What could be more exciting than a career in fashion? You are probably busy working the fashion staffing agencies in New York City to pursue every lead. If you’re an aspiring fashion student, a fashion grad, or a budding designer looking to develop your own vision, the answer might be launching your own fashion business. You’re likely highly creative, motivated to work hard, and, most of all, passionate about fashion. Well, lucky you—you have a modestly growing economy, a hugely fashion-savvy young audience just waiting for new looks, and lots of flexible social media options for promoting your new business.
Successfully launching a fashion business and building value based on your investment is a complex challenge. Any fashion staffing agency will advise you to be prepared to strategically market your new line using the fundamentals of marketing, known as The 4 P’s.
The 4 P’s of Marketing
here are four basic principles that form the basis of most marketing plans, and they function as an effective framework across all kinds of businesses. They are:
Developing your product means devising a collection that creates a particular identity for the customer. You will incorporate color trends, seasonal changes, or perhaps celebrity image models that appeal to your target group. In fashion, each brand designs apparel with a customer profile in mind. This target market is often imagined as embodied in one individual who exemplifies the demographic elements, like gender, geography, age range, and general lifestyle values. She or he will represent the wider market group as you develop and adapt your plans.
Build your company’s brand image around appealing to this market, all the while remaining open to the need to change and adapt both your image and your collection.
Like everything else in fashion, determining price is a complex and fast-changing process. You will be taking into account all the profit and loss factors when setting prices, but there is a more subtle consideration. The concept of value given—such as level of quality and design appeal— for a price paid, is known as the “value equation.” This equation directly ties to your brand image and to how your product is perceived. As a result, price identifies your product as appropriate to a certain market segment.1
Your product is designed and waiting in the wings. Pricing is set, and you’re ready to let the world know about it. This is where the next element of the 4 P’s, namely promotion, comes in. It can take many forms, and you may adopt some or all of them at different times. It’s worth developing a comprehensive promotion plan as part of your greater marketing strategy. Some of the most powerful tools available include: email marketing, paid advertising, public relations, social media marketing, search engine marketing, and others.1
Education is a key goal of effective promotion, acquainting the public with your brand and letting them become familiar with its selling points. Given the many diverse ways people can learn about your product, it’s essential to have that clearly thought-out brand image ready before you launch. Online marketing is ideal for building loyalty among past or current customers, and helping to generate additional sales from them. Whatever mix of channels you choose for your promotional plan, the image and overall message must remain consistent throughout. The dominant approaches to promotion include:
-Advertising: choose ad vehicles that will deliver the most appropriate target audience for your brand. Paid media offers a mix of different outlets that together deliver a broad-based audience. Print media is expensive, but has the advantage of conveying powerful visuals that are so important in establishing a fashion brand. Choosing the right print vehicle for your ad will also associate it with the carefully cultivated image of that magazine, for example, and, by extension, with its defined target demographic. Broadcast ads through radio and TV add to the mix with larger, broader audiences. They offer the benefit of immediacy, and a way to add multiple impressions among customers who may see your message in more than one media channel.
-Public Relations: PR is one of the most important ways to promote fashion today, as celebrity culture continues to grow and young, up-and-coming fashionistas look to the “stars” for inspiration and image guidance (for better and worse). PR can take many directions besides celebrity endorsements. Given the complexity of this “organic” media world, and the intense competition for a presence in it, newer fashion brands should at least consider hiring an outside agency or PR professional to get the ball rolling.
-Social Media: today, online promotion is essential. In fact, if you are just starting out and cannot consider any other options, this may well be the most indispensable approach. Start by researching your target customer base to determine their favorite social platforms. Aim for the visually oriented ones that will post images of your amazing fashions and catch fire with bloggers and other influencers. The cardinal rule of social media is: Be social. In other words, be prepared to join the conversation and stay active in each outlet you enter. This means quickly responding to comments, queries, and posts, keeping information fresh and up-to-date.
Just as we are in the era of fast fashion based on fast-changing trends, the information society on which we depend changes just as quickly. Keep a finger on the pulse of social media and be ready to shift focus as new platforms that mesh with your business profile emerge and gain popularity.
Choose your sales channels carefully to reach the best sales results—sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Naturally, there is more to evaluate than just the numbers.
Establish a set of criteria that you want each account to meet before agreeing to work with them. Evaluate retail stores based on their appropriateness and value for your brand image, as well as their sales volume.
The Internet is a place, too. Online sales are a growing part of the mix, projected to increase 57%, to reach 11% of total retail sales (all categories) by 2018.2 Your company website may be the place to offer online sales, or it may serve your company best as the primary source of all other forms of marketing and information.
Begin your fashion career search with an experienced fashion staffing agency in NYC, one of the most important fashion centers in the world. Before you know it, your plans for an independent fashion business will take shape, as your personal fashion vision comes to life.