Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mar 31

Why Create A Meaningful Brand?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

What is a meaningful brand?  Quite simply it is a brand that has significance.  It’s one thing to have a brand name that people are able to easily identify. On the other hand, to achieve true marketing potential, its better to have a brand that is meaningful.  So being meaningful means that your prospects and customers can relate to your brand. It isn’t the biggest or most innovative brand that wins—it’s the one that’s most meaningful to the people it serves. There are two key layers of any brand (internal or external). The foundation layer is made up of the core beliefs or ideas that describe who your company is. The experience layer includes the ways you execute on the beliefs and ideas. Simplifying this a lot, it sounds like “Walk the walk. Talk the talk.”

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So much of marketing success hinges on forming connections with consumers, earning even seconds of their valuable time.  By creating meaningful connections you make for loyal customers which creates repeat sales which then makes you more money.  Additionally loyal customers will be more willing to buy other products from your brand.  Customers will shop a line on a regular basis with brands that they have a connection to as opposed to going there only when they need to buy something.

“The benefits of brand loyalty are longer tenure (or staying a customer for longer), and lower sensitivity to price. Recent research found evidence that longer-term customers were indeed less sensitive to price increases.” According to:  Boundless. “Brand Loyalty.” Boundless Marketing. Boundless, 14 Nov. 2014. https://www.boundless.com.   Look at companies like Ralph Lauren.  Ralph has created a very successful meaningful brand.  By carefully cultivating his brand and being uncompromising over the years in managing it his brand has enjoyed a longevity experienced by few others.

The benefits of creating a meaningful brand are clear and show that the effort in developing and sustaining one are well worth the time.

 

Mar 27

Coaching Sales Performance

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

 

Coaching sales people is very different from managing them or training them.  With training you are using instruction and teaching to make your sales people proficient in selling.  In managing them you are directing and controlling their actions.  However with coaching you are helping employees become more effective — and supporting and involving your employees in the process.

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Coaching in tandem with training is the most effective way to get the best performance from your people.  Training teaches them, which is important, but coaching them gives them guidance and engages them in the process of becoming the best that they can be.  According to Mary Massad – the director of HR product development for Administaff   “Coaching that works consists of constructive, consistent feedback aimed at increasing awareness and resulting in improved performance.”  To achieve success, a sales person needs: – Advanced Selling Skills and Inner Resources.  Knowing how to sell is not enough.  Success comes from within. The salesperson needs to: build the internal resources to succeed; eliminate the roadblocks to success; eliminate procrastination, fear, guilt, stress and replace them with confidence and resourcefulness.

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When you train people you motivate and educate for a time.  But after time passes most individuals lose momentum.  By coaching them on a regular basis you keep the motivation high and have consistent improvement.  By engaging them in the process they also will try harder to excel in sales.   Coaching helps create competent employees who are more likely to be productive and put in their best efforts because they are challenged (not commanded) to do so.

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Compensation for sales people is crucial.  However it is not always enough.  By offering coaching and personal development to your people you also increase your retention rate.  Smart, ambitious people will see the value in working for a company that encourages them to be their best.   Coaching your salespeople is a surefire way to increase productivity which will then increase sales and profitability for your business.

 

Mar 26

3 Advantages To Selling Your Brand Direct To Customers.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

 

Why do many of the most successful brands have their own stores and online presence?  Brands such as Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Coach sell in almost every department store out there.  Are they competing with themselves when they open a store in the same mall that might have a Saks and Bloomingdales;  especially since many stores have serious real estate devoted to the brand?  When designers first started opening up their own stores the retail community was concerned.  Would Ralph cannibalize Neiman Marcus’s business?  Would Coach hurt their sales at Macy’s?  It seems that rather the opposite had occurred.  Instead of negatively impacting the business the stores found that their business increased.

Selling direct to customers presents some great opportunities for a brand.  With the internet you don’t even have to go through the expense of a brick and mortar store.  Having a website that customers can by from is relatively easy with companies like Shopify simplifying the process.  So what are the advantages of adding direct to customer to your business model?

1. Having a website gives you the ability to sell through out the U.S. and even globally if you want.  So you can sell to customers in areas where you might not have a store buying your product.

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2. Communicating your brand message directly.  Giving your customer the whole experience of your brand helps to build brand equity.  You can do this with your own store and website.  You can present your whole line and give the site or store the appearance that will resonate with your brand.

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3. When you sell direct you have to sell at the same retail price as the stores who carry your line.  If you are cheaper than your accounts you hurt their business.  This means you will have a much higher profit margin than you will have selling to stores.  And higher margins mean more profit.

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I always recommend to my clients that they do some form of direct sales.  It gives them another revenue producing stream.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 22

What Is Your Fashion Brands Unique Selling Proposition?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Do you know what your unique selling proposition is or as some people call it your USP?  Your USP is what makes your business different from your competition. According to Theodore Levitt, author and professor at Harvard Business School. “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”

The reality of the fashion industry is it is not really growing.  The market doesn’t need another brand.  So if you are going to start a company the first thing you must ask yourself is…what makes your business different?  Why should someone do business with you instead of one of your competitors? You should ask yourself this at the very beginning of planning your company.  And you should be asking it again at every stage of your business.  This will help you create the story of your business.  It of course needs to be compelling.

There are 3 key steps to determining what your USP is.

1.   What is your company good at?  Or as expert marketer Seth Godin asks “What is your superpower”?

 

2. Does your product look unique?  It doesn’t have to be strange but it has to have it’s own identity.  It should stand out from the competition.

 

3. What emotional need does your product meet?

By developing your unique selling proposition you not only have a reason to exist but it goes a long way in helping you with your marketing message.  Whenever I speak to a new client the first question I ask is what make makes their company special.  Being able to answer this is the first step in starting a business.

 

Mar 20

Why Telling Your Story Is Important For Your Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

I was at a trade show one day shopping for product to sell in my shoe and accessory store.  Passing by a booth I saw belts that looked interesting.  The salesperson gave me the information about the belts and I was ready to leave.  Then the owner of the company came over and told me the story of the company and the belts.  The story was so compelling that I sat right down and wrote an order.

Stories have the power to inform and educate, entice and engage a customer. Stories can capture the imagination and influence decisions. When you are marketing and selling, telling your story will create an emotional connection.  This is how you begin to create a brand.

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What are the elements of a good brand story?

Start with the reason your company came to be.  What was the vision behind your product, the inspiration that was the catalyst in creating your business?  I love the story about Spanx.  Sara Blakely founder of Spanx was going to a party one day and had white pants she wanted to wear.  She wanted to make sure she had no lines or bulges.  At the time there were no undergarments that did the trick.  So she bought control top pantyhose and cut the feet off.  After wearing it all night she realized this was something women needed and her company was born.

The next chapter should explain your USP (unique selling proposition). What makes your product fabulous and unique and why a customer should by it.  Remember to discuss benefits as opposed to features.

The story needs to have a hero.  Just as Sara Blakely was the hero of the Spanx story who is the hero of yours.  Is it you?  Then tell the story of you and how you came to the business.

Telling your story with passion, honesty  and excitement will make your story powerful.  Sharing your business story builds a sense of trust and familiarity and people are more likely to buy from those they relate to, understand, and most all, they trust.

Mar 19

Making Effective Sales Calls

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

With the advent of emails many salespeople have given up on calling prospects.  Let’s face it, calling is hard.  It’s one thing if someone rejects you by not answering your emails.  It is another thing if they reject you over the phone.  However, it is a great way to reach out to someone.  There is nothing more effective as having a conversation with a buyer about your product.  This way you can have a give and take where you can counter objections or answer questions the buyer may have.   The question then becomes, what do you have to do to make sure you have effective calls?

Give yourself a goal of making a certain number of sales calls a day.  And I don’t mean 5.  It should be more like 20, 30, or 50 if you can manage it.  The more you reach out the more results you will have.  When you speak to a buyer know in advance what you are going to say.  You should introduce yourself and your company and ask if they are available to speak.  If not ask when would be a better time to call .  Then make an make an appointment with them for that time.  If they are available  you should be prepared to tell them the story about your company.  A well honed founding story that includes your USP (unique selling proposition) will help you connect with your customer.

Don’t just call anyone.  Make sure you do your due diligence  on your potential customer.  You want to determine if your product is right for them.  Otherwise it is a waste of your time and theirs.

Most times you will not get someone on the phone.  Don’t give up.  Keep calling till you get them.  Ideally phone calls plus a mailer and/or email are the most effective way to reach out to a prospect.  This way you are getting in front of them with pictures and information and the phone call cinches the deal.

Mar 16

Sales Management and The Fashion Business

By Maria Pesin | Fashion , Productivity

 

“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, Laurence J. Peter from the book “The Peter Principle”. Good salespeople become good sales managers.  Is that true?  Not according to Laurence J. Peter.  Just because you were good at sales doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good manager.  Yet many heads of companies think so.  Their hope is that the new manager will teach the salespeople how to be good at sales.  The idea is sound but the execution usually is not there.  And why?  Because we don’t train our managers to be good managers.  Many industries have comprehensive training programs for different kinds of employees.  They don’t throw them in the pool and expect them to be able to swim.  So why does the fashion industry do that?  Just as we should be teaching our salespeople to be the best they can be, we should be teaching our sale managers.

According to Vantagepointperformance.com “Most sales manager training is simply re-purposed sales person training, and sales leadership programs are often focused on generalized leadership skills. But sales leaders need more than better selling skills and an executive presence – They need targeted education on how to guide their salespeople to higher performance.”

So what are some of the things we should be teaching our sales managers?

  • How to communicate the companies vision.
  • How to coach salespeople for maximum results.
  • How to set performance standards.
  • How to be proactive rather than reactive when handling customer related issues.
  • How to go from being a super salesperson to a super sales manager.
  • How to lead instead of just managing.

Ironically we don’t train our sales managers because we think we don’t have the time or the money to invest in training.  Keep in mind, that there is no investment that you can make that will do more to improve productivity in your company. Therefore if you really think about it finding the time and money to train is really an investment in you business.

 

Mar 03

How To Grow Your Fashion Business Quickly.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

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This is going to sound really simplistic but the number one way to grow your business quickly is to spend most of your time on sales.  As a business owner I know how easy it is to get bogged down in the minutia of running your business.  Answering emails, working on your product, developing your website and so on.  These are important tasks no doubt.  But, nothing is more important than sales.  If you don’t have sales you don’t have a business.

I work with many entrepreneurs.   They are passionate and excited about their companies.  They work hard on developing their product, which they should.  But many work on their product to the exclusion of marketing and selling.   The most successful business people I know are the ones  that put daily consistent effort into building their sales.   The least successful, are the ones that let days go by without doing anything to move the needle forward.

In Siimon Reynolds article for Forbes “The Fastest Way To Grow Your Business”, Mr. Reynolds suggests that if you are running a new business you should devote at least 80% of your day to sales and if you’re an established business you should spend at least 30% of your day on the sales process or connecting with customers.

Now you might have sales staff working for you so you think you are covered.  Well, actually, no.  Salespeople find it just as easy to get distracted as business owners.  It looks like they are working hard all day and they themselves feel like they are working hard.  But many times it is busy work and does nothing to build sales.  I have a good friend Linda that built an $80 million knit business in 5 years.  She was so focused on sales that she took all her paperwork  home so that the time she spent at the office was dedicated to sales and sales management.  If your salespeople are doing paperwork they are not selling.  Hire an assistant for them  so that they can stay focused on what you hired them for…selling!

As owners we also need to be the face of the company.  Spending time with your sales peoples accounts can only help increase sales.  When you are there opportunities come up that may have not have been noticed otherwise.  You also are building relationships with the buyers.  We all know that relationships are the foundation of the selling process.

“I’m a hustler, baby; I sell water to a well!”
― Jay-Z

Are you a hustler?  Are you alway out there getting in front of customers?  Maximize the time you spend on sales and you will quickly build your business.