Category Archives for "Business"

Apr 13

Marketing and The Fashion Industry

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

Marketing in the fashion industry is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services.  In the classroom students are taught  the 4P’s of marketing; product, place, price, and promotion.  How these different parts intersect forms the marketing plan for a brand.  Having a marketing plan saves you time and money.
Marketing planning helps you develop products and services in your business that meet the needs of your target market. Good marketing helps your customers understand why your product or service is better than, or different from, the competition.  It also brings brand awareness to your ideal customer.

Product positioning is the process marketers use to determine how to best communicate their products’ attributes to their target customers based on customer needs, competition, available communication channels and carefully crafted key messages. Effective product positioning ensures that marketing messages resonate with target consumers and compel them to take action.  In other words what is the USP (unique selling proposition).

Different sphere

Place stands for the method you use to get your product or service through various distribution channels to the ultimate purchaser or end-user – in other words, how and where the consumer buys your product or service.  It could be traditional brick and mortar, website, trunk shows, and/or many other methods.

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Pricing contributes to how customers perceive a product or a service.  Adjusting the price has a profound impact on the marketing strategy, and depending on the price elasticity of the product, it will often affect the demand and sales as well.  Price value is an important component.

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Promotion is the method you use to spread the word about your product or service to customers, stakeholders and the broader public.  Ir can consist of advertising, pr, social media, and more.

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The next 4 blogs will address each part of the marketing process in more depth.

Apr 08

3 Tips To Taking Care of Your Customers.

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

“There is only one boss, the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”.

Sam Walton

“Profit in business comes from repeat customers; customers that boast about your product and service, and that bring friends with them. ”

W. Edwards Deming

Did you know that most  customers  stop doing business with a company because of poor customer service and not for product reasons?  In fact more than 90% of your customers never complain?  They simply go elsewhere.   How seriously do you take customer service?  It takes so much time and money to acquire a customer.  To lose one  because they weren’t taken care of properly is just silly.

Here are 3 tips to insuring your customers are taken care of.

1. Learn to listen.  Engage in communication with the goal of “understanding” instead of “understood”. When your customer is speaking, it’s best to focus on what the customer is saying, rather than trying to get a head start on how you’re going to respond. Once someone in a conversation goes on the defensive, you are less likely to come to a resolution.

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2. Be an expert.  The other day I went sneaker shopping with my son and we went to Champs.  The salespeople were so knowledgable.  They knew the benefits and features of the different sneakers and what was best for what function.  Even down to which running sneaker was best for running inside on a track and which was best for outside.  We ended up buying 4 pairs of sneakers.  Enough said!

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3. Go the extra mile.  Going the extra mile enhances customer loyalty, increases sales, and promotes positive word-of-mouth advertising within your marketplace.

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In an era where customer service is so important learn to delight your buyers.

Apr 06

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Your Office

By Maria Pesin | Business , Productivity

“A well-organized office has huge benefits. In the first place, it provides a feeling of control and competence, which leads to higher levels of productivity. Second, the very fact that it’s organized defends against distractions. Your organized office can absorb the incoming work, and position you for success.”  This is according to Neil Patel Co-founder, Crazy Egg in his article “How to Organize Your Office For Maximum Productivity” – Inc.com December 4th, 2014.  I totally believe this.  My ex-husband’s office was a mess. He swore he new where everything was.  But, the truth is he lost things all the time and spent hours trying to find the things he lost.  I know we have all been in that position.  It costs us countless hours of productivity.  It also plays havoc with our ability to think clearly.  So when Neil Patel says a well-organized  office can position you for success I think that he’s right.

Recently I ready a book called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying”.  It is one of the best books on organization I have read and believe me I have read a lot.  It’s written by a young women Marie Kondo.  Ms. Kondo has a new take on how to approach organization.  One of her tips  is you should only have to do a massive organization once and from there it should be easy to keep up.  As long as you put things away after you are done with them.  She also claims that if you organize using her system you will want to put things away and she has hundreds of client success stories to prove it.  As my mother always used to say,”A place for everything and everything in its place.  This is a book I would recommend to anyone that knows the value of an organized work space. magic of tidying

 

Apr 02

Is Having Good Values Enough To Attract Customers?

By Maria Pesin | Business , Fashion

The world is changing.  And it is changing for the better.  People from all over the world are trying to live their lives in ethical ways.  They are also contributing their money and time to social causes.  When I was young the Peace Corps was just starting and it was a novel idea.  As JFK said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”  Today that thinking has become a global concept.  We feel a universal responsibility for our fellow man and the environment.  Many businesses have jumped in and have incorporated good world citizenship as a core value.  TOMS which is know for their canvas shoe has a program where they will donate a pair of shoes for everyone they sell.  Macy’s contributes money to many charities.  The list goes on.

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When I speak to new start up fashion companies many incorporate their values into their business.  Whether it is sustainability or donating product or products being made in America they want to be more than just a new brand.  They also want to stand for something.  I commend them and love their commitment to the world.  Of course using these core values in their marketing is a great way to connect with their customers.  According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, corporate social responsibility leads consumers to believe products are better quality.   Knowing a company is mindful of its impact on the environment and society makes many people more likely to buy their products and services.

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But is having good values is enough to attract a customer?  The fashion business is  business of ascetics.  Consumers are attracted to product itself.  If the company has good values even better.  But that is not what drives us.  Remembering this is what successful companies do.  The social responsibility is a plus for an organization.   But it is not the driver for sales.

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.