Category: Small Business

Are you still the sucker you used to be?

By , December 14, 2013 8:46 am

New research was just released that demonstrates a big shift in how consumers buy and what influences their purchase. Traditional ads no longer have the same power to shape consumer opinions as they once did. Amazon (the ultimate cost and quality comparison, along with others) influence consumers more than ever.  The studies were based on the “compromise” effect – (see NYT article below for the full story) are probably now saying to yourself, ho hum… and why is this news?  Well, it took a while for the establishment to document what most of us already know and practice organically.  However, some of the results of the study suggest that digital feedback in the digital world allows marketers to see what works and what doesn’t – what messages are influencing customers and which ones aren’t.  And they can make adjustments accordingly…and very quickly.  This is all very well and good, and excellent support (although the writers and researchers don’t see it from the customers’ point-of-view, so they are still missing the point) for my position that customer-focused information and insight right from the beginning…pre- advertising/marketing/PR efforts and spending, is more valuable than measuring what works after you’ve spent all that time, money and effort and then correcting it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/business/theres-power-in-all-those-user-reviews.html?smid=pl-share

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

How a clothing line moved itself from product to brand

By , November 23, 2013 10:15 am

Here’s a really great case history about how a fashion company used customer-focused market research and marketing.

The TwirlyGirl clothing line polled their customers about the feelings/descriptive words that identified the clothing to them.  They took the results, which when all combined generated a single consistent image, and came up with the word “transformative”.  This was the genesis of the brand.  They next took this information a step further and changed all their copy to reflect the transformative attitude.

This not only became the brand, which TwirlyGirl now has established, but also positioned the company and clothing line in its own space with regards to other girls clothing lines.  A very important double punch to success.  Because there are lots of girls clothing lines, but only TwirlyGirl provides an experience with each piece of clothing. What a great differentiator and competitive advantage.  By following this course of action, they have created a strong niche for themselves.

http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/blog/post/3577776


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

New law protects fashion/runway models and could cost YOU

By , November 16, 2013 8:18 am

On November 20, a new law New York State law will go into effect that qualifies and protects child (defined as anyone under the age of 18) print and runway models as “child performers”.
So what does this mean for a fashion designer using “young” talent?

Even if you are not paying your models a traditional fee, you are still affected by this new law. According to Wendy Stryker, who is  Counsel, Executive Compensation and Employment Group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC (a law firm who has a specialization in entertainment and media law) “I think that the new law is at odds with any practice of having models work for merchandise or experience.  It makes clear that employers using print and runway models who live or work in New York must comply with the permit, trust account and other provisions.  This will place additional administrative and financial burdens on all employers, and particularly on those without staff who are equipped to deal with the new paperwork. “

For a lot of you this new law will present a huge headache when planning to present new lines.  When you plan for your next runway show, trunk show, catalog, look book etc.  check out the age of the models you plan to use and make sure you are in compliance with the  law.  If you violate the law and are caught, your permit could be suspended and you could pay a fine of $1,000 for the first time you are caught, $2,000 for the second and so on.  Make sure you are in compliance by checking out your specific situation with your attorney or you can ask Wendy at wstryker@fkks.com.
Here are some more of the basic parts of this rule concerning the new law. For more information contact your attorney or Wendy.

Permits: Employers must now apply for and obtain a general Employer Certificate of Eligibility from the New York State Department of Labor before they employ any child performers. Employers must also verify that all child performers they employ have a valid employment permit from educational authorities such as a superintendent of schools as well as a certificate of physical fitness. All certificates and permits must be available at all times for inspection by authorized entities. At least two days before employing a child model, employers must also file a Notice of Use with the Department of Labor advising of their intent to employ child performers.  Notice of Use forms can be found http://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS556.pdf?utm_source=11.5.13+Fashion+Law+Alert&utm_campaign=11.6.2013+Fashion+Alert&utm_medium=email.

For purposes of the new law, a “child performer’s employer” will be considered a person or entity that employs a child model either directly, or through an agency or loan-out company.

Parent or Guardian: Child models must now have a designated responsible person on set at all times (for performers under age 16) or a nurse (for infants).

Trust Accounts: Prior to the first instance of employment, the Department of Labor requires that a child performer’s parent or guardian establish a child performer trust account. Employers must deposit at least 15% of the child’s gross earnings into this trust account. Trust accounts may be set up anywhere, so long as they meet the New York State requirements, or are a California “Coogan” type account.

Limited Work Hours: Under the existing child performer regulations, child performers are limited to restricted working hours based on age and school attendance. A chart summarizing the permitted working hours can be found http://labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS559.pdf?utm_source=11.5.13+Fashion+Law+Alert&utm_campaign=11.6.2013+Fashion+Alert&utm_medium=email.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

When technology intersects with fashion – you benefit.

By , November 9, 2013 8:17 am

There’s a new tech idea/website that’s been specifically developed for fashion designers (although other businesses can certainly use it).  It seems to be a cross between crowdfunding/sourcing and market testing.  Here’s how it works: A designer posts several new items from their upcoming collection – or variations on one item – for instance the designer could post one item in multiple colors to see which color is the most appealing. The customer, if interested in the item, makes a commitment to purchase it.  When orders reach a minimum number designated by the designer, then the customer is charged and the designer starts production.  If the orders don’t reach that minimum, then the customer is refunded their money and the designer doesn’t produce it.  It’s a fashion variation on the crowdfunding theme.  But this idea goes one step further.

In crowdfunding, you go to a designated crowdfunding website and put up your idea.  Then there’s a huge hurdle which people rarely discuss – marketing. You have to market like hell to get people to go to the crowdfunding site. So you are essentially doing double marketing – first for your own website (assuming you have one) and second to the crowdfunding site.  With this product, you actually overlay the crowdfunding program onto your own website, thus driving people to your website only, which I think is a much more organic way to market yourself (although you will lose the crowdfunding site surfers who might be a source of revenue).

The concept sounds like a total win-win for the customer and for the designer.  It’s a great way for the customer to be not only ahead of the trend but to actually influence the trend – and to be the first wearing a new style.   Customers order their clothes in advance, and designers don’t risk wasting materials and manufacture for a product that isn’t going to sell well, thus avoiding excess inventory and cash flow difficulties among other issues.

So far, Voy-voy, a NY based clothing company, Feit, a shoe and accessories company, and Gustin, a jeans company are all using this new concept.

It’s called Mimoona – to learn more and hear testimonials, visit the site and see if it’s something that will work for you.  http://www.we.mimoona.com/Projects/1443?share=true&reffID=4299.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Licensing – Signing the deal is just the beginning

By , October 26, 2013 9:24 am

A licensing agreement is like any other legal agreement.  You can’t just sign on the dotted line and fold up the agreement and put it away for safe keeping. Like a relationship, you must nurture all the parties involved.  It’s a living, breathing and highly dynamic bond.  Sure you’ve agreed to amounts, the frequency of payments, milestones, if any, and all the other details.  But, as in life, things happen.  What happens if one party doesn’t reach the milestone?  Or goes bankrupt? What if there are manufacturing or shipping delays?  What if the product composition or the amount of product isn’t exactly what you agreed upon?  And, probably most commonly, what if the personnel change or the license gets shifted from the original department into some other department’s bailiwick? Yes, the license should cover most of these possibilities but sometimes things come up unexpectedly.

This is why, whether you are the licensor or licensee, it’s really important to develop and maintain your relationship with the other party since both fates might depend on it.

The Licensing Executives Society’s upcoming meeting deals with a lot of these issues.  The focus will be on pharma, since that’s the 800-pound gorilla in the region.  However, if you attend, there will be lots of valuable information to gleam. Here’s the link:

http://us1.campaign-archive1.com/?u=2d4d04d50b85ccc79f5b5b933&id=173b67560e&e=

Here are some other examples of what can happen with copyrights, license rights etc.

http://kateharperblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/how-to-protect-your-assets-in-licensing.html

http://www.cracked.com/article_19683_6-terrifying-user-agreements-youve-probably-accepted.html

http://www.hrfmlaw.com/img/articles/The_IP_License_Agreement_A_View_from_5_000_Feet_article_370958.pdf

My parting suggestion:  Start a relationship with an Intellectual Property attorney who you trust.  It’s always important to have a trusted and knowledgeable partner on your side.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Corporate ID

By , October 19, 2013 9:26 am

Part 2: Focus on your Tag line

The tag line, slogan, customer promise, value proposition, etc. is a key part of your corporate identity and brand.  Like your logo, it’s important to get it right the first time so that you start to build and reinforce a story/image about your company. It’s a verbal complement and reinforcement of your logo. And vice versa.

All those phrases I used do not mean the same thing – I’m purposely over simplifying to make a point.  The same characteristics and endpoint should be the goal of that line and that is – it should provide a benefit with a very brief (a few words) phrase as pithy as possible.

Let’s take the value proposition – in short, it’s a promise from the company or the product, to the customer. It delivers a benefit or value to the customer.  Some lines serve to differentiate the company from the competition at the same time.  A really good line will do all of the above and take it even further.  Those lines are rare.  There are many methodologies to develop a tag line.  Again, as in having an intuitive and creative designer for your logo, use a resource who will work with you to develop an equally sustainable tag line.

Here are some memorable taglines — some deliver a perceived benefit that is larger than the actual product:

BMW  -  The Ultimate Driving Machine
DeBeers   -  A Diamond is Forever
American Express   -  Don’t Leave Home Without It
Calvin Klein (fragrance)  -  Between Love and Madness Comes Obsession
Calvin Klein Jeans  -  Nothing Comes Between Me and My Calvin’s
Clarks  -  Shoes Designed for Living
Clarks  -  Shoes Designed to Live in
Levis  -  Original Jeans. Original People

Make your tag line memorable; it’s vital to capturing the image and story of your company, plus the immediate and aspirational benefit of your product/service.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Your corporate identity…get it right the first time

By , October 5, 2013 10:13 am

Part 1: Focus on your logo

Every company should start out with minimal corporate IDs or branding – logo, name, tag line (value proposition), design templates and color palettes. There should be a template developed that shows how these items are used (in larger companies, a brand book is created that spells out exactly how sizes, placements, colors etc. are to be used ).

This is the core of your company’s identity. Like a skeleton, it supports your body.  Do it early, and do it correctly. And especially don’t skimp on the fees to get it done.  It’s a lot more difficult to correct a brand identity mistake or direction than to establish it the first time – to make a correction, you will have to re-ID your company, and then spend countless dollars and time on PR to explain why the company has changed its basic identity and to overcome confusion created by this change.

I’ve seen a lot of results from websites where designers bid for the logo work.  Some of it is okay.  Okay is not good enough for your company.  A lot of the results are derivative of other logos, and leftover designs an artist hasn’t sold. Remember, you are going to pay for the result.  Pay one time and get it right and it won’t cost you dollars and time down the road.

So invest the money into a designer or firm who gets you.

When it’s my money, I look for someone who is intuitive about what my client or my company is and what they are trying to do/say to the marketplace (how do you know they are intuitive?  Check out what they’ve done for other people…you’ll get a feel for if they have a feel for their clients).  My designer is one of my company’s secret weapons to success.

An interesting take on designers is expressed in this link:
http://www.manta.com/TOTD/marketing/20131004?referid=16483&su=MT1000787066&uu=511dac7431f24625b3909f94

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Are You A Design Entrepreneur?

By , September 28, 2013 8:21 am

DENYC logo

The second (annual I hope) Design Entrepreneurs NYC program came to an amazing finale Thursday evening September 26 with the announcement of two winners of cash awards of 1st place- $25,000 and 2nd place- $10,000. Becca McCharen owner of CHROMAT (chromatgarments.com) placed first in the business plan competition and Vasumathi Soundararajan (an FIT grad!) of Ken Wroy, Inc. (kenwroy.com) came in second (there were only two places). Kudos to the winners!

Design Entrepreneur Winners 2013

L to R: Dr. Joyce F. Brown, President, Fashion Institute of Technology; Vasumathi Soundararajan, Ken Wroy, Inc.; Becca McCharen, Chromat; Jeanette Nostra, President, G-III Apparel Group.

And kudos to the entire 2013 class of Design Entrepreneurs NYC! Everyone is on their way to growing their companies with freshly minted business plans in their possession.  The intensive mini-MBA program started in June with solid weekend-filled classes and then the entrepreneurs spent their summer, under the guidance of mentors,  working hard writing and refining their business plans. After submitting their business plans, the entrepreneurs waited to hear which ones were selected to present – half of the class of 35.  The presentations, in front of industry judges in four different rooms, narrowed down the field to 4 finalists who then presented in front of all the judges and the 2013 class.  Some of the Judges included: Tim Baxter (EVP & GMM, Macy’s), Morris Goldfarb (CEO, G-III Apparel), Ellen Rodriguez (President & CEO, French Connection), Jeffrey Binder (Consultant, Former Divisional Merchandise Manager, Bloomingdales), and Laurence Leeds, Jr. (Chair, Buckingham Capital).  I was privileged to be a moderator for one of the panels.

So the entrepreneurs are off now to grow their businesses and take them in new directions as a result of this experience.  As well as stay in touch with their classmates, faculty, school and judges.

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

Warby Parker talk

By , September 23, 2013 7:58 am

Warby Parker

DIY or hire it out

By , September 14, 2013 9:31 am

Two Sides of the DIY Coin
What every entrepreneur should understand before they Do It Themselves

Side One:  Efficient Use of Your Time
You’re the CEO.  You must figure out the value of your time in general against the value of your time spent against a DIY project.  Is it worth it?
While you are writing the patent and filing it yourself (I know of at least two entrepreneurs that did this, one in fashion, one in tech), six months could easily go by and your business is headless during that time because your energies are focused elsewhere. Can your company really survive without you running it for that length of time?

For more insight on this side of the coin see: http://blog.nyctechconnect.com/2013/08/13/why-am-i-doing-this/

Side Two:  Good Communications Skills

“The only way to get something done right is to do it myself”.  If that’s the way you think, then there’s a problem with the way you are communicating…you aren’t.  Making yourself understood is crucial in business (and every other aspect of your life as well).  Not only with employees and freelancers but with vendors and clients as well. You must be able to make yourself understood to grow your business and to operate it efficiently.  You can’t do everything yourself (I’m sure you’ve seen org charts where every function is “YOU”) or you and your business won’t get very far.

For more insight on this side of the coin see: http://blog.gcsagents.com/2010/10/06/if-you-want-something-done-right-you-can-do-it-yourself-but-if-you-want-a-lot-of-things-done-right-communicate/

 

Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.

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