Journey of the Do – What’s in a name?

The name of your business is one of the most overlooked, and important parts of your business. Some owners will use their personal name or pull something out of thin air, and say, “That sounds good.”  This may have worked 50 years ago, when there was only one baker, locksmith, carpenter, etc… Now, it’s an extremely competitive market with you not only having to compete with businesses in, and around your community, but also around the world.

So what’s in a name?

This week I had someone refuse to work with me based on the name effUmarketing. She thought it was highly inappropriate. I said, “Good!” A name is supposed to evoke a response…a feeling. I was thrilled when it brought upon that feeling. Why? Because it means she felt something for my brand. She will probably never forget me now. Funny enough, effUmarketing also evokes a strong emotion in the people who do work with me. They love the name, they love how it’s different, and they love how it immediately shines a light on who I am for, and who I am not for. If you’re a church group – I’m probably not for you. If you’re someone who has a bit of an edge, and isn’t afraid to piss a few people off – then I’m for you.

In a world where everyone has a say (thanks internet), you have to stand for something. When you stand for something – you’ll have people who love you, and people who hate you. Those are the facts, and if you want to get into business you’ll have to accept that. Some of the savviest business owners get this, and aren’t afraid to flaunt it. Mercedez-Benz is Mercedez-Benz for a reason. They’re a premium brand, and they showcase it at every moment. When they design a car, the don’t design it for a low-income family in mind.

What’s your sandbox?

When you first went to school you immediately found people formed groups. Usually the girls stuck together, and the guys stuck together. Then as you got older, the jocks hung out, the nerds, the theatre people, etc…Think Breakfast Club. This happens for a reason. People play in a sandbox where they’re most comfortable. They like hanging out with people with similar mindsets, and interests. Think about who you hang out with. It probably says a lot about who you are.

sandbox, empty sandbox, kids toys in sandbox

Who’s playing with you?

In business – you have to be aware of what sandbox you’re playing in. Mercedez-Benz is in a certain sandbox, Dodge is in a certain sandbox. Yes, they have others playing in that sandbox, but they’re self aware of who they are, and who they’re playing with. The same can be said for Facebook, and Snapchat. Facebook encourages you to share everything publicly, where Snapchat is for those who want to have some privacy.

Quick test

When you understand what sandbox you’re playing in or going to be playing in find similar companies, and look at their name, their logo, the look and feel of their website. What are they trying to convey? How do they make you feel? Once you get an idea of who’s doing what in your sandbox – that’s when you should start thinking of a name. Is it going to be a hard name like effUmarketing or is it going to be a softer name like Ever Rose (my fashion company – coming soon). What colours are you going to use to convey a certain feeling?

When naming your business, try to stay aware from something that can become an acronym. How many names can be shortened to BBC, CAA, DLP, MNP, etc… If you can find one word, that may sound ridiculous at this present time for your company use it. Google is a ridiculous name when you think about it. At the same time, it’s different, sounds good off the tongue, and it’s kind of fun to say.

Questions to ask yourself: Does your name convey the mindset you’re in? Does it convey a feeling to those who could be your potential customers? Remember your sandbox, and then find a name.

In my case – if I had a different name other than effUmarketing – I probably could’ve worked with the potential client I mentioned above. However, she probably doesn’t share the same mindset or the same values as I do. Which probably means we wouldn’t get along, my ideas would be watered down, and I wouldn’t be a very effective partner for her.

Don’t be afraid of who you are, what sandbox you’re in or who your customers are. A name will help build that identity for you. A name will create a feeling, and following. We haven’t changed much since we were kids. Find your sandbox, know your identity, and create a name that reflects that.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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Journey of the Do – stage 10 – Your own media company

I’m not the first to mention this nor will I be the last. In this changing age of tech anyone and everyone can be a media personality. Even your brand can have it’s own channels to promote and market your product. One of the folks who pioneered this trend is Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s a little over the top, but it works for him. He reinvented his father’s retail wine store into an online juggernaut through daily video blogs starting in 2006.

Another example, and one of my favourite people on the planet who uses his own media channels is Jesse Peters – your social savvy Realtor in Winnipeg (of all places). Do yourself a favour, and follow him on one of his many platforms. You’ll see what I mean.

I’m not here to bash the existing forms of traditional media. I used to work in traditional media. Even items like Nest (radio), and internet.org by Facebook (TV) use traditional mediums to get the word out about their products. There are places for everything in this ever changing world. Having said that – if you want to put in the time, and effort – you can do it on your own. If you have a smart phone, you’re pretty much set.

JP Arencibia, Blue Jays, Guy with the Bow Tie, Radio

Interviewing former Blue Jay JP Arencibia back in my radio days.

For my wife, and I’s business we’re going to use YouTube, and other video sources to pull back the curtain, and let fans / followers in on what’s going on. We’re going to be very transparent of what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it. The beautiful part – you don’t have to spend a crazy sum of money on camera equipment, editing software, lighting, etc… Yes, you can do this, but when you’re starting out, just use what you have, and let people know that you’re just starting out. It’s okay to be vulnerable even as a business.

For example – my wife, and I are taking our own pictures for our site. We purchased a lighting kit for $100, and we already have a decent SLR camera. Does it take the best photos, and do we really know what we’re doing? In one word, No, but we’re going to be open about that fact. If we grow, and as your business grows you can hire professionals to do the work for you, but when you don’t know where you’re going to end up we figured there’s no sense dumping a HUGE amount of money into something when we don’t have to. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to fill the need of a customer, and be open about what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.

A slight tangent – when I was speaking with a recent high school grad about his future (he wanted to go into sports broadcasting), he didn’t know where to start or how to build his portfolio to get into college, etc… I simply asked him, “What’s stopping you from doing what you want to do right now?”

He has all the tools available to him. If he wanted to write about local sports he could start a blog. Yes, he won’t have a HUGE following, but that’s okay. It gets you thinking in a professional way about something you want to do. Do you want to be on the radio? What’s stopping you from doing a Podcast or using Soundcloud, and social media to get the word out through your friends? Want to be on TV? There’s a little thing called YouTube, etc…

What I mentioned above will never replace the traditional forms of media. You need those ‘professional’ checks-and-balances. With technology – media has shifted a bit, and it favours those who are willing to put in a bit of time for little to no reward (at first), and a little effort. For your business – this could be an amazing way to share your stories, your personal beliefs, and further connect you with your potential customers. You may not see giant sums of customers at first, but with time your CORE fans will develop that personal connection with you, and next thing you know – you’ll start to see your brand grow through referrals, and satisfied customers who come back time-and-time again.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

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 6 – Buying

This might not be necessary if you’re the product or make the product for your business. As an e-tailer, my wife, and I are going through wholesalers, which means we’ll be buying goods from others. Thus, we’ve decided to attend a couple buying shows throughout the year.

This past weekend we attended Trends in Edmonton as it was stocked with wholesalers shilling their clothing brands. My wife, and I thought we could pull off all our meetings in one day, and we did, but man were we exhausted. We poured over 1000’s of dresses, sweaters, tops, bottoms, and the list goes on. All in the name of finding a few items or brands that will end up lining the online shelves of our store.

The cool thing about being a buyer at these shows is it’s free to attend. You also get to see what the fashion trends are going to be 6-months out. Plus, you get to meet some quirky people (it’s fashion after all). When starting your online biz, you should see if there’s a trade show or buying show in your industry. If you can find one, try and attend it. It’s so difficult, and time consuming to reach out to wholesalers, get their literature, read through it, and figure out what you’re going to buy for your store. These shows put everyone, and everything (well, almost everything) in one place.

clothes, trends, fashion

My wife going through a rack.

Seeing as it was our first show – we wanted to get the ‘lay of the land’ before purchasing anything. Some wholesalers will try to hard sell you, and that’s fine. That’s their job. If attending one of these show go in with a plan.

Planning for your buying show – 10 Tips

1) Reach out to the show before hand to get their literature, and list of wholesalers present at the show. This is a simple Google search away. For the most part it’s effortless to sign up, and the show will ship out their literature within a couple weeks to get you started.

2) Reach out to those wholesalers to book appointments. When your literature arrives, go through it, and start reaching out to wholesalers (if you haven’t already done so). It’s important to book appointments as this gives you one-on-one access to the wholesaler. They’ll also fill you in on what’s selling, and what to look forward to.

3) Attend appointments, and ask questions. If you set an appointment – show up. Pretty straight forward. After all, you’re building relationships with these wholesalers, and you don’t want to rock the boat by missing an appointment. While at the appointment, get to know the wholesalers. Why are they doing this? How did they get into it? What’s selling or has sold in the past? And fill them in on the idea for your store.

4) See product, take pictures, and notes (we used our iPad). All of the wholesalers will have samples of their goods. In my case, it gave me a good idea on the quality of fabric, the cut, and how it will look on the body. My wife, and I took a bunch of pictures, so we could see how the clothes looked on a screen. After all, we’re selling online, so how it looks on a screen is HUGE to us. For example – there was one dress that looked fine in person, but really popped on the screen. There were also numerous scenarios where it was the opposite.

5) Figure out what you’re going to buy (ask for show specials). You can buy right there at your appointment. You might have to limit what you purchase or come back at a later time depending on your budget. You can also change up your order or cancel it later on down the road depending on when stuff is supposed to be shipped to you.

6) Set a budget (if you’re going to be spending money). Don’t blow it all in one place. Generally, these are giant shows, with thousands of wholesalers. Take your time, and don’t get sucked in to buying too much, and blowing your budget. You should have a decent knowledge of how much each brand costs going in as you’ve already spoken with the wholesalers.

7) Figure availability and shipping dates. Some items are available now, and can be shipped the same week. See it, buy it, ship it. Other items are only available a few months out. Be sure to ask your wholesaler these questions if they don’t mention shipping dates.

8) Don’t overbook yourself. This was our error. We made too many appointments in one day. Moving forward – we’ll probably book two appointments in the morning, and two in the afternoon, and call it a day. Then do the same the next day, and the next. This also allows you to take in what happened that day instead of your head turning to moosh. Everything looks, and feels the same after a few appointments.

9) Have fun. You’re there, so you might as well make the most of it. Not too mention, you should leave sometime to explore the city you’re in. This will take your brain away from the show, and the craziness it sometimes brings on.

10) Bring a partner. This allows you to do more in the one-hour you get with the wholesalers. You can run through the racks, as questions, take pictures, and more. If you’re going solo – I can see how this can be extremely overwhelming. Bring a partner if you can, and split up your duties. This also helps you deal with some of the wholesalers who are trying to hard-sell you.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft

The Journey of the Do – Stage 4 – The Brand

This week it’s all about the brand. A brand is what your customers think, feel and say about you. Having said that, you can craft your message(s) to make people think, feel and say certain things about you.

In our research phase – my wife, and I checked out the numerous e-commerce fashion sites, and dissected the look of the logo, the style of their website, tested their customer service, ordered products from them, returned products to them, etc… From that we saw what we liked, and didn’t like. In doing this – we’re able to figure out a few differentiating factors for us.

#1 – we’re only going to ship in Canada (sorry, US)
#2 – we’re going to support as many Canadian wholesalers as we can
#3 – we’re going to have a different twist on shipping
#4 – the price is the price is the price (don’t have to worry about paying duty, etc…)
#5 – return policy will be nothing like our Canadian competitors

You also have to factor in what you’re going to do about customer service, and how you respond over the phone, online, social media, etc… It should all be consistent. If you use certain words over the phone, you should also use them online, and vice versa.

bow tie, man

You will rarely see me without a bow tie. Go personal brand!

The above points help out in the feel, and say portion of our brand. For the look – there are numerous sites to go to for logos:

Withoomph
Hipster Logo Generator
GraphicSprings Logo Creator
Logoshi
Logaster

And many more. A simple Google search can also help. If you want someone else to do it for you – I wouldn’t spend more than $500 on a logo design. Yes, a logo is important, but it’s not worth a HUGE investment. Plus, a good one, by a talented designer at most should cost you $500.

The logo is only a portion of the look, as we’ll be ensuring our colour schemes, and looks go across the entire e-commerce site, packaging, etc…

For the logo – we’ve hired a designer who’s done a few other things for us, but you can use any of the sites above. My biggest thing – is you have to be different from your competitors. Just because you like blue – doesn’t mean that’s going to be a core colour of your brand. Five of your competitors could be using blue as a colour.

In our case – we’ve found a couple colours that aren’t being used and we’re going with that as our colour scheme. We’re also using a handwritten script as a font, which is somewhat similar to a few other logos in our space, but our colours are what’s going to set us apart.

From there – we can start building our website. Again, none of this would have happened without the first few steps I wrote about in previous weeks. Some people go out and make logos, print business cards, and all this shit without doing their research, and testing to see whether or not their product / service will sell. My wife, and I have already done this, so now we can spend the extra expense for the ‘professional’ look and feel.

The brand is your baby. Take care of it, but also allow it to evolve with time. As people change, and markets change, and customers change, your brand changes. Never stop testing, and experimenting with new things.

Next week – the website.

Love you,

Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft