LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

LaunchHER PRO :: Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

LaunchHER says ::  You may remember Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff as the dynamo entrepreneur behind Petit Couture, who was recently {freshly launched} here on LaunchHER.  Today, Rebecca brings the wisdom that she has accumulated from many years in “Corporate America” and as an entrepreneur, to share with us how to develop a Marketing Plan and Calendar in 2011.  Rebecca has achieved incredible professional success, and we are honored that she is sharing with us today! So, break open a Diet Coke, or pour a cup of coffee, sit down and enjoy!  There is so much wonderful and valuable information below… we’d love to hear your thoughts, too!

Petit Couture

LaunchHER PRO :: Marketing 101 {Preparing Product for Market}

by Rebecca Kaykas-Wolff

Marketing 101: It’s a new year! Define your workback schedule to ensure success at Market!

As you wouldn’t leave home without your calendar (app or paper version), so too consider creating a workback schedule, and cadense, to define some of the tactical items that will make up your products to ensure that your brand is spot on for Market dates.

For those of us nurturing small boutique apparel businesses we generally sell two different ways – wholesale and direct.

Selling direct is relatively straight forward, and with social media technologies taking a forefront in digital marketing easier than ever to elevate your brand and products. For my business, Petit Couture, I’ve largely grown it using Facebook and Twitter. I love the flexibility that self-publishing provides and I LOVE having a more direct relationship with customers. I use the direct portion of Petit Couture’s business to bolster sales (obviously, the margin is better) and build the brand. That said, I just caution to be cognizant of your pricing strategy to ensure that you don’t undercut retail partners with sales promotions they are not able to support themselves. Sharing pricing strategy and discounts is just good business practice, but can be challenging for small businesses to manage. That said, keeping it simple is best and offering discounts on merchandise that is either discontinued, ‘seconds’, or limited time incentives will generally be ok. And, at the end of a season I work with flash sites (e.g. Totsy, Gilt, Zulily, The Mini Social, etc.) for cost recovery purposes and liquidate merchandise at cost.

To sell to the trade, it’s critical to understand retail purchasing cycle, process and event strategy. Generally speaking, buyers for stores (physical and online) purchase a season out and shop either/all National tradeshows or local market days at either sales representative shows (usually in a hotel in regional markets) or at a Market Center like California Market Center where all of the showrooms carry manufacturer’s products. A great online resource for US apparel tradeshows can be found HERE.

Seasonality for wholesalers looks something like this:

Winter (Jan / Feb Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Spring immediates and Summer to order

Spring (March Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Summer immediates and Fall to order

Summer (August Tradeshows) ::

Buyers are purchasing Fall immediates and Spring to order

Fall (Sept / Oct Tradeshows) ::

Buys are purchasing Resort / Holiday immediates and Spring to order

If you’re going to market it’s important to outline all of your workback (tactical items you have to ‘do’) steps to ensure that you have a successful show either in person or via rep. My checklist for Petit Couture includes (this obviously applies to direct as well):

1.)            Budgeting

2.)            Design and Sourcing (fabric, trim)

3.)            Pattern construction and marker production

4.)            Sample Set production (factor in three rounds)

5.)            Model Selection (fit and photos)

6.)            Photography

7.)            Sales and Marketing Collateral Creation (brochures, linesheets, website, pricing, sales sheets)

8.)            Press/Reviews

9.)            Display and Event Equipment Purchase

The items listed above are a fraction of what goes into market prep – especially for a first show. Most items can be reused, obviously. But, if your business is a seasonal business then collections need to be refreshed with every major season. For companies that manufacture domestically turnaround and workback schedules can be tightened, but for those that manufacture out of the country the turnaround can be tricky. So, factoring in your timeframes associated with each of the general ‘buckets’ above could save you from some surprises. So, for example, a workback schedule could look something like this:

Budgeting (1 week)

Design/Sourcing (1 month)

Patterns/Markers (2-3 weeks)

Sample Set Production (4 weeks)

Certification* (2-3 weeks)

Models (2 weeks)

Photography (3 weeks)

Collateral (1 month)

Press (ongoing J)

Display/Equipment (2-3 weeks)

Shipping (2-3 weeks)

Of course some items happen concurrently, but generally speaking some activities can’t happen without others happening first. And, it’s great to have an at a glance view of your workback schedule so you know the timeframe you need to operate within as you go to market. Based on the above examples, you could estimate about a 3 month cycle leading up to a trade event or web launch if you’re in the direct business only.

The beauty of small business ownership is that it is MUCH easier to streamline process, and there aren’t a ton of people who need to ‘sign off’ on your work. However, in the same turn resources are slim and wiggle room is lean.

Any business requires planning in order to be successful. Some of us more naturally are inclined to pursue our days calendar free and often times, that leads to missed calls, meetings and opportunity. It just doesn’t make great business sense. So, helping define your go to market rhythm will help as you refine your business processes and have a successful market showing.

Good luck this season!

Petit Couture

Be sure to follow Rebecca and Petit Couture on Twitter and Facebook.  You still have time to use the LaunchHER promo code from the Petit Couture {freshly launched} feature as well!  Just enterr code 20FORFRIENDS upon checkout to receive 20% off your Petit Couture purchase!  

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