Journey of the Do – Stage 9 – Marketing Messages

Some form of marketing is essential to your business. My wife, and I have extensive marketing, and advertising backgrounds, but the roots will stay the same for your business. The pendulum has shifted back to a very open, community-based society. Most likely this shift in mentality will be around for the next 10 – 15 years. Knowing this – my wife and I are going to be as authentic as possible when it comes to our marketing, and our messaging.

Last week I briefly touched on what I call ‘Culture Marketing.’ It’s based on building a brand around your values, and beliefs. And everyone within your organization believing in you, and your company. From that internal belief you’ll see it expand to your customers, and potential customers.

pumpkins, guy and girl

Hanging out on some pumpkins

Your Cultural Message

My wife, and I are firm believers that you can still make a healthy profit, while supporting those in, and around your community (or your world – if that’s your thing). With many companies surrounding themselves in greed, and the folks at the top making more and more while the worker bees do not is not how the latest generation of business builders see as healthy or sustainable. That’s why you’re starting to see companies who give back to the world they’re in. Those that are very open, and authentic about their policies are thriving.

For your messaging – you should try and stay true to yourself, and your beliefs as after all your business is a reflection of you. My wife, and I are going to be very open about our products. We’ll let you know where they came from, and who the product is best for. We’re not here to make a quick buck and disappear. We want to build a fan base. It doesn’t have to be a HUGE fan base to begin with, but we want fans who believe in not only our products, but our values.

Up front we’re going to be very open about the price. The price, is the price, is the price is our mentality. One thing that ticked us off about shopping online is you never know what the final price is going to be until you ‘checkout.’ For us we want to be as transparent as possible. Since we’re only dealing with Canadians – we’re not going to have to worry about duties,and shipping fees above and beyond what’s already there. That was the biggest beef my wife had with dealing with US stores. You see this great price, then you have to factor in the exchange, the duties, other fees and the shipping (and shipping times…7 – 21 days C’MON!). We’re going to remove those fees and work that into our messaging. Again – the price is the price is the price.

Another one of the messages we’re going to work with is who our product is for. Sometimes it’s easier to say who you’re for, and against than just puking out a message. We’re for young professional women who want to showcase their personality at work without feeling, and looking like a skank. It’s affordable dresses that you can wear to work, and after work for drinks. It’s for the woman who wants to express herself through her fashion choices, and not be stuck wearing bland, ‘safe’ clothes.

On top of that – we’re going to include our fans in the discussion – whether it’s through social media or our internal database. Before we add any new product – we’ll encourage our fans to comment on whether or not they like it, how much they’d pay for it and what colours they like it in. Based off this – we’ll have a better idea what to buy, and where to price it. This way the fans will involved in the process and further get them entrenched in our brand.

That’s not all. With our plans to grow – we plan on bringing in our own ‘house’ line of dresses. Where we’ll source the cotton ourselves, design it ourselves, and  produce it ourselves. This way we’ll know exactly where it’s coming from, how much people are getting paid, and we’ll be able to ensure we’re using sustainable practices. At the present time – most clothing, and accessories are made overseas in who knows what kind of facility. Our goal is to move away from that, and support those in, and around our community. Pay them fairly, support their families and build better relationship with our peers. It may cut into our margins, but we’re fine with that. We feel it’s the right thing to do, so we’re going to do it.

Now, just wait till you see how we’re going to go about our business to reach our customers. As the times have changed – you don’t have to be on TV or the radio or in the newspaper to get press. You can do it yourself, and create your own media company to drive fans, and potential customers to you.

More on that next week.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Journey of the Do – Stage 8 – Where do I find customers?

You have this idea, you’re ready to roll it out, but will people care? And where will you find customers? The old ‘build it and they will come’ thought process is dying if not dead. There are so many competitors, so many niches, and so much market noise (think about how many people are trying to sell you something on a daily basis). So what do you do?

Last week I mentioned a few things around creating a culture, and fans for your brand. This is essential nowadays unless you have millions and millions of dollars to market your product. Even then, people’s BS meters are so high that marketing efforts are becoming less and less effective. The reason why my wife, and I are trying to create a culture is because people who buy into the culture of your brand will be your fans for life (as long as you don’t screw it up). On top of that, my wife and I’s beliefs go hand-in-hand with what we’re doing. This isn’t solely a money making venture. There’s more to it than that.

Culture marketing

Don’t be afraid to piss people off for the sake of furthering your beliefs and your cause. Yes, my wife, and I are going to ruffle a few feathers in the fashioin industry, and that’s okay. By telling people who we’re not, we immediately tell people WHO WE ARE (if that makes sense). It’s okay for you to do the same. Don’t be shy about pointing out how you’re different, and pulling back the curtain on what you’re doing and why. Think of all the tech companies that are distrupting the status quo. You can do the same with your business as long as you’re not afraid to take a stand. If people hate you, that means there will be people out there who LOVE you. For every culture there’s a proftiable counter-culture.

In going through this process, my wife and I have decided to grow organically through friends, and family in order to get our processes down. When / if we see there’s a definite market, then we’re going to start plugging away on a larger scale. The plan is to target market (we don’t have the funds or the inventory to mass market, and I still believe mass marketing mediums like TV, and radio are the most cost effective way to go about your marketing, especially when starting out. In most cases, the cost per person reached is so low). Our philosophy is to own what we can own. Can we own everyone in our target market? No, because we don’t have the funds necessary to reach them, and even if we did, we don’t have the inventory necessary to fulfill orders on a mass scale. More on how to develop a marketing budget here.

cat, man holding cat, man, young man holding cat

Is your story apart of your message? Also, I occasionally swap bow ties for sweaters.

We’ll do some targeted marketing in a few cities across the country to see the kind of traction we get. We’re going to do a bit online, and possibly through social media. The biggest thing is we’re going to test, and work our PR and media contacts to see what works and what doesn’t. We’re not afraid to make a mistake, and you shouldn’t be either. The catch is most people who spend their marketing dollars love to test stuff. The trouble with this is most people don’t test LONG enough. They try something for one month, and then give up after they don’t get a response. WRONG! Usually when you start marketing, and are about to give up on the medium you chose, that’s the exact time that things are probably going to start working. On top of that – if your message isn’t working that probably means your message is so off point that the people who you’re trying to market to, don’t care about what you’re saying. You’re not speaking to them in a way that’s meaningful. More on purposeful copy here.

That’s why it’s so important to focus on the culture around your business. Who are you? Why do you exist? Do the people in your organization believe in the same things you do? Is your marketing message clear? Does it say what you stand for, and what you stand against? Most importantly – why is what you’re doing important? Not for your sake, but for the sake of your potential fans.

I’ll out line some of the marketing messages we’re working on next week.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

Journey of the Do – Stage 7 – The Launch

It’s almost here! You’ve planned, prepared, bought, sold, researched, set up accounts for this that, and everything else. Now, it’s time to share you product / service with the world. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you launch.

Soft Launch

For this endeavour, my wife, and I have chosen to do a soft launch. We’ll spread the word through family, and friends (and this blog) before starting a larger marketing effort. We want to ensure we work out all the kinks before we really start generating some revenue. Some of you may want to wait until everything is perfect before you launch. DON’T. Get it out there, and work with your customers from there. There’s no shame in being up front with your customers that you’re new, and working on a few different things. Even make them a part of the discussion. Ask them questions on how else you can serve them. Do they have any suggestions for improvement, and so on.

For this e-tailer the plan is to leave a month or so to iron out the kinks before we start turning the crank. Your timeline may be different, and that’s fine.

Creating a Culture

The definition of brand has evolved. It used to be, and still is to a point, about what people are saying, and feeling about you. However, it’s a bit more than that in this new age of technology and globalization. Now you can survive as a small niche by creating a culture. Creating loving, devoted fans, and by having the most believers on your team. It used to be about getting the right / best people on the bus. Now, it’s more so about getting those that best fit your culture or the culture you want to create on the bus. People who live, and die for what you’ve created. They may not be the best in their field, but they believe in what you’re doing, where you want to go, and they’re willing to learn for the sake of the brand. This doesn’t necessarily apply to your accountant. I want the absolute best in the field. I cannot stress enough how important an amazing accountant is.

Your culture can be defined by your core values or what you want to get out of the company. And we’re not talking profit numbers. We’re talking higher-thinking. Steve Jobs believed in design, inside-and-out. Zappos believes in serving the customer to no end. They even hire their team by encouraging trainees to take a buy-out of a few grand at the end of their training. Those who take the money…GOOD. They want people who believe in the brand, and the journey opposed to the money. You get believers working with you, and the money will come.

By having this culture within your company, it will spread throughout the customer experience. Making your customers believers, and when you have believers, you’ll have more and more followers, more and more buyers, and more and more ambassadors for your brand.

One way we’re going to do this is by encouraging our customers to get involved in the process. Include them in buying decisions on what they like, and don’t like. While we’re out on buying missions, we’ll post pictures of what we plan on buying, and include our fans in the discussion. We also plan to be as open as possible to them on what we’re doing, and why. Even going as far to post our revenue numbers on our website. We also plan to do a different sort of promotion to kick things off (more on that in a few weeks).

Dress, Ever Rose, Shop Ever Rose

A look into the future. Do you like?

The BIG Launch

After you’ve worked the kinks out through your soft launch, and things are working for you, and you’re starting to see the cash flow…it’s time to spread, and scale. Having worked in the media industry (I still do), and my wife’s crazy PR connections through her blog (canadiangiftguide.com) we’ve compiled a few tips on how to get free publicity. You can check those out here. This has to involve you picking up the phone, sending out emails, and reaching out to as many people as you can within your community. People like supporting those in the community, and they LOVE stories. Plus, media outlets need to fill time, especially LOCAL time, so keep at it, and you’ll eventually see your biz in the news, on TV, etc…

In my wife, and I’s case – we’re going to spend a bit of money too in a few different markets across Canada to get the word out. More on that over the next few weeks.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

PS. After all the purchasing of goods, website, domain names, logo design, etc.. we’ve spent just over $6000. And we’re almost ready to launch.