Tag: syama meagher

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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Amazon & Rebecca Minkoff Ditch Cashiers and Sales Associates For New Types of Technology

I’ve always enjoyed walking into a Whole Foods and being able to ask a sales associate to give me qualitative information about products. In fact their experience can largely sway an opinion. Think about ordering food at a restaurant- ever asked the waiter what’s the best on the menu and order that? What if the waiter wasn’t there and every time you ordered something you had to guess what to order? Or have you ever wanted to buy something that went with your outfit, but no one was there to give an opinion? How frustrating.

Taking away key decision making drivers in the sales process leaves a vacuum for a new types of technology to enter. One new technology would aggregate customer feedback and experiences per product and segment based on your friends and similar interest groups. Your friends become the curators. This would go beyond a Yelp or Amazon review system and be curated by similar interest groups.

Another type of technology that will gain traction will be interactive mirrors and social selling apps that allow the customer to take photographs of themselves and share with friends to get instant feedback- these already exist but have yet to take off. In essence, the role of the sales associates preference would be replaced with that of friends and social groups.

Rebecca Minkoff

So then what does the role of the store play? I’ve written in the past that customers are looking for a more interactive in store experience (see the article on my talk at the SAP Retail Forum). They want events, curation, and customization. They crave an experience that is personal and tailored to them.

This is the age of individualization not normalization.

The question remains-will these new types of stores gain traction? If it works in tandem with technology that fulfills the social needs and information needs of a cashier or sales associated then yes. If it leaves the customer hanging, then these stores become showrooms where people will go to look and buy at home- a trend we started to see back in 2012.

As we wait to see what happens with in store trends my advice is to continue to think about your customer value proposition. What value do you offer besides selling products on a shelf? Rebecca Minkoff is first to market in her space selling products up to $1,500 in this new concept store. The novelty of it will drive in store traffic- but will it correlate to sales?

Amazon might see a correlation between in app searches and in store buying- leveraging its app as an information hub and who knows, maybe they will be integrating your in store purchase with the nutrition count and syncing it up with your health data. Scary, but totally possible! Lots of possibilities here, but at the end of the day customer purchasing power is king and will dictate if this new concept store experience will last.

Syama Meagher is the CEO of Scaling Retail, a retail strategy firm that offers insight and strategic consulting to fashion and retail brands. To get insight on sales, marketing and merchandising for your business email: hello@scalingretail.com.

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!

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.

The Ultimate Fashion Marketing Toolkit

Before you launch your brand you need to have a few (read a lot) things in place. Here is my ultimate check list of marketing tools you need, to get your brand off the ground, and people talking about it! Which tips have you heard of and do they work for you? Comment below and lets talk fashion marketing.

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/
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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.

watch-instagram-stories-gif

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