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Old 01-23-2014, 03:55 PM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107

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I am hoping to reach a few brand building guru's.

I am not sure if I can post what my web site link is, so I will hold off.

Basically I am building a tropical brand. Similar to margaritaville, but with my own flavor and presentation. Clothing and accessories with Caribbean Beach inspirations. After 1 year, I have a solid web site, hundreds of sku's, orders, 15,000+ facebook followers, and building inventory. Followers love what I do and thank me daily, as I also provide a form of stress relief. My business is built around facebook interaction, and I need to change/add to that as well.

At this point adding product and facebook marketing is getting routine. I want to bring it to the next level of exposure. This is where I am drawing a blank....while I know clearly know what mass reach is, I am not familiar on how to do it, especially with a limited budget. M

Basically, I need help with steps "3-5" of brand building. I am kindly asking for guidance toward resources, books, or anything that would help educate how small/mid sizes companies generate six to 7 figure revenues over the course of a few years based on a plan of growth and action.

thanks!
Jason
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Old 01-23-2014, 09:14 PM
 
28,906 posts, read 45,316,169 times
Reputation: 45831
Excellent. Congratulations.

Well, the first primer I would direct you to is by Ries & Trout, "The 20 Immutable Laws of Marketing." It's a little dated, but it's still good stuff. An excellent basic introduction. However, I would caution you about relying too heavily on any book beyond the 500-foot view of the process. The world is changing so rapidly that books on the subject are typically obsolete before the ink dries on the page. After all, who had heard the term "Social Media" before 2008? A handful. Yet look how rapidly social media has come to consume marketing. Yet even social media is very much a slippery thing. Even as we speak, Facebook is hemorrhaging the under-25 crowd as they migrate to Snapchat and Instagram. So you really need to think in terms of broad strategic principles and let the experts worry about the specific tactics.

One of the things I would offer up is that you really need to define what your core brand is. What's the DNA that gives your product such a compelling story? What is the promise you make to the marketplace. This is really important, because apparel is such an ephemeral thing -- Remember Life Is Good? Yeah, it's still out there and the people who built it made a lot of cash, but it definitely feels as if it has played out. Clothing brands come and go, so you either need to figure out how you're going to stay in the market for a long time or you better plan on rolling the dice, making a lot of money in a hurry.

Not really seeing your brand in execution, I think you have to make sure that, graphically, it has a good deal of legs to it, and isn't the one-trick pony. In that sense, you're really going to have to make your brand centered around a lifestyle, not just a few lines of clothing. As an example, Margaritaville, et al, all center around nurturing the free-spirited island thing. In the case of Margaritaville, that has been parlayed into alcoholic beverages, decor, drink ware, etc., all designed around kind of an escapist island expatriate ethos. The problem is that several companies share that positioning, which means you have to decide how you're going to be different moving forward. Part of that, of course, is the product itself. But part of it is really thinking about the other possible ancillary lines that revolve around it whether it's sunglasses, flip flops, or whatever else. A program, if you will. What's more, I'd get a really good IP attorney posthaste to trademark it all, if you haven't already (By the way, I don't mean to insult your intelligence or business acumen with that last suggestion. I just am always flabbergasted that so few people think to protect their intellectual property).

Remember that a brand is essentially a promise to the marketplace. So your brand will need to make a big promise in terms of quality, in terms of evoking a particular style (And, in this case, lifestyle), and an alignment with a specific kind of demographic and its values.

Now that you have an entire program figured out in making an appeal to a tightly-defined consumer, you really need to figure out how the brand appeals to your distribution channel, i.e. retailers. What do you offer them in terms of a store-within-a-store, POP, co-op support, etc. What size retail do you reach out towards? Or do you do it all online? Do you choose a limited number of influential stores, or do you try the shotgun blast instead? Relax. You don't have to figure all this stuff out tomorrow, but you need some kind of plan moving forward.

Finally, you really have to take your positioning, your brand, your brand attitude out into the market with a well-financed program. And there's the rub. Hey, I'm not saying you can't bootstrap this thing, but there are substantial risks in doing so, especially in as fickle a business as fashion retailing. My inclination is to hit it hard and fast, getting in the door of the most influential retailers. But you can't do that if you don't have a well-funded advertising/marketing/pr program. They will not buy you, which leaves you to sell to the Mom & Pops. That's not a bad route, but it exposes you a little, for you really need to do some open field running with your visual concept before it runs out of steam--and before somebody with more money sees it and steals it. Happens all the time, you know.

So if you are really this successful, then I think your smart move right now is to have a good plan in mind and get some fast venture capital. I don't know where you live, but chances are there are attorneys that specialize in business development where they find you the pool of investors and make things happen. A few million in VC will make all the difference in the world. If you have a smart product AND smart marketing, then the orders will more than pay for your investment.

After that, it's a matter of developing a distinctive look in a host of media, from out-of-home media in influential geographic market to display stuff to co-op. Hey, if you really have a tightly defined demo, I would definitely throw some money at media such as Rolling Stone, et al, or MTV and the like. A good branding agency with an emphasis on integrated communication can develop a plan that squeezes more out your budget.

Also, do not forget PR. Yeah, PR is not tangible, but it is vital in terms of scoring product placements, organizing events, getting placement in the apparel pubs, etc. etc. This is specialized stuff and you really don't want to do this on your own. A good PR firm that thinks strategically is generally worth its weight in gold.

Finally, once you have all the players in place, a strategy, a 360-degree engagement with all the possible stakeholders and buyers, set things into motion and let them do their job while you confine your job function to two major tasks: a) Supervising Operations/Manufacturing/Fulfillment to ensure quality and b) Establishing relationships with retailers.

So there you go. My off-the-cuff thoughts on your brand. In terms of specific messaging, that really is a process all on its own, one that takes weeks of careful thought. But it needs to really stand out by being ballsy and memorable. The messaging out there is just way too dense to risk your money on doing by-the-numbers stuff.

Hope that helps.

Last edited by cpg35223; 01-23-2014 at 09:36 PM..
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:17 PM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpg35223 View Post
Excellent. Congratulations.

Well, the first primer I would direct you to is by Ries & Trout, "The 20 Immutable Laws of Marketing." It's a little dated, but it's still good stuff. An excellent basic introduction. However, I would caution you about relying too heavily on any book beyond the 500-foot view of the process. The world is changing so rapidly that books on the subject are typically obsolete before the ink dries on the page. After all, who had heard the term "Social Media" before 2008? A handful. Yet look how rapidly social media has come to consume marketing. Yet even social media is very much a slippery thing. Even as we speak, Facebook is hemorrhaging the under-25 crowd as they migrate to Snapchat and Instagram. So you really need to think in terms of broad strategic principles and let the experts worry about the specific tactics.

One of the things I would offer up is that you really need to define what your core brand is. What's the DNA that gives your product such a compelling story? What is the promise you make to the marketplace. This is really important, because apparel is such an ephemeral thing -- Remember Life Is Good? Yeah, it's still out there and the people who built it made a lot of cash, but it definitely feels as if it has played out. Clothing brands come and go, so you either need to figure out how you're going to stay in the market for a long time or you better plan on rolling the dice, making a lot of money in a hurry.

Not really seeing your brand in execution, I think you have to make sure that, graphically, it has a good deal of legs to it, and isn't the one-trick pony. In that sense, you're really going to have to make your brand centered around a lifestyle, not just a few lines of clothing. As an example, Margaritaville, et al, all center around nurturing the free-spirited island thing. In the case of Margaritaville, that has been parlayed into alcoholic beverages, decor, drink ware, etc., all designed around kind of an escapist island expatriate ethos. The problem is that several companies share that positioning, which means you have to decide how you're going to be different moving forward. Part of that, of course, is the product itself. But part of it is really thinking about the other possible ancillary lines that revolve around it whether it's sunglasses, flip flops, or whatever else. A program, if you will. What's more, I'd get a really good IP attorney posthaste to trademark it all, if you haven't already (By the way, I don't mean to insult your intelligence or business acumen with that last suggestion. I just am always flabbergasted that so few people think to protect their intellectual property).

Remember that a brand is essentially a promise to the marketplace. So your brand will need to make a big promise in terms of quality, in terms of evoking a particular style (And, in this case, lifestyle), and an alignment with a specific kind of demographic and its values.

Now that you have an entire program figured out in making an appeal to a tightly-defined consumer, you really need to figure out how the brand appeals to your distribution channel, i.e. retailers. What do you offer them in terms of a store-within-a-store, POP, co-op support, etc. What size retail do you reach out towards? Or do you do it all online? Do you choose a limited number of influential stores, or do you try the shotgun blast instead? Relax. You don't have to figure all this stuff out tomorrow, but you need some kind of plan moving forward.

Finally, you really have to take your positioning, your brand, your brand attitude out into the market with a well-financed program. And there's the rub. Hey, I'm not saying you can't bootstrap this thing, but there are substantial risks in doing so, especially in as fickle a business as fashion retailing. My inclination is to hit it hard and fast, getting in the door of the most influential retailers. But you can't do that if you don't have a well-funded advertising/marketing/pr program. They will not buy you, which leaves you to sell to the Mom & Pops. That's not a bad route, but it exposes you a little, for you really need to do some open field running with your visual concept before it runs out of steam--and before somebody with more money sees it and steals it. Happens all the time, you know.

So if you are really this successful, then I think your smart move right now is to have a good plan in mind and get some fast venture capital. I don't know where you live, but chances are there are attorneys that specialize in business development where they find you the pool of investors and make things happen. A few million in VC will make all the difference in the world. If you have a smart product AND smart marketing, then the orders will more than pay for your investment.

After that, it's a matter of developing a distinctive look in a host of media, from out-of-home media in influential geographic market to display stuff to co-op. Hey, if you really have a tightly defined demo, I would definitely throw some money at media such as Rolling Stone, et al, or MTV and the like. A good branding agency with an emphasis on integrated communication can develop a plan that squeezes more out your budget.

Also, do not forget PR. Yeah, PR is not tangible, but it is vital in terms of scoring product placements, organizing events, getting placement in the apparel pubs, etc. etc. This is specialized stuff and you really don't want to do this on your own. A good PR firm that thinks strategically is generally worth its weight in gold.

Finally, once you have all the players in place, a strategy, a 360-degree engagement with all the possible stakeholders and buyers, set things into motion and let them do their job while you confine your job function to two major tasks: a) Supervising Operations/Manufacturing/Fulfillment to ensure quality and b) Establishing relationships with retailers.

So there you go. My off-the-cuff thoughts on your brand. In terms of specific messaging, that really is a process all on its own, one that takes weeks of careful thought. But it needs to really stand out by being ballsy and memorable. The messaging out there is just way too dense to risk your money on doing by-the-numbers stuff.

Hope that helps.
Wow, I will say that I appreciate the extensive response. Thank you, Thank you! If I may ask, what is your experience in this field?

I have owned retail stores that I built from scratch that have reached 7 figures in sales. My high end skills lay in web development, ecommerce, facebook marketing, retail, mail order, product sourcing, customer service, etc. However, this new venture is different. I have never had to build the brand from scratch with my own product. It has always been about selling product that I did not have to brand.

The good news is I understand every aspect you have discussed. But to me these are puzzle pieces that need to be put together. I lack the knowledge to complete the whole picture. It is a vicious loop in my mind because I need to be financed. I do not know how much of that puzzle to complete to get an investor and partner interested.

My target audience is defined and very much vibrant, usually with disposable income. My brand promotes the tropical lifestyle along with products that match what I do. My biggest grace is with Facebook, where I produce compelling photos, engage my followers, and get my them involved. By doing this, it takes them away from their daily routine and gives a sense of escapism. I then reference those posts to product, which produce sales. I agree, social media is changing and Facebooks new posting methods hurts exposure. Time to add to the exposure level outside of Facebook.

It is not just about clothing. I have a number of associated hard goods that revolve around the brand. Everything uses one or both of my trademarked names/taglines, and my tagline is loved because it inspires people to relax and chill. Since I love making people happy, there is a strong sense of pride in what I do.

Developing a wholesale plan is a thought and I have no problem with the mom/pop stores.

The bottom line is I need to put some pieces together, which I have some experience lacking. I need to find an investor/partner to finish the puzzle and move it up a level.

Any additional thoughts?
Thank you
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Old 01-23-2014, 10:20 PM
 
28,906 posts, read 45,316,169 times
Reputation: 45831
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShakyJ View Post
Wow, I will say that I appreciate the extensive response. Thank you, Thank you! If I may ask, what is your experience in this field?

I have owned retail stores that I built from scratch that have reached 7 figures in sales. My high end skills lay in web development, ecommerce, facebook marketing, retail, mail order, product sourcing, customer service, etc. However, this new venture is different. I have never had to build the brand from scratch with my own product. It has always been about selling product that I did not have to brand.

The good news is I understand every aspect you have discussed. But to me these are puzzle pieces that need to be put together. I lack the knowledge to complete the whole picture. It is a vicious loop in my mind because I need to be financed. I do not know how much of that puzzle to complete to get an investor and partner interested.

My target audience is defined and very much vibrant, usually with disposable income. My brand promotes the tropical lifestyle along with products that match what I do. My biggest grace is with Facebook, where I produce compelling photos, engage my followers, and get my them involved. By doing this, it takes them away from their daily routine and gives a sense of escapism. I then reference those posts to product, which produce sales. I agree, social media is changing and Facebooks new posting methods hurts exposure. Time to add to the exposure level outside of Facebook.

It is not just about clothing. I have a number of associated hard goods that revolve around the brand. Everything uses one or both of my trademarked names/taglines, and my tagline is loved because it inspires people to relax and chill. Since I love making people happy, there is a strong sense of pride in what I do.

Developing a wholesale plan is a thought and I have no problem with the mom/pop stores.

The bottom line is I need to put some pieces together, which I have some experience lacking. I need to find an investor/partner to finish the puzzle and move it up a level.

Any additional thoughts?
Thank you
Probably a conversation that needs to happen off-line. With your permission, let me reach out to you via PM tomorrow.
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Old 01-24-2014, 07:43 AM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpg35223 View Post
Probably a conversation that needs to happen off-line. With your permission, let me reach out to you via PM tomorrow.
I welcome it.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:49 PM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107
Anyone else with input? I am always listening.
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Old 01-28-2014, 11:09 AM
 
Location: Sunnyside
2,009 posts, read 3,783,394 times
Reputation: 1269
Are you on Instagram and twitter as well? I would get yourself out there on those as well. It's amazing at how fast something can travel with the proper hashtags on either of those.
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Old 01-29-2014, 08:59 AM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107
Twitter, yes. Nothing in instagram.
Have not had much luck with twitter. Things tend to get buried fast. If I am wrong, please tell me.
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Old 01-29-2014, 09:07 AM
 
41 posts, read 73,257 times
Reputation: 33
Brand building gives the brand a distinctive look that sets it apart from other companies which is consistent wherever it appears - online, in its website and in social media and offline, on billboards, flyers and other traditional media. However, factors that affect brand marketing are constantly changing to adapt to people's behaviors and their sentiment.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:46 AM
 
Location: California
243 posts, read 912,294 times
Reputation: 107
Any particular resources out there to help with advanced branding?
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