Building A Brand vs Chasing Sales
Building A Brand vs Chasing Sales
If you are you a designer/maker/small business owner selling wholesale how do you get in front of your buyers? Is your marketing strategy limited to attending tradeshows?
When you don't work directly with the end consumer, it might seem like spending resources on building a brand is optional.
Well, you are not alone. A majority of small businesses that sell via wholesale channels struggle on how to spend their limited marketing dollars. Should you focus on branding & raising awareness about your products or on getting found in tradeshows and to keep the business running?
This can be partly attributed to traditional thinking that there is a difference between wholesale (business-to-business or b2b) and retail (business-to-consumer or b2c) marketing. Until recently, branding has been associated with retail marketing.
However: in this hyper-competitive market building your brand is no longer optional. If you are a small business owner selling wholesale, it is a balancing act – growing the business and building a brand all at the same time. Here’s why:
The store owners and boutiques that carry your products make a commitment to spend part of their open-to-buy dollars on your brand and thereby take a risk. As a partner vested in their success (as you should be) you want to increase the sell-thru for your products.
You can do this by improving your brand desirability.
There is a level of subjectivity in the “desirability” of your brand as viewed by the boutiques & retail buyers in the context of the product mix they carry, target customers and overall concept of the store. But assuming that it is a match, what is the tie-breaker when the buyer is deciding on which brands to pick? Yep - it's knowing that their customers want your brand.
Brand desirability is not limited to high fashion brands only. In this day and age you don’t have to spend gazillion dollars in building street cred. Smartly leveraging a combination of standout story, social media and PR will go a long way in building your branding and raising awareness about your products. Demonstrating social proof + consumer demand for your products makes the decision to carry your product “less of a risk”. Remember brand desirability trumps price anyday.
This reminds me of the recent craziness when Missoni for Target was released, stores everywhere were rushed and sold out before 9am! The Target website crashed and people were selling the Missoni for Target stuff for a HUGE markup on Ebay. If it weren't for Missoni's brand desirability, it never would have happened!
Assuming that you have passed the brand desirability test, retail buyers will next look for what’s unique about your product and how your products are priced.
Remember positioning your product as handmade, is no longer enough. It does not make the product unique nor does i-make-all-aspects-of-my-product a strong selling point as the boutique owner might view it as the single point of failure in fulfilling their order.
Instead highlight the vision, craftmanship, sustainability, innovativeness, design & quality aspects of the product - which will also determine your price points. Your ability to charge a premium goes back to how you have positioned your brand. If your brand is relatively unknown, product is not distinctive and can be swapped with non-branded items (at a lower price point) then it could be an uphill battle to convince store owners to take the risk of carrying your products.
Ease of Doing Business
Developing a reputation for consistent and high quality execution in how you present your brand to your customers (retail buyers) or your customer’s customer (end consumer) can make your brand practically sell itself. It can be in your online presence (that educates the consumer), your packaging, or by making it easy for your retail buyers to access your product images & product descriptions in their marketing efforts to consumers. Being known as a brand that makes it easy for your retail buyers to do business with can give you an unfair advantage over your competition.
The boutique owners and retail buyers invest their resources to give your products exposure to more consumers than you can ever reach on your own. It is your responsibility to make it easy for them to do their job by building a great brand their customers want.
Do you think brand building is a necessity for wholesale brands? Share in the comments!
Photo Credits :: JoulesVintage