There are many varied opportunities for entrepreneurs in the fashion industry, and increasing numbers of fashion school graduates and people with other fashion related backgrounds are finding ways to make a career out of their passions. If you’re investigating ways to turn your fashion skills into a business, or you’ve already taken the plunge and set up your business, one of the most essential skills you’ll need is marketing.
In order to sell your products or services, you need to let people know that they’re available. That’s the essence of marketing – making sure people are aware of who you are and what you do. However, that’s only the beginning. To be effective, marketing needs to not only inform potential customers that you exist but show them that your products or services are the ones they should spend their money on.
Marketing is, therefore, a fairly simple concept, but in practice, it’s far more complex and unpredictable, which is why there are so many specialists and marketing organisations out there. If you want your business to stand out, you need to consider these essential elements of marketing:
You can’t run a successful marketing campaign without a sensible budget. There are numerous methods of using free and low-cost resources to market your business, and it makes sense to exploit them when they add value to your strategy. However, you can often create more and better leads by spending judiciously on a Facebook targeted marketing campaign.
It is perfectly possible to overspend on marketing campaigns and adverts, and you don’t want to start throwing money at advertisers because you think it’s an easier way to gain new customers. Marketing can be a bottomless money pit and there’s no limit to the amount of cash you can throw into it. You need to set a realistic budget and stick to it, using the money you have available to best effect.
If you’re struggling to find sufficient finance for your marketing, you probably need to revisit your business plan and original budget. It could be that you need to re-organise some of your expenditure or amend the figures because of changes in your operating costs. It’s important to rebalance the business so that you can keep your investment and expenditure on track.
It can be tempting as a small business to borrow money in a personal capacity to tide you over but resist the temptation. You should only ever use the business’s money for business expenses, just as you should never use your business’s money to bail you out personally. Whether it’s your personal budget that’s tight or you need to organise extra funding for your business, you should look for more about the appropriate financial products for your situation.
Identifying your ideal customer
Your designs won’t appeal to everyone, and your services wouldn’t be needed by the whole population, so spending time and money on blanket advertising is a waste of your resources. What you need to do is identify the kinds of people who will be interested in what you’re offering, and target your marketing towards them. Start off with straightforward demographics – the age range your designs will appeal to, gender and orientation, income level, educational level, and location.
Once you’ve come up with the basic model, you can then flesh it out and build it up to be more precisely defined. For instance, what would your ideal client’s aspirations be, their political leanings, attitudes to environmental issues, and so on? By adding more detail to what marketers call your customer avatar, you can more accurately craft your marketing campaigns, and put your advertisements in the places your ideal customer is most likely to see them.
Getting your message across
You’ve refined your avatar to the point where it’s practically a living, breathing being; now it’s time to decide what you want them to know. This is the most familiar aspect of marketing and one which we’re all subjected to on an almost constant basis. Think about the adverts you hear on the radio, see on TV, and all the promotions you get bombarded with every time you log on to the internet. They are all striving to grab your attention, and the ones that are most successful at getting themselves noticed are the ones most likely to receive the rewards of your custom.
The tricky part is getting the message right, and that’s where a lot of marketing falls down. Business owners create an impressive sounding set of reasons why their company is so great; the history, the effort, the splendid offices and all the accolades they’ve won, believing this is what will draw customers to them. This kind of information is relevant and interesting, and there’s definitely a place for it on your website, but it’s not going to win you many customers. What you need to do is supply an answer to your customer’s need, solve a problem they have, or show them why buying from you will improve their life.
Imagine you were a customer – which indeed you are! The ads that attract your attention and hold it are the ones that are visually appealing, but offer you something you want or need to keep you engaged. Think about what works on you in terms of advertising, and you’ll realise it’s the messages that make you think your life will be improved in some way by buying a particular product or engaging a specific service provider.
Using your contacts
The fashion business revolves around who you know – as do many industries, of course. However, in fashion, who you know can be particularly influential, and it’s critical that you nurture and develop personal relationships. Knowing the right people can make a significant impact on your standing in the industry and bring you some very welcome attention that couldn’t be bought. Once established, make sure you use make use of your advantage, but don’t overuse it or take it for granted, or your contacts may get fed up with you – it’s a relationship that needs to be mutually beneficial.
Don’t neglect the marketing side of your business; it’s crucial to your success and your future in the fashion industry.