Posts tagged: Small Business

Are you a successful business?

By , March 8, 2014 9:26 am

Three of the most important things startups need to focus on / demonstrate if they are raising money, want to grow or just plain want to be successful:

1.       Gaining customers (or if no proof of concept then a list of qualified customers)

2.       Showing they know how to grow their business

3.       Demonstrating profitability and ROI

These points may sound easy to achieve and you may be saying to yourself, ho hum, I don’t need to read further.

Point number 1 – gaining customers is something that many startups and small businesses don’t focus on. They fall into my Lie #1 – If I build it, they will come.  Investors (and actually the company owners should feel this way too) are looking to see where your market is – are you marketing?  And startups, even marketing startups, often get lost in this space.  Ask yourself:  Would I invest in a company that can’t show me their market?  The customers lined up to buy the product as soon as it’s available?  A list of beta-testers?  ANY INTEREST AT ALL?

More and more I’m seeing startups and small businesses flounder in this area.  Forget for the moment Michael Moore’s crossing the chasm…these businesses aren’t even getting the early adopters.  Take heed and show the market interest.

Here’s some interesting related points:

http://www.alleywatch.com/2014/02/5-red-flags-of-startups/?utm_source=AlleyWatch+Daily+Pulse&utm_campaign=c1ae92d926-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e01c347085-c1ae92d926-62886025


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

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

A logo / design and tag line do not make a brand – especially a fashion brand

By , February 22, 2014 9:46 am

Yes. They are definitely contributors but there’s a 360-universe that comprises a brand and those elements are only a part of it. A key part of your brand is the brand promise:  what are you going to deliver?  It’s great if you can promise to deliver something no one else is talking about.  My company offers 60%-1,000% return-on-investment.  We back it up with numbers from actual clients.  A promise like this may not have clients knocking down the doors, but they ARE going to remember a promise that breaks through the clutter.

In what used to be called image marketing (such as fashion, liquor, and in the old days cigarettes),  you are often selling a story as the brand promise.  A story that the buyer believes will become their experience if they purchase and use the product.  Ralph Lauren is a master at creating stories that invite you to participate by wearing his clothing.

Below are some links that offer advice on branding for any kind of business (even Tom Fords’ advice works beyond the fashion world).

http://www.manta.com/TOTD/marketing/20140220/tm0h1bq

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/12/define-brand.html

http://www.vogue.com.au/fashion/news/tom+fords+14+tips+on+building+a+fashion+brand,28189


Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.

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

3 Things Entrepreneurs should know about WordPress

By , February 1, 2014 8:53 am

Today’s blog is guest written by Stephanie Cockerl, a WordPress expert.
Stephanie owns nextSTEPH  a company that helps individuals, small businesses and companies take their websites to the next level.  She’s been doing this for over 16 years. nextSTEPH provides web development, search engine and social media services to clientele in the education, health, media, non-profit, and publishing industries.  For more information, visit http://www.nextsteph.com.

3 Things Entrepreneurs should know about WordPress

If you have been online for a while, hopefully you have heard the word “WordPress.”

WordPress has impacted the way people communicate and publish on the web.

Nearly 20% of the web operates on WordPress. (http://techland.time.com/2013/07/29/the-word-from-wordpress-catching-up-with-matt-mullenweg/). Many companies, media outlets, public figures, entertainers and non-profits run on WordPress. Here are some examples, http://wordpress.org/showcase/.

WordPress (http://www.wordpress.org)  is an open-source content management system or CMS for short.  “Open source” means that the software is non-proprietary. There is no additional cost for installing in on a website (other than web hosting.)

Anyone is free to contribute to the development of WordPress, from participating in the forums to attending and volunteering at WordPress conferences, or WordCamps. Developers contribute their support to the core software (http://wordpress.org/download/), themes (the templates), and plugins (mini- applications that extend beyond the WordPress core functionality.

Not long ago, if you didn’t know HTML, how to find web hosting, and create webpages, you were out of luck.  Now with WordPress, anyone can have a site within minutes.

One thing that entrepreneurs get confused about when getting started with WordPress is what version to use.  There are two versions of WordPress, www.wordpress.com  (hosted on WordPress ) and www.wordpress.org (self-hosted.)

WordPress.com

By using first method, www.wordpress.com. WordPress is hosting the website.

The benefit of having an account on WordPress.com is that you don’t have to contend with obtaining web hosting. You can also have multiple “blogs” or “websites” under one account.

When you sign up for a new account, you would be given a default web address like yoursite.wordpress.com. If you eventually obtain your own domain name, WordPress.com charges a yearly fee to attach it to your account. As the site grows, you may want to add more functionality. WordPress.com may not be able to accommodate it unless more space on the account is purchased. Also, if you don’t have your own domain, you are vulnerable if wordpress.com has hosting difficulties. If WordPress.com goes down, no one will be able to see your site.   That would be the point to consider self–hosting. When you establish your self-hosted website and you would like to forward your wordpress.com address to your own domain, there is also a fee for that.

WordPress.org

Most web hosts make it easy to install WordPress. WordPress is known for it’s “5 Minute Install.” Web hosts should also have a control panel in which WordPress is located.

Making your WordPress Site Yours

Once you install WordPress, it already comes with a default theme. If you want, you can start filling it up with content, or you can find a theme (http://wordpress.org/themes/) that better suits your website.

Once you find a theme you like and you have customized it to your liking, you may discover that the site needs a bit something extra. This is where plugins come in. Plugins extend the functionality of your site. If you want to install a form, or a place for banner ads, the plugin section of WordPress.org

(http://wordpress.org/plugins/) is where you would look.

WordPress has come a long way in under a decade. From what was once thought of as just another blogging platform to being the preferred CMS of not only the famous, but also those who want a flexible and manageable solution to make their mark on the web.

Stephanie M. Cockerl is the owner of nextSTEPH. The company has been helping individuals, small businesses and companies take their websites to the next level for over 16 years. nextSTEPH provides web development, search engine and social media services to clientele in the education, health, media, non-profit, and publishing industries.  For more information, visit http://www.nextsteph.com

 

 

Forget New Year’s Resolutions – it’s time to plan your marketing moves for 2014!

By , January 4, 2014 9:04 am

Actually you should have started in October but if you didn’t, then now’s the time.  No more procrastination.

The beauty of planning is that you know when opportunities (others or the ones you make for yourself) are coming up, you actually schedule them and you can prepare for them. If you can’t do this yourself, then find someone to work with who can.  It’s not that difficult.

Janet Falk will be giving tips on media planning (for non-profits but these tips will work for you as well) on the radio. If you miss her live, you can still hear the broadcast.

Check out her blog:
http://us6.campaign-archive1.com/?u=c87b80819a244b029786430f7&id=dd4f8da0fd

Connect to the broadcast:
http://tonymartignetti.com/2013/12/nonprofit-radio-january-3-2014-media-strategy-2014-social-sites-watch-2014/

Why you should have started planning in October:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229642

 

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

Is big data* changing the need for focus groups?

By , December 21, 2013 8:52 am

Recent articles suggest that there is so much information being gathered about customers and spending and everything else you can think of, that the need to do traditional market research is starting to fall by the wayside.  Data will give you all the information you need to predict consumer actions.  As I noted in my recent post about consumers using Amazon and other sources to comparative shop for price and quality, features and benefits, big data still reports historically on what consumers have done, therefore, you are looking backwards to predict the future. Yes, I know, history repeats itself but when you’re selling next seasons’ clothing line, you might want to reconsider consulting the past.  And I agree that focus groups and other agency/consultant and client pre-conceived ideas put in front of customers should fall by the wayside (after all, a focus group puts these ideas in front of the customer and asks the customer what they think about your ideas, not what the customer wants).

I’m sure if you are a huge corporation, having access to all this data must be comforting. But it’s still all seen from the perspective of the market and not the customer.  I believe that nothing is better than asking your customers what they want and how they want it.  That’s a predictive, not historical, approach. I’ve done it for big corporations (one had a return-on-investment of 1,000%) and I’ve don’t it for solopreneurs (one had a return-on-investment of 60%).   I suggest you do it for yourself.  Get out there and poll your customers directly.  Mimoona, which is a new crowdfunding tool (http://www.mimoona.com/?reffID=4299), allows your customers to have a vote on your next seasons line – and it’s not an idle vote – they vote with their credit cards.

*Big data is a term coined for the collection of data that comes in such large volume and in groupings, that it can’t be handled by traditional methods. The value of mining big data, is that enables one to see connections on a larger scale than ever before, as well as see connections between things that were never before available.

 

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.

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.

Socks, Tights, and More!

By , October 22, 2013 7:00 pm

Meet our new Instructor, Fern Pochtar!

She will be teaching SXF 222 Intro to Legwear Design: Socks, Tights and More,
starting October 29, 2013!

-

Hi Fern! So, tell us a little about yourself…

I am a graduate of Pratt Institute and have been a professional in the legwear hosiery industry for many years. After working for several corporations designing and merchandising legwear and other accessory items, in 1983, I started a business with a partner and we are still going strong. I’ve traveled all over the world making socks and hosiery and it has been a very fulfilling career.

For those of us unfamiliar with this market, please inform us…

One of the really great things about this market is that there is always a need for the product. The trends can change from one item to another, but but there is always a need for legwear. The most exciting thing about this category is the fun to blend the technology with the creative. Take the course and learn just how creative you can get!

Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career…

Before I started my company, I was the designer at Danskin and made the first cotton tights. These have become a basic and classic for everybody’s wardrobe.
Also, starting my own company, SoloLicensing/Legwatch, Inc., after working for others. I understood the technical part of designing which was a unique quality and I felt that I was well respected in the industry and could build a business, which we did.

What will the students learn from your class?

Students will learn how to understand the technical information that one needs in order to detail and design any legwear item and have product come out exactly as they imagined. They will learn the terminology and all phases of the legwear design process.

Thank you and we look forward to your new class!
To register for this new class, please visit http://www.fitnyc.edu/noncreditregister.

 

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.

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