Lately I've been writing posts based on questions that I get asked frequently + while I'm more than happy to write based on peoples suggestions (keep them coming!), I realised that the blog lacks a bit of structure + order. At the moment, there's nothing you can refer to as a starting point, so I thought I'd fix that, with a series of posts over the next few weeks + months (it's a long process from start to finish!).
There's lots of different opinions on where to start + in my opinion the best place to begin is the area that has the most impact on your business + must be considered at each + every part of the process; the customer. Without the customer, there's not a business - simple as that (in fact, the customer is so important that I’ve created hours of video on this topic in my Fashion Startup Online Course).
There's a common misconception that you should build a business + find customers to buy your products, I (+ a lot of others!) don't believe that. Why? Let's look at it this way. Business is hard, especially these days; everyone is on a budget + you have to work extra hard to get people to buy from you, so you can't afford to be 'liked' by people. In order for someone to make a purchase, they have to love what you're doing + what you're selling in order for them to part with their hard earned cash. It's a lot easier to find a customer + design something they will love, rather than try + sell a product to everyone (because you didn't target a specific customer) + somehow get them to love it.
How do I choose a target customer?
There's lots of different ways that you can select a target customer. Ideally, you want to offer a solution to a problem, or a product there's a demand for, as it's a lot easier to sell to people if A. there's less competition + B. they have a genuine need for it. Therefore, a good place to start is by doing some market research, either yourself or by hiring a marketing expert (if you're looking for someone to help with this, I find marketing professionals on this website as you can look for a freelancer with your specific needs. I was given this link when I joined the site + if you decide to use it, we both get a reward! T+C here).
If you're doing market research, it's a great idea to ask people to complete a short survey, you can set one up quickly + easily with Survey Monkey + it's free. Good things to ask are;
Which brands do you buy from
How often do you shop
How much do you spend on clothes a year
Which brands would you like to buy from (if money was no object)
What size do you buy
Where do you get outfit inspiration
Do you shop instore, online or both
What clothes do you buy most often (e.g., activewear, workwear, casual)
A good idea is to use multiple choice answers where possible to make it easier for you to assess the results. For example when asking 'how often do you shop' have checkboxes saying 'weekly', 'monthly', 'annually'. Also, make sure you've written somewhere that your questions are in relation to clothes/fashion.
What do I need to know about my customer?
The more information you have on your potential customer, the easier decisions will be. I like to split my findings into 2 kinds of information;
Disposable income (i.e. the money left after paying the bills)
Where they shop
Where they spend time in real life + online
What should I do with this information?
Another area of this process that causes a split decision is the concept of customer 'avatars' (not the movie!). An avatar is an imaginary representation of your ideal customer - this doesn't have to be based on a real person, but is the culmination of your research + findings. The other option is to consider your target audience as a whole + use a range of details. For example, age. Your avatar would have a specific age, whereas a target audience profile would have an age range. Personally, I do both of these options for all of my businesses + review them each year. Why? I find it really useful to have a customer avatar + I create everything for them. Decision making is so much faster when you have one specific person in mind that you want to 'wow' + if you're working as a team it makes it easier, as everyone has a clear vision of the customer, as it's not a range of traits that are open to suggestion. I also like to have a target audience profile, because when doing targeted advertising, such as Google Ads, you have to enter a range of information - you can't be as specific as a certain age, for instance.
And that's it - step 1! I really encourage you to spend time on this, it's definitely not something that should be rushed. I know you're probably excited to get started with your brand, but a job worth doing is worth doing properly! Step 2 will be coming soon.
Alternatively, if you're excited to get started + would like to get step by step help along the way, you might want to consider my Fashion Startup Online Course, which has 8 modules which explain the key steps when going from idea through to having your fashion range produced and sold. You can click here for more information on the programme.
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