Whether you’re just hatching a startup or looking to boost a previously established company, you need to balance between staying adaptable and having some staple strategies to rely on. Here’s a list of steps you can take to keep your own runway clear.
Polish your soft skills
Interaction is one of your best tactical devices both short- and long-term. Focus on your communication skills and look for diverse channels to apply them.
In addition to a quality website and blog, have an active social media presence and cultivate good word-of-mouth early on. Protect and grow your reputation by always being friendly and polite.
Answer inquiries promptly, be honest with your customers, and be professional and courteous with stakeholders. If you get a bad review from an upset patron, keep your cool. People love drama, so let everyone see that you’re the bigger person and be as helpful as you can.
At the end of the day, you need people to say good things about your business in order to attract new customers and retain old ones. The same is true of partners like suppliers, funders, etc.
Keep up to date with consumers
Before you build a brand presence, identify who you’ll be offering your fashion to. You may want to start with just a couple of niches and expand as your business grows and succeeds. Your initial target demographic will directly determine your marketing strategy.
Will middle-aged dads care about Twitter campaigns? Will college students and young professionals respond well to flyers and catalogs? Who can you reach via creative video posts? Who will vibe with your esthetic?
Research your competitors and see how they reach the people you want to sell to. Also, gather some insight into the casual activities of your target customers: what they browse for and which interests they post about. You want to be aware of the common denominators so that you can design a consistent appeal for your brand.
Network in all directions
If you’re looking to get the most out of your startup, you’ll need to have a rich set of connections and be willing to use them. Make a list of stakeholders to win over for your venture, and then start approaching them.
You can loosely categorize them into suppliers, distributors, financiers, and manufacturers, and then sub-categorize them into businesses and individuals. You need to figure out what kind of support you’d like to get from each, and what you’re willing to offer in return. Reach out to more people than you think you need, to give yourself some wiggle room in case someone refuses to work with you or withdraws along the way.
Hire some strategic help
Consider looking into some consulting companies, especially while your business is still young. You know what you want to achieve better than anyone, but you may not know the best way to go about it – at least not in the early years. It’s a good idea to invest in some experienced advisors to show you the ropes.
You might hesitate to spend your limited starting funds on an advisory service, but the return on that investment can make or break your venture. A good strategic business consulting agency can give you market insights you might overlook on your own. They can also show you more effective ways of formulating and executing business strategies in the long run, which will save you valuable time and boost your profits when your fashion business really kicks off.
Conform to your customers’ values
To keep your consumers happy and coming back, keep tabs on the things they hate. For example, more and more buyers in recent years are insisting on eco-friendly and ethical fashion. Stay away from:
- real fur farming
- animal testing
- unfair trade practices
- poor employee treatment
- lack of transparency.
Also be wary of using non-biodegradable materials, mass-producing disposable clothes, and questionable packaging choices and transport solutions. You also want to make sure, as much as you can, that all of your business partners conform to these values too.
To keep your brand thriving, keep your finger on the pulse of human trends, not just clothes trends. Stay in touch with your customers and establish yourself as a friendly and transparent business. Consider some professional consulting at important times, and maintain a wide network of partners who share your values.