event marketing.

3) Over 30% of people in Coral Gables speak Spanish as a secondary or primary language, and yet marketing and advertising always appears in English. Both languages are typically spoken in stores and many store owners are even bilingual, however, their digital assets don’t reflect this. I highlighted the opportunity to be more sensitive to native language and explained why it’s important to utilize both languages in marketing materials.

International Fashion Academy (IFA Paris)

Traveling across the pond, International Fashion Academy Paris left me absolutely impressed! It’s a very hands-on, professional school and all of the classes are taught in English. All of the students have to do internships and get real-life experience which is something I think is really lacking in a lot of fashion education schools today. They usually teach a lot of how-to’s but don’t actually encourage you to implement them. Fashion is a very hands-on industry. You just don’t know it until you do it.

First, I was interviewed by Anastasios Sofroniou- an incredibly smart and knowledgeable IFA Paris mentor/designer/professor at the school. Next, came an inspiring Q&A session with students from the school. The sheer diversity among the group was fascinating! There were students from South America, Vietnam, India, Nigeria… so many different parts of the globe were represented. Their questions reflected a global audience too, with questions about topics like their local markets and sustainability. It was a very forward-thinking audience and they surprised with questions about politics, feminism and even being a woman in the industry. It was definitely an exciting and rejuvenating conversation!

Brand Week Istanbul 2017

Finally, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Brand Week Istanbul 2017 where my husband was a speaker! It was a cool event with a very global group of attendees – Iran, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Spain, The U.S…. And while the talks on stage were definitely inspiring, the conversations in the VIP room were the most riveting. All of the speakers would hang out there in their downtime, sharing ideas.

Brand Week Istanbul 2017We talked about how it doesn’t mean much to get a Cannes Lions Award as an agency. Ideas need to be fueled with outside funding and pushing the envelope for better marketing requires more with technology – and not just graphic assets.

We also talked about how it’s important to design based on market feedback. Don’t just design and push to market. Think about the market and consumer before you design the goods.

I heard Tom Goodwin’s talk and there are two things he said that totally stuck with me:

  1. Everyone in this room has lived in a pre-digital age and we’re not yet in a post-digital age. Meaning, technology is not yet totally integrated where everything is seamless. For example, you can open a new computer and not know if it’s a touchscreen – some are and some are not. Most of today’s technology is driven by taking something that existed pre-digital and copying and pasting it into a digital version. For instance, Amazon basically copy and pasted the idea of a catalog into the digital realm.
  2. The companies people consider to be tech companies are doing well (Uber, Airbnb and others). They’re seamless integrations of what we didn’t know we wanted or needed and now we can’t live without them. They use technology but they aren’t tech companies and they have new business models. They follow an empathetic way to create product that connects with the consumer. The best improvements in tech and products will come from things created with empathy. He says every company should be a tech company at heart. We cannot not be tech companies and flourish, similarly to how we always emphasize at Scaling Retail that every company needs to be a media company. Think of tech as the infrastructure and media as the external facing component.

Stay tuned for more of our international inspirations, projects and travel!

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

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.
    • photo-3-final
  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.

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!

Get on Facebook Marketplace Now

Facebook has launched their in mobile app marketplace and sellers are flocking. In 4 steps you can upload a photo, add a product description, choose a price and post it to the marketplace. You can even change your zip code to show up in more relevant listings and post your item for sale in groups you are a member of.

So why on earth are designers not flocking to this? They will. If you have been paying attention to my last few talks and posts I’ve been preaching the gospel of attention arbitrage – in essence be first and be where your customers are. Don’t wait until brands are getting on this platform before you jump in. Start playing now.

It has a little bit of a Poshmark feel as well; the layout, the necessity for good images, fair prices and the small amount of area to write product copy. Poshmark also allows you to re-sell goods that you buy at wholesale. The official Facebook Marketplace for Business hasn’t launched yet, but be certain that when it does it will be easier for brands who have already had experience on it to quickly jump on board. You won’t miss a beat.

This marketplace acts a little bit like Craigslist, you use your profile and are able to set up a time for the transaction to take place. If you have a studio you work out of it’s a great way to get your brand exposed to more customers. If you are doing a sample sale, boom, mark it down and let your community have first dibs. I really love what types of possibilities this will open up for businesses down the road that participate in popup shops.

facebook marketplace

Facebook is hoping to weed out fake buyers by only allowing those with a full profile and active friends to participate. They also won’t accept payment terms, for now. Imagine down the road Facebook partnering up with Visa or American Express and negotiating special rates with them on the backend if they are the preferred payment processing system. Facebook doesn’t integrate with a shipping method yet. So this means you will be deciding on if mailing or picking up works.

facebook marketplace

To make sure you close the sale follow these steps:

  1. Have great images- you have 4 to use.
    1. Make sure the lighting is good
    2. Use a background
  2. Write your product copy beforehand.
  3. Choose the zipcode you want to do business with.
  4. Pick a strong product title.
  5. Post your product on relevant community groups.
  6. Time the release of your product. Don’t just upload everything at once, your product will become more relevant in search if you stagger, like how Pinterest is.
  7. Use relevant words in your description. This is a primarily search based platform. Think of long tail keywords versus short ones. There will be way too many “little back dresses” to be able to find, but “knee length little black dress with sleeves” might be more relevant.

I’m super excited to see what awaits Facebook Marketplace. Brands have been waiting for when Facebook would diversify its offerings since the plugins that allow selling in your Facebook Page don’t really convert. This is mostly due to the fact that Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform for businesses. Its virtually impossible to get traction on Facebook pages without spending ad dollars. And small brands with little budget have a difficult time seeing ROI’s on their advertisements.

This could be a new channel for distribution and it’s definitely worth keeping your eye on and even testing it out. Remember when eBay first launched? There were business that grew out of eBay, hello, Sophia Amoruso’s Nasty Gal!

Luxury Brands on Snapchat- Ready to Jump on Board?

Luxury brands are jumping on the bandwagon of Snapchat. Burberry, Everlane and Valentino have all become active users of Snapchat in the last 2 years. Why? Because the demographics of Snapchat have changed- when launched the platform quickly became a favorite in the 18-24 year old market and now there is an increase engagement amongst users in their mid 20’s and up (38% of all users). As brands look to actively engage on many platforms to capture the attention of the consumer, being on a platform like Snapchat has become a necessity.

Burberry SnapChat

I first heard the term “attention arbitrage” used by Gary Vaynerchuk. Attention arbitrage is the act of trading your time for attention. Snapchat is a great example of this. Brands and people are spending lots of time creating content to capture the attention of their community. Vaynerchuk has famously, in recent keynotes, given himself lots of credit for forecasting the rise of Snapchat. But is Snapchat the right platform for the luxury space? Should this be the way to capture the audience?

The luxury market has undergone a huge shift in the last 20 years. What once used to be a closed market, reserved for the Christian Dior’s and Chanel’s is now a wide playing field with the customer determining what defines luxury. Brands like Maiyet focused on sustainability, community and style have been able to make a mark in the space because of these shifts. Consumers are making decisions on personal values, individual aesthetics and a desire to curate ones life. This has forced the luxury market to evolve. Here is where the social media platforms come in.

Early adopters in social media are also striving for a sense of individuality. They want to be the first to make a mark on new platforms and the brands that meet them there are at an advantage. The recent wave of 25+ year old adopters to Snapchat will be the bridge to a critical mass of users. So where will your brand be? The luxury brands adopting Snapchat are adding a level of transparency to their brands to create a sense of connection. As a small to medium sized brand you have the greatest gift of transparency: one that needs to be curated, but not manufactured. How does one justify spending $3,000 on handbag? They show how its made, they talk to the artisan. How does one create a sense of belonging to New York Fashion Week? They show the behind the scenes with the models. Brands are even now doing specific product launches just on Snapchat to give followers an exclusive (i.e. Glossier).

But Syama, do I have to be on another platform?

I am a huge proponent of meeting your customers where they are. If you want to get ahead of the retail masses then start a consistent Snapchat channel before everyone jumps on board. You will get the chance to be one of the business accounts that a new adopter of Snapchat would follow. Once the user base reaches its height, all the small and medium sized retailers will be on it; and you will be one in a sea of accounts trying to get followers. Sounds a little like Instagram right?

Instagram just rolled out Stories? Does this make Snapchat obsolete?

The new stories functionality is a great attempt to take over the Snapchat market, especially for the older users who don’t want to start using another platform. BUT, just like how Instagram was the newer playing field for Facebook, Snapchat is the newer playing field for Instagram. More instant, more transparent and more engaging. Instagram is becoming the new pay to play space with advertisements, just like Facebook. Snapchat is raw and not yet monetized in that way.

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My Advice

Re-evaluate your social media strategy. If you cannot be on all the channels then pick the ones you want to fully max out. There are also trends to watch out for; Facebook is a pay for play platform, Pinterest is leading the way on social selling, Twitter is great for peer to peer but not for sales, Instagram is rolling out new features for businesses to optimize sales and YouTube continues to be the best long form branded platform for evergreen content. The live options on Facebook, YouTube and apps like Periscope are wonderful for event based content and weekly series type content. Snapchat is leading the charge with Snapcash and might be giving users an option to the China based WeChat platform. If you haven’t heard about WeChat it is a social selling app where you can chat with friend and buy inside the app. Again, pick your platforms and max them out. In addition, stay on top of the new platforms that launch and consider which of them are going to attract the early adopters you want to engage with. Right now I’m checking out Hyper and Jelly.

For a startup brand social media can seem like a can of worms. There is no way to start, than to start. I suggest thinking about how you want people to perceive your brand, then find the platforms that allow you to do it easiest. Don’t create the same content for all channels and think about how you would want each channel to feel like they are getting something special directed to how they best engage. Example: It’s easier to take polls on Facebook than on Pinterest. If you want your audience to be actively engaged with product development or marketing ideas then build out your Facebook with active conversations.

Brands that have been around for a while need to ask themselves: Does it make sense to be on all the social media channels? Are all of them working? Are there trends that I have not been paying attention to? What are the new channels? If you have a content team that can manage all your channels, then amazing you can do it all. But, if you are a small company and the time you spend on social media is literally the time that could be spent on the phone with your manufacturer, then you need to be critical about your time and efforts. Be where your customer is, don’t waste your time being where they are not.

Syama Meagher is a retail strategist for brands and retailers. She works with growth stage businesses and helps entrepreneurs launch and grow fashion businesses through ecommerce, wholesale and brick & mortar. Syama is a former at Barneys New York, Gucci, AHAlife and Macy’s. To build your brand and create a profitable business check out www.ScalingRetail.com and email hello@scalingretail.com

3 Tips to Authentic Fashion Marketing

3 Tips to Authentic Fashion Marketing

Struggling with marketing your business? Shy about being the face of your brand? It’s time to step out from behind the curtains. Big fashion companies want to be more like you, they want to be more transparent, create better connections with their customers and be nimble in response to new technology. But, they can’t, its too bureaucratic and there can be too much red tape. Here are 3 ideas on how you can beat the big brand competitors with authentic fashion marketing.

Your About Page. Talk about your brand, but also talk about you. Show pictures of your team. Give the behind the scene pictures that show how you do things and what inspires you. Creating an amazing about page will also help you sell more. Include product images and if you or your team is photographed make sure you are all wearing your brand.

I love how Hush UK combines the brand statement, the founder statement, lifestyle images and product shots onto their about page.

Hush_UK_About Page

  • Ask yourself:
    • What makes my brand so awesome?
    • How do my customers like to be spoken to?
    • Do I need to take more photos of the team or me?
    • Do I have behind the scenes pictures and products pictures that will look great?
    • If this was a landing page that ad traffic was coming to would I get enough about the brand to feel confident about making a purchase?

Your Instagram. Images tell your story. Are you asking yourself about what story you are actually telling every time you post? A combination of personal (relevant), behind the scenes, and lifestyle images are important. Be authentic about your brand and post images that will feel familiar when they come to your site. I suggest having a shop Instagram link on your site to showcase your Instagram feed and make it easy to buy or simply embed on your site.

  • Ask Yourself
    • Do I have an editorial calendar for the next 6 months that has product launches, merchandising themes and the newsletter mapped out?
    • How does my Instagram support my site? Do they say the same thing?
    • Does my Instagram account look like something I would follow? This is a big question. Most small brands I’ve noticed would answer no to this question.
    • Do I have a bank of images to use on a regular basis?
    • Do I need to edit or take more pictures of myself, or the brand?

 

Bellgray does an excellent job at curating a feed that is both behind the scenes, personal and all about product and lifestyle. At the time of this post they hadn’t even opened up their web store and they had 1200 followers!Bellgray_Instagram

 

PuraVida does an excellent job with integrating their Instagram images into their homepage. You can see where you hover over the image a shop the look button comes up allowing you to buy direct!

PuraVida_Instagram_Homepage

Your Weekend. Big businesses don’t do enough to get in front of their customers in an authentic way. Yes, they will sponsor events, and give out free things, but they don’t have the opportunity actually connect with their brand loyalists. Take advantage of your weekends to participate in selling events that actually get you in front of your customer. In Los Angeles two events come to mind: Echo Park Craft Fair and Unique LA. Both give brands an opportunity to sell to a captive audience who is ready to buy. By participating in these events you not only widen your exposure in person, but also digitally.

 

Gabriela Artigas, the jewelry brand based in Los Angeles will be showing at the Echo Park Craft Fair (ECPF). Check out the love they got from the ECPF Instagram handle. This doubles the impact that event will have for the brand since customers will have brand recognition when they walk into the fair. Not to mention that everyone loves Gabriela Artigas and that they have been around since 2003! If you go to one of the events you will undoubtedly see one of the designers and their staff- a great way to make a connection with your customer.

EchoParkCraftFair_Gabriela_Artigas

The next example is from a new brand, Clarke Collective. They are a boutique ceramics company that will be showing at Unique LA. Not only are they up on the Unique LA Instagram page, but Clarke also has the show up on their own homepage. This is an excellent way to drive traffic to the event in case customers have any hesitation purchasing online.

 

Unique_LA_CollectionUniqueLA_Craft

  • Ask Yourself:     
    • Are there events that I can be a part of where my customers are?
    • Do some research into last years events in order to get an idea of what might be happening this year.
    • Do the event organizers have a strong social media following? Will they do enough to promote it? Don’t participate in events that don’t have a marketing plan.

 

Authentic fashion marketing is a genuine approach towards communicating with your customer. Its about doing what the big brands can’t do which is to be transparent, nimble and getting in front of your tribe in an authentic way. It’s time to stop hiding behind the computer and get your face and brand in public.

 

Need help getting your authentic marketing strategy in place? Then it may be time to head on over for a consultation. Scaling Retail provides sales and marketing strategy for small to medium sized brands, just like you. I look forward to hearing from you! Syama@ScalingRetail.com