Starting a new business by any means is costly. Developing and designing your products may leave little money left for sales and marketing. This defeats the whole point that you set out to achieve.
Marketing your brand and getting your name out there is essential to the survival of any business. Customers are not going to become psychic and come looking to buy your products. If you are not putting it under their noses, on their screens or on something or someone they can relate and aspire to. How is it ever going to happen?
The obvious and most traditional route to market is a trade show. Getting your products in front of the right people can be very expensive. In the current retail climate, it can be very unpredictable and challenging. This is not to say that you should not build trade shows into your sales strategy. This can be something to aim for in the long run if you cannot budget for. You should budget a minimum of three seasons worth of fashion trade shows cost. An average cost of a tradeshow £3-£6k starting, depending on if it is domestic or international.
It’s time to get creative with the limited resources that you do have. There are so many ways that you can get your fashion brand out there with little to no budget. Be smart, get thinking.
Here at Onwards and Up, we bring you a top 10 list of things to do to raise your profile. In some cases in 5 minutes and will cost you nothing, to the smallest of budgets to help you on your way.
Top 10 Business Budget Tips
Google Business Listing
Yes, Google will eventually take over the world and how we interact with the world wide web. If you are not listed as a business in Google local listing, then you are missing a massive trick for people to find you.
At some point or other you have typed or these days shouted into Google, ”local restaurants near me”. Google has then replied with an extensive list of restaurants with pictures, rating and details. Who needs to scroll through the rest of the search engine results page (SERP) at individual restaurant entries when you can review this simple list in 5 minutes.
Google listings dominate if you are on mobile on the tablet. If you are not listed, then you are missing out.
Also, if you have a brand name that is highly competitive, meaning you are not listed on the first page of search, having a Google listing can help for you to appear in the top right-hand corner on the first page.
This takes 5 minutes to set up, free of charge and a great way to get your brand noticed. I know that people are sometimes put off from listing their business, as they do not have an office address. Google local now gives you the option to be listed and not advertise your home address if that is where you are working from. Instead, it will list you geographically, like my business being based in London.
Google listing is also a great way of promoting what is in and going on in your business, through the live posts, as well as improving your SEO.
Sign up for your free listing today!
Call it link love. We all need a bit of this in our lives. Getting other contacts, businesses and websites to share your links is a great way to improve your search engine ranking, increase traffic to your website and generate domain authority and page authority. These are important performance indicators that Google use to index your pages and in their search engines.
Social media platforms are free and the best way to raise the profile of your brand and engage directly with potential customers as well as buyers.
Having worked in this space for a number of years all social media channels are just as important as each other. Just because you not getting many likes or engagement on one platform it is important to keep some level of presence on them. The point is to understand why you are not getting the engagement rather than just giving it up.
Each channel represents a different customer base and so you should communicate to them all in a different manner. A word of warning, if you are going to do social badly across selection channels in comparison to others, it is best that you don’t do it at all.
It’s all too easy to link up all your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and send out the same message through all. Instagram operates on hashtags, but the hashtags that you use on Instagram are not going to have the same relevance to accessing your audience on Twitter and Facebook doesn’t necessarily require you to use hashtags.
Take into consideration how your posts are displayed in each of social media channels and you’ll soon understand why people are not engaging with you and the not generating the engagement or power you want.
Your audience on Twitter does not want to leave this channel to view the image you posted on Instagram. Therefore, leaving you with an uninspiring and unengaged lonely Twitter feed.
Also, Twitter is limited to 160 characters. Long rants and extensive hashtags will only lead to your caption being truncated, there losing all its importance and meaning to followers.
If you are posting frequently enough and good strong content great opportunities can come your way. Examples that I have seen first-hand. Social media is the new desktop trade show for many buyers and multi-brand stores, who are scouting for new products and brands. Be sure that the content that you are putting out there is creating the right message for your brand. You never know who is watching you.
Whether it is two brands coming together to design products and collections together or brands coming together to cross promote each other brands, or create product packages to attract sales.
This is a great way to leverage your business and promote to a new audience to potentially increase sales.
It doesn’t need to be difficult to set up a collaboration. Ensure that whoever you approach to collaborate with, some of the following points are taken on board:
- You have done your research and can provide valid reasons why they would be a good brand fit
- Ensuring that both parties equally contribute, as both equally benefit
- Be realistic about suitable brands you can collaborate with. For example, being a small brand and thinking that Louis Vuitton would be an ideal partner is just not going to work. 😐
- To keep costs down, look at collaborating with a brand where your existing products can be packaged together to compliment each other, whilst opening up to new audiences.
Great examples of brand collaborations
Pop Up Shops
Pop up shops are all the rage, propping up and plugging the gaps in the failing British local high streets. You don’t have to do it on your lonesome, but with a collective of brands share the costs and help promote your brand direct to customers.
Like with any business venture, running a shop is a full-time job, so ensure you are prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. Consider what budget you have and the potential support you may need, such as staff to help run it.
There are a number of ways that you can set up a pop shop depending on your budget. There are a number of companies set up to work in this space offering retail space to small businesses for short periods of time and take the hassle of the legalities and insurance issues will incur for having one.
Alternatively, if you want to be a bit savvier about taking a pop up, contact your local council and see what retail space they may potentially have available for short leases. A selection of councils run schemes to support small businesses, renting out retail space at subsidised rates.
Visit local estate agents and research local premises that are vacant. Try and get in contact with the landlord and see if you can strike up a good deal to take the place on a for a couple of weeks.
Don’t forget to use tools such as Eventbrite to promote your event and capture customer details.
Local Events & Markets
Summer, a great time of the year to be outdoors and lots of events going on. Check out your local craft and general markets. In the right setting, you can access a ready-made audience interested in shopping. Pitches aren’t too expensive and can be a regular way for you to generate sales and grow your business.
Research local and national events and find the events that have the right audience fit for your business. Whether it be Christmas markets or the local show horse jumping championships, there is always an opportunity for you to promote your business.
Markets don’t need to devalue your brand, I know many brands such as Kate Sheridan who even though she has her own retail store in Clapton and sells to UK leading department stores, continues to trade every weekend on Broadway Market in East London. Kate is a staple part of the Broadway Market scene. She has traded on it for over 10 years and is not something she plans to give up anytime soon.
Check out local hotels and corporate businesses. Get on their mailing lists. For example, many hotels and restaurants are organising small pop up shops as a way to attract more footfall to their business. Sometimes free other times a small fee. A one-off day or evening with a captive audience which for you to sell and raise your brands’ profile.
Venues such as the Hoxton Hotels in London, the Southbank Centre and Tower 42, regularly run themed events supporting and showcasing small businesses to sell their products.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask as many venues are actively working in this sphere. Plus, you reduce their headache in trying to find brands to participate in their events.
Giveaways and Competitions!!
Everyone loves a free giveaway or competition!! Grow your direct customer base. The fixation on stores is a thing of the past and actually what you want to do is grow a direct customer base you can engage with and increase sales.
Using your social media channels to support this is the perfect way to raise your brands’ profile and attract new customers. Whilst not everyone that signs up for a prize draw will be your customer in the long term, but it can enable you to grow your own customer database.
Having your own customer database, you are 4 times more likely to generate sales from them, than creating new marketing to attract sales.
Set up a prize draw to run for a couple of days and use paid social to boost your post and target the right customers. As little as £10 will give you a potential reach of an additional 4000 customers to see your post and react to it. That being, signing up to your mailing list.
Remember to adhere to the new GDPR rules around privacy and how you use data. Don’t forget to announce the winner on the channels your giveaway was advertised on. You don’t want angry customers.
Sign up for free press alerts and put yourself forward for articles that you can assist with. Turn the tables and the favour can be repaid for when the journalist has a relevant topic.
There are many out there that you can signup for and anything from Conde Nast group to Grazia frequent post requesting information/ assistance or samples.
Below is a selection of sites that are free or require a subscription
- Loft press
- Use the #journoRequest or #PRRequest on Twitter to find potential opportunities.
Do your homework, look at magazines and find those that your products would be most suitable for. Pull together a well-drafted and straight to the point email with a catchy heading to send to relevant journalists. As I say if you don’t try you never know. There are times when publications do fall short on content and have space they will offer for free.
Remember to plan ahead. If you are hoping to be featured in a magazine publication, content is usually signed off three or four months ahead of schedule. If you are hoping to get press coverage in time for Christmas, now is the time to start approaching publications with your Christmas promotions and collections.
Building Your Own Website
Shopify, WordPress, Woo Commerce, Square Space, four of the major players that have now taken the pain out of hiring a web developer (if you are digitally savvy), and for you to build a cost-effective professional website.
For any business including my own, it is essential to have some form of an online presence. Buyers, customers want to know what you are about, and this is the perfect way for them to understand how your brand works.
A golden rule I like to think of when building a website for others is, the website is not for you, it is for your customers. Make it customer-friendly, easy to navigate and most importantly make it obvious.
Brands who don’t want to put things like buy now/ shop here are doing their business a disservice. If you don’t tell people, they are not going to hunt for it. When it comes to shopping customers are fickle and have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.
Websites on any of these platforms with an appropriate template and web hosting range approximately for a starter pack £350-£1500.
Looking for assistance in building or refurbishing your website?
Onwards and Up here to help you
When it’s done well it goes viral and time to cash in, but when it goes bad a huge investment in repairing your brand. What is Newsjacking I hear you say? It is “the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success. The term was popularized due to David Meerman Scott’s book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage”
Golden Rules of Newsjacking
Rule #1: Choose the right news story
- You can’t Newsjack every story. That would be silly and impossible to do. Just keep an eye on trends, know your brand well enough to know what works and what doesn’t, and don’t force it.
Rule #2: Be timely
- David Meerman Scott suggests that the right time to Newsjack is just before the story gains momentum and journalists start searching for more information.
Rule #3 Think Critically
- This is where most brands seem to fall down. You need to learn to be critical about what stories your Newsjacking and how you’re doing it.
Look at it from the point of view of an everyday human being who’ll come across this content – Do you think it’d be offensive? Do you think it’ll be funny? Does it make sense? If in doubt get a second opinion before putting it out there.
Good Example – Scamp and Dude
Although it was Scamp and Dude’s own story bubbling in the background. The company had contacted the press complaining out George
Asda for using their trademark slogan without crediting the brand or getting authorisation to use it. The brand took to social media calling out George Asda to their small band of followers which then saw the post go viral. Asda receiving a lot of abuse and spammed an Instagram wall of very unhappy customers tagging them on the shared post.
Great coverage for @scampanddude, liking it to a David and Goliath tale. Taking on the big stores and winning the battle, to go on to grow their audience base, sales and stockist list.
Bad Example – Burger King Russia World Cup Advert
Burger King has spent the past four weeks of the Russia World Cup 2018 apologising for their distasteful marketing campaign offering a lifetime supply of Whoppers to Russian women who got pregnant by World Cup players. With such an outcry of complaints, the campaign was immediately pulled.
Love it, hate it, stick me in a corner with a glass of wine for the evening, happy days! On the other hand, a prime opportunity to meeting like-minded people from your industry or who have connections that can take your business further.
Get your elevator pitch ready and be open to those who come your way, you never know. There are so many networking events out there, that at times it can fill like a minefield. The only way you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t is to attend a few. What’s the worse that can happen. You have two feet, you don’t like then leave.
Always good to start by attending some industry-focused networking events. People with similar interests looking for similar things.
On this note, I have recently launched my very own fashion and lifestyle networking events. Ticking all the boxes of being informative, motivating and tips to take away and use in your business. Come and join me in September to kick off the series. For more information, check out our fashion networking events.