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VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

VCs Think My Boobs Need An Algorithm

[Opinions held by the contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of OS Fashion and its members.]

VCs think my boobs need an algorithm. My boobs don’t need an algorithm. If that’s not enough, VCs also think that women need a bra subscription. They gave $2M in seed funding to True & Co., an e-commerce bra company with an algorithm and subscription model. Never mind that the clear majority of women don’t buy bras every month. This start-up’s algorithm involves answering questions online for about 3 minutes that’s not only boring and painful but also futile. The algorithm, like the brand’s name, is ridiculous. An algorithm cannot provide you with a better fit just as answering questions online cannot help you find the best pillow for your preferences. Some products need to be touched and tried on. An algorithm cannot account for technological advancements like soft stretch in bra straps, seamless fits, softer lace with stretch, and good quality padding that isn’t cheap and itchy. Finally, as a lingerie brand, this start-up lacks fun and sexy branding. There’s a place for an algorithm–it isn’t my bra. VCs simply don’t understand consumer psychology, consumer purchasing patterns and what it takes to build a great brand or product. It seems as if they think consumer tech is easy and that anyone can do it. This misunderstanding is a big problem, and VCs are screwing up the ecosystem.

Charlie O’Donnell (@ceonyc), a VC at Brooklyn Ventures, recently tweeted in reply to Sanjay Raman (@sanjayraman), a VC at Greylock Ventures:

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Posted in: Vision & Opinion

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Who, When, What & Where: Developing a Social Media Strategy

Who, When, What & Where: Developing a Social Media Strategy

While it’s important to know the various social media platforms available to you, you have know how to use them. We at VERVE Management have developed at 4-Step plan for our clients that you can use for the basis of your social media strategy.

1. Develop an Online Brand Identity (OBI)
At VERVE Management we’ve developed something proprietary for our fashion clients called an Online Brand Identity (OBI). It’s important that you create one for your company, as well. An OBI is a document that lays out the personality of your brand. The idea is to take your core brand and product offering and build out all of the various elements that make up your brand. You want your brand online to jump off the screen as a living, breathing person with all these various colors and facets to its personality. This will help you transition from a 2-dimensional into a 3-dimensional brand online which will go a long way in building a meaningful community that actually follows your brand online and feels something positive towards it.

In your OBI document, you should write down the tone of your brand’s “online voice,” what genre of music it likes, what genre of movies it watches, whether it’s political or not, what pop culture icons it follows, who it’s heroes are, it’s favorite hobbies, etc. You have to really get imaginative with this and be creative. You are bringing your brand to life after all! This is the biggest challenge business owners have when developing a successful fashion marketing strategy.

2. Develop a Fashion Marketing Editorial Calendar
Once you’ve planned out your brand’s personality, the next step in developing your fashion marketing strategy is to create a fashion marketing editorial calendar. Set a weekly schedule where you plan to consistently share content. You have to be consistent. After all, if you don’t put time into your “relationship” with people online, they won’t put time back into your brand either. When creating your fashion marketing editorial calendar, use a simple online calendar management site and add an entry for each day of the week you plan to share content. You should also plan what content you’ll share that day. Use your personality elements in your OBI to inform your content. Share movies your brand likes, music artists that inspire your brand, favorite quotes, heroes, and of course promote your company and products/services. You want to strike a balance in promoting and sharing other content. The fashion marketing editorial calendar will help with that.

3. Grow Your Audience
Unfortunately, I can’t dive into detail on how to grow your audience, as that alone would take up dozens of articles. I can give you advice on how to approach this task. A great first step is for you to research “influencers” and “innovators” in your industry, reach out to those people, and partner with them. You can provide them with free samples of your product to review or include them on a contest your having. The idea is to get them to promote your product/service/promotion to their online following which will in turn expose your online profiles to all of their existing followers! Another great step is to speak at events, guest author posts on other blogs, or hold and promote webinars / seminars!

You can also go the guerrilla marketing route and start posting / commenting on other pages / groups / etc. that have people who would be potential clients of your company. Taking part in conversations on these other pages, without blatantly promoting your company, will integrate you into the broader community and introduce you to a great deal of new people.

4. Track, Track, Track Your Results!
Once you have your OBI and fashion marketing editorial calendar in place, the next step is to begin sharing content and tracking your results! There are social media analytics tools you can use to track how people respond to your content. You want to keep track of what content gets the most “likes”, the most “re-tweets”, the most “shares” and “comments.” Tracking your progress will inform you about your audience and what content is important to them. The more data you analyze, the more intimately familiar you will become with your market. This will inform your fashion marketing strategy as well as inform all other aspects of your business!

Original Image created by Urs Steiner.

Posted in: Digital Marketing

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Using Video: Is Your Brand Ready For It’s Close-Up?

Using Video: Is Your Brand Ready For It’s Close-Up?

After some fits and starts, mostly related to getting consumer behavior and technological capability to line up, video has finally become something that smaller brands can seriously consider. While the moving image has been captivating people for over a century now, only in the past 10 years has the cost dropped sufficiently to make it widely accessible. Only in the last 2 years have the low cost distribution networks and the back-end analytics come along to enable smaller brands to justify spending the money.

As the ‘next big thing’, video remains an opaque, mysterious, and intimidating subject for companies to get their heads around. Hopefully, in this column I’ll be clearing up some of the confusion and helping you make better decisions about video content. Naturally, the first step is to figure out if and when video is even right for your brand.

The elephant in the room of any video discussion is money. Every dollar spent means a little more risk taken and closes off the possibility of spending the money on something else. In light of that reality, making the decision to put something that tends to consume as much money and time as video into your marketing mix is definitely one not made lightly. Unless you’re a major national brand, video will be a sizable investment. The Ralph Laurens and Pradas of this world can experiment with 50K worth of marketing, but even mid-tier brands need to ask themselves some important questions before they write a check for a fraction of that amount.

So when does a brand decide that now is the time to pull the trigger on a video? 

There’s no single answer, but video usually makes the most sense for a brand that’s looking for something to help them step up to the next level. There are two basic and closely connected reasons, one is the size of the potential upside to your marketing investment and the other is the marketing and brand infrastructure necessary to make that investment pay off.

Once you have the marketing budget, the real question becomes can you get enough value from the exposure the video will generate to justify the expense?

As a piece of content, the size of the potential upside is in many ways tied to the quality of the marketing infrastructure that you’ll be using to get that content out into the world. We’ll get into more detail about that shortly. However, much of the payoff from a successful marketing campaign has a lot to do with the nuts and bolts concerns of your business. Do you have the production capacity to meet increased demand? Do you have access to the capital needed to produce more product? This is not to suggest that one video will send sales skyrocketing, merely to point out that before you start thinking about spending money on a serious marketing effort you had better be sure you’re ready to deal with the business you hope to get from it.

On a more practical level, it’s rare for a brand to go from nothing to smash hit overnight. More often, brands slowly build a loyal following before leaping to general popularity. While frustratingly slow at times, the reality is that brands need to generate a base level of awareness before you can expect to gain the attention of the public at large. Does your brand have enough of a presence to build off of that any content you put out there will get noticed? If you push content out before you’ve established yourself and given magazines and blogs a reason to cover it and people a reason to share it, it’ll be difficult for that content to reach a large enough audience to pay off. There are, of course, notable exceptions to this rule, but you’re better off planning for the long haul.

If you are at this point, the quality of your marketing infrastructure becomes a major factor. Without a presence on platforms like facebook and twitter to share the content, an engaged audience to consume and share it, and a sales force to turn traffic into cash, even the best produced content becomes wasted money.

Thankfully, the current state of internet marketing has lowered the cost of establishing this sort of infrastructure, but it needs to be in place none the less. Whether we’re talking about a Twitter and Facebook campaign, looping your video on iPads at your pop-up shop, or both, there are a lot of ways to get your branded content out into the world and you need to have a plan to make sure that happens before shooting even starts.

In summary, video can take brands to the next level, but not before they’re ready to go there.

Image created by Yuliya Libkina

Posted in: Content Creation, Digital Marketing

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